7 Traits that Make a Good Genealogist...

If you don’t like the idea of wandering a cemetery for hours, or spending a day in the archives, or if you hate the smell of old books … let me tell you that family history just isn’t for you. So can I suggest you take up photography, hiking, woodwork, scapbooking or knitting instead. However for those that think the above is a perfect day out … welcome to “the tribe”. You are a fellow totally obsessed genealogist, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Nothing at all. We feel at ease with fellow genies, as they are part of our ‘tribe’. They ‘get’ us, and don’t eyeroll like the other family members. But what brings us together is our similarity in certain traits. Here’s just a collection of 7 main ones. HAVE PATIENCE – Sitting in a library or archive and scrolling through microfiche, or paging through old record books is not for everyone. But a good researcher will know that you might be there for a day or two (or more), before your find who you’re looking for. That one person you’ve been hunting for years. And some days you don’t find them at all. Family history IS NOT a quick hobby. I know many people who have been been researching for 20, 30, 40 or more years. You may spend days, weeks or years looking for one person … and of course frustration sets in, but when you find them you’re on cloud 9 for a year!! Your patience finally paid off. GET ORGANISED – This is a great trait to have, but it’s not one that comes naturally to many of us. When you start researching you will experience what is known as the “paperwork snowball”. Paperwork...

Remembering Boo (2002-2019)...

Yesterday is one of those days that all pet owners dread. The visit to the vet for a beloved pet, only they don’t go home. Sadly that was yesterday for my boy, Boo. He had been a part of the family for 16 1/2 years. Boo was one of three kittens all from the same litter that Mr Lonetester and I adopted. Part-moggie, part-persian, they were kittens of a ‘friendly stray’ at my parents house, and I’m pleased to say that we gave them all a wonderful home. Having got Boo and his siblings at just under 4 weeks old, we got to watch them grow from teeny-tiny bouncy kittens into big fluffballs. Saying goodbye is never an easy decision to make, but we know it was the right one as it wouldn’t have been an easy life for him going forwards. Although not himself for the past week, having lost weight and quite weak, he was still smoochy, and purring until the end … and he is now over the rainbow bridge with his sister Zap, who left us last year.  We are a fur-kid family, and just like kids, each one has their own likes and dislikes and personality. Boo has always been a Mummy’s boy, so I’m missing him like crazy. He’s simply not there – on the bed – where he always is. It really was his favourite place. He’s not there to ‘talk’ on the phone when I’m talking, and he’s not there to be first to the food. He was our chatty boy, and you could have a whole conversation with him, and he liked me to take him for a walk, which was me holding him over my shoulder and walking up and...

Older and Wiser: What I’d Say to My Younger Genealogical Self...

So you’ve been researching your family history for a while now, and have learnt things over the years, and I have no doubt that you’re a different researcher now than you were back then. So what would you say to your younger genealogical self? Here’s my response … Dear younger me, So I know that you grew up with family history, but you FINALLY took up doing your own. That’s AWESOME!! I know you had a good start with what dad did, but nothing beats doing your own searching, and in doing so you’ll come across people you never knew, find out amazing stories of survival, put names and faces to photographs and heirlooms and more. In essence you’ll learn about the people who helped make YOU! So what advice can I give you? Read. I know you already read, but read articles in genealogy magazines, read reviews of genealogical products and websites, read blogs on people’s research. I do all of this now, and learn a lot from them. The learning never ends. Cite your sources. I know, you’ve heard it before. As much as you believe you’ll remember where you got that tidbit of information from, trust me 5 years down the track when you’re relooking at that branch, you won’t. So CITE. YOUR. SOURCES. While it doesn’t have to be in the “official citation format” if you’re not familiar with that yet, but at least note where it came from: what person, what book, what newspaper (including the date and page number), what website etc. Afterall a tree without sources is as bad as a photograph album without names … well almost. Another thing … don’t be afraid to ask questions? Query your relatives, usually one question and one person...

Remembering Zap (2002-2018)...

Today is one of those days that all pet owners dread. The one-way visit to the vets for a beloved pet. Sadly today was Zap’s day. Zap has been a part of the family for about 16  years. She and her two brothers (all from the same litter) were the part-moggie, part-persian kittens of a ‘friendly stray’ at my parents house, and I’m pleased to say that Mr Lonetester and I gave them all a great home. Having got Zap and her brothers (we couldn’t choose, so picked all three), at just under 4 weeks old, we got to watch them grow from teeny-tiny bouncy kittens into big fluffballs. Saying last goodbye’s is never a easy decision to make, but we know it was the right one as she wasn’t well. And after purring till the end, she left peacefully, and is now over the rainbow bridge with Gizmo and Mickey.  We are a fur-family and do have other cats in our household, but as all cat lovers will know, every cat has it’s very own personality, so the fact that Zap isn’t there, isn’t simply replaced by those that are. She’d taken to sleeping in a particular windowsill, and now it’s empty. It’s going take a while to look at that windowsill again without tears welling up. Here’s a few pics of her I’d like to share and remember her by …...

