Mar 312016

J Paul Hawthorne came up with a way of visualising our family history data. #MyColourfulAncestry which has taken Facebook by storm

Paul has provided a downloadable 5 generation chart Thanks Paul!

Sometimes looking at our data in different ways can show perhaps where we are missing data or just show things in a different way. 

I took it up a bit to a seven generation chart showing the birthplaces of my ancestors.  By just looking at the birthplace it is cleaner without all the other data showing.

My father was born in Kent England and as can be seen by colouring the places of birth and seeing all that yellow, I have a lot of Kent ancestry!

There are a lot of things you can do. I have always been a strong advocate of researching your health history and so of course I had done a cause of death chart previously but have done it again. This shows the cause of death and the age.Cancer shown in red occurs more often than I would like. Tuberculosis also occurs as does heart disease although pretty good ages for most of my ancestors.

Emily Schroeder of GrowingLittleLeaves blog showed how she used the chart to interest her daughter in her family history by using the colours on the chart and colouring a map to match those same colours. A fantastic idea to get children interested!

Others have shown the religious affiliations of their ancestors. Some have done occupation charts. I am not sure about that as so many people have varied occupations during their lifetimes. My great grandfather was a tailor most of his life but became ill and in  the last period of time became an insurance salesman which is what was shown as the occupation on his death certificate. 

And didn’t that create an argument with my grandmother when I said he was an insurance salesman! Having said that I changed from using Personal Ancestral File to Family Tree Maker many, many years ago as my partner had five generations of blacksmiths on his line and I really wanted to be able to show it on a chart!

There are many things you can do in Excel (or any spreadsheet) to help in your family history. Facebook has a group Excel-ling Genealogists which has over 1000 members.

YouTube is another great resource and if you do a search for Excel and Genealogy you will find over 1400 videos. A YouTube channel I would recommend is Tessa Keough who has done a whole series of videos on Excel and also on Legacy. Tessa, like me, is also a One Name study researcher and uses Excel extensively for her study. Tessa’s YouTube channel can be found here.

So why not give it a go and visualise your data in a different way?

Mar 042016

So many things can hinge on a simple decision. For all of us in the genealogy world it was a decision  that changed things for the better for all of us.

The decision to collect the known at that time online links to sites useful to genealogists and then putting the whole 1125 of them on a website because “somebody might find that list of links useful”

led to a site beloved and essential to many.

That decision was made 20 years ago today! So it is Happy Birthday to Cyndi’s List!!!!!

That 20 years has seen the list of useful sites to the genealogist grow from 1025 to over 330 788+ links!

If you went to each and every link and spent just one hour at that link you wou need to spend 24 hours a day for the next 37.76 years!

That is 330 788 links that have been checked and categorised for us to use. This is not a one time job. Links constantly change and need to be repaired. Categories need to be expanded and new categories developed, indeed a never ending job.

A never ending job for a site that is totally free, yes that is correct, free for all to use.

What is even more amazing is that this is not being done by the very large team of people you would expect. Instead, apart from some limited help from a family member a number of years ago, all this work was done and is being done by one very amazing lady!

The amazing Cyndi Ingle, the lady who never sleeps!

I was privileged enough to meet Cyndi in person in person at RootsTech in 2013 and she is truly an amazing person who I am honoured to now call my friend.

Me with Cyndi Ingle (centre) and Alona Tester (right)

Thank you Cyndi for all you do!

We can all help Cyndi by reporting broken links (and I don’t mean just filling in the webform Cyndi provides by saying the link is broken!) It is a broken link form after all!

However we can provide the new URL. If we are a society webmaster and we change links we can let Cyndi know, we can submit new links ideally with some information about the link  The submit a new link, report a broken link, update a link buttons are visible on every page.

We can all help Cyndi by saving her time so she can continue to make her creation even better!

We can also click on the Donate to CyndisList to help Cyndi keep the site running and help pay the outstanding costs of the major upgrade of the site. The major upgrade and face-lift of the site  was many thousands of dollars.  

So to celebrate the 20 years of fantastic many hours effort every day by a fantastic lady why not consider donating an amount for all the help you have received by using the links Cyndi has put together for you.

