Friday, 21 June 2013

Tumblr Goodness

Personally as a 'word' person I've never bothered much with Tumblr, but when the EE FB* page linked to this it was too good not to share: 50 Shades of Genealogy (SFW) . I haven't checked, but I'm guessing the author is another genXalogist. It mostly contains short animations connected with genealogical moments most of us would definitely relate to! Readers will no doubt have realised that I love making and sharing my own genealogy memes, so I always love it when I get to see someone else out there is making genealogy related funnies.

Poor Bad Luck Brian, still waiting to win the genealogical lottery
* I'm rocking the acronyms today: that's "Evidence Explained" and "Facebook". "SFW" is "Safe for Work", just in case the 50 Shades allusion had anyone worried!

British GENES (British Genealogy News and Events): Trove reaches ten million pages

There's a New Verb in Town
We all know about the treatment of Google as a verb rather than a noun (to Google, Googling and so on). Well, Trove definitely warrant becoming a verb in honour of their ten millionth digitised newspaper page! What a great resource it is for us all!

British GENES (British Genealogy News and Events): Trove reaches ten million pages: Congratulations to the Oz based NLA Trove team which has now digitised some ten million pages of Australian newspaper content, and within an...

Friday, 14 June 2013

What's keeping me poor this weekend

We all know that one of the things people say about the generation immediately below them, apart from the fact they don't appreciate good music (I'm looking at you here Gen Y!) is that they can't wait for anything and have to have instant gratification. Sadly, I'm forced to concede this is slightly true. If I can order a certificate and see an image right now it's definitely going to have that bit more appeal than having to wait for it to arrive in the mail, so combine that with a  price drop and I am pretty much guaranteed to be relieved of some cash before you can say "Instant donwload anyone?" Consequently my credit card had a good cry when the fine people at Gould Genealogy posted the information that the Queensland BDM has moved to online ordering with some certificates available as digital images, AND cut their prices to boot, leaving me with nothing to complain about except the slight lag in downloading speed. You bastards.


Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Disclosure Statement

Oh dear God, has it come to this?
I was perusing a favourite blog of mine recently by a fellow gen-Xer ( check it out, especially if you're in Australia and/or like reading the work of fellow genXalogists)* and I see that according to US law I am supposed to have a disclosure statement. Ye gods! A person can't do anything any more. I blame Sexual Harassment Panda. Anyway...
At this point I'm not receiving any money for this blog. Maybe one day Adsense will realise I have some written content and some poor sap will be suckered into clicking on the linkies  I will derive a small pittance from people clicking on advertising which might pay for the odd certificate here or there, but in the meantime I'm doing it for the love of it. I am not an official blogger for any genealogy event (or official anything, for that matter) nor do I derive my income from anything genealogical. I do teach at a school and once a year inflict basic family history on my year 9s for about three weeks, but that is purely for their own good because it's part of our school's curriculum and is no more for my financial benefit than any other unit I am required to deliver.
All products, blogs, companies etc. I mention are referred to because either they did something I like, or more likely that I wanted to hang shit on them about something, 'cause I'm a gen-Xer and that's how us cynical bastards roll.
I feel dirty even having to post something so legal-ese. It makes me feel like next I'll be producing nuclear power in small-town America.
* I suppose in the spirit of full disclosure I should mention two members of my family married members of Ms. Lonetester's family but this in no way contributes to the likelihood of me referencing her blog.

Genea-Musings: Treelines has a Family Storytelling Contest on "Getting Started"

Someone else in the Under-13s!
If I were to split genealogists into sporting divisions, I'm guessing the U13s would be... well... a pretty piss-poor turn-out. I was consequently VERY excited to see someone else has put in an entry to the Treelines contest which reveals she began as a 12 year old, same as yours truly! It's a wonderful thing to begin genealogy no matter what your age, but those of us who started as younglings are few and far between, so I'm always pumped to find another one. It's a challenge to add pictures to a story about a 12 year old, so you won't be seeing an entry from me, but I'll really be hoping that this one here features in the winner's list.

Genea-Musings: Treelines has a Family Storytelling Contest on "Getting Started"

Yes, this is really how it feels sometimes.

