Feb 162013

As we  remained in Noumea due to the electrical fault it was decided to switch the program around so Thursday became Friday as Friday was when we were meant to have a shore day in Fiji. Royal Caribbean has stated they will give a reduction in the cost of people’s next cruise to make up for missing Fiji. (40% of the cost what was paid for the current cruise will be discounted from the next Royal Caribbean cruise).

Anyway the Friday program meant a free day with people needing to be back on board by 3.30pm ready for departure at 4pm. The talks started at four with Jill Ball speaking on the Flip Pal scanner. This is a neat scanner as it is about the size of a trade paperback book that has a reasonable depth of field that will allow you to scan coins, medals, photos behind glass (as long as it is not too deep), fabrics such as quilts and of course photos and documents. You are able to scan large documents by doing multiple scans and then using the stitching software to join the images together. Large newspaper pages, certificates, quilts are able to be scanned using this method. 

Jill also spoke on using Picassa for organising your photos.

Paul Milner spoke on Finding your Welsh Ancestors, which unfortunately I missed but luckily Paul has put a handout on his website. Paul has put handouts to all the presentations he is giving which is fantastic as he gives a very detailed presentation with lots of really good information. It would be a major shame to miss a key point because you were trying to scribble down notes.

The Unlock the Past website will have handouts from many of the presenters or links to the presenters’ notes on their pages after the cruise (just allow a little time please before you chase us for our notes!)

Then onto dinner where I splurged and had lobster!

And yes, it was very nice thank you.

After dinner Paul gave us a talk on Irish Land Records. Paul’s talks have been very good for reminding people that Irish research while different to English, Welsh and Scottish research is not impossible. Yes it is difficult and as Paul says you may spend more time determining what records survive for you to use in your research than you actually do, doing the research!

Then with our heads all a-spin with all the information Paul had given us we went off to bed.

Then we started the Thursday program Friday morning.  First up was a case of mistaken identity with Stephen Dando-Collins. It was an interesting talk. People forget that people went from the Australian colonies to the San Francisco gold rush as well as from America to t he Australian and New Zealand gold rushes.

Paul Milner then spoke on Finding your Ancestors in Ireland that ran very well off the talk from the night before, I am very pleased that he has provided some notes to act as memory joggers for his presentations. Just reading the notes will not give you all the information but will help you to recall the wonderful examples he gives during his presentations.

Then I gave my talk on Friendly Societies and their impact on our Ancestors. Depending on area around 50% of our ancestors were direct members or were family members of a Friendly Society. I had good feedback which is always good to hear.

After lunch Shauna Hicks gave her presentation on Behind Bars: convicts and criminals. I really wanted to hear this presentation but decided I would have more chance of hearing it in the future than  being able to hear Bob Velke show me how to customise reports in The Master Genealogist so I attended his presentation instead.

Jan Gow was also speaking at this time on Tracking Sibling’s footprints in New Zealand . At times you really want to be able to clone yourself!

Then Alan Phillips showed a webinar given by Geoff Rasmussen on Digital Imaging Essentials. I have heard this before and have a copy of his Geoff;’s book so attended Diane Foster talking on “Preserve or Perish”. Diane worked for many years in libraries and archives and has a strong involvement in preservation.It was good to her about the materials you can use and what happens if you don’t to those precious records.

Bob Velke then gave his final workshop on customising charts and forms in The Mast Genealogist. I really need a few months now to go through everything he has shown me!

Louis Kessler helping someone with their research

I was not able to attend Geoff Doherty’s presentation on ‘The Disappearing Dunnes’ but he is speaking at the Southern Suburbs Branch of the Genealogical Society of Queensland in April so I will be able to hear him present there (not totoally sure what he is presnting on but as Geoff is a Queenslander I should be able to catch up on the talk I missed.

