Nov 252016

Advent in 2016 is from Sunday 27th November to Saturday 24th December. 

While I am very fond of chocolate and as a child loved the little calendars that you opened each day and gained a piece of chocolate, for a number of years now I have done a different type of Advent calendar.

It is a “Paying Forward Genealogical Kindness” Calendar (and yes there might be some chocolate as a reward each day!). Below is my 2016 Advent Calendar. Some of these will take a few minutes, some a few hours but each of them shares just a little kindness and there can never be too much kindness in this world.

So much of our research has been made easier because of the very many volunteers in the past who have indexed and transcribed records for us.

Over the years I have tried to give back whenever I could but because of study and work, generally could not often do it in person onsite somewhere, so looked for ways I could do it at home  (or anywhere I might be) using a computer.

‘Genealogists for Families’ Project
Small micro-loans given to help people help themselves. A fantastic initiative started by Judy Webster. Currently there are 324 genealogist members from all over the world who since 2011 have made over 7792 loans totaling  $205, 000. Each loan by an individual is $25 (the loan amount for a project varies) and then the person pays back the loan which allows you to relend that money again and again. So over my time as a member I have donated $1223 which because of the relending has meant that $3425 in 137 loans have been made.
Find out out more here

The wonderful free website of the National Library of Australia that has digitised newspapers and now also the new South Wales Government Gazette that have been OCR’d (Optical character recognition read by a computer and interpreted). The OCR quality can be variable depending on a range of reasons including typeface so by correcting the text you make the record searchable and available for all.


National Archives of Australia
Transcribing records to make them more findable and able to be listed online.  Thanks to transcribers 248 250 record descriptions have been added to RecordSearch. This makes resources available to the community as they are able to be found by a name search.

State Library of Queensland
So many transcription opportunities around the world depending on your interests and experience:
Just a few of the ones I have done some work with in the last couple of years are listed below:
Transcribing early modern recipes
Virtual Volunteering Australia
US National Archives
Smithsonian Digital Volunteer
Atlas of Living Australia: Digitising Field Diaries Australia (Museum Victoria)
World Memory Project
Project of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum has a very large collection of documents. In  partnership with they have created the World Memory Project which has volunteers at home indexing the records so they are name searchable. This will create a free database.
Welsh History
Tithe maps project currently active
Distributed Proofreaders
Checking and correcting  OCR to allow out of copyright books (Public Domain) books to become ebooks.
What’s On the Menu?
Project of the New York Public library transcribing historical restaurant menus.

What other projects do your family history society, local museum, state archives, etc have that you could give back a little? There are so many ways of “Paying Forward” 

Remember every name indexed is one more person found for future researchers.

Jul 052016

Trove from the National Library of Australia is an amazing free resource. It is more than just the wonderful digitised newspapers that we all know and love.

In fact as is shown in this image Trove contains more than 500, 005,853 Australian and online resources books, images, historic newspapers, maps, music, archives and more.

Certainly we know that trove’s funding has been cut so their ability to digitise special community collections has been greatly lessened which is a major shame as it will slow the rate of new additions and potentially may mean access to some collections may be lost to the national and international communities. We all hope that this funding decision will be reconsidered.

Australia is the envy of the world in having Trove and the free access it provides to so much at any time of the day or night to anyone, anywhere with an Internet connection. Scholars, students, historians, sports fans all have found items of interest to them.

What is even more special are the volunteers from around the world who correct the OCR (Optical Character Recognition) which at times depending on typeface and age of the paper can give some very interesting results! Just today there were, at the time of writing this, 9706 newspaper lines corrected by the wonderful volunteers.

The Hall of Fame shows the top correctors and I will never be in the top five (I don’t think they do anything but correct!) but I am pretty happy at number 639 and 42, 246 lines of text corrected, which has been done intermittently over five years. It is one of the ways I choose to give back and “pay Forward” all the help I have received over the years.

Those who read my blog regularly will know of my George Howard Busby.

On the Discovering Anzacs site, his entry shows the photos of him from the Queenslander, his Attestation papers and if you look down on the bottom right hand side you will see some links to articles in Trove from my tagged list for him.  Other web links include a link to his Repatriation file and to the high resolution images from the Queenslander and also to his Embarkation file.

This integration of records together from across the digital sphere is what makes research today extremely exciting.

I wonder how long it will be before Trove has one billion reources?

Trove we all love you!

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)

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?

Nov 012014

The Prosecution Project: Get Involved

This is quite an exciting project that will be of interest to historians everywhere whether they are family historians local historians, crime historians, social historians or indeed anyone interested in history.

The project was launched in October and a lot of work has been done behind the scenes already. It is based at Griffith University in Queensland and  is funded by the university and an Australian Research Council grant.