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Genealogy's Star: Citations vs. Sources

People who like this sort of thing will find this to be the sort of thing they like
First thought: As a person whose first foray into genealogy was at 12, serious entry at 18 and who conducts a class in it for 14 year olds every year, I'm always interested in what attracts kids about their family histories and what puts them off. My experience is that many kids are curious about the past of their family, love talking to older people about family stories and take great pride in presenting their findings. However, even with the most basic research they struggle with referencing, let alone the minefield presented by the vast array of sources used in genealogy.
Second thought: I have been very fortunate to undertake extensive university study. I'm currently beginning a PhD in a field which uses Turabian's style guide. I have an Honours degree in a field which uses MLA and have also undertaken study which required Chicago. I have invested weeks of my life into correctly creating and formatting citations. It's tedious. It's dry. It's far and away my least preferred part of study.
Whenever I whip out my copy of "Evidence Explained" to work out how to reference a particularly atypical source, I'm reminded of the advice one of the head librarians at Adelaide Uni gave us after a four hour session on referencing: "Ultimately, it doesn't matter what system you use as long as it can be used to locate your original sources and is applied consistently". I really appreciate the work that's gone into "Evidence Explained" and apply it as fully as time permits, but ultimately when I read someone's family history I just want to be able to work out what their original sources were, and preferably without too much confusion.
James Tanner is dead right. Nobody benefits when we make it seem too hard for the average person to be able to cite sources. Let's focus first on encouraging everyone to record their sources in whatever format works for them, whether it be the one on their genealogy software, something they've used in study, or something else altogether, especially our new family historians.
(While on the subject, I choose not to source blog posts as I find it interferes with the creative 'flow'. That, and it's a bitch to code the HTML. For me, the blog is focussing on the narrative, and I've rarely read properly referenced narratives which work. However, source citations are always available on request. Unless I've clearly indicated it's a hypothesis, I don't put it here unless I've got something to back it up.)

Genealogy's Star: Citations vs. Sources: I guess your first thought is that citations and sources are not the same thing and cannot be in opposition. But, in fact, they are in oppos...

Cool but Pointless #2

Those of you who subscribe to Inside History and who, like me, are part of the 523% of Australians who are of Irish descent have no doubt been enjoying their most recent issue, focusing on Irish genealogy. One of the things which caught my eye, although I have seen ads for it previously, is that they were promoting the Certificate of Irish Heritage. Yes, for $52AUD plus $5 shipping* you too can get a piece of paper which declares you to be of Irish descent, containing whatever guff you typed into it about who your ancestors were and where they were from, signed by someone official-sounding.

Sure, I could get this certificate to 'prove' I'm part Irish, or I could just hang up my uni qualifications with my maiden name on them...
The only thing I find really tempting is the possibility of getting something claiming I'm a descendant of Dan Milligan from Puckoon. Now that would be worth the $52.
*$154 plus shipping for a framed version.

Friday, 7 June 2013

Outcome of my Travels

Well, I know you are all waiting with bated breath (hahahaha! - Sorry, did I laugh out loud?) to hear about my trip to the mid-north. So without further ado, let me launch into Boring Travel Monologue #1.
In between the actual work which I had been sent to do (which I did do, but I'm not going to write about) I squeezed in four cemeteries, 1 pioneer garden, 1 church, 1 family history society, 1 museum, 1 railway  station, 1 gaol and 422 kms. Only 1 winery, and that was because it's attached to the church (gotta love the Jesuits!) Happy with that. I also brainstormed a pile of memes to make for the blog, so all in all it was a pretty productive few days.
On the way there I stopped to pay a courtesy call to my 4x great grandparents, George and Mary Darby, who are interred in the Riverton Cemetery. They are buried close by to their daughter Annie, who for some reason had her maiden name used on her headstone even though she was married. Very weird, especially since her husband was a B-grade celebrity.

Probably the only time a family history researcher has driven into Riverton Cemetery with Limp Bizkit's "I did it all for the Nookie" playing on their ipod. Loudly.

I also visited another of their daughters, Elizabeth, who is interred in the old cemetery. It has since been redeveloped as a pioneer garden (I fucking hate that - especially as a celebration. Yay, the state is 120 years old, let's celebrate by desecrating the graves of our pioneers! What a great idea! Fucktards.), but luckily hers is one of the stones which has been retained. While I will never know the exact spot she lies with her newborn son, at least I could see her tombstone <insert rant about sacred sites here>. I then spent Day 2 in planning. Of course as genealogy synchronicity so often has it, that same day I received an email from another of the Darby descendants who is planning a trip to Pitney, their original home. Always funny how that happens!

Before checking in at the hotel I also went to the Clare Museum, on the lookout for my Lavis related family history mysteries. The volunteer there was extremely helpful and dug up the Maynard family history book. Unfortunately the book's author knew about as much as I did, and had even omitted any reference to the Bigamy Incident, so no joy there. Although there were many Maynard related things in the museum, nothing further could be found about the Lavises.

Day 3 I went to visit a site which is of family and local history significance, the Sevenhill Winery/Church/Cemetery. It's the oldest winery in Clare, was once host to St. Mary Mackillop, and is also where her spiritual director, Fr. Tappeiner, is interred. It's also a place where some of my husband's family, the Fudges, worshipped and were interred. I went on the walk hosted by the exceptional Br. John May, former head wine-maker of the Sevenhill winery. One of the stops we missed but which features in the walk booklet is the World Youth Day cross. In the booklet it makes it sound like it is the actual World Youth Day cross which is up in the Radiata Pine grove, but the WYD cross carries on its journey the following WYD, so I'm not sure exactly what it is that's up in the grove. If it had been the actual cross I'd have taken the time, as the cross and icon are very special to me, but I was a bit too busy for replicas and commemorative models.

