Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Website review : National Library of Australia (Catalogue)

The Librarians Day at the AFFHO Congress 2015 recently was hosted for us by the National Library of Australia. I was pleased that we could fit in an all be it hurried tour including behind the scenes, as this was my first visit, I was a little disappointed that we had to hurry through so will have to plan a trip in the future and undertake some research. Since my visit the new newspapers and family history zone has opened.  The catalogue is separate to the home page but a link to it can be found on the home page of the website (right beside one for Trove )
A general rule for a lot of catalogues and sites such as Trove and Ancestry is to keep your search simple, especially in the beginning. A less is more approach is more sensible as the use of filters and other options helps to narrow down your search results anyway. In the NLA case, a list of options to narrow your search appears on the right of the screen.
As researchers increasingly expect more and more content on line, you can narrow your search to online items by selecting this option from the drop down menu on the search screen.
Find something interesting, follow the links and see where they take you.
Login in with your NLA registration and keep track of the items you have found by adding them as a favourite. This is a handy option for requesting records at a later date. Information on how to do this is on the website and if after all this, you still need a bit of guidance check out this fun video : Experimenting with the catalogue.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The People in the photo by Helene Gestern is a work of fiction translated from French and set in Europe.  This book drew my attention from the outset.  Photos are a powerful tool in our family history which inspire and help to add layers to our research.  The author uses a clever storytelling device by the use of letters, emails and postcards to unite the two main characters in their quest to find the truth behind the hidden stories of a somewhat common past.    Between the letters are detailed descriptions of the photos that are the foundation of the story.  Though fiction, the author provides a good example of how a photo can be dissected for clues in a research journey.
The story of Helene and Stephane and their respective parents - Sylvia and Pierre in the end was a little far- fetched but an enjoyable light read. This book perhaps ultimately proved that the power of a photograph can bring people together.   A lofty thing indeed!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Congress 2015 - Librarians Day

The 14th Australasian Congress on Genealogy and Heraldry hosted by The Heraldry & Genealogy Society of Canberra at the National Convention Centre, Canberra.  The triennial Congress is conducted under the auspices of the Australasian Federation of Family History Organisations (AFFHO).  The Conference was also supported by an online research interests’ register, a Librarians day and opportunities for after- hours research at three major local repositories.  A welcome function was held at the AWM and a dinner was held at Parliament House.  The Congress was “about learning, sharing and making connections”.
This is the first of a series of posts about the conference.
Over 40 librarians arrived in Canberra a day ahead of the AFFHO Congress 2015 gathering at the National Library of Australia.
Speakers included: Jenny Higgins.  Jenny previously working at the National Library of Australia – Jenny now works with the National Dictionary of Biography. Her topic was “The Best tool for the job : choosing the right family history resources”
She reminded us that we need to review what our favourite sources actually include, their scope and content.  Some databases do not state this.  Look for a statement of scope even in the commercial databases.  Sometimes you need to know what the collection does not include.
The second speaker was Seonaid Lewis – Family History Librarian at Auckland Libraries based at the Central Auckland Heritage Centre.  One of their major programs is their “genealogy lock in” which is an event for family history researchers when researchers access the library after the library would normally close to the public.  8 pm – 8 am.   About 50 Researchers are provided with pizza, and staff and volunteers are available for assistance.
Josh Taylor Find My Past – Director of Family History is always good value.  Find My Past has recently completed integration of data from purchase of Origins.net   including UK resources.
FMP also own Mocavo. .  This site is like a genealogy search engine. It has a rich text content base. Books are being digitised as a rapid base.
The Keynote address was from Anne Marie Schwirtich Director NLA. MS Schwiortilich spoke at length. The National Library ensures that documentary resources of national significance relating to Australia and Australians. Significant numbers of family historians use the National Library both onsite and online including via the Trove portal.
A panel of librarians concluded the day.  The Panel was chaired by Anne Burrows, State Library of Victoria and included Seonaid Lewis, Auckland Libraries, Margaret Curry, NT Library, Janette Pelosi, Society of Australian Genealogists and myself from, YPRL.
With limited time we addressed some topics including Publishing trends – acquisition and selection and  staff and public training iniatives including  Branching Out: an online course in family history offered by SLV in 2014 and piloted by Victorian public libraries including YPRL.
The Librarians Day set a great tone for the rest of the conference with lots of networking and continued learning and sharing of information.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Reserching an Anzac