Alan Phillips speaking with Natalya from Clean Cruising ensuring the smooth running of the cruise

Rosemary Kopittke gave a presentation on the Findmypast World collection. There is so much happening with the constant addition of new records. Findmypast are in the process of instituting a new search process for text in digital images and it looks good. I need to spend some time to see if I can find some of my missing people with the new searches.

There has been lots to absorb and people’s head are feeling a bit full but there is always room for a bit more family history!

Paul then gave us the tour of English Probate Records and how to find the wills of our ancestors pre and post 1858. 1858 was the year that England introduced a national probate system. Prior to that the Church of England were responsible for the probating of wills. To find your ancestor’s will you need to know the church court in which it was probated. The level of court depended on what jurisdiction your ancestor owned property. Was it proved in the local courts, the Bishops’ court, Prerogative Court of York or Canterbury?

A number of county record offices have indexed their probate records and this has made it easier to find the wills. The Death Duty registers are also a great help in determining the court as a tax was paid but the court where the will was proved is listed in the index and you can then find the will.

We had a free evening as it had been kept spare to allow people to see the Ice Show on the ship.  This was well worth seeing. I have loved Ice dancing since the days of Torvill and Dean and their amazing dances at the Olympics and World titles.

The ship is pretty amazing and much care is taken to make it an experience for all aboard.

Aren’t these an amazing use of watermelon? I am not artistic and have great admiration for anyone who is creative.

I am on level two which is just around the corner from the Conference Centre. It is very convenient! It is a nice room and the porthole, which from the outside on the shore looked quite tiny is actually quite large when you look out.

The ship is very large, how large, you don’t appreciate until you see it in context.

It is amazing that although there are many people on board, around 3000 passengers and over 1000 staff , you don’t feel crowded. What is even more amazing is how quiet it is. There is very good sound-proofing around the conference centre.

There are a number of quiet lounges around the ship. The one above is in the Champagne Bar where I was sitting last night drinking lemon lime and bitters with some friends talking about the cruise and the cruise in 2014 which is going around the southern capitals again on this ship and the proposed Baltic cruise leaving from Southampton in 2015.That is my holidays for the next two years sorted!

Then it was off to bed at 11.30pm so we could let the information we had been given settle into our brains and be assimilated so we could wake up and  be ready for another day of talks and more information.

Feb 142013

We arrived in Noumea quite early and were greeted on the docks with some dancers and drummers. As it is a large ship we are berthed at the container terminal. It is a bit cloudy but a comfortable 25 degrees.

Noumea is a French island so signs are in French. 

There are also a lot of English spoken though it is nice to listen to the melodic tones of the French language.

Being a tropical island there are many bright colours and flowers.

These were quite a bright splash of colour in the gardens.

We saw a few older buildings such as this one which has been used as a prison and other things during its history.


Alona, Anthea, Rosemary and I wandered around the city centre for  while and I dragged them into an iStore to see the iPad mini. I am not sure about that as it looks a bit small for my needs but maybe.

Then walking back to the drop-off point there was a French patisserie and of course we had to at least drop in for a look-see!

Although we were good and didn’t buy anything!

Then an amble back to the pick-up point and a walk along a bit of the harbour front and a look at the ship towering above the containers on the other side of the container terminal. Even though the day was a bit gray the harbour did look nice. Although the below statue was a bit scary!

Then back on board ready for the afternoon talks.

Today was Shauna Hicks speaking on ‘Finding your Ancestors in Church Records’. These are at the other records associated with a church rather than the standard baptism, marriage and burials. These include centenary celebrations, newspaper reports of church activities, church newsletters, Religious newspapers and so much more. There was a lot more church attendance among our ancestors than today so these are a neglected resource.

Jill Ball gave a presentation on A Genealogist’s Toybox – gadgets and tech toys. The interesting thing of course is that pretty much any tech toy can be used for family history. It just takes some imagination.Tablets, cameras, digital recorders, laptops scanners, flip-pals are just a few of the nice things we can use.

