They Closed the Borders ….. AGAIN!!

“Victoria-NSW border to close for the first time in 100 years as Melbourne coronavirus cases hit record daily high” – this is the headline from the SBS News report, dated 7 July 2020, and it comes as Victoria is just beginning another six weeks of lockdown to try get COVID-19 under control.

Anyway that headline intrigued me, as I was curious about the previous border closure … so I headed to Trove to see what I could find.

And what an amazing article I found. Talk about history repeating itself … just have a read of this article from South Australian newspaper, The Register, dated 3 February 1919. You can see the original article here. Please note, the red highlight is my emphasis, not that of the original article.

 —The Spanish Flu—

No one desires to minimise the horrors or the epidemic which has swept over the world, nor the necessity for precautions, but it would seem that if ever fear was worse than the disease, the present is the occasion. The Federal Quarantining Department kept the disease out of the country for months. Australia has had ample warning, and advantage from the experience of other countries.

The Commonwealth and State authorities met last November, and planned, a joint course of action. The Sydney doctors diagnosed their cases as the real thing; the Melbourne doctors were still using big words, and unable to make up their minds. Now both States have been declared infected, but New South Wales will not admit Victorian passengers, because Melbourne was responsible for the trouble, and Queensland, not to be out of the fuss, is asking the despised Commonwealth Government to lend it a body of Light Horse to patrol its border against New South Wales. Incidentally it may be recalled that the Queensland Government did nothing to help reinforce the Light Horse when they were at grips with the human enemy in Syria, Palestine, and elsewhere.

Like South Australia, the Queensland Government is certainly within its rights and within the agreement of last November in protecting itself, but it is carrying the never-dying jealousy of the two big States to extremes when they cut all passenger and goods communication between their respective infected areas, merely because “The reason why, I cannot tell. I do not like thee, Doctor Fell.”

But as for the poor public, there seems every effort to create a real scare. Sydney says that all must wear masks, and in Melbourne the picker-up of unconsidered sixpences is selling bits of useless gauze, or mosquito net, with a couple of tapes attached, like the proverbial hot cakes.

The people clamour to be vaccinated, or inoculated, with the “dope,” which may or may not cure, but which certainly makes some people feel ill. If we cover our mouths and noses with six suffocating layers of gauze and never take them off, whether to eat, or drink, or curse, or pray aloud, we are “theoretically” immune, though there are some who think we may get infection through the eyes or through the ears.

If private enterprise can do no better than this, one need not marvel that the most sincere individualist thinks nationalized medicine could not be worse. Two women doctors alone stand out in Melbourne with the simple advice—let in the fresh air, keep clean, don’t crowd, and where possible do your business through the mails, telegraphs and telephones, so as to avoid unnecessary personal contact.

One alarmist newspaper gives publicity to the questions of whether we have got enough medicine bottles, whether we have prepared to bury the dead, and feed the living. An official doctor wants us to be ready for a “huge epidemic.” There is nothing of the “silent navy” about these good folks. One could wish there were. Let them prepare, by all means, but publicity of scaresome possibilities is the best calculated means of ensuring the worst results. The Federal quarantine authorities remain moderately silent among the uproar. ls it too much to suggest that Mr. Massy Greene might signal his entry into his first real Ministerial office by preaching the doctrine of restraint and courage.


Sounding familiar? It does, doesn’t it. Sounds remarkably like news reports we’ve been hearing over the past few months.

In searching further I found that Dr Peter Hobbins, medical historian, and expert in the Spanish Flu at the Department of History at the Universty of Sydney, says that …

“there are some striking parallels between 2020 and 1919”. He says that during that time “New South Wales imposed drastic restrictions on its residents; closing schools, churches, entertainment venues and important events such as agricultural shows and victory parades.” And “for the first time in my career, I feel a real sense of what could be called ‘historical déjà vu’, in living through the COVID-19 lockdown”.

If you’re interested in learning more about the Spanish Flu and the impact it had on Australia, be sure to check out this website, as it is packed with information.

So now I have to say, this has me more intrigued than ever to find out how my ancestors coped and made it through the Spanish Flu pandemic. Health wise, job wise, social wise? Remember, they didn’t have tv, computers or social media to even keep in touch with friends. So, it’ll be interesting to learn more about it … and gives me more research to do!!

