Changes to ‘Find-A-Grave’ website

 

This week Ted Bainbridge provides a helpful outline of the changes coming to the Find-A-Grave website, one of the family of Ancestry resources. You can preview the proposed new site, while access to the old is presently being maintained.

Find-a Grave will change

Findagrave.com has announced that the web site soon will change. Some changes are cosmetic, while others are functional. A map feature has been added.

The home page, formerly just a list of over thirty choices, will become a photograph with a few menu selections across the top. That page will be dominated by the search panel, which will function largely as it has in the past and with the same options for every search box except those related to location.

The current search panel specifies location via pull-down lists for country, state, and county. The new search panel offers a single box for location, in which you are supposed to type the name of a place. As you begin to type a city, county, state, or country that box auto-fills with suggested place names which you can select with a mouse click. Use the American English equivalent of a country name; Germany works but Deutschland doesn’t.

The new home page’s menu bar goes across the top of the screen. Clicking CEMETERIES takes you to a page that lets you hunt cemeteries in either of two ways. Near the top left of the page is a search box where you can type a cemetery name. This auto-fill box works as above. When you select a name, you see a hit list of cemeteries with that name. Each entry on the hit list displays some facts about that cemetery, and a link to its information page. That page contains a search box that you can use to hunt for a person’s name.

Instead of using that cemetery-name search box, you can use the cemetery-place search box to its right. Clicking a place name produces a map of cemeteries near that place. You can zoom the map in or out, and can pan it in any direction. (If the map doesn’t display any marker pins, zoom in.) After a name is in that search box, clicking Search leads to a hit list of cemeteries near that place. Use this hit list the same way you use the other cemetery search box.

To see and experiment with all the planned changes, go to https://findagrave.com/and then click preview now near the top center of the screen.

Ted Bainbridge, PhD

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What did they do? Our ancestors’ occupations

By Clive Luckman

It is fun, and very satisfying to compile your family tree, showing names, dates and relationships. I think it is more fun to put some flesh on those bones.

One of the interesting things that can be done is to discover your ancestors’ occupations. In the pre-industrial revolution times (say before the very early 1800s) the vast majority of the population lived in the country. That changed during the century and today something like 5% of the population lives in the country, at least in Australia, Europe and north America. Those very significant demographic changes together with the industrial revolution meant lots of the occupations, some very specialised, died out.

One of the by products of the industrial revolution was a rebellion of sorts. The “Machine Breakers” (as the name implies) damaged new machinery by way of a protest and in fear of losing their income. Some of the Machine Breakers were convicted and transported to Australia.

So occupations such as button makers became extinct as machines began to make buttons. One occupation that persists today, though in relatively tiny numbers, is the shoe maker. The general name for a shoemaker, even up to the early 1900s in Melbourne, was a Cordwainer (the word probably derived from a leather worker in Cordova, Spain). An important occupation. The function of making (rather than repairing) shoes had occupational sub-divisions: a Clicker cut the leather taking care to have minimum waste and selecting the best parts for the stretch and so on; a bracer attached the upper to the sole using waxed thread.

As an aside, until roughly the 1850s the same last was used for left and right hand shoes – in other words the shape of the left and right hand shoes was the same. A horrifying thing today.

One of the sources of occupations in England and the US is the census. In both cases the occupation is recorded. The relatively recent English 1921 census include these occupations: Baubler, Lurer, Bear Breaker and Maiden Maker – I hesitate to search for the definitions of these.

Australian sources include birth, death and marriage certificates which include the occupations. But these details began on 1 July 1853 and before that we rely on Church records of Baptisms, Marriages and Funerals which lack a note of the occupations.

As with any research one needs to be critical of the evidence. One of my wife’s US ancestors was described as being engaged in “Mercantile and railroading” in a book written about the family in 1903. Sounds rather grand to me. In another document he claimed to have been be an engineer with the Brunswick and Albany Railroad. But the most credible evidence is that he was a ticket collector on the trains of that Railroad.

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This article (June 2007) by Clive Luckman of GSV was previously published in Fifty-Plus News .

At the Genealogical Society of Victoria we have expert volunteers to help members find where details of occupations can be found, and help solve the many problems encountered by family historians. See www.gsv.org.au for more information, or email gsv@gsv.org.au, or phone (03) 9662 4455 for information about the Society.

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What to do with things

A new exhibition opens at Museum Victoria’s Immigration Museum on 25 November – British Migrants: Instant Australians? Leading up to this, as part of the Seniors Festival this month, the GSV in conjunction with the Museum is presenting Ten Pound Poms on Friday 20 Oct. You can find more about that event here: Ten Pound Poms

The Museum’s exhibition will draw on stories and material that have been donated by a number of British immigrant families. The background to the  collection of material by one of these British immigrant families was told in Ancestor journal 31:6 June 2013 and an abridged version is re-published below. 