Then there was the announcement that due to a problem with the electrics the ship would not be departing Noumea as scheduled but would be staying overnight. The means we miss Fiji but better to be safe. Doesn’t really make a difference to me as it won’t affect the conference except we changed the days around (made Thursday Friday) to allow for the extra day of sightseeing possible on Noumea.
Then dinner and back for  Paul Milner talking on Scottish Kirk Sessions and Poor Relief Records. The Scots were a pretty judgmental lot but this trait is great for family historians who can find out a huge amount of detail about the village life by reading the Kirk session records. You really want someone who is up before the session to add the life to your family history. I am not sure how effective it was at keeping people “behaving” as there seemed to be a lot of records relating to pre-nuptial fornication!


Feb 122013

The weather today was sunny and a very nice 25 degrees Celcius. It was quite windy walking around the top of the ship as it is heading towards land at 35 kms/hour.

As mentioned in the last post Paul’s talk on the Parish Chest was great. 

Next I attended Carol Baxter’s very good presentation on Writing: Structuring a Family History. Carol is a very well known writer and a goo speaker who is able to inform and entertain at the same time. She has published a number of books lately Captain Thunderbolt and his Lady: the true story of bushrangers Frederick Ward and Mary Ann Bugg (2011), also Breaking the Bank: an extraordinary colonial robbery (2008) so is very well suited to talk about how to plan and write your family history.Unfortunately the writing style of many people is of the style a la Dog’s Dinner rather than any planned structure. Depending on your particular research results you have a number of ways of presenting your data for example if you don’t know a whole lot about the back generations but do know a lot about the current generations deal with it by using a structure shaped like a broom etc.

Carol has also written a book Writing Interesting Family Histories and will be talking more about this later in the cruise.

I did two session today with Bob Velke talking about citations and different ways of adding data. Having this stream has been valuable for me and there are another two sessions on Thursday (tomorrow is a shore day in Noumea).

I gave my talk on One Name studies, what they are and why people do them. There are six Guild of One Name Studies members on the cruise and there were a number of other interested people attending the presentation. After the talk I showed maps of surname distributions based on the 1881 census using the Surname Atlas. This will show the distribution down to Poor Law Union districts which is of course also the Civil Registration and Census districts. It is a good way to get a feel for how prevalent your surname is in 1881.

Tonight I’ll be listening to Paul Milner talking on English Parish Registers: how to use, use and interpret which should be very interesting.

Feb 122013
Paul Milner speaking on 3rd Unlock the Past History and Genealogy Cruise

I loved this presentation. 

I have done some research in Parish Chest material and have had some great finds in Kent particularly with my Smith family who were removed from one parish to another ( I still haven’t managed to find out why they were sent there as unfortunately the Settlement Examination has not survived. He was not born in that parish and was an agricultural labourer so unlikely to have gained settlement that way. Oh well maybe one day!)

Everybody knows about the baptism, marriage and burial registers held by the parish. Not that many are aware of the other treasures held in that strong, solid parish chest. They had to be strong and solid as after all they were the repository of the parish wealth.

Paul gave an excellent talk showing many document examples and how they related to each other.

Parishes were basically a kingdom within themselves looking after their own people for poor relief, maintaining the roads, the Church and it grounds, tithing to the Minister, collecting the taxes which were used to maintain the parish, doing the ballot for the militia and so much more.

Paul showed us some of the treasures he had found in the parish of Leeds in Kent relating to his family. I am sure he did the genealogy Happy Dance when he found these.

Documents evolve due to recording money collections and disbursements as there were responsibilities to the parish population to account for money collected and how it was spent.

We are very lucky when these survive. Unfortunately not all survive however as Paul showed so well there is not usually just one document relating to the event. For settlement you have your Settlement Certificate, perhaps a Settlement Examination if they could not produce a certificate, the Removal Order to send them back to their parish, maybe something at the Quarter Sessions if their parish is appealing the decision. 