Caption for cover picture: The influenza quarantine camp set up at Jubilee Oval, Adelaide, South Australia during the epidemic of 1919 – SLSA [PRG 280/1/9/374]

Crazy Month of May 2020 Meme: My Pandemic Experiences

It’s been a while since I’ve taken part in a blog challenge, but good friend and blogger Pauleen (aka Cassmob) came up with one that I just had to take part in. It’s the “Crazy Month of May 2020 Meme: My Pandemic Experiences

She writes:

“It occurred to me that perhaps we should have a meme which captures our response to the hopefully-once-in-a-lifetime May that we’ve just navigated….it might be a way to preserve the tip of our experiences. Remember that many blogs are being archived in Pandora so perhaps this is a way for our descendants to learn about our experiences during the covid-19 crisis.”

So here’s my responses:

What are you most grateful for during this covid-19 crisis?
I would have to say I’m thankful that I still have a job when so many now don’t, but also that most people in my area are doing the right thing with social distancing, which of course helps stop the spread of coronavirus.

What have you missed most during the full or partial lock-down?
As an introvert I love being home, but just now and then it’s nice to randomly go out for a meal. So that is something I have missed.

Has your hobby sustained you during this time?
While not sure if you’d class it as a hobby, keeping an eye on my local wildlife (koalas and kangaroos) and enjoying them coming around, makes me happy, and is a stress reliever. But as for actual hobbies, I haven’t had time for them recently …

What changes have you seen in your life over May 2020?
Work is BUSY, BUSY, BUSY!!! I work in a family history business, and it has been non-stop crazy busy over the past few months. So clearly those in lockdown have been getting stuck into researching. I know there are newbies who have just started, while others have picked it back up after putting it aside for years, and then there’s the non-stop researchers have enjoyed the ‘stuck at home time’ to research as well. So all up, there’s a LOT of family tree research going on.

Have you been exercising more or less?
I would say no change actually. I do some, but should always do more.

Has the refrigerator been your friend or foe?
Due to not going out for meals, there is more food in the fridge. But I’ve been good and haven’t food binged.

Have you been participating in virtual gatherings with friends or family?
Work meetings are now done by Zoom, so that’s been handy.

Have you taken up new hobbies during the lockdowns?
Again … no time for new or existing hobbies at present.

Are you cooking or gardening more?
Maybe a bit more of both, but the gardening is more because of the time of year, as it now needs it.

Have you shopped more or less? Online or offline?
I’ve been grocery shopping more … in person since it’s close to my work. But other shopping (clothes, shoes, hardware, etc.) no, not at all. In fact I’ve probably done less regular shopping than normal.

What have you found to be the strangest change to your life?
Not so much a change, but an observation that I found werid. When the lockdowns first came into effect in Australia (end of March), and only essential travel was allowed (ie. supermarkets and docors), to see the line-ups for the supermarket was very odd.

Have you found the changes and experience stressful/anxious/worrying?
I think I’m fine personally, but I know some people are jack of the whole subject of it, and are ready to argue/lecture about it. While I can see a lot of people are anxious about it as well. And why wouldn’t they be. There’s a disease out there, that doesn’t always show symptoms, and you don’t know if you have it, and are unknowingly spreading it, or the if ther person next to you has it.

How have the closures affected your local community?
I’m sure the lockdowns and closures of businesses will have had a big impact on numerous small businesses and probably sports clubs too. But nothing immediately identifiable at present.

Have in-person meetings been replaced with virtual meetings via Zoom, Skype etc?
Yes, fortunatley.

Do you enjoy the virtual meeting format?
It works fine, and is so much better than having to travel to go to a meeting, then travel home.

Are you working from home instead of in your usual place of work?
I was working from home for a few weeks when lockdown first came in. That was nice as I was able to work, while also seeing the local wildlife that comes to visit during the day (ie. our regular koalas and kanagaroos), but I’m now back in the shop everyday.

Have your habits changed over the past months?
Not excessively, though I do have more hand sanitizer around than I used to.

Have you had to cancel travel plans for work, pleasure or family?
I was on a work cruise that got cut short, and was due to fly to Queensland shortly after that for an event – all just before the lockdowns in Australia came into effect. Obviously both of those were cancelled.