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What to do with things

By Bill Barlow

I have never said ‘no’ to the paperwork, photos and bric-a-brac left homeless upon the death of family members. Objects recently inherited include carved figurines, non-working watches, badges, uniforms, lace, grandfather’s chisels, travel chests, and a six-foot, handmade, reflecting telescope! What should I do with this accumulating stuff?

Documents and photos can be reasonably managed. But objects, especially large ones, present more difficulty. Do they go ‘straight to the poolroom’, the op shop, the museum or the bin? What can they tell us and how do we record this? Often there is an undue haste to throw out objects after a family death. This urge should be resisted. Our inherited objects can give us insights into our ancestors as well as much pleasure.

Family objects should be catalogued. Documenting an object gives it meaning and may elicit oral history. The Small Museums Cataloguing Manual (Museums Australia Victoria 2009) is a useful guide. They should be listed, described and labelled much as would be done in a small museum. Their provenance and significance needs to be recorded. This should be done before any decision is made about their disposal. The register of family objects can be a simple spreadsheet (MS Excel) with columns for:

  • Item control number – a unique, sortable number.
  • Title: an identifying phrase. You can use the Australian Pictorial Thesaurus (www.picturethesaurus.gov.au).
  • Description: a physical description, shape, dimensions, materials, colours, inscriptions, damage.
  • Date: the (possible) creation date.
  • Provenance: previous owners and dates.
  • Date of accessioning: the date of recording.
  • Comments: related items, photographs, disposal history.

Having recorded your family objects, are you going to keep them? If so, where, and for how long? Are they valuable? Are they fragile and need protection or are they dangerous (a gun)? Would your children want them? Are the objects beautiful, useful or interesting? Should you sell them? Are they of wider community significance? Would family members be upset if you disposed of them? Have you got the space? Or the time! This calls for consideration of your collecting policy. Other than useful or beautiful items, my objective is to only keep items to record their family-related history, and then to arrange for their disposal, or donation to other suitable archives.


Items being sorted as part of Ward-Barlow collection as they became known. (Photo. W. Barlow)

With the death of my mother-in-law we inherited battered tin trunks, books on nursing, travel diaries, letters, luggage labels, ship menus, and other things from her family’s emigration to Australia under the Bring out a Briton scheme. This material seemed likely to be of interest for Museum Victoria’s immigration collection. Having catalogued and photographed the items, I wrote offering them to the Museum. The Museum was interested and upon delivery I was amused to see them instantly become items of cultural value, lifted carefully with gloves, wrapped in plastic, and put in a freezer to kill bugs. Later I became a volunteer at the Museum helping to catalogue ‘this important collection of 1960s material relating to the Bring Out a Briton campaign’


Delivery of items to the Museum. Marita Dyson, Asst. Collections Manager, Dr Moya McFadzean, Senior Curator Migration, MV and the donor, Jen Barlow (Ward), February 2012 (Photo: W. Barlow)

You might not realise the cultural value of those things your family has kept, so as well as collecting stories about your family you should give attention to the things they have treasured and passed down.

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This abridged article was previously published in Fifty-Plus News, September 2013.

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Branching out (and what to do if you get stuck out on a branch)

Perhaps you live in the country, and can’t physically access the GSV.  If so, a new FREE online course to be run by the State Library Victoria from October 16 for four weeks might be of interest to you.

“Branching out is a new online course that introduces the basic principles of family history research, and looks at the key resources available for researching Victorian family history.

During this four-week course, the State Library’s Family history team will equip you with the tools you need to discover more about your own family tree. Recommended for beginners.” You can register for this at this link:

https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/branching-out-registration-37797922604?aff=octnews

Then, once you get into your ‘tree’, you can get ONGOING help from the knowledgable volunteers and staff at GSV. Join up for less than a coffee a week and get support in all kinds of ways as you branch out. 

 

Post expires at 9:54am on Friday 20 October 2017

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Ethnicity and DNA-testing

This week Patsy Daly from the GSV’s DNA Discussion Group cautions us about the meaning of ethnicity as presently estimated by DNA-testing companies.

GSV is holding a Seminar on DNA for Family Historians on Saturday 11 November at which Patsy will present more information about the DNA-testing available, as well as case studies. You can book for this at https://gsv.org.au/activities/civi-events.html?task=civicrm/event/info&reset=1&id=684.

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Your ethnicity?

The major DNA testing companies, AncestryDNA, FamilyTreeDNA and My Heritage, each offer an estimate of ethnicity in the DNA results they give to family historians.

Most of us measure this ethnicity estimate against the expectations we have, arising from our knowledge of our family trees.

But this is actually quite inappropriate, as an ethnicity ‘estimate’ is just that – an approximation or an educated guess. No company is able to calculate our ethnicity by following all our family lines back to a certain point in ancient times. More’s the pity!

Our ethnicity estimate is based on our ancient origins – thousands of years before political boundaries were set. Consequently, a map of our ethnicity may cross current political boundaries. Indeed, even our ethnicity categories may overlap those boundaries.

