No Liars, No Dirty Faces, and Other Library Rules

Library rules were simple back in the day. If you take look at current library rules, they’re kind of what you’d expect. Very long and very detailed. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, they’re just covering their bases.

But back the 1900s (actual date unknown), the Hyde Institute Library in Hertfordshire, England, created a list of just 12 simple rule … and very wise ones at that!

What we do know, is that the first newspaper account of this list that I found was is in The Observer, London, England, Sunday 27 April 1930, p18.

But it was so good, that it was picked up by the Australian newspapers, and reproduced in the Northern Territory Times, 12 August 1930, p6, as well as  Brisbane’s Sunday Mail, 11 January 1931, p15 as well as Melbourne’s Advocate, Tuesday 23 March 1939, p16 to mention a few.

Incidentally while looking on Trove for “Library Rules”, I found a great article that was printed in the Geraldton Guardian, Tuesday, 4 November 1914, p4, which I’ve added in below.

Heed these rules …

I especially like the “Don’t grumble. You are borrowing, and getting interest for nothing”. So true. Libraries are free, and they provide an incredible service to the community. Respect the staff and library volunteers, not to mention the books and other items the library has and allows the public to use.


17 Reasons Why Family History is Good for You

If you’re a die-hard family historian, this post isn’t for you. Why? Because you already know how awesome researching is, and in reality you’re probably like me, and can’t understand why everyone isn’t in to it. Alas, they aren’t so.

So for everyone else, let me give you some reasons (my own personal ones at that), as to WHY I believe family history is good for you. But feel free to chip in with others if you have more.


  • You’ll become the king or queen of organisation (well, that’s the theory anyway). As researchers we acquire so much information (often in paper form as well as electronic form), all of which needs a good filing system to keep it retrievable. So over time you WILL learn to become organised. You have to.
  • Geography. Yes, seriously. I promise you you will get a whole lot better at geography (at least in the areas your ancestors came from)
  • And history. You will learn history. After all you have to know what happened where in the world to put your family history in context
  • If your family is from a foreign (non-English speaking) country, you will amaze yourself by learning enough of the language to be able to read genealogical documents. And for other words and phrases we always have Google Translate and Babel Fish to help if needed
  • After spending weeks scrolling through census, parish records and wills, you’ll be 100% proficient at reading anyone’s handwriting! After all those census enumerators and parish priests certainly gave us a challenge
  • You’ll learn new words like “taphophilia“, “centimorgan” and “ahnentafel
  • Not to mention understanding the “ye olde” language, medical and occupational terms that were used back in the day. (Thank goodness for old dictionaries)
  • You’ll develop a better memory. True. You’ll be remembering names, dates and facts of your ancestors in no time. And you’ll quite likely remember them better than you remember the birthday’s of those living
  • You’ll become a bit of a sleuth. A detective, sussing out what records are where, and how they are likely to help. Then actually making considered responses based on the evidence


  • Genealogy is outdoorsy. Ok, well it is to a degree. We like visiting cemeteries, which we can happily do for hours, and is super great for the step count
  • Then there’s the effort involved in clearing overgrowth in cemeteries
  • And did you know that genealogy is great yoga? After sitting at your desk for probably too many hours, you’ll get up and stretch up (or bend down) to get to books, folders or records, which no doubt are heavy, so you could count that as weight lifting too (bonus!)
  • Also have you heard of the genealogist’s sprint. That is when you’re at a library or archives and need to go to take a break, but don’t want to lose your desk … so, you literally sprint. Great cardio!


  • When you do family history you will make the best friends. Both with others who are researching as well as newly discovered extended family
  • We all know about the genealogy happy dance, don’t we! Excitement + dancing (win, win)
  • You’ll discover the truly amazing lives that your ancestors lived. Both the highs and lows, the good and the bad, You’ll come to ‘know’ them, and appreciate that they are a part of what made you, you
  • You know all those family traits everyone has … well you may well find out who to blame for yours

So you’ll see that the combination of skills, exercise and the excitement that family history creates – really does makes researching a worthwhile endeavour. Wouldn’t you agree?

So if you’ve been holding off getting started … wait no more. Do it now … for you, your family AND your health!