Do you think you’ll be able to travel in 2020?
I believe Australia and New Zealand travel will be do-able later this year. As for other countries … time will tell. But hopefully later in 2021 I think is more likely.

Have you/others been wearing masks when out and about in your area?
I haven’t been, and very few people do in my area. But we are relatively ‘safe’ with no current cases, and no local cases for about 30 days now.

Will you change your lifestyle after this experience?
I don’t believe so. But maybe just be more tolerant of others (though I think to think that I was anyway), because you don’t know what they are going through (thoughts, fears, current situation).


Just some final thoughts in relation to my observations during the pandemic… seeing hand sanitizer available to use at every shop you go in, seeing the 1.5m social distancing signs on the floors in shops has now become normal. Having take-away food only (no sit down meals available). Visting your local coffee shop, and seeing the chairs and tables stacked up. Having the playgrounds closed, movie theatres, amusement parks, libraries, genealogy societies, museums, archives, department stores and small clothing stores, beauticians, tattoo stores, pubs all closed as well, until just recently – when they’ve started reopening in limited ways. Then there were all the events that got cancelled .. including the Tokyo Olympics, Anzac Day, every sport Australia wide, social get-together meetings as well as work ones … it goes on.

After the horrors of the Australian bushfires over November-December-January, no-one thought there would be anything ‘bigger’. But seeing the devastation and heartbreak from friends and others around, who’ve either had the virus themselves and survived, or have loved ones who didn’t – there are no words.

Coronavirus has changed the world. It is a global catastrophe on both the health scale, as well as the economic scale. While no doubt some things would have been done differently in hindsight, I still don’t think to world was prepared in any way to cope with a pandemic of this scale. And yet the heath authorities tell us we’re still in the first wave.

People say the ‘heroes’ of this pandemic are those in the health industry (the doctors, nurses, those in the labs, the researchers and so on), and absolutely they are doing their best to help you recover once youre sick, but the other ‘heroes’ are all the individuals who have been self isolating at home for months now. They have forgone seeing family and friends in person, and who by doing so have been doing their bit to help not spread the virus.

Please, stay safe my friends.

Record History as it Happens

With COVID-19 changing the world we live in, we are in a time of ‘history happening now’.

I’m sure you’ve seen the suggestions about keeping a diary to record life and times of our ‘present normal’, and that is certainly a great idea. I mean low petrol prices, lack of toilet paper, only going out for necessities, closed restaurants, closed schools, closed gyms, closed entertainment venues, Anzac Day services around the country cancelled, all sporting events cancelled, even the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Then of course all the genealogy and history societies have been temporarily as well, with a number of them no embracing online seminars instead. But also don’t forget about self isolating and social distancing. I’m sure your kids or grandkids would love to read your thoughts on how you survived being cooped up at home for weeks. Maybe you got hooked on jigsaw puzzles, or decided to master making bread, or created your own vegie garden for the first time ever, or the family drove you crazy??!

The list could go on.

But I also know not everyone is a diary writer … so there are ways other than writing, that you can record and share “history as it happens” as well.

So here I’m letting you know about a number of organisations that are wanting to “record history as it happens” but they need your input to do so. They are collecting your photographs, memories, and ephemera (some physical, some digital), all which will help document this incredible once-in-a-lifetime event that we’re currently living in.

Canberra: National Library of Australia
The National Library of Australia has been busy collecting web-based ephemera relating to COVID-19, by taking snapshots of websites and archiving them. You can view their collection here.

Canberra: National Museum of Australia
The national Museum of Australia is inviting all Australians to share their experiences, stories, reflections and images of the COVD-19 pandemic to record it as it happens. Through the Facebook group “Bridging the Distance – Sharing our COVID-19 Pandemic Experiences” the National Museum of Australia is collecting stories, objects, images and videos to “explore and mark this time in a joint effort with you to help make sense of what is happening around us and to connect us all socially and emotionally, while we are physically distant”.

New South Wales: State Library of New South Wales
The State Library of New South Wales is requesting that you don’t throw out any brochures, posters, signs etc. that relate to COVID-19, as they would like them for their collection. Their announcement is as follows … “We are collecting posters, flyers and mail-outs appearing in our local neighbourhoods in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. While many people will eventually discard this material, it provides invaluable information about this significant event impacting our community and nation. The State Library collects this ephemeral material, as well as online content including websites, digital ephemera and social media posts, to help tell our stories to future generations.”