Military historian Neil C Smith will be a special guest speaker for Diamond Valley’s Family History Fest program this month at Diamond Valley Library:  Researching an Anzac Wednesday April 29 at 1.30 pm.
With over 24 years' Australian army experience, Lieutenant Colonel Neil Smith understands military jargon, abbreviations and the various organisational and recording systems employed by the army, navy and air force.  He is the author of That Elusive DiggerThat Elusive Digger
Neil’s presentation at the annual State Library of Victoria Family History Feast in 2013 can be accessed on the SLV website.
There has certainly be an update since that time including the development ofDiscovering Anzacs which provides a new gateway to access service records of Australians and New Zealanders who served in world war one. This site also allows researchers to transcribe records, add their stories, including group photos, add relationships and external links.
Researchers may also be interested in this guide Researching your Australian military ancestor
Image: Whittlesea War Memorial

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Genealogy Congress

Ardent genies are gearing up for Congress next week. The 14th Australasian Congress on Genealogy & Heraldry  will be held in Canberra 27 – 30 March.  This major genealogy conference for Australia and New Zealand is only held every three years.  The hosts are the The Heraldry & Genealogy Society of Canberra (HAGSOC), under the auspices of AFFHO Australasian Federation of Family History Societies.
I will be attending and will be reporting back on my experience via this blog and Twitter.  I expect it to be a busy time.  I have had to choose to attend sessions from a wide variety of four concurrent sessions per time slot.  I have considered these according to speaker, topic and relevance.  I have also included sessions on topics absolutely new to me.  I am looking forward to visiting vendors in the Exhibitors hall, sharing and networking with colleagues and Congress delegates.  We are fortunate to have access to international authoritative speakers as well a chance to meet people representing the commercial businesses in the genealogy industry as well as the non- commercial organizations represented.
I attended the 13th Congress in Adelaide in 2012 when the theme of the conference was “Your Ancestors in their social context”.  I have a copy of the proceedings which I have been reviewing recently.  I was reminded of one of the highlights of that conference Colleen Fitzpatrick’s presentation “The unknown child of the Titanic”.
After attending RootsTech 2013 and Who Do You Think You Are Live 2013, I am probably more spoiled than most.  Family History Conferences are ideal opportunities to expand your knowledge on resources available for your research, as well as an opportunity to learn about new tools, search techniques and programs and meet like minded people.  Ultimately, I hope as before to come away inspired and looking forward to discovering what is new in this ever evolving world of genealogy.  

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Book review: Not my Father's son by Alan Cumming

Scottish Actor Alan Cumming’ family memoir; Not my father's son: a family memoir is quite compelling reading.  I had a been a fan of the actor mainly from his work in The Good Wife and was chuffed to learn that he was actually Scottish when his episode of Who Do You Think You Are?  was aired a few years ago. (Series seven - episode nine – view it on You Tube.) In that episode he traced his maternal grandfather Thomas Darling and it is this particular time in his life inter-weaved with episodes from his childhood that is recounted in his memoir.
An extraordinary life that surprisingly draws you in. Alan’s life at times was not very pleasant and as a result parts of this book are quite heart wrenching.
I often advise researchers when they start out on a family history research journey to be prepared for the unpleasant aspects of life that they will invariably uncover (and give thought to how they may share it).  Alan Cumming lived this, recounts it and tries to understand it.   If you like biographies and have dabbled in family history research this memoir is a read for you.