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 …

  1. Like gardening, your tree is NEVER finished
  2. Both involve LOTS of digging
  3. Like gardening, from time to time you do have to prune branches off your tree
  4. There’s no doubt about it … both gardening ad family tree-ing take time
  5. Like weeding, every little you can do helps you see results
  6. Like gardening, it’s super exciting when you discover something new – something you didn’t know existed
  7. 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!
  8. 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
  9. Like actual trees, some family trees are spread wide, while others are narrow but tall (more direct line type trees)
  10. 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.
  11. There will ALWAYS be weeds in your garden, and in your family tree as well. They are those you need to verify if they are actually part of your tree or not (eg. which of the 5 William Slater’s born in a particular village within a 5 year period is yours?)
  12. Just like gardening, you’ll need different tools for the job when doing your family history (a family tree program, websites, charts to fill in, guide books, original records and so on)
  13. If you’re like me you probably work on different sections of the garden, depending on what catches your eye at the time … the same goes with genealogy. Multiple different trees, or branches, not to mention the BSO (Bright Shiny Objects) we get sidetracked by
  14. Like gardening, if you don’t ‘tend’ to your family tree (aka keep working on it) it can get out of control
  15. Enjoy the fruits of your labour. Sit back every now and then and take in all the hard work that you’ve done with researching, and think of the amazing legacy you’ve created for the next generation.

So there you go. Gardening is not unlike genealogy at all. So next time you’re out in the garden (which could be a while for me, as winter is starting to set in) … just think of how similar it is to you doing family history.

Happy gardening!

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas – Genealogy-Style

The items on a genealogists Christmas wishlist tend to be a little different to everyone else’s, and this is reflected in a number of variants of the “Twas the Night Before Christmas poem, and a few other genealogy-related Christmas poems. Enjoy!

(Author Unknown)

‘Twas the night before Christmas
when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even my spouse.
The dining room table with clutter was spread
With pedigree charts and with letters which said:

“Too bad about the data for which you wrote.
It sank in a storm on an ill-fated boat.”
Stacks of old copies of wills and of such
Were proof that my work had become much too much.

Our children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugarplums danced in their heads.
And I at my table was ready to drop
From work on my album with photos to crop.

Christmas was here, and of such was my lot
That presents and goodies and toys I’d forgot.
Had I not been so busy with grandparents’ wills,
I’d not have forgotten to shop for such thrills.

While others had bought gifts that would bring Christmas cheer,
I’d spent time researching those birthdates and years.
While I was thus musing about my sad plight,
A strange noise on the lawn gave me such a fright.

Away to the window I flew in a flash,
Tore open the drapes and I yanked up the sash.
When what to my nearsighted eyes should appear,
But an overstuffed sleigh and eight small reindeer.

Up to the housetop the reindeer they flew
With a sleigh full of toys, and ol’ Santa Claus, too.
And then in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of thirty-two hoofs.

The TV antenna was no match for their horns,
And look at my roof, with hoof-prints adorned!
As I drew in my head, and bumped it on the sash,
Down the cold chimney fell Santa – KEE-RASH!

Dear Santa had come from the roof in a wreck
And tracked soot on the carpet! I could just wring his neck!
Spotting my face, good old Santa could see
I had no Christmas spirit, you’d have to agree.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work
And filled all the stockings. (I felt like a jerk).
Here was Santa who’d brought us such gladness and joy;
When I’d been too busy for even one toy.

He spied my research on the table all spread.
“A genealogist!”, he cried (My face was all red).
“Tonight I’ve met many like you”, Santa grinned,
As he pulled from his sack a large book he had penned.

I gazed with amazement – the cover, it read:
“Genealogy Lines For Which You Have Plead”.
“I know what it’s like as a genealogy bug”,
He said as he gave me a great Santa hug.

“While the elves make the sleighful of toys I now carry,
I do some research in the North Pole Library!”
“A special treat I am thus able to bring
To genealogy folks who can’t find a thing.”

“Now off you go to your bed for a rest –
I’ll clean up the house of this genealogy mess”.
As I climbed up the stairs full of gladness and glee,
I looked back at Santa who’d brought much to me.

While settling in bed, I heard Santa’s clear whistle
To his team, which then rose like the down of a thistle.
And I heard him exclaim as he flew out of sight,
“Family history is fun! Merry Christmas! Good night!”

While I can find numerous reference to this poem, sadly they all say author unknown.
The earliest reference I found of this version was on Matthew Monroe’s
Canonical List of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas Variations site, dated 6 January 2007.


(by Sandra Devlin, Moncton, New Brunswick)

‘Twas the night before Christmas and inside my house
Little was stirring, except my computer mouse.
Our descendants were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of ancestors danced in their heads.

So I at my laptop, near trusty old printer
Put the finishing touches to the project of winter,
The gift I had promised for under the tree
A product of love, the family genealogy.

My table with clutter galore was aspread
with pedigree charts of the living and dead;
old yellowed photos, letters of yore,
wills and diaries chronicling days from before.

While others bought gifts at Wall-Mart or Sears,
I’d spent my time searching birth dates and years.
No need for ribbons or fancy gift wrappings,
This gift had a way of transcending the trappings.