Thank you Cyndi and Happy 20th Birthday to Cyndi’s List!

Feb 032016

When researching you have to keep rerunning your searches in the various databases that are being added to constantly.

We all know and love Trove which is full of treasures. The site is more than just newspapers with photos, theses and much much more.

My treasure yesterday was from a paper. New papers are being added and kind volunteers are correcting the OCR (Optical Character Recognition) which can be a bit variable depending on font and age of paper.

My George Howard Busby was in the 15th Battalion that landed on Gallipoli on the 25th April.

I found this letter snippet (wish it had all been printed!)

Like a Hailstorm
The following is an extract from a letter received by Mrs G.H. Busby, James Street Kingsholme from her husband (Mr George Busby) who at the time of writing was laid up at Courtaulds Hospital, Coventry: –
 “You will know by now that the Australians got a terrible cutting up. Bullets were flying around like a hailstorm. While we were landing the water was white with shrapnel shell. Whole boatloads of men were blown up and sometimes a boat would come ashore without a man alive in it. There were six killed in the boat I was in – one was sitting next to me. I got three bullets through the pocket of my coat, but they did not touch me. We had to jump out of the boats up to our necks in water and make a bayonet charge. The Turks do not like cold steel. I was in for nine days before I got hit so I had a good run for my money. If it had not been for the battleships we would never have been able to hold the position. It was a great sight to see their shells bursting among the Turks. They would be coming up in close formation , a couple of shots would come over from the ships and what was left of the Turks would be running for their lives.”

STORY OF THE WAR. (1915, August 24). Daily Standard (Brisbane, Qld. : 1912 – 1936), p. 4 Edition: SECOND EDITION. Retrieved February 2, 2016, from

Jan 072016

Papers Past the  free website of New Zealand digitised newspapers have just announced some new additions to the site:

Latest additions to Papers Past (December 2015):

 These join the more than four million pages of digitised New Zealand newspapers and periodicals. The collection covers the years 1839 to 1948 and includes 130 publications from all regions of New Zealand.  

Remember that until the 1970s there was non-restricted travel between Australia and New Zealand  so always worth doing a search in the New Zealand papers for your family. New Zealand also had gold rushes so many people went for the gold.

Quite a number of families emigrated to New Zealand first and then some or all later traveled on to Australia.  Apart from anything else editors were always looking for news to fill their papers so it is surprising what ‘other place” news can be found in any newspaper. In fact Dave Obee the eminent Canadian researcher, author and newspaper editor always tells his Canadian classes to check out our wonderful Trove first to get the date range before looking at the Canadian papers (many of which are pay sites).

Talking about our wonderful, FREE, Trove they have just released the titles of the 100 plus forthcoming papers which should be available by June 2016 so not available yet but remember they have also released quite a number of papers over the last six months. So while you are waiting to these to arrive have you gone back and rerun all your searches in the new papers and the corrected text of previous papers. 

For a complete list of what newspapers are currently available and for what time periods look here

The National Library of Australia staff are going to be very busy!

The funding for digitising these papers came froma  variety of sources including a family History society Benalla & District Historical Society and the Sydney Myer Fund.

I am very pleased to see as many Queensland papers coming especially the Toowoomba Chronicle..

I hope the next announcement will be for the later Bundaberg papers as my George Howard Busby moved to Bundaberg in the 1940s and remained there until 1955.

Some of these are quite specialist papers such as the Seaman’s Strike, some Temperance papers and the Dutch Australian Weekly and Dutch Weekly so great to see them being digitised.

– Canberra News (1939-1940)

– The Bee of Australia (1844)

 – Cobargo Chronicle (1898-1944)
 – The Colonial Observer (1841-1844)]
– Commercial Journal and General Advertiser (1835-1840)