Queensland: Cairns Museum and Cairns Historical Society
How will future generations know what the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis meant for Cairns? The Cairns Museum is hoping to answer that question by drawing on the community to help collate, document and share their experiences in real time. Suzanne Gibson, manager of Cairns Museum, said documenting first-hand accounts allowed the Cairns Museum and Cairns Historical Society to build a collection that would help future generations understand the experiences and impacts of the coronavirus in Cairns. The project is seeking to capture a wide cross-section of local people, ages and backgrounds. “We need help for this – this is a community collecting project in real time to gather an intangible personal record of the virus and its impacts on the personal lives of local people. Would you be willing to share your experience in a video diary of your or your family’s COVID experience? Are you currently keeping one? We are also looking for objects, images, ephemera and multimedia generated by this period of personal and professional lockdown.” For more information click here.

Queensland: State Library of Queensland
The State Library of Queensland, are creating a digital collection of COVID-19 related records. They ask “Has your local pizza place emailed you about what they’re doing to stop the transmission of coronavirus? Has your gym closed temporarily? Has your church or soccer team contacted you about COVID-19? The State Library of Queensland is collecting any COVID-19-related emails you may have received from local businesses or community groups. These emails are digital ephemera that capture a slice of the pandemic experience. If you have received emails like this, please forward them to so we can preserve them to document community responses to COVID-19.” They just ask when forwarding to SLQ can you please put ‘COVID-19 Collection’ in the subject heading. You can read more about that here.

South Australia: State Library of South Australia
The State Library of South Australia have created a new Facebook page titled “Remember my story – Covid-19“. They write … “Years from now we’ll look back and want to know how the COVID-19 pandemic impacted our state, our communities and our families. Make your voice part of our archive by joining the Facebook page and sharing your story”.

South Australia: Tea Tree Gully Library
For those who live in the Tea Tree Gully area, the local library is aiming to collect and preserve the moments of history during this time. If you have any posters, flyers, mail-outs or photographs relating to the Tea Tree Gully area during the lockdown we would love to have them. They are also want to know how you’re going, and ask you to tell them how you’re feeling and what you’re doing so they can record it for their history records. It can be anonymous, or you can choose to include your name to go down in history – whichever you prefer! You can find a link to their questionnaire here.

Tasmania: Tasmanian Archives & Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery
The Tasmanian Archives (a part of Libraries Tasmania), and Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery (TMAG), are partnering to collect Tasmanians’ experiences of the COVID-19 pandemic. We are reaching out across Tasmania to collect photographs, writing and a variety of objects that document the community’s experience of COVID-19. Your contributions will help capture this moment to help future generations understand the Tasmanian experience of the pandemic. You can read more about it here.

Victoria: State Library of Victoria
The State Library of Victoria has created “Memory Bank” to document this time. They describe it as “… a long-term collecting project that invites you to share your everyday observations of pivotal moments in time. Extraordinary moments, and ordinary ones too, can easily be lost in the day’s blur or forgotten in a week’s time. So each week we are going to invite you, our citizen collectors, to undertake a specific task or respond to a prompt. We’re calling on all Victorians to join us as we inaugurate the Memory Bank to archive what everyday life in Victoria is actually like now, during this time of collective isolation. Daily life is different for each of us during this period of restrictions and physical isolation, and we’re intensely curious about what this moment looks like for you.” For more details about SLV’s memory Bank, click here.

Western Australia: State Library of Western Australia
The WA State Library is seeking material relating to the COVID-19 pandemic to add to their collection. These items are things that reflect the social response to COVID-19 and the changes to services and the community in Western Australia. If you have taken any photographs or have other material such as flyers, leaflets, community notices, stickers or posters that you would like to offer to SLWA, please get in touch with them by email or phone (08) 9427 3111.

New Zealand: Auckland Museum
Across the ditch, Auckland Museum has put the call out for objects and ephemera “that reflect the various ways this pandemic has impacted and changed the lives of Aucklanders. We are interested in objects, photographs and documents that reflect: life in lockdown; how we are connecting and creating community while in a state of quarantine; issues we are debating; personal protective equipment and how we are protecting ourselves; creativity while in lockdown. For more on this, click here.


