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Tuesday, October 7, 2014

A shotgun wedding.

Well, you do come across some interesting things when you start digging into the family history!  Here is the story of what must surely have been a shotgun wedding:

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Take a closer look at some of your old photos.

I have been going through an old photo album and finally found some of my mum and dad's wedding photo's.  These photos tell a story much more than you would first think.  It is worth taking a good look at some of your family photos, to see what they can tell you.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Where to start looking for census records

Continuing the series of Genealogy for beginners, lets look at census records from outside the UK, USA or Australia

So, what if your family does not come from the UK, USA  or Australia?  Never fear! There may be census records out there.

The first place to look is to the wiki on family search.  Then click on the country you are looking for, if it is not there, chances are there are no census records. (sorry!).  If you can't find anything, go back to the main page and try searching for the country you are after.  At least this way you sill get guidance on what is available.

I have family that came from Ukraine, and there are no census records for this part of the world.  But if your ancestors came from Canada you may have more luck!

The next step, if you find no joy on family search, is to check the national archives of the country you need.  These will usually have a search function, so try searching for "family history" or  "census" and see what you can find out.  you may need translation for this, just right click and then click on <translation with bing>.  Or just go to google and search for census records and the country you need - eg <census records Ukraine>.

Sometimes you just will not find any census records, and you will have to look for other types of records.  Sometimes you may just get lucky, after all, the word census originated in Rome and the Romans were taking census when Jesus was born.  So don't give up, keep searching.

Marble Roman artwork, Census Frieze, 2nd century BC. From the Campo Marzio, Rome

Monday, August 18, 2014

A quick link for a free giveaway.

Family Tree Mag is giving away a great e-book about organising your genealogy.  Easy to download, and packed with good ideas.  Great one, thanks FTM! 

Don't forget, if you want to keep up to date on my blog just submit your email in the top right box.


Saturday, August 16, 2014

Census in the USA

Continuing the series of Genealogy for beginners, lets look at census records from the USA.

If you have family from the US, then census records are going to be one of your most important starting points, luckily, there is a wealth of information online.  Start with this factfinder from the national archives.

1861 Family Register
Image courtesy of the National Archives.

Monday, August 4, 2014

So, is it the right family?

One of the things that you need to understand when looking at census records is that it is quite easy to find the wrong family.  I found a whole Fisher line that was not mine! 

Census taker visits a family living in a caravan, Netherlands 1925

Saturday, August 2, 2014

If your family came from the UK you hit the mother load!

Continuing the series of Genealogy for beginners, lets look at census records from the UK

Census records in the UK are one of the key records you will use when finding ancestors from that part of the world. And oh Lordy were there census records! One thing the English did well was record things, right back to the Kings scrolls held at Harvard University.

The great thing about the census records is that they proved a lot of information, including:

  • Place or street address where people lived
  • Name of each person living in the abode on the night of the census
  • Relationship to the head of the household
  • Age and sex, arranged by males and females
  • Where people were born
  • Profession, trade or employment 
  • Marital status
  • How long married
So from this information you can often work out the aprox year of birth for all the people listed, and know where they were born, and when people married.  This information often leads you to other records and helps  you follow the family line.  Particularly, as most families lived in the same area in the past.

Here is one of my records of the Farr family

To understand the records, you need to first try to find which area of the UK the family came from, what year you might find information and start looking.

My advice is to read up on the years census you are looking at as it will help you understand what you are reading.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

A Quick Tip when searching NSW BDM

From facebook posts etc it seems everyone is getting caught up in the new NSW BDM searching.
Here is my tip (as used in the example below:

When you don't know a field, just use the symbol *  (usually located by shft 8)

Happy hunting.


Monday, June 30, 2014

Catch that Aussie census taker

Continuing the series of Genealogy for beginners, lets look at census records.

 Census records are some of the best records I have found when researching family history, because most census records give information about the whole family.   But not in Australia.   In this post I will try to send you in the right direction for your Australian census type research.

From 1971 to 1996 the ABS had a policy of destruction of the original census forms and their electronic representations, as well as field records. Prior to that it appears most material had been destroyed because of lack of storage facilities, and a fire.

If you think census takers have a hard time these days, take a look at one about to go on his route, which covered 600-700 square miles, in 1911.  The 1911 census was the first national census in Australia.

The Brisbane Courier 1 April 1911 (per. ABS)

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Thank you

Many thanks to Maria from Genies Down Under, and Lisa from Genealogy Gems for mentioning this blog, and in particular the blog post A peek into the past and a very touching story in thier wonderful podcasts.  I'm still looking for this long lost family, but am still hopeful of finding them.

If you have not listened to these great genealogy podcasts, just click on the links above and give it a go.  Getting my first I Phone, and listening to Lisa's podcast was how I first got into Genealogy and Blogging.

Friday, June 13, 2014

A great webinar

This is just a quick post about a great webinar that is available on

I have found a lot of webinars to be more about promoting someone or something, rather than helping or educating me in genealogy.  This one was very different!  It is a webinar by Liza Alzo (   called 10 ways to jumpstart your family history narrative.  I'm not a writer (knew that already?) and I have found it quite difficult to get started on a 'book' or narrative of my family.

The webinar has really easy and useful tips and is well worth watching.  Its aimed very much at people like me who are beginners. It is available only by subscription now.  You can find it at, or by clicking here.

Hope you enjoy it and have some fun, and thank you Liza for your generous help for us amateurs.

If you want to see me first attempt at a "book" take a look at: scribid .   I definitely now have to re-write this after looking at Liza's webinar.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Who owns that photo?

I just had a photo sent to me by someone saying it cannot be used without their permission.  The photo is about 100 years old.  I was a bit bemused, as I thought the owner of a photo was the person to created the photo, and I was pretty sure the copyright would have run out by now.  This led me to some investigation.  Firstly it depends upon the country you are in, so I look at Australian copyright.

Monday, June 9, 2014

I love my search function....

One of the reasons I like the Legacy program for holding all my information is the search function.
On the weekend Ancestry had the 1911 English census available for free, so here is how I used this function to narrow down who to look for.

First click on search at the top of the page

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

What was that you wrote?

Continuing the series for starting out in genealogy...

Paleography, or Deciphering old handwriting, where words may be spelled differently and writing conventions are different can be quite a challenge!  Patience and persistence are often required, and from my experience, a good husband who sees things a little differently to me is a real asset.

Here is one of the documents I recently tried to work through, its the last will and testament of Edmund Charles Clark.  Quite a challenge, even though it is a very clear scan in comparison to other documents.  It was written in the late 1800's, and the script has quite a lot of flourish in it, plus some of the words are a little unfamiliar.

Here are my tips and tricks for working through these documents:

Thursday, May 22, 2014

The bells are ringing

Continuing the series of Genealogy for beginners, lets look at marriage records.

Genealogists spend a lot of time searching for marriage records. They are valuable vital records — not just to prove our ancestors were legally married and that their children were legitimate, but they often provide us with the maiden name of our female ancestors. This in turn enables us to graft another branch onto the family tree.  Finding marriage records can be quite frustrating however.