 – Commercial Journal, General Advertiser & Odd Fellows’ Advocate (1845-1845)
 – The Cumberland Times & Western Advertiser (1845)
 – The Dispatch (1843-1844)
 – Dutch Australian Weekly (1951-1993) 
 – Dutch Weekly (1993-2004)
 – The Examiner (1845-1845)
 – Free Press & Commercial Journal (1841-1841)
 – Glen Innes Examiner and General Advertiser (1874-1908)
– The Hunter River Gazette & Journal of Agriculture, Commerce, Politics, & News (1841-1842)
 – Nambucca News (1909-1911)
 – The New South Wales Examiner (1842)
 – The Omnibus & Sydney Spectator (1841-1843)
 – Parramatta Chronicle (1843-1845)
 – The Satirist & Sporting Chronicle (1843)
 – The Sentinel (1845-1848)
 – Society (29 Jan 1887)
 – The Star (1845-1876)
 – The Star & Working Man’s Guardian (1844-1845)
 – The Sun & New South Wales Independent Press (1843)
 – The Sydney Dispatch (1844)
 – Sydney Free Press (1841-1842)
 – The Sydney Mail (16 March 1932 – coloured / special Bridge edition)
 – The Sydney Record (1843-1844)
 – The Teetotaller & General Newspaper (1842)
 – The Temperance Advocate & Australasian Commercial & Agricultural Intelligencer (1840-1841); 
 – The True Sun & New South Wales Independent Press (1844)
 – The Twofold Bay Magnet (1909-1920)
 – Warialda Standard & Northern Districts’ Advertiser (1900-1954)
 – The Warialda Watchman (1899)
 – The Weekly Register of Politics, Facts & General Literature (1843-1845)

– Beaudesert Times (1908-1954)

 – Bundaberg Daily New-Mail (1940)
 – Bundaberg Daily News and Mail (1925-1940)
 – Bundaberg Mail (1917-1925)
– Bundaberg Mail and Burnett Advertiser (1892-1917)

 – Daily Record (1897-1922)
 – Dalby Herald (1910-1954)
 – Dalby Herald and Western Queensland Advertiser (1866-1879)
 – Herbert River Express (1910-1954)
 – Johnstone River Advocate (1906-1908)
 – Northern Argus (1865-1874)
 – North Queensland Register (1892-1954)
 – Toowoomba Chronicle and Darling Downs General Advertiser (1875-1902)
 – Townsville Evening Star (1889-1940)

– The Areas’ Express (1877-1948)

 – Australische Zeitung (1875-1916)
 – Blyth Agriculturist (1908-1954)
 – Christian Colonist (1878-1894)
 – Express & Telegraph War Edition (1916-1917)
– Eyre’s Peninsula Tribune (1910-1950)
 – Frearson’s Monthly Illustrated Adelaide News (1880-1884)
 – Glenelg Guardian (1914-1954)
 – Harp and Southern Cross (1873-1875)
 – The Illustrated Adelaide News (1875-1880)
 – The Irish Harp and Farmers’ Herald (1869-1873)
 – The Pictorial Australian (1885-1895)
 – Sport (1911-1948)
 – Yorke’s Peninsula Advertiser (1878-1922)
 – Yorke’s Peninsula Advertiser and Miners’ and Farmers’ Journal (1875-1878)
 – Yorke’s Peninsula Advertiser and Miners’ News (1872-1874)

– The Britannia and Trades’ Advocate (1846-1851)

 – The Coastal News and North Western Advertiser (1890-1891)
– Deloraine – Westbury Advocate (1893-1894)
 – The North Western Chronicle (1887-1888)
 – The Teetotal Advocate (1843)
 – Telegraph (Launceston, 1881-1883)
 – The Tasmanian Colonist (1851-1855)
 – The Van Diemen’s Land Gazette and General Advertiser (1814)
 – Voice (1931-1953)

– Benalla Standard (1921-1925)

 – The Bendigo Independent (1902-1918)
 – Countryman (1924-1929)
 – Farmers’ Advocate: Official Organ of the Victorian Farmers Union (1917-1924)
 – Goulburn Valley Stock and Property Journal (1916-1942)
 – Illustrated Australian Mail (1861-1862)
 – Kerang New Times (1901-1913)
 – Kerang Times (1889-1901)
 – The Melbourne Advertiser (1838)
 – The Melbourne Courier (1845-1846)
 – The Melbourne Daily News (1848-1851)
 – The Melbourne Daily News and Port Phillip Patriot (1848)
 – Melbourne Punch (Dec 10, 1925)
 – Melbourne Times (1842-1843)
 – The Melbourne Weekly Courier (1844-1845)
 – Port Philip Gazette (1838-1845)
 – Port Philip Gazette (1851)
 – The Port Phillip Gazette & Settler’s Journal (1845-1850)
 – The Port Phillip Patriot and Morning Advertiser (Melbourne) (1845-1848)
– The Port Phillip Patriot and Melbourne Advertiser (1839-1842)

