Monday, 16 February 2015

My GeneaJar for GeneaGoodies!

I am currently in Salt Lake City having attended the wonderful combined Federation of Genealogical Societies and Rootstech conferences.

I did manage to find some GeneaGoodies to purchase while I was there.

Along with everybody else I don't have unlimited finances, so one way I pay for my genealogy purchases is my GeneaJar. I have a set budget for what I withdraw in cash each fortnight.

Each day I shift the loose change from my wallet to the GeneaJar and then, when it is full I bank the money in a special account and start again. 

In Australia we no longer have 1 or 2 cent coins (the cost of producing them was way more than the face value) or 1 or 2 dollar notes.
This means that the coin compartment in your purse can become full quite quickly so it is better for the life of your purse to empty it out regularly and also better for my GeneaPurchases.

Last year I banked over $1000 which is nice when society subscriptions are due or books scream at me to purchase them!

Federation of Genealogical Societies: Society Day

The Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) held their conference in Salt Lake City as a combined conference with RootsTech. It was extremely good value to pay the early bird price and then the add-on for the second conference.

FGS ran a Librarians Day on the Tuesday, that I did not attend as it filled up fast, and on the Wednesday they did a Society Day. As President of my society the Southern Suburbs Branch of GSQ I was very much looking forward to this.

All societies face challenges with the increasing  availability of records online, mass advertising saying that "just type in a name and your history will be shown" giving the impression that it is instant genealogy, being able to be relevant in an ever busy world being able to give value to potentially remote members, being relevant to potential younger members. Many societies have an aging membership and as they say "the only sure things in life are deaths and taxes".

As I was helping set up our booth I did not attend the keynote with Curt Witcher talking about societies "Embracing the Future" or the morning sessions. 

You had plenty of choice as there were a choice of six streams of talks to determine which to attend.

For example in the morning sessions:
Connecting, Exploring, Refreshing: Marshaling Change in Your Society
Engaging Your Long Distance Membership
The Policy and Procedure Manual: Preventing I Didn't Know That!
Using Cemeteries to Uncover Forgotten Histories
Communicating on a Shoestring Budget: Cost Effective Solutions for Societies
TechSoup -Technology by the Bowlful

And they were the choices in just one session!

My first session was with Judy Russell talking on "The Ethical Genealogist" An important topic for us all as individuals and also as society board members.

Judy is an excellent speaker and is a Certified Genealogist and a Certified Genealogical Lecturer and this really shows in her lecturing as she has the ability to take difficult subjects and make them interesting and enjoyable.

If you ever have the chance to hear Judy talk, run don't walk to enrol in her session!

The next session I attended was the "Bringing Your Society into the 21st Century with a DNA Interest Group" by the effervescent and very knowledgeable CeCe Moore.

Lisa Louise Cooke
I am a member of a DNA SIG at the Queensland Family History Society and so this was a very pertinent presentation. The International Society of Genetic Genealogy (ISOGG) has great resources for any society considering starting a DNA SIG and many educational resources for anyone interested in DNA for genealogy. CeCe Moore said "DNA SIGS are a great way of attracting people to your society especially if you promote meeting to general public" Also way of reactivating interst in your members who have become a bit blase about their research due to brickwalls etc.

Then it was "Video Marketing: YouTube Strategies for Societies" with the effervescent Lisa Louise Cooke. 

I was particularly interested in this as I want to do a welcome video for new members showing the rooms and resources so new researchers feel more confident when they first come to the premises. All going well we will also do some short instructional videos on using some of the databases.

I was very happy with the Society Day and FGS are to be congratulated on providing this resource for all societies.

There were many other presentation son this day I wanted to attend but as I have not managed to clone myself could not. So I was very pleased to read on Judy G. Russel's blog that I could buy recordings of at least some of the ones I could not attend from Fleetwood Onsite. For the Society Day there are 14 presntations that were recorded (and 13 that were not). They are available on a CD-Rom or as MP3 on a USB and I think may also be able to be downloaded.

You can also buy recordings from previous conferences so if you really enjoyed a particular presenter look to see what may have been recorded at a previous conference.