Day 4 was pretty action-packed. When I was doing the dog-leg to Riverton I realised I was going to be not-a-million-miles from Burra and Hanson, which are also areas of importance to the family, so Day 4 I hit the road (again) and went out to Burra.

The first stop was the cemetery. There are a few married-into-the-family types who are interred there, but I must admit I completely forgot about them in my hurry to see one very special person: a four month old baby named Mervyn Clifford Dawson.

Mervyn's grave-site at Burra Cemetery

Mervyn is my great-uncle, and he's definitely my Sad Story #1. Mervyn was the son of my great grandmother, Ethel Gladys McPherson, and someone... maybe my great grandfather, but probably not. Although her family lived in Hanson (about 12km from Burra), he was born in Alford. She was probably sent to stay with family to hide the shame etc. etc. because Glad was not married at the time (Yes, they'd have a fit if they knew I was stating this on public record, and no, I don't give a fuck. Ethical considerations are good and all, but they shouldn't have to be ashamed about that beautiful baby boy.) Four months later, Glad was back with the family in Hanson. In August Mervyn died of pneumonia, and his death certificate refers to him as the son of William John Dawson, who was Glad's father. Glad was the eldest daughter, so it's pretty obvious that Mervyn had been passed off as her parents' son. They'd had their last child the previous year, so it was probably a fairly convincing story to Burra folks. I doubt anyone in Hanson believed it.
Like most family historians I am beset by babies who were taken from us all too soon. However, Mervyn troubles me for a number of reasons.
  1. He's the only one I know for a fact was lied about during his life-time
  2. He was my grandmother's half-brother, but I don't know if she even knows he exists, and of course I am not game to ask in case she doesn't know
  3. I wonder what manner of mummy-guilt my great-grandmother must have suffered with, between the circumstances of his conception, his birth, his illness, her other son's death many years later in the war...
  4. Glad's parents were expecting her when they married, so pot, kettle, black to them.
  5. Oddly enough, Mervyn's existence was alluded to by a tarot reader I saw in the late 90s, who said that my grandmother had a brother who died as a baby, but I didn't find out about him for many years after that.
I checked first with the wonderful folks at the Burra History Group, and their VERY helpful president Meredith sent me a mud-map of the cemetery plus directions for where to find the map AT the cemetery so that I could locate Mervyn's grave. He is buried in a section where very few headstones remain, but by a stroke of extreme good fortune he is buried on the intersection of two pathways, which made his site miraculously easy to find (some of that genealogical serendipity that strikes from time-to-time). I sat alongside Mervyn and had a thoroughly good cry for quite a long time. I am happy to have had the chance to visit him. I was probably the first family member to visit him in some 60-odd years, and also probably the first to visit him with full knowledge and acceptance of the circumstances of his birth. I left him a toy car, and continued somewhat regretfully on to the next stop.

Redruth Gaol

Most people who go to visit Redruth Gaol are there out of interest in its role as the prison in what was once SA's largest country town, its history as a girls' reformatory, especially the infamous riot which led to its closure, or ghost hunting. However, I visited because my great-great grandfather Edwin Francis Gough was once the 'turnkey' there, and was sacked in 1864 after allegedly assaulting a prisoner. While he appealed the matter and it ended up in a parliamentary hearing, he was not successful and ended up applying for a store license in Moonta the following year. It was the beginning of a major decline in the family's fortunes, no doubt the subject of a future blog entry!

Burra is a small place, but I had two more important stops: the Burra railway station, where my great-grandfather probably once worked as porter, and the surrounding suburb of Aberdeen where my grandmother was born almost 100 years ago. Unfortunately I missed taking pictures in Morehead Street where Mervyn died or of the Methodist Manse on Jessie Street where my great-grandparents married. Maybe next time.

On the way back to Clare, I stopped in at Hanson. Hanson was the residence of the Dawson family for several years, including the time that Mervyn was born and that my great-grandmother Glad met and married Francis McPherson. My great-great grandfather William John Dawson taught the local school and was noted in the area for his enthusiastic support of the Belgian Relief Fund during the war years. There isn't much there any more, but the Methodist Church still stands along with a few houses. I don't know to what degree my ancestors worshipped in that Church as it was Wesleyan Methodist, and Glad chose to get married in the other Methodist Church in Burra.
There's also this building... looks like a schoolhouse to me!