 – Seamen’s Strike Bulletin (Aug 1919)
 – Sportsman (Melbourne, 1882-1904)
 – Weekly Times (Melbourne, 1869-1913; 1919-1954)

– The Avon Gazette & Kellerberrin News (1914-1916)

 – Coolgardie Miner (1894-1911; 1913-1954)

Jan 032016

It can be a murky game comparing photos visually to see if there are resemblances. 

The results are open to individual interpretation and this can be coloured by the wishes and hopes of the person doing the reviewing. Add in to the mix images taken over different time frames such as fifty years apart  for an individual (where  the bone structure should be the the same) and comparing photos of people from different generations in the hope of seeing a resemblance.

In some families there can be a lot of resemblance but there are also many families where if you were not aware of the family structure and just looked for resemblances you would swear they could not be siblings at all. Also be careful of the “Humphrey nose’ “Smith ears” as they could also be seen in other people.

To do a facial comparison you need to look at a minimum of the:

Shape of the face: round, square, oval etc
Eyes: their shape, colour (often we don’t have that information) size, distance between them, position
Nose: shape , size position
Nostrils: shape, size position 
Moles: placement (in modern times often removed)
Teeth: only seen if smiling. In times of bad dental care teeth may also be false or decayed

Remember you also need to being aware of changes due to weight gain/loss and age complications such as losing teeth.

If you can get the images the same size and orientation (and unfortunately we can’t go back in history and ask the person to stand facing the camera please!) using Photoshop or other imaging software you can make one image transparent then overlay it on the other which can be useful for an individual at different ages.

Other software such as Picasa claim to do photo recognition and yes with modern photos I have seen a number of photos identified correctly BUT I have also seen many mis-identifications including a man identified as a woman (an unrelated one at that), different individuals being called the same person etc. The more known photos of that person at different ages helps increase the success rate of identifying other photos but it is not 100% or even 80%.
Even the software used by governments using complex mathematical algorithms on a minimum of eighty points is not 100% perfect. There is an interesting document on the US Federal Bureau of Investigation site which goes into the history of facial recognition and the development of standards and ongoing work to improve facial recognition.

There is more photo matching software becoming available. Lisa Louise-Cooke recently mentioned this one which a Microsoft one listed as  more of a game: Twins or Not so I thought I’d give it a try. You upload two photos to compare.

So I picked one of my mother and myself at around a similar age.

Then I found another  of Mum where she was smiling and made her head a similar size to mine to see if it would be called differently.

Now I admit Mum and I have many similarities but 100%?

So what about me aged differently?

Apparently I didn’t age that well. I suspect the glasses have influenced the results. (Changing the order of the upload didn’t change the result)

Then how about Mum and older me?

Interesting result.

I am not saying you shouldn’t look at photographs but I am suggesting strongly that you should interpret with caution especially solely on visual comparisons or even computer comparisons (unless you have access to the FBI, Interpol or other law enforcement software) and even then there are caveats on the results.

Jan 022016

2016 came in with a bang (neighbours had fireworks).

I spent New Year’s Eve day working and then came home to dinner. 

Then a night at the computer working on my presentations for the Unlock the Past cruise which less than six weeks away and also naming some digital files I had scanned.

There is an old saying that what you do on the first day of the year will reflect the year so I am set for 2016.

I have mixed feelings when I see posts from people saying “I didn’t achieve everything I had planned for x year” and they list what they said they wanted to achieve and whether they did so or not as I feel this is only part of the story. 

They often beat themselves up for not getting it all done as if their life was only a planned To-Do List but what I don’t see them doing is listing everything they had achieved for the year whether planned or not.

I think we all spend too much time regretting what we have not as yet completed (those to do lists can be negative things at times) without taking some time at regular intervals to see and reflect on what we have done. 