Listen and Learn With Genealogy Podcasts...

So you’re doing genealogy, and you’d like to learn more about history and family history, but you don’t have a lot of spare time, right? Have you discovered podcasts? I’m guessing a few hands went up, but most of you are saying “no” as you read this. Some of you might not even know what they are (stick with me as I’ll explain). Anyway podcasts are a fabulous way to learn – not just for genealogy, but any topic. They are simply audio recordings that you can listen to on your computer, iPad or Smartphone, and there are literally thousands of them – all history and genealogy related – and waiting for you to listen to whenever you choose. With podcasts you can listen interviews with genealogy peeps, information on coming events, reports on past events, reviews on products, and hear plenty of general genealogy news. Below are just a few of the more well-known genealogy-related podcasts. Note, they are all free to listen to. And no you don’t need a subscription. Just click on the ‘listen’ or ‘play’ button, and start listening. If you have a iPad, or iPhone, most you can download from iTunes. ——————————- Extreme Genes Extreme Genes is a weekly radio show and podcast about family history. Host Scott Fisher keeps you informed on the latest in family history research around the world, and talks to people about amazing things that have happened while they were doing family history research.   Family Tree Magazine Podcast Hear about the best genealogy tools and tips directly from Family Tree Magazine’s editors and experts! Each month you are taken behind the scenes to learn more about genealogy topics from the Family Tree magazine, books, courses and more. Each episode features interviews with genealogy...

15 Reasons That Genealogy is Like Gardening...

I am what I call a “potter” gardener. I don’t mind getting out there on a nice day, and just pottering around, doing a big of weeding, pruning, planting new plants, finding others that I don’t remember planting and so on. And it was while I spent some time outside doing some gardening recently and getting some important vitamin D in as well … it occurred to me that gardening is rather like genealogy,  and not just because they both involve trees. So here’s what I came up with … Like gardening, your tree is NEVER finished Both involve LOTS of digging Like gardening, from time to time you do have to prune branches off your tree There’s no doubt about it … both gardening ad family tree-ing take time Like weeding, every little you can do helps you see results Like gardening, it’s super exciting when you discover something new – something you didn’t know existed Not sure about you, but I love colour, both in my garden, and in my family history. And as researchers we love those colourful characters don’t we! Like gardening, from little things big things grow (well that’s the theory, and it sometimes works)! Start with a name or two … and in time you’ll have a family tree Like actual trees, some family trees are spread wide, while others are narrow but tall (more direct line type trees) When gardening you’ll come across different soil types. Some nice and soft, others like clay hard or with lots of rocks. Obviously when planting there, they take more effort and more time to nurture what grows there. This reminds me of brickwall. it’s do-able, but they take a lot more time and effort. There...

The Ultimate Checklist: 79 Places to Look for Family History Information...

So you’ve embarked on the super-exciting journey of family history … the journey where you discover not only who your family is and was, but in many instances yourself as well. You’ve started off by writing down all the information that you currently know about yourself, your spouse, your children, your siblings and your parents (names, dates, places etc). The next step is to look for items that are likely to help you with more information. Everyone knows about the birth, death and marriage certificates as a source of information. But had you thought of looking in your baby book, on x-rays, or your drivers licence … all of these have valuable information about the person they relate to, and therefore all are sources. So if you thought you had looked EVERYWHERE … think again. I guarantee that this checklist has at lease a few possibilities you hadn’t considered before. Birth ___ Adoption Record ___ Baby Book ___ Birth Certificate Marriage ___ Anniversary Announcement ___ Marriage Certificate ___ Wedding Announcement ___ Wedding Book Divorce ___ Papers Death ___ Death Certificate ___ Funeral Book ___ Memorial Cards ___ Obituary ___ Will Education ___ Awards ___ Graduation ___ Honour Roll ___ Report Cards ___ Year Books Employment ___ Achievement Awards ___ Apprenticeship Records ___ Business Cards ___ Income Tax Records ___ Membership Records ___ Resume ___ Severance Records ___ Retirement Records Everyday Life ___ Address Books ___ Autograph Album ___ Bills ___ Birthday Book ___ Biography ___ Diary ___ Letters ___ Newspaper Clippings ___ Passport ___ Photographs ___ Scrapbooks ___ Telephone Books Family ___ Bible ___ Bulletins/Newsletters ___ Coat of Arms ___ Genealogies ___ Histories Health ___ Hospital Records ___ Immunisation Records ___ Insurance Papers ___ Medical Records ___ X-rays Household Items ___ Dishes ___ Engraved...