While surveying the charts with one final proof,
I must have missed the sound on the roof.
For what to my wondering eyes did appear,
But the jolly old elf, replete in his gear.

Searching my face, old Santa could sense
My Christmas spirit was extremely intense.
He spied my research on the table spread out,
“A genealogist!” he exclaimed, “that removes any doubt.”

As I climbed up the stairs feeling quite in the pink,
I looked back at Santa and shared a sly wink.
For he and I know that the gift of oneself,
Beats anything bought from a department store shelf.

This was posted by the author on a RootsWeb Mailing List, and is dated 19 December 2000.


(by Daniel Hubbard)

Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house,
Not a creature was noisy, except my clicking mouse,
The descendants were nestled, all snug in their beds,
But I was still searching for great-Uncle Ned,

And a census with Grandma and Great-Grand-pap,
Who just settled down at this spot on the map,
When suddenly arose some noises exterior,
I swiveled in my chair to free my posterior.

Away to the window, I made a mad dash,
And gazed out on the scene of a quite festive crash,
A tangle of decorations surround a miniature sleigh,
Santa flew low over a Yuletide display,

Reindeer and camels and snowmen all mingled,
I knew in a moment that I’d soon be Kris Kringled,
They struggled to pull all the lights they were trailing,
And even the dead heard his most fearful wailing;

“On Probate, on Will Book, On Baptismal Ledger,
On Census, on Plat Map, On Microfilm Reader!”
He entered extra quickly ’cause I’ve shortened this poem,
And he bore in his hands one enormous tome,

A rub of his eye and a shake of his head,
Soon gave me to know genealogists should be in bed;
He spoke not a word but went straight to my work,
Found all my relations then turned with a jerk,

And leaving the curser beside great-grandpa Morse,
Gave me some papers, each a primary source,
He sprang to his team, I yanked the mess from his sleigh,
So he managed to lift off before it was day,

And I heard his great joy at a sleigh minus fetters,
“Next year your getting all Uncle Ned’s letters!”

This was on Daniel Hubbard’s own blog, Personal Past Meditations – A Genealogical Blog,
and is dated 24 December 2011.


(by Dora Mills)

‘Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the charts
The lines that were empty would sure break your heart.
The pedigree chart was laid out with care,
In hopes that St Nicholas would know who or where.
As searcher I nestled all snug in my bed
While visions of ancestors danced through my head.

Others sound asleep both upstairs and down
All in a nightcap and ankle length gown.
when out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I jumped from my bed to see what was the matter.
When much to my wonderment there did appear
Good old St Nicholas with a grin to each ear.

His bulk was tremendous, his eyes full of glee
He laughed as he picked up the sad pedigree.
He shouted and roared and ripped it to bits
While I swallowed my heart and went into fits.
“Dash it all, dash it all,” I heard him then say,
“This clutter and mess is just in my way.”

He said not a word as he started his job
He sat down at once and his pencil did jog.
A new pedigree he filled out in two winks
Giving names, dates, and places and all missing links.
Clear back to Adam, and down to the last…
For ageless was he, having served in the past.

I thought, “Oh, how wonderful it would all be
If he did for others what he did for me!!:
As he finished and blotted the ink not quite dry
A sadness came over me and then I did cry!
He gave me the details and seemed to have such fun
But now all my ancestor chasing was done!!!

He bounced out the window and I heard him say,
“For others I’ll do the same any old day,
Just tell them my number and be good and kind,”
But then, a sure thought came into my mind…
Nobody wants ancestors that fast and so good
I’ll let everyone else do the job just as they should.

This was published on RootsWeb, but was first published in the Ash Tree Echo in January 1983.


(Author Unknown)

Dear Santa: Don’t bring me new dishes,
I don’t need a new kind of game.
Genealogists have peculiar wishes
For Christmas I just want a surname.

A new washing machine would be great,
But it’s not the desire of my life.
I’ve just found an ancestor’s birth date;
What I need now is the name of his wife.

My heart doesn’t yearn for a ring
That would put a real diamond to shame.
What I want is a much cheaper thing;
Please give me Mary’s last name.

To see my heart singing with joy,
Don’t bring me a read leather suitcase,
Bring me a genealogist’s toy;
a surname with dates and a place.

I found this one on Linda and Mike Bianchi’s genealogy website, where they state that this poem had been seen
in the Illinois State Gen Soc newsletter, 1984


And to finish off, here’s a link to an earlier post I did which is “An Aussie Genealogist’s Wish List“. We don’t ask for much really …

And I’d like to take a moment to WISH YOU ALL A WONDERFUL CHRISTMAS.