Life is not a always a straight road, there are lots of turns, detours and even U turns. 

Sometimes opportunities arise that were not expected or part of a plan. 

Those opportunities are still achievements and should be counted and celebrated.

 So along with working full time, I am happy with the 58 presentations I gave last year ranging from RootsTech, three Unlock the Past cruises, Australasian Congress, New Zealand Family History Fair, Western Australian Guild of One Name Studies seminar and to a variety of family history societies in Australia.

My continued education is well on track. While I didn’t quite complete the National Institute’s English certificate (have two subjects to go) I did complete the Basic level and a number of subjects in the Intermediate and Advanced parts of the Professional Development Certificate, the  Basic and Intermediate levels of the Librarian certificate, the Basic and a few subjects in the Intermediate levels of the Australian certificate. I completed the Introduction to Family History at the University of Tasmania and am halfway through the Introduction to Writing Your Family History at the same institution. And I attended a number of conferences and learnt lots from the excellent presenters.

I have watched a number of the webinars in the Legacy Family Tree Webinar. My subscription to this is a must have as it means I can watch and re-watch seminars of interest (and have the handouts) and there are many of interest by the headline presenters of  our genealogy world. Legacy also has seminars available for free for seven days from publication for non-subscribers, subscribers also have access to some extra seminars. 

Then there are all the journals, the Facebook groups, the blogs, and mail-lists so many opportunities to further my knowledge. The joy of the Internet is that even if you are unable to go to a conference due to family commitments, finances or other reasons there is no reason why you can’t continue your education.

Then there are all the wonderful people I have met in person and online, some relatives by blood, some  genealogical family due to shared interests. We live in a world which can be scary at times but I firmly believe that while people are talking to each other and helping each other around the world it will be a better place. 

I am a member of the Kiva group Genealogists for Families where we make microloans of $25 to help other achieve their dreams. 311 genealogists have made over 6000 loans (when the $25 is repaid it can either be taken out or re-loaned to someone else).

I, ably assisted by Geoff Doherty, started a DNA Special interest group at the Genealogical Society of Queensland. I also had success in getting some people to DNA test and have found some linkages to other people who had tested via Ancestry and FTDNA. Still working on some matches in Gedmatch.

I finally was able to finish and publish the second edition of my “Death Certificates and Archaic Medical Terms” book and was asked to write a chapter on the 1919 Influenza Pandemic in Brisbane for a book being published in 2016 (this was one of those turns in the road not expected but welcome).

I even managed to add some names to my tree and add more life and colour to people already on my tree. 

So looking back although those To-Do Lists are still present and have many entries I did achieve a lot and did have a great 2015.

I don’t do resolutions but I do make goals and my goals are to continue in 2016 as I have is 2015, to be a good, helpful member of online forums, to continue my genealogy education (just because I have been doing it for thirty years does not mean there are still not things to learn and skills to perfect) to continue to share via presentations, articles, blog posts and hopefully some new books.

I’ll be speaking on two Unlock the Past cruises this year, the Auckland to Fremantle one and  then the Barrier Reef, a number of family history societies and I will also see a number of you at the Federation for Genealogical Societies conference in September.

So I am ready with my goals, prepared to travel whatever road the year may bring and I want to have another wonderful year with all of you in 2016!

Dec 162015

Today marks thirty years of employment with the Department of Health as a public health microbiologist.

Hard to believe I started on a two week Christmas vacation fill-in. Only two of us wanted to do the two week placement when offered it during our exams. The others all wanted a break. Finished the exams on the Friday and went into the job on the Monday. 

Had a good time and they apparently liked me as at the end of the two weeks they said to come back the next Monday!

I went for an actual interview in April the following year and got a permanent position. 

Suddenly in the July they realised that I had not had my medical so I rock off to that and now I have to confess a guilty secret.

I have lied on a government form.

They measured me and told me I was five foot tall. Being an honest person I said “No I am 4 foot 10 and a quarter inches (hey that quarter is important!)”

“No you are five foot”

“No I’m not”

“Look do you want the job or not?”