The group of academics and the recruited citizen historians will be indexing the court trials in each Australian jurisdiction (source Supreme Court and State Archives) and also then linking to Trove and the newspaper reports providing a free online database of trials for research by anyone. 

You can do a keyword search now and below is the information returned on a search for Evans and another for Smith. The ability to do the keyword search will allow you to look for types of crime, places where crime occurred and more.

When a link to Trove exists you see the magnifying glass and you go to Trove to the article. 

The project is calling for volunteers and the indexing work is done in the comfort of your own home.

The information below is from the media release from Griffith:

Uncover the details of Australia’s criminal past

On 13 October 1941, Patrick Drew, a 49-year-old Brisbane painter, plead guilty to
fifty-one charges of theft and breaking and entering, which he had committed over a
period of thirteen years. Drew, who was liable for 600 years’ imprisonment, was
described as Queensland’s ‘most successful burglar’ by Justice Philp. However, out of
consideration for Drew’s war service, the judge sentenced him to only two years’

The story of Queensland’s best burglar is one of many that has been uncovered by a
team of researchers at Griffith University engaged in exploring the history of the
criminal trial in Australia, with support from the Australian Research Council. One of
the outcomes of The Prosecution Project, which is directed by ARC Laureate Fellow
Mark Finnane, will be the digitisation of registers of Supreme Court cases from across
Australia from the early nineteenth to the mid twentieth century. Details of over 25,
000 trials have already been entered into this database.

Some of these records are already available for searching by family and local
historians on The Prosecution Project’s website. To complete the digitisation of the
registers, volunteers are being sought to enter details of cases and link them with
newspaper reports on Trove. This will enable researchers to analyse long-term
patterns of crime, prosecution and punishment – and provide an invaluable index to
these records for public access.

Those who sign up to help in the transcription process will receive records
electronically, so volunteers will able to assist this worthy cause from home, their
local library or anywhere else with computer access. Volunteers are also able to
specify the jurisdiction or period they are interested in working on when signing up to
participate in the project.

To assist in the data entry of historical court records and uncover some of Australia’s
criminal past for yourself, click on the ‘Become Involved’ link on The Prosecution
Project’s site.

Jul 012014

Looking at another treasure in large amount of papers I inherited from my Grandmother was this item. A programme for military exercises a few months prior to the start of World War Two.
I knew my Grandfather and Great-Grandfather were in the26th Battalion in the mid-1930s but having this gives more evidence that one of them was still there in the 26th in the late 1930s.

Programme Inside

So I thought I’d go hunting in our favourite place for further information Trove and this is just one of the articles I found.

Sep 042012

The celebration of Trove by the blogging meme Trove Tuesday was an idea put forward by Amy Houston, in her blog Branches, Leaves & Pollen  

It is a great idea that was taken up and promoted by Jill Ball better known as Geniaus

Trove is the free digitised Australian newspaper site of the National Library of Australia. You can search a wide range of regional and metropolitan newspapers with ongoing digitisation occurring.

There are many treasures within newspapers and you never know what you may find.

Sometimes it is the start of a whole new trail of investigation.

Harold Richard Rollason,  my great-grandmother Violet’s brother, was born 27 September 1895 in Brisbane. He was the eighth child of Richard John Rollason and Lucy Evans. 

He married Irene Lambert  27 November 1918.

He died 10 June 1922 (from the Queensland BMD indexes) and is buried at Toowomg Cemetery as shown in the Brisbane City Council Grave Location Search

Born, married, died and buried dates, found and all ticked off. Time to research someone else.

Then when doing a trawling search in Trove for Rollason, I came across this little snippet dated 13 June 1922 in the Courier Mail.

You can imagine the solemn scene of a burial about to occur.

Then a telegram is received to say that the deceased’s family want the body to be sent to Brisbane rather than to be buried in Charleville.

The procesion would need to turn around so the body could be embalmed (after all this is two days after the death and it has to go back to Brisbane by train) to be sent back to Brisbane.

So this little snippet told me that Harold was a jeweller and had died in Charleville, both things I hadn’t known. With further research I found Harold had died of pneumonia. His will was at Queensland State Archives and his death certificate and inventory was in with his will. 

Remember it is always worth looking for a will as often you will find the death certificate in the file. 

This  will now save you $37 in Queensland and sometimes marriage certificates and other documents.

Currently the Charleville paper has not been digitised for this period and I have not had time to visit the State Library to look at it on microfilm but it is on my list of things to do.

Trove puts life into our family history. 

I encourage bloggers to join in and take up the Trove Tuesday meme to highlight the wonderful things to be found in newspapers.

What interesting snippets, scandals or celebrations have you found in newspapers?