For my Smith family there was also a document surviving which gave a grant of stay for a month as the wife was too ill to move (although they forced their parish to pay for their upkeep during that month!)

If you ever get a chance to hear Paul talk on this topic definitely go as you will learn so much and you will be excited and enthused to research Parish Chest material. I hope that Paul might be persuaded to write some books on this topic.

Paul is talking in Perth and Adelaide on this topic and others after the cruise. He is also speaking in Brisbane, Melbourne and Canberra on other topics. Paul’s Tour dates and talks.

Paul is now slotted in as a must-hear speaker in my book.

Feb 112013

We had a lovely dinner last night and out waiter Marlon was very friendly. The food was nice but the conversation was much nicer! It is great to have a full meal conversation about family history research and social history, why people did things without having someone’s eyes glaze over at best or have them run screaming from the room at worst!

Today we have had a full program starting with an interesting presentation by Stephen Dando-Collins based on his “Crack Hardy’ Book. The First World War was a very difficult time for many families with the the numbers who did not come home.

Then a talk on “Following Your Migrating Ancestors” by Paul Milner. It is always important to know the reason for someone moving, how far they moved, did they move on their own, as a family unit, did they move to be with family? Was their occupation the reason for the move?

Then onto a talk by Carol Baxter on New South Wales research. Carol has a huge amount of knowledge of researching in the early New South Wales records due to her long history working on the publishing of these and other records. Many years experience (and I am not saying just how many!) has given Carol unique insights into these records and the ways we can use them for our research. 

The other two presentations on at this time were Shauna Hicks talking on Victorian Research and Neil Bradley talking on West Australian Research. 

Then lunch and coming back to give my presentation on Researching in Queensland. I had a good audience and the feedback was good. There are some really good resources now and more coming online. You really do need to keep checking back on any site as additions are being made regularly.

Queensland State Archives recently added a new resource of the immigration index that has direct links to images of the passenger list which you are able to download as a PDF. It is always worth examining everyone else on board to determine if that family story of them meeting on board and then getting married is true. Or perhaps of the children meeting up or maybe a child is named after someone on board or even after the name of the ship. 

Then I heard Linda Elliott talking on the Cemeteries in London which came into use when it became very difficult to bury people in the London churchyards then it became illegal to bury people in the churchyards due tot he smell, putrefaction and worse. Linda spoke about the establishment of the cemeteries and what has happened to the cemeteries since their beginning and  how you are able to access the records.

I missed Rosemary Koppitke talking on the Australian Government, Police and Education Gazettes which are a genealogical treasure house. I have heard a version of this before and there are some amazing gems to be found.Jan Gow gave a presentation at teh same time as my talk on “Getting to know Legacy”. Legacy is a powerful program.

Then there was the Introduction to the Master Genealogist (TMG)by Bob Velke. We are privileged on this cruise to have Bob, who is the author of the program giving a series of presentations on features of this very powerful program. While I have been a user of TMG since version 1 I would not say I am an expert and hearing how other people use the program is always worthwhile. A great strength of the program is that there are multiple ways of doing things. You are not restricted to one type of information and this was a major reason I started using TMG all those years ago. I am really looking forward to the other sessions on intermediate users, customising reports, sources and citations and customising charts and forms. 

Neil Bradley will also give us a talk on using Second Site which allows you to make websites from your TMG database.

After Dinner Paul is giving his talk on the ‘Big Five in Scottish Research’

There are lots more presentations tomorrow and depending on internet I’ll tell you about them tomorrow evening.

Feb 102013

Well woke up excited as today is boarding day for the cruise.  Left Hornsby and was driven by a kindly chauffeur to the cruise terminal where we unloaded the luggage (lots of luggage as also stuff for the conference). Will share that photo at a later stage as download lead is in my luggage which has not been delivered as yet.