“Yes I do”

“Then you are five foot tall now sign this form”

And I did. In the 1980s the Queensland Health Department still had a height restriction. Females had to be five foot plus to be employed. 

So my thirty years might not have happened for the sake of  an inch and three quarters.

How many of your ancestors worked thirty years for the same employer? 

I have a few who have worked for the railway and some government departments. Many others have worked in the same occupation such as being agricultural labourers, granite quarrymen, shoemakers etc.

Dec 082015

The below press release is from MyHeritage

Huge Free Collection of Digitized Books Now Available on MyHeritage!

We’ve just added an exciting new collection to MyHeritage SuperSearch™, containing over 37 million pages in 150,000 books relevant to family history!
Search Compilation of Published Sources now
The new collection includes tens of thousands of digitized historical books, with actual images of the books’ pages, and all their text extracted using Optical Character Recognition. The books span the last four centuries and include family, local and military histories, city and county directories, school and university yearbooks, church and congregational minutes and much more. A vast amount of rich data from diverse publications makes this collection a fantastic source of rare genealogical gems, providing insight into the lives of our ancestors and relatives.
We’ve added this collection using a new process that adds approximately 250 million pages to SuperSearch™ per year, utilizing a team of 40 curators. The curators examine each digitized book for relevance to family history research, and enhance its meta data if they decide to include it. The collection is sourced from various published texts that are copyright-free, and will be updated from now on several times each year.
The Compilation of Published Sources collection is located in SuperSearch™ under Books & Publications and is free to access. Easily search the collection by any of the following: first name, last name, publication title, publication date, publication place, or keywords.
Our unique and powerful Record Matching technology is now matching this new collection automatically to all family trees on MyHeritage, and users are alerted if Record Matches are found for individuals in their family tree. Correct matches can be confirmed and source citations can be extracted directly to your family tree, using the extract information feature.

Dec 052015

International Volunteer Day


The United Nations (UN) annually observes the International Volunteer Day for Economic and Social Development on December 5. 
The day, also known as International Volunteer Day, gives us the chance to thank the volunteers for all the their contributions. 
So much of what happens in family and local history societies is done by volunteers. In fact without them very few societies would be able to open their doors at all.

Some of these are done with images being sent by email or people transcribing documents such as the Will Transcription project being done by the Oxfordshire Family History Society where they have put online transcribed wills  searchable by name and place.
Others are done online such as the Queensland State Library: PitchIn project which is digitising and tagging historical Queensland documents.There are other opportunities like this where you could help with West Australian transcription & indexing projects :: 
Of course, FamilySearch is the best known of the online family history indexing projects where individuals or groups can go online and index documents. They are setting up a new indexing platform which will allow you to index using your iPad or Android tablets. The below graphic was taken from the FamilySearch site today showing what can be done by many volunteers around the world. That is 102, 786, 912 million records indexed by volunteers!

They are indexing many non-English language records so if you are clever enough (unfortunately I am not) why not index another language thereby  making those records accessible to all too. 

There are a number of very special records too such as the Freedmen’s Bureau Project which currently has 10, 000 volunteers who have indexed online around 15% of the records. This will be a fantastic resource for African American research.

With 521 current open projects there is sure to be something which you would find interesting.


I think of volunteering as giving back, paying forward some kindness and in today’s troubled world any kindness shared around can make life just that much brighter.

The joys of modern communication and computers means we can all give back. 

Trove the so superlative FREE, yes I said FREE Australian newspaper digitisation site also has wonderful volunteers that correct the OCR (Optical Character Recognition) text. The computer has done a varying job in recognising the characters. Many wonderful volunteers spend time correcting the test so that you are able to find that entry when you search.

My hat is doffed to John Warren the top ranker in the Hall of Fame for doing over 3 and a half million lines of corrections! (I have only managed 24, 736 lines corrected but I do try and stay in the top 1000 preferably in the top 900 depending on other commitments.)

There are so many wonderful volunteers and also so many projects that we would all dearly love to see completed.

Today on the International day of Volunteers pause for a moment to say thank you.

Then think for another about how you might be able to help. So many of these indexing projects can be done at your computer in the comfort of your home. What projects does your society have happening or are considering?

Can you spread some kindness today?