I was also talking with Randy Whited who was the presenter of FGS Radio - My Society, podcasts designed to be informative for the administration of societies that there is a plan to restart these. Still early days but I was very pleased to hear this as I have found them very useful. You are still able to download these using iTunes or equivalent and it is a great way of learning while you are doing housework, driving, gardening etc.

So FGS in the words of Jim Nabors of Gomer Pyle USMC fame "Thankee, thankee, thankee"

Sunday, 15 February 2015

RootsTech Setup Day: the Expo Hall

Emptiness waiting to be transformed

RootsTech and the Federation of Genealogical Societies ran a combined conference this year in Salt Lake City.

Wednesday was set-up day for the vendors in the Expo Hall which was a combined exhibition for the two conferences. This meant I did not attend the morning talks as I was helping set up our Unlock the Past Cruises booth.

It is always amazing to see an empty shell transform into the Mecca of Delight for attendees.

There were 173 exhibitors, some of which had very large booths.

The forklift was kept very busy
There was a great range of exhibitors.The big data providers, Ancestry, FindmyPast, MyHeritage and Family Search. The Federation of Genealogical Societies (who do Society Showcases) along with a number of societies including the Southern California Society, Guild of One Name Studies and National Genealogical Society were also present.

Maia's Books had a very large stand full of wonderful goodies (yes some of which did end up in my possession!).

Rootsmagic and Legacy were present as were Evidentia and Clooz.  Family Tree Maker was on the Ancestry booth.There were areas you could get your books and photos scanned and of course places to eat.
Our stand nearly done. Doesn't the red carpet look nice?

The Board for Certification of Genealogists, ICAPGen, the Association of Professional Genealogists, the Association of Personal Historians, Brigham Young University, National Institute for Genealogical Studies were all present.

 Then it was time to leave the Expo Hall and the other booths setting up to go to the afternoon sessions of the FGS Society Day.

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Monday with Myrt in Salt Lake City

Having arrived Sunday evening I had breakfast at JBs the restaurant near my hotel and then went to  the library. I knew that on the 3rd floor of the library a special event would be occurring that morning: an onsite production of "Mondays with Myrt"

I had watched these sessions on YouTube and was looking forward to seeing it done (and meeting Pat Richley-Erickson in person (Dear Myrtle is her nom de plume)). 

 Pat has been online since 1985 and has been heavily involved in many areas of genealogy. She writes the consistently top rated blog DearMyrtle and does a number of sessions a week: Monday with Myrt, Wacky Wednesday, Genealogy Game Night and more. She also runs the Geneawebinars Calendar, teaches classes and I don't know where she finds the time to do it all.

So as you can imagine I was thrilled with the opportunity to see the production.

I arrived as things were being set up:

And then Jenny Joyce and I were invited to become part of the Hangout as an onsite participant! There were also seven participants who were external to the site and they were situated around the world.

Myrt interviewed David Pugmire who is one of the brains behind the Innovators Summit where people with ideas of how to integrate technology and genealogy have a chance to spruik their ideas and on Friday the winner will be determined.

I had a wonderful time!

All of Myrt's Hangouts are available to see on her YouTube Channel and I would strongly recommend visiting and seeing what is there.

DearMyrtle will be doing AmbushCam segments during the combined Rootstech/FGS conference so you will get to hear interviews with all the top players in the genealogy arena.

Friday, 30 January 2015

Fantastic Albany 7th Unlock the Past Cruise

Albany was a tourist day for the ship. 

The Unlock the Past team were running a seminar at the Museum onshore.

It was a grey day but as we were welcomed to shore by bagpipes, the weather was not a concern.


Eric and Rosemary Kopittke at the Brig Amity replica
Albany is a lovely place with a long history. It was the first settlement in Western Australia, being founded 26 December 1826 as a military outpost. Initially named Frederick Town it was transferred to the Swan River Colony and renamed Albany in 1831.  For many years, it was the colony's only deep-water port until the opening of Fremantle in 1897 and is still the largest natural harbour in Western Australia.

We caught the bus into the Museum where the seminar was being held.  It is on the site of the Residency and a number of historic buildings and the replica brig the Amity overlooking the Princess Royal Harbour.