So help create a little history by recording your thoughts, memories of our current times as we live through this pandemic. Or take photos of your local area, the signs in shops, the empty streets, or save COVID-19 ephemera and pass it on to the local archives.

Stay inside, and stay safe.

Activities for the Genealogist While Self-Isolating

Are you currently in lockdown, quarantined or self-isolating at home? Looking for some ideas to fill the day?

I know that I could simply write “research” here and you’d all be happy (I would be), but for those of you who may need a break from just “research” on occasions, or don’t have the longer spurts of time required for researching, there’s plenty of useful genealogy-related activities that you can still do. Here’s a few ideas…


WATCH – Webinars & Videos
Webinars and videos are a fantastic way to learn in your own time, and from the comfort of your own home. There literally thousands available to watch, and that’s without going to YouTube and searching for more, and most of them are free.
Ancestry Academy – Short tutorial videos, covering Ancestry, DNA, methodology and more.
FamilySearch Webinars – Watch webinars on researching in different countries, as well a numerous general topics (organisation, DNA etc.), as well as how to master the FamilySearch website.
Legacy Family Tree Webinars – This one is a pay site, but at less than US$50/year, and access to over 1000 tutorial videos, it is SOOO worth it. But just so you know all newly added videos are free for 7 days, before they then go behind the paywall, and you will then need to pay or subscribe.
MyHeritage Education – There are a heap of webinars available covering how to use the MyHeritage website to advantage, as well as how to build a family tree, general research basics, well as DNA and health tutorials.
The National Archives (UK) – From using Discovery, to workhouse records, emigration, musters and militia, King Henry VIII, and a whole heap more.
National Library of Australia – Watch videos on Trove, copyright, old Australian ephemera, media and more.
New South Wales State Archives – Learn about how to use the NSW State Archive website, and the incredible collection of records they hold.


LISTEN – Podcasts
Download some podcasts and listen to them while doing other activities.
AdeLOL – Listen to Adelaide’s history like you’ve never heard it told before
CutOff Geans – If you’re genealogy interest is specifically DNA, join Julie DIxon Jackson and Renee Colvert as they attempt to guide you through what it takes to use DNA to break down brickwalls, solve mysteries – or find your “people”!
Downunder Genealogy – This podcast began last year, and there are 10 episodes. Created for Aussie’s, Michael Larman wanted a genealogy podcast with Australian content.
Extreme Genes – Scott Fisher hosts this podcast and in it he shares genealogy resources and techniques to keep the genealogy researcher moving forward in researching their ancestors.
Forgotten Australia – Forgotten Australia has been telling the stories we didn’t hear in history class. From the weekend Melbourne went mad and our forgotten Titanic hero, to Australia’s greatest Aboriginal tracker and the murder wave that shocked Sydney in 1932, this is history as you’ve never heard it before.
Genealogy Gems – Lisa Louise Cooke helps you make the most of your family history research time by providing quick and easy-to-use research techniques. Producer and host Lisa Louise Cooke brings you the best websites, best practices, and best resources available.
The Genealogy Guys – Listen to George Morgan and Drew Smith chat about different genealogy topics every episode.
Genies Down Under – This podcast is not currently running, but you can still listen to all the old episodes.
History Council of South Australia – This link includes links to other podcasts Australia history related podcasts
National Library of Australia – Listen to various talks that have been recorded at the NLA.


