Family History Through the Alphabet Challenge: R is for … Reference Books and Rainbows...

Behind every researcher there is a great big, huge, pile of reference books that they constantly use to help them along the way. This pile of reference books can start right from the beginning when you are an amateur researcher, and continues right through to the professionals. And just to be clear, I’m not confining this habit of collecting reference books just to family history researchers … but shall go as far as saying that it encompasses ALL researchers, in ALL fields. So for R my post in the Family History Through the Alphabet challenge R is for REFERENCE BOOKS Now to bring this topic back to genealogy … well, I for one know that I would be lost without my reference books. These aren’t books that you read from cover to cover, but they are there waiting to be grabbed off the shelf every so often to answer that question that has just arisen. What parish is that place in? Were they in Australia that early? What on earth is that occupation? Was that place under German rule at that time?  Who were the kings of Scotland? Where is that place? How did that town get its name? You know the norm for a genealogist … Anyway I do find reference books (and CDs for that matter) invaluable, but rather than ramble on about how useful they are, as I’m pretty sure I’d be preaching to the converted, I’ve decided to list my top 6 reference books (yep, for this post, I’m excluding the reference CDs, and it’d be just WAAAY too hard to choose), so books only it is. These are the ones that I grab off my shelf the most (in alphabetical order): 1. Australian Biographical...

Family History Through the Alphabet Challenge: Q is for … Quest...

While thinking about options of what to write about for Q in the Family History Through the Alphabet Challenge, the one word that kept popping into my head was quest. So for my Q post … Q is for Quest I really don’t need to tell you all that researching your family history is a never-ending journey – one that takes you places you never thought you’d go (figuratively, and sometimes physically), and leads you to discoveries about your family that is far better that fiction … so I believe ‘quest’ is the best word to describe the journey. And that reminded me of my genealogy business card...

Family History Through the Alphabet Challenge: P is for … Charlotte PHILLIPS...

Continuing to work our way through the Family History Through the Alphabet challenge, and we’ve made it to the letter P, and as intended right from near the beginning, I want to tell you about one of my favourite ancestors … Charlotte Phillips. P is for Charlotte Phillips Phillips is my maiden name, so naturally I have an interest in knowing just where I came from. Now you see this picture on the right, that’s Charlotte … ok, ok, no it’s not, but I’m saying it is  for now … at least until I get an actual picture of her. So no, I don’t have pics of my fav ancestor yet … but still let me tell you more about Charlotte Phillips, as she’s quite an amazing woman. Firstly she is my 4x great grandmother, and the mother of my emigrating Phillips family (her son George being the first of the clan to set foot on Australia’s soil – so that’s significant right?) Also, she not took her family over to the US to find a better life (and did so), she became an amazing businesswoman as well. But before I jump too far ahead here’s a little background info: Charlotte was born in 1822 Redruth, Cornwall to Eliza Phillips (yep, Charlotte was illegitimate). I don’t have much info on her prior to her having kids and getting married as there are 3 Charlotte Phillips’ in the various Census, none living with her mother, so it does make it hard to know just which one is ‘my’ Charlotte. But I have a feeling that the one that was a Servant could well just be her, but that is still yet to be proven. It appears that in her early...

Family History Through the Alphabet Challenge: O is for … Online Parish Clerks (OPC’s)...

I found that coming up with something for the letter “O” of the Family History Through the Alphabet Challenge was a bit of a toughy, but finally found some inspiration, and would like to tell you about one of the websites that I’ve used a lot with my research. O is for ONLINE PARISH CLERKS (or OPCs as they’re more commonly known) Online Parish Clerks are a group of volunteers who transcribe parish records, and make them available online for free. The main Online Parish Clerks website makes the statement that OPCs “… are volunteers who collect genealogical information about a specific parish and answer email enquiries without charge”. Sound too good to be true? Well, it is 100% true. As genealogists we all know that parish records are fabulous records (and by that I mean MUST-HAVE records). I mean they include baptisms, marriages, marriage banns, and burials … so of course genie’s are gonna love them! But the OPCs go further than just the ‘core’  records. Depending on the county, you’ll also find histories of towns, old maps, monumental inscriptions, indexes of wills, as well as military records. The volunteers involved with the Online Parish Clerks Project are not only passionate about genealogy, but are also wanting to give something back, and do so by transcribing records, and answering queries, rather a variant form of Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness (RAOGK). There are 11 individual OPC websites running at present, each covering a different English county: Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Essex, Hampshire, Kent, Lancashire, Somerset, Sussex, Warwickshire, and Wiltshire. Fortunately Cornwall, Devon and Sussex are where my main research focus lies at present. Remember the ‘transcriptions on the OPC websites are all a ‘work-in-progress’, but between them, they’ve transcribed millions...