The 148 ton brig Amity was built in New Brunswick, Canada in 1816. She ended up in the Southern Hemisphere when the Scottish Ralston Family bought her for their emigration to Tasmania. They sold her to the New South Wales Government  and she was used for exploration and supply voyages.  There is a Queensland connection (well it wasn't Queensland then) as the Amity was used to transport the 70 people including soldiers of the 40th Foot Regiment, 29 convicts, explorers and their families to Redcliffe in Moreton Bay in 1824. Amity Point is named after the brig.The ship went to King George's Sound in 1826 to establish the military outpost. 

There is a walkway near the Residency with panels listing the names of the settlers.


At the seminar Dr Richard Reid, Rosemary Kopittke and the local society gave presentations. There was even a gentleman from Bowral, NSW in the audience! I always said the Unlock the Past seminars are a not to be missed event but that is a decent journey to attend. Actually he was over helping hos daughter to move and she kindly gave him the day off to attend the seminar as it had World War One and Irish topics.

At the seminar we met John Shapland and his daughter Alyssa and this led to a fantastic visit to his private museum, a major highlight of the cruise, which you'll be able to read about tomorrow.

Thanks to John we were also able to visit the National ANZAC Centre which was another major highlight and you can read about here.

National Anzac Centre, Albany, Western Australia

As I mentioned the fact the 7th Unlock the Past cruise was going to Albany was a major factor in my choosing to go on this cruise (apart from the fact I just love genealogical conference cruising!)

National ANZAC Centre showing some of the harbour
Albany had a deep harbour and so the convoy assembled in King George Sound.The First and Second convoys left Albany  originally to go to England but as we know actually ended up staying in Egypt. 

Dr Richard Reid said this had a lot to do with the quality of the accommodation available initially in England for the number of men so the idea was to hold them in Egypt until things could be sorted and then the Dardenelles campaign was decided upon and the legend of Gallipoli was born.

The National ANZAC Centre has been built in Albany and it is a must see item if you happen to be in that area. You will need to allow yourself at least two hours. It is an emotional tour.

On entry each person is given a card bearing the name of a person and you follow the story of this person through their time in the war. My card was for Captain Arthur Gordon Smith, who was in the Royal Navy. 

There are at least 30 different cards of Australians, Turks, British, nurses and more so covering many aspects of the participants.

You are also given a receiver pen which you use to activate recordings at set points.

The entry  

You enter into the gallery and find the first information stand where you put your card and it calls up the dossier for your person.

Then you move down and see the information panels where you can use your receiver pen by swiping across the A on the panel to activate a recording that you listen to on the pen.

There are many displays.

You keep following your person through their military service and yes, it is real life,  some are killed, others wounded and some survive the war. My person was the Captain of First Convoy to leave Albany. He survived the war only to die of pancreatic cancer in later life.

The Centre also highlights the cost not only in deaths of which there were too many but also all the wounded who came back and the effect this had on their lives and the lives of their loved ones forever more.

We Are The Maimed

In Flanders fields we do not lie
Where poppies grow and larks will fly
Forever singing as they go
Above the bodies, row on row,
Of those whose duty ‘twas to die

We are the maimed. Death did deny
Its solace. Crippled, blind, we try
To find on earth the peace they know
In Flanders fields.

Forget us not! As years go by,
On your remembrance we rely
For love that sees the hearts below
Our broken bodies. Else we grow
           To crave our peace with those who lie
            In Flanders Field

              WB France

I know Albany is many miles away but don't despair, the National ANZAC Centre has a website and you are able to follow the cards through on the website as well (there are 32 available on the website). 

There is also a fantastic links section and a searchable list of all people on the First and Second Convoys.

This is my great-grandfather and he was one of 2663 men and women on this ship.

The visit was very emotional  and worthwhile.

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Genealogical Cruising: 7th Unlock the Past Cruise Part One

Rosemary Kopittke, Heather Fitzpatrick and the shorty is me
It has been a great time and I have just come off the 7th Unlock the Past cruise.

This was a very special cruise for me as it went to Albany. My great-grandfather George Howard Busby was aboard the A40 Ceramic which was in the Second Convoy that left St George's Sound,  Albany 31 December 1914. He went from there to Egypt and thence to Gallipoli so as Albany was a stop and this cruise had some military lectures I had to go.This was a short cruise of five nights.