A to Z – A Few Words from the Past...

Ever come across a word in an old document or article you didn’t know what it meant? I’m sure you have. Language changes. Words change. They go in and out of fashion. So I thought it would be interesting to have a look at few a few old school (aka “archiac”) words and their original meanings. There are oodles of “old word” lists online which you’ll find helpful, but for my list I decided to head to Google Books and look through “A Dictionary of the English Language” which was compiled in 1828 by Samuel Johnson, John Walker and Robert S. Jameson. You may be familiar with some of the words below, afterall some appear in the current Oxford Dictionary. But I believe that many will be as foreign to you as they were to me. A Abactor – One who drives away or steals cattle in herds Adulatress – She that flattereth Animaclue – A minute animal Antipestilential – Efficacious against the plague Arcanum – A secret Arcubalist – A crossbow B Base-Born – Born out of wedlock; of low parentage; vile Basenet – An helmet or headpiece Becloud – To dim; to obscure Belmetal – The metal of which bells are made; being a mixture of three parts copper and one of tin Black-Jack – The leathern cup of elder times C Carle – A mean, rude, rough, brutal man Carouseer – A drinker Cataphract – A horseman in complete armour D Deep-Read – Profoundly versed Demy – A term relating to the size of paper; as demy, royal or large; of which demy is the smallest Dentifrice – A powder made to scour the teeth Deuterogamist – He who enters into a second marriage Domesman –...

Lost in the Genealogy Wilderness...

Ever have that feeling where you don’t know where you are, or which direction to turn? Or even what to do next? I’m sure some of you have, while others have never experienced that feeling. Of course I’m talking about this in relation to your genealogy research. And that is where unfortunately, (and unexpectedly), I’ve found myself at. I’m not a professional researcher, and I don’t claim to be, but I have been researching for a number of years. However my research these days tends to consist of me seeing new sets  records released, so I’ll go check for so-and-so … or hear a tidbit from another relative about this other person, or something they did, so I’ll go see what I can find. In otherwords it’s very piecemeal. Very unfocussed, very unstructured, and without an exact goal in mind. More like dabbling if you like. So now when I find that I have a free weekend (not that it happens often, but it’s nice when it does), and I want to settle in to doing some research – I am unable to just get into it, as I have no idea which line or person to get going on. So I’m rather lost in the genealogy wilderness, and I really just need to set myself some research goals and FOLLOW them … Or even better, get entering the piles of stuff I have collected that I “STILL” haven’t entered.  (Is anyone else like that? You love finding stuff, but hate entering it, or is it just me?) Actually I really, REALLY should do that entering stuff first. Sort out what I have, note it, file it … then get back the fun part of the searching! So while I’m...

The Origins of Shampoo

You know, every time I’ve been in my bathroom over the past few weeks the same question pops into my head “I wonder when shampoo was invented?”. This was always followed by “I wonder what did they use before?” So I decided to find out. Let’s start by saying that I’m talking about the liquid shampoo that comes in a bottle. I need to state that because when I was looking around, I found many earlier references to shampoo, but that was for “soap” shampoo and even ‘”powder” shampoo. So yes, prior to liquid shampoo being available, soap was what was mostly used. My 96 year old grandma even remembers using soap for shampoo as a young child. Anyway so I headed to Wikipedia for some info  … So firstly the word, “shampoo” …. The word shampoo entered the English language from India during the colonial era. It dates to 1762, and is derived from Hindi chāmpo itself derived from the Sanskrit root chapayati (which means to press, knead, soothe). But what about liquid shampoo? For that we fast forward 165 years … In 1927, liquid shampoo was invented by German inventor Hans Schwarzkopf in Berlin, whose name created a shampoo brand sold in Europe. Originally, soap and shampoo were very similar products; both containing the same naturally derived surfactants, a type of detergent. So we all know the brand Schwartzkopf, right? Well it seems Hans Schwartzkopf wasn’t ‘just’ a name in the hair care industry, he was the actual inventor of liquid shampoo, and in doing so revolutionised hair care. The Schwartzkopf website even has a timeline history which is a fascinating read, and you can check that out here. So to Mr Schwartzkopf and those that followed and continued...