On my last day in the Clare Valley, I stopped into the Clare Family History Group. They have some wonderful resources, and I definitely want to go back another time to check their Northern Argus indexes and land records. However, the volunteers (including the lovely lady from the museum!) were busy with older visitors and I wasn't able to get much help locating anything useful. I did find the school register for Hanson, probably written by my great-great grandfather William John Dawson, but no light on the Martin/Maynard/Lavis/Wiseman conundrum after all of that! :(

I did deliberate about a more extensive stop in Tarlee on the way back, but scrubbed it out in favour of getting back to the two littlest twigs of the family who I knew would be keen to catch up again. After all, the Tarlee school has been there for over 100 years, so it will probably still be there next time I get the chance to go to Clare! I also didn't get to Terowie, where my great-uncle Ron was born.
All in all, it was a quite successful trip. I didn't solve any of my mysteries, but I did do some other things which needed to be done, and still got my work done to boot.

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Cool but Pointless #1

There are some things I come across every so often which look really useful for genealogy. There are things I come across which look really useful and also really cool. However, there are some things I see which look cool but I'm really not sure of the benefit they offer.
1) Software to produce 3D charts for the internet from Avanquest. Wow, those charts do look cool, and I'm sure there's a particular type of spatial understanding some people have which will allow those charts to provide them with valuable insights. For the rest of us? Well, until I can print it in 3D and put it in some kind of multi layered Perspex display in my lounge, I'm not sure it's much good to me.
2) Did you know there's a code you can use to insert a search box for Trove into your website or blog? Yes, there is! You can get it here. Again though, why? Why not just type '' in the address bar and search on Trove itself, especially since most people would use the advanced search anyway!

Just why?

Bogan (and Other Irregular) Names

I haven't had much time to do anything with the blog the past week as I've been very busy preparing both work and my family so they are all organised while I am on my trip to Clare. Anyway...
I'm a teacher, and so one of the things I'm involved in almost every January is discussions about what weird unique names have surfaced on the class lists, and how exactly one might be expected to pronounce them! I know this is a topic of interest to some other people, to the point that I have one particular friend who often wants updates on the latest in "bogan names". For some reason, people seem to think this is a very recent phenomenon, and that once upon a time everyone in Australia had names from the Bible, Botany and the British royal family, with 'nary a US state, "noice, un-u-s-u-al, different" spelling or celebrity in sight. I call shenanigans on this theory, and present exhibit A for the defence, the list of names in my own tree which would no doubt feature on the "Bogan Name" list should it have existed at the time:
Asenath b. 1849
Aurelia b. 1802
Brunty  b. 1925
Burty  b. 1884
Faith, Hope and Charity  c. 1803
Chestina b. 1832 (who died as an infant) and her younger sister, my great-great-great grandmother, Jestina  b. 1832
Cora Verosa Venice b. 1908
Zillah  b. 1884
Darrell  b. 1888 (Darrell? In 1888? Maybe 1988!)
Dorothea Evelyn Alethea  b. 1906 (OK, they're all 'regular' names, but all together like that?)
Ediva Leonora  b. 1882
Edna Leweine b. 1913
Elder  b. 1884 and his older brother Epi, b. 1881
Elma b. 1898 (Fudd anyone? Poor girl!)
Elva  b. ca 1922
Essie  b. 1890
Eveleen Clarice Lena  b. 1902
Evelina  b. 1833
Firth b. 1854
Lauretta  b. 1891
Honour  b. 1826
Imelda  b. 1896
Indiana b. 1867 (That's right people, an American state as a name in 1867! She subsequently became a single mum. I bet all the neighbours blamed her name in that same tone people usually reserve for strippers named Montana.)
Inez b. 1914
Jennie  b. 1893
Aleric  b. 1884
Laban  b. 1835 (Yes, Biblical, but very obscure! He's not even that nice a guy!)
Lister  b. 1847 (As wonderful as it is to see a Red Dwarf name in there...)
Loma b. 1892 (I thought misprint for "Lorna" too, but apparently not!)
Maidie Lestley  b. 1917
Valetta b. 1899 (No, the family are not Maltese)
Maryrion  b. 1882 (What? Mary and Marion were both taken?)
Stanley Gordon Livingstone b. 1891 (Someone's parents liked their colonial African stories!)
Urinia  b. 1839
Wanda b. 1920

No doubt you were all wonderful people, but when your teachers saw your name on a class list this was the mental image they had of your family... or the 1802-1920 equivalents, anyway.

Quite a list - and that's even after excluding the ones which were probably family surnames which should never have reappeared as given names (I'm looking at you here, Peapells!), the probable mis-spellings for something more common and those that just made some unfortunate sods sound like total wankers: Hobson, Hedley, Hollis and the like.
Of course what would I know: my eldest son is named after this gentleman here!
No, not Indiana, we called the dog his third great grand aunt Indiana.