The amazing Lee
 The 100 year commemorations in Albany for the first convoy had occurred in November.
The Queensland Contingent, this time arrived by air.

We were kindly driven by Kristen down to Fremantle from where our ship the Astor would leave. Weather was sunny and a warm 35 degrees but it is a dry heat which was a relief after the high humidity we had had in Brisbane.

Lee was our liaison on the ship and kept things running smoothly. He was also the DJ, a singer and I am not sure how many other hats he wore but always had a smile whenever I saw him. 

After our obligatory lifeboat drill, it was time for dinner then our "Meet and Greet". The Astor pulled away from Fremantle on its way to Esperance

Our first day was at sea and was a full conference day. 

The eminent historian, Dr Richard Reid gave the first presentation:  Ireland of the ancestors: maps, documents, valuations,diaries, books, parish registers.  Richard showed the life in Ireland and the records that can help us add that life to our families.

Then it was a choice between Mike Murray on Researching Your Western Australian Ancestors or Eric Kopittke speaking on  Starting Your German Research. I don't have research in either area but went to Mike's talk.

One of the artistic fruit carvings decorating the buffet
Then morning tea time before Lesley Silvester's talk  on Beyond the Parish Registers: lesser known English records from the 18th and 19th centuries. Lesley is very knowledgeable in this area and well worth hearing if you have a chance.

Then lunch, one thing on a cruise is that food breaks happen quite often! 

I spoke after lunch on Gallipoli: medical services talking about how the medical service was organised and how they helped the wounded. In this time pre the antibiotic era disease was always a problem. In fact there were only two weeks during the campaign that there were more wounded being evacuated from Gallipoli than soldiers who were ill with disease particularly dysentery.  being a Public Health Microbiologist I have a particular interest in health and how this affected our ancestors.

Then Richard Reid gave an excellent presentation on "Trenches, memorials and bits of metal: the Anzac area of Gallipoli today" 

Dr Richard Reid talking on Gallipoli
Richard had been the historian with the Australian War Memorial and Veterans Affairs for many years. He has a particular affinity with the Western Front especially as he was involved in bringing the "Unknown Soldier" home. Richard was also involved in the  Joint Historical and Archaeological Survey, and it began in 2005 with high-level diplomatic negotiations between the Turkish, New Zealand and Australian governments. Gallipoli is the best preserved battlefield of the First World War as obviously in heavily populated areas there was the requirement to use the battlefied areas again for farming and life. The Turkish government have preserved the battlefield area and we should be very thankful for this, considering their country was invaded by enemy forces.

During the dig there was a lot involved and part of it was the mapping of the trenches, using technology with GPS tracking and a huge amount of hard physical work cutting the undergrowth in the trenches. Later in 2015 a book will be published on the findings of the survey and this is one that is definitely on my shopping list.

Another break and then Liana Fitzpatrick, President of WAGS (the Western Australian Genealogical Society) gave a presentation on two of their special World War One projects: Western Australian Gallipoli deaths and the Cheops pyramid photo. I plan to write a special post on these two projects so more about them later.

Rosemary Kopittke then spoke on Using Electoral Rolls for Genealogy: Tips and Traps. It is important to know the requirements for being on the roll as you could waste many hours searching for someone on the roll when in fact they were not eligible to vote. And in counterpoint you may not search thinking they wouldn't be on the roll when in actual fact they may be there.

Then came the Research Help Zone and  these are always a highlight for me as I really enjoy talking to people about their genealogy and their brickwall problems. There is nothing more satisfying than hearing the brick wall come tumbling down.

Then dinner (yes I did mention there are a lot of food breaks!) before we reassembled for Mike's talk on being "The Online Detective: improving your online research.

Then to bed being rocked to sleep while the ship traveled to Esperance. People tendered ashore at Esperance but I spent my day in the very nice library enjoying research time and doing another Research Help Zone with associated meal breaks before Richard's after dinner talk on 'There is no person starving here’: Australia, Ireland and the Great Famine, 1845‐50.

Richard did his PhD on Irish migration and showed the wealth of records and information that is available about the Famine and migration. It is too easy to just say "They came because of the Famine and it is important to determine the various effects on the different areas due to 
the Famine.

Then off to the Captain's lounge for a quiet drink and discussion on the day's talks.

Changeover of night to day