Family History Through the Alphabet Challenge: N is for … Never-Ending New Stuff and New Jersey...

As has happened numerous times throughout the Family History Through the Alphabet Challenge, I’ve changed my mind of what to write about after already starting this post. So for this N post I’d like to say that N is for NEVER-ENDING NEW STUFF We all know that the internet is an absolute wealth of information with new websites and new records being added online daily. Seriously the rate of growth is overwhelming. So how do we keep up with what new online that interests us? And by that I’m meaning anything genealogy or genealogy-related, but you knew that didn’t you … just checking!! Well there are several ways, so let me share those with you … Firstly you can keep up to date with what’s new on the big websites (arranged alphabetically: WEBSITES Ancestry.com.au – To check our the latest additions to the Ancestry website look for the Search button on their top bar, the scroll down to Card Catalogue.  That will bring u a listing of collections on the Ancestry.com.au website sorted by popularity. You can change this to sort by Newest, and on the lefthand sidebar you can choose to click off the “filter to show only records from Australia”and it will then give you all the latest records on any Ancestry site. Note: this also applies to Ancestry.co.uk and Ancestry.com. Cyndi’s List – Cyndi’s List is a directory of websites, not records, but I feel it is important to keep up with what websites are new too … so to view her newly added sites, she has a button titles “Browse New Links” and from there you can check the links added each day for the past month of so. FamilySearch – To view what’s new...

Family History Through the Alphabet Challenge: M is for … Memories, Memoirs and a Headstone...

The letter M has proved to be harder than I thought, simply because there are too many choices. Firstly I decided to write about marriages, then that changed to military records, followed by writing about grandpa’s Magarey Medals, and then monumental inscriptions. So as you can see my head has been swarming with M words for the past few weeks. So after starting and then restarting this post several times, and before I change my mind again, I’m going to write about … M is for MEMORIES and MEMOIRS I felt that I couldn’t write about memories without also writing about memoirs along with it, so I’ve combined them for this post. Memories are something that is personal, they are YOURS, and no-one can take your memories away from you. Remembering a memory can bring back so much feeling and emotion of a time, a place, a moment, a special occasion and more. While no-one can take away your memories, sadly LIFE can. As we get older and fill our head with useless things like the picking up some milk on the way home, your PIN number or your passwords for websites (ok, no they’re not useless, but you know they’re just day-to-day stuff), some memories get pushed to the back – sometimes to never to return, while others may with something that sparks a trip back to that time. Earlier this week I spent an afternoon with my 92 year old grandma. I primarily went over to scan a sketch her brother drew of a scene in WWII (but that’s a story for another day), but while I was there out came the photos, and piles of them. But along with the photos, came the stories. It was...

Family History Through the Alphabet Challenge: L is for … Letters...

For the Family History Through the Alphabet Challenge I have decided to write about ‘Letters”. It’s almost a lost art these days, with email, texting, and DMs (direct messages) – who needs to write eh? L is for LETTERS Writing a letter was THE way to communicate up until relatively recently … well at least until phones became popular. I’m sure every one of you can remember just how exciting it was to actually get a letter (not a bill) in the mail. I know I sure was. Letters can be an enormous source of historical information. They told of life as it was, of happenings of friends and family and more. I find with letters there are two challenges: reading the handwriting, and  just taking the time to read through them all. Both I find equally a challenge. Anyway I’d decided to write about Letters, so as I have done with a number of my Family History Through the Alphabet Challenges, I visited my parents to see what they had in the way of old letters, and I came across something really special. I recently wrote about John Beavis Randell, my great grandfather. Well amongst the Randell ephemera that has been saved, I found a letter written by Samuel (a half-brother to John), to his sister Bessie. First things first, I know that trying to follow relationships in narrative form can be confusing, here’s a little chart. It’s the 10th child I’m descended from. As Bessie would have only been 14 or so at the time, Samuel addressed the letter to his father: W.B. Randell Esq., Dawlish, Devon. Obviously there weren’t many Randell’s in Dawlish, in Devon at the time. Now the cool, yet weird thing about this letter is...