Then the very short walk to the cruise terminal where you could see the ship from quite a way away as it is a large ship.

Here it is below against the Sydney icon: the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

 The other Sydney icon: the Sydney Opera House.

We managed to get early check-on and got on-board to check out the most important part of the ship.
No, not my room but the Conference Centre which will be our hub of activity for the next nine days.

You will hear a lot more about this in the coming days. Registration is later this afternoon as is our lifeboat drill.then dinner and then our ‘Meet and Greet’ where the Genies will mingle.

Hopefully we will also get a Geneabloggers photo then as we have at least nine Geneabloggers as part of conference. We will also be getting a Genealogists for Families photo as there a number of us aboard.

The talks start in the Conference Centre tomorrow.

Feb 092013

Well I had a fantastic day today.

Today was the Paul Milner seminar at the Hornsby RSL. 

I don’t really have any Scottish research. My Grandfather died as a result of an accident on Army exercises in 1944. Prior to that my Elizabeth Hester Quested moved to Scotland to be with her daughter after Elizabeth’s husband had died and she was there for 1911. The daughter was the wife of a soldier who was based there and that is the extent of my Scottish research.

I am always happy to hear informed speakers and Paul is definitely informed. He has the ability to get his point across in a clear manner with good examples so that the information will stick in your memory.

He took us through the Big Five in Scottish Research with good examples showing the value of the 1855 registrations.

His second talk was on Overlooked sources for 19th and 20th century Scottish research. There are so many new resources coming online. I am quite jealous of the fact that there are 992 directories that have been scanned by the  National Library of Scotland and which are available on Archive.org. Paul said to do a search there using “National Library of Scotland” and you will be amazed at what is there and he is correct.

Another resource was the wonderful Statistical Accounts.

Then Rosemary Koppitke gave a talk on FindMyPast. There is so much happening there that you really do have to keep checking back regularly. There are many new records and with the new Worldwide subscription which includes the British Newspaper Archive, the Irish records, the USA records, the UK records and the Australasian records there are gems for everyone.

After lunch it was Paul was giving two more presentations but the Sydney TMG (The Master Genealogist) group was having a meeting where the  speaker was Bob Velke who is the author of The Master Genealogist. As Paul is going to be a speaker on the 3rd Unlock the Past cruise I decided the TMG workshop was the way to go. (Bob Velke will also be going on the cruise but the joys of workshops is tat you get different problems each time so you learn something new each time)

I have been a TMG user for a number of years.  I started back in 1986 with Personal Ancestral File then found that I wanted to print carts with occupations as my partner’s family had an unbroken run of blacksmiths. I was a DOS girl and was dragged kicking and screaming into Windows and Family Tree Maker V1 when it was owned by Banner Blue. I stayed with FTM for a number of versions but was having problems as I kept finding differing information for birth dates etc and I wanted to be able to record this varying information.

The Master Genealogist was able to do what I wanted and I have been a user since V1 and now we are up to V8.04 (with 8.05 coming soon!)

One of the great advantages of TMG is that there is more than one way of doing things and it is always interesting to hear about how people do their queries and write their search filters. The filters are a very powerful tool.

Bob gave a very helpful and informative workshop. Considering he and his wife only landed at 6am this morning it was even more wonderful that he was able to be coherent and so helpful. 47 hours without sleep is more than I would wish to do and then face a three hour workshop.

I am very much looking forward to both Paul’s and Bob’s other presentations on the cruise. Boarding is tomorrow afternoon and we sail at 8pm. The start of another family history conference with a lovely range of speakers.

Paul is going to be doing a tour of some Australian capital cities
Brisbane 19 February
Perth 23 February
Adelaide 26 February
Canberra 2 March
and Melbourne 4 March.

There are significant savings to be made by booking online ahead of time although you are able to arrive and pay at the venue on the day. This is your chance to hear some of the wide range of talks he will be giving on the cruise.