WRITE – Transcribing & Indexing
If you’re feeling like ‘giving back’ to the genealogy community, why not sign up for a transcription project or two. There’s plenty on offer, and they cover all sorts of records. Remember every name indexed, is another name that someone can find. Every little bit helps.
Australian War Memorial – Their transcription tool on the AWM website is not currentlyworking, but they expect to be back online later this year. So keep an eye on the page if you’re interested in their projects.
Biographical Database of Australia – The BDA is a project that gathers data from government and private sources in the post-convict era in all Australian colonies, and include early published biographical dictionaries, newspapers, diaries and letters.
Discovering Anzacs – The Discovering Anzacs site a diverse selection of government records about Australians and New Zealanders in World War I and the Boer War.
FamilySearch Indexing – FamilySearch always has indexing projects on the go, and currently they have over 100 projects from over 20 countries, so you’re sure to find a project that interests you. So pick a country, see what records are available to index. Look at the introductory videos, foloow the step-by-steps, and you’re good to get going.
Founders and Survivors – Founders & Survivors is a partnership between historians, genealogists, demographers and population health researchers. It seeks to record and study the founding population of 73,000 men women and children who were transported to Tasmania. Many survived their convict experience and went on to help build a new society.
German-Australian Genealogy & History Alliance – South Australia Land Tax Assessment Registers – This project started a few years ago, but isn’t finished yet. So if you’re interested in helping out, sign up.
Measuring the Anzacs – Measuring the Anzacs is a NZ military project that contains about 3.7 million pages of images from 140,000 New Zealand service members’ files. The project is currently concentrating their efforts on transcribing History Sheets, Attestations (enlistment forms), Statements of Service, and Death Notifications.
National Archives of Australia (The arcHIVE) – The arcHIVE, or HIVE as it is commonly known, is the National Archives of Australia’s online transcription portal. It enables volunteers to transcribe digitised item/consignment lists and other records such as Cabinet notebooks, migration records and Post Office records. HIVE gives everyone the chance to help describe items in the collection which are not able to be identified and accessed because they have yet to be listed or described on our online collection database, RecordSearch. To date over 500,000 descriptions of records have been transcribed through HIVE and added to NAA’s RecordSearch.
The Prosecution Project – Criminal trials have been taking place in Australia since the first days of settlement. The archives of the Australian states are holders of these records, which are among the most complete in the world. The potential of these records for use by family historians as well as researchers has been recognised. The Prosecution Project has started digitising the registers of Supreme Court cases from around Australia,  as these record the names of accused as well as their offences and the outcomes of the trials.
The Ryerson Index – This massive collaborative project has now indexed over 7.4 million death and obituary records from Australian newspapers. They do have some transcription vacansies available at present, so check their website for details.
State Library of New South Wales – The State Library of NSW has numerous transcription projects on the go, including Captain James Cook’s papers, Sir Joseph Banks’ papers, World War I diaries and letters, and Rediscovering Indigenous Languages amongst others. Register now if you’re interested in helping transcribe.
– State Library of Queensland – The State Library of Queensland is dedicated to making its digital collections more visible and accessible online so that everyone can use and share them, and you can help by becoming a digital volunteer! Tag SLQs photos in Flickr Commons, text correct Queensland newspapers, help transcribe SLQ collection, or tell us your Queensland story.
State Library of South Australia – The State Library of South Australia needs your help to make their digital collections more accessible and more meaningful so that everyone can use and share them. You can help, by becoming a digital volunteer.
– Trove Newspapers – Text correcting Australia’s old newspapers on Trove is probably Australia’s best known transcription project, and probably the biggest too. It’s just so easy. Simply register, and once logged in, and you’re searching for whatever article topic you choose, correct it when you find it. Then on to the next one. And it means that someone else will then be able to find that article when they go looking. If you’re not sure how to go about text correcting, there are tutorial videos.
Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine – Over the last few  years Who Do You Think You Are Magazine has organised a big-once-a-year-event called “Transcription Tuesday” with the aim of choosing several types of records, which people from all around the world, sign up to, to participate in transcribing them. This years event was held in early February, but due to the Coronavirus and so many people being at home, they are currently holding “Transcription Tuesday Weekly Challenge” every Tuesday (UK time). So keep an eye of their Facebook page or blog to see what records are up next, and sign up for it if you’re interested.


So as you can see, there is absolutely oodles to do while you’re stuck at home … that is apart from research, watching Netflix, jigsawing and walking the dog. I also know that I haven’t listed all that is available, not by a longshot. But there’s plenty there for anyone who is interested in listening and learning.

The range of topic available though all of these mediums (webinars, podcasts and transcriptions) is so varied I guarantee you will not get bored. I will also say that there is obviously an Australia slant to the list with a few overseas ones thrown in, but that’s thanks to the fact I’m an Aussie. But as mentioned above there are HEAPS more webinars, podcasts and transcription projects going on elsewhere in world. So just google if you want more.

Anyway stay safe, stay indoors, and keep learning.