Family History Through the Alphabet Challenge: K is for … Old Words...

Almost half way through the Family History Through Alphabet Challenge, and  my head has decided to go on holidays, it has had no bright inspirations for the letter K at all. I’ve been trying to come up with something super exciting for K for the past couple of weeks, and still nothing! So for this post I’ve decided to take a look in my copy of “What Did They Mean by That?: A Dictionary of Historical and Genealogical Terms Old and New” and list a few of the old words starting with K that are in there. K is for … Old Words I probably should be writing about my Kelly family from the Isle of Man, or the Kemp’s from Cornwall, or Mr Lonetester’s Kerslake or Kuchel families, but I don’t feel that I have done enough research on any of them to do them justice at this stage … so they shall wait for another day … and old words it is today! keck: a very early term to vomit, to retch. kelderkin: a small barrel. kersey: a heavy wool and cotton fabric used for outer coats. kick the can: ‘tag’ of sorts, timed by reaching a kicked can. killing time: that time of the year, quite usually late Autumn, when swine and cattle were slaughtered and the meat prepared or preserved for the Winter. King’s Evil: draining and widespread eruptions on the body and, as were many diseases, thought subject to being cured by a touch from the king (or queen); also meaning a disease or affliction apparently affecting glands in the neck. King’s X, King’s Cross: a very ancient expression by which children declare themselves temporarily exempt from game rules. kippacks: shoes homemade by the...

Family History Through the Alphabet Challenge: J is for [Heirloom] Jewellery...

Anyone that really knows me … knows that I am a total jewellery freak (the top picture is just a few of the M-A-N-Y necklaces I have). I love my rings, bracelets and necklaces … so it made sense to write about jewellery for this post. Though not about ‘my’ jewellery, but rather heirloom jewellery. J is for Jewellery While these items would be classed as useless jewellery to others, each has sentimental value, which is something that cannot be replaced. I’ve decided to show these heirlooms from most recent (meaning starting with me) and going back to the oldest items, which are ones that belonged to my grandma.   Having my grandma’s engagement ring is very special to me, and apart from the sentimental value, it is a really pretty ring. Very intricate. Writing this post, I realised that I actually had no idea of when my grandparents  got engaged. Was it a long engagement, or a short one? I had no idea. So that sounded like as good excuse (actually, who needs an excuse) to visit Trove. And 2 minutes later I had my answer … The Advertiser, Wednesday 15 May 1940 …. This post forms part of the Family History Through the Alphabet Challenge issued by Gould Genealogy &...

Family History Through the Alphabet Challenge: I is for … you guessed it … the INTERNET...

I admit that I was initially stumped for ideas when thinking about my ‘I’ post for the Family History Through the Alphabet Challenge, but then it hit me … I is for … INTERNET How did I not think of it before? I know why … it’s because the internet is now something that we take for granted. We get up, turn the computer on (that is if we actually bothered to turn it off), and log on. Then check emails, Facebook,  Twitter, blog posts and maybe a few websites while we’re at it … well, that’s me anyway. But seriously, can any of us imagine what life would be like without the internet? I’m sure having difficulty doing so. I’m not a person that needs the latest tech-toys – I don’t have a iPhone or Smartphone even, but as I’m addicted to the internet (yes, I admit it), not having one gives me at a forced break away from the net. But I admit, that when I went on the 1st Unlock the Past History & Genealogy Cruise back in March 2011, it was a tough 8 days, having limited internet access. I’m sure a number of the older generation would say that life without the internet would (or could) be a good thing. And no doubt in some respects they’re right. But to be able to correspond with people quickly, to send photos and videos, to check the latest world happenings … it wouldn’t happen without the internet. And without the internet I wouldn’t hear the common quote of ‘I’ll just look that up’ which Mr Lonetester is famous for. This could be anything from checking an email address, to who was in that movie we saw...