Nor is there a link from the estimate of our ethnicity back to the family tree that is founded on family stories and written records of very recent times. In fact, our ethnicity is estimated by comparing our own DNA sample against a reference panel of DNA samples. As each testing company gains more experience and has access to a greater number of DNA results, our ethnicity estimates will be refined and changed. Don’t expect your ethnicity estimate to be set in concrete.

Because each of the three major testing companies may use difference reference panels and use different procedures our ethnicity estimate may vary from testing company to testing company. In addition, testing companies may not yet have enough samples in their current reference panel to identify some non-European ethnic groups. For example, at present those with Australian indigenous ethnicity may only be identified at a higher level – as Micronesians.

An estimate of our ethnicity depends upon the DNA we received from our parents, but while our ethnicity estimate may be like that of our siblings, only in the case of identical twins is it precisely the same.

Overall, it is probable that our ethnicity estimate is only accurate at the continental level, so while it is interesting to see how nearly an ethnicity estimate matches our expectations it is, at this stage, probably more worthwhile to compare our ethnicity estimate with those of our DNA matches. It is in this comparison that we might find the answers to questions of relationships.

 

AncestryDNA https://www.ancestry.com.au/dna/

My Heritage https://www.myheritage.com/dna

Family Tree DNA https://www.familytreedna.com/

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How to access the Digital Records replacing Microfilm at ‘FamilySearch’

We posted notice on this blog on 30 June about the coming change from microfilm to digital records at FamilySearch. This has now happened. In this post John Blackwood from the GSV explains what this means and how to access the digital data.

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FamilySearch, sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), is a source of genealogical information, being familiar to most of us long before the rise of the many commercial web sites.

With its commitment to make billions of the world’s historic records readily accessible digitally online, FamilySearch has discontinued its microfilm circulation service and replaced it with digital online access.

Some relevant points are as follows:

  • All of the long-term microfilms rented in the past 5 years have now been digitized
  • All of the long-term rented microfilms at the GSV will remain at the GSV, at least for the immediate future
  • The remaining microfilms at FamilySearch are being digitized at a rate of 1,000 films per day, and are projected to be complete by 2020
  • If researchers need access to a particular film yet to be digitized, they can express an interest to have it added to the priority digitization list by contacting FamilySearchSupport at https://integration.familysearch.org/ask/help
  • Affiliate libraries (including the GSV) now have access to nearly all of the restricted image collections

The digital image collections can be accessed in 3 places on www.familysearch.org all under “Search”

  • Catalog. Includes a description of all of the microfilms and digital images in the FamilySearch collection. This is where all of FamilySearch’s digitized microfilm and new digital images from its global camera operations are being published. A camera icon appears in the Catalog adjacent to a microfilm listing when it is available digitally
  • Records. Includes collections that have been indexed by name or published with additional waypoints to help browse the unindexed images
  • Books. Includes digital copies of books from the Family History Library and other libraries, including many books that were previously copied to microfilm

Before searching the digital image collection from home, it is strongly advised that you register with FamilySearch to establish a username and password. Simply click on “Free Account” at the top of the page at www.familysearch.org and follow the prompts.

This enables you to view some additional records and access “My Source Box” to sort and mark records for later use.

The following is an example from the parish of Findon, Sussex.

From the FamilySearch main page, first of all, sign in with your username and password.

Click on “Search”, then on “Catalog”. In the “Place” box, enter “Findon Sussex’ and click on “Search’. From the search results, click on “Church Records (6)”. Click on the title “Parish registers for Findon, 1557-1901”.

The magnifying class icon allows you to search the indexes. However, the camera icon may bring up three options for you to look at the images, viz

  • Sign in as an individual with your user name and password (if you have not already done so). If you are already signed in, the images come up immediately
  • Access the site at a family history centre
  • Access the site at a FamilySearch affiliate library (such as the GSV)

If an image appears, just as with a microfilm, you will need to scroll through the images to get to where you think you might want to be.

However, sadly for Scottish researchers, it would appear that digitized Scottish films can only be viewed at either a family history centre or an affiliate library.

*With acknowledgment to the FamilySearch News email dated 31 August 2017.

John Blackwood

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Example from FamilySearch catalog:

 

Post expires at 8:35am on Saturday 23 December 2017

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September issue of ‘Ancestor’ journal now out

 

The latest issue of Ancestor – the GSV’s award-winning quarterly journal (vol 33 issue 7, September 2017) is now available. 

In this issue we have six substantial articles contributed by members. Jean Dart’s story is steeped in Irish history. Her feisty great grandmother managed to free herself from an abusive relationship and support herself as the matron of a protestant children’s home. Thelma Ragas investigates her great uncle who was a detective in New Zealand, fell foul of the police hierarchy and ended up opening his own private detective agency. Can you imagine sending a sixteen-year-old to a faraway country, all alone, to live in a strict environment on an Experiment Farm? That’s what happened to Prue Mercer’s ancestor, Harold Berrow.

The First World War casts a long shadow. We are still remembering those who paid the ultimate price. The difficulty for the family in establishing exactly what happened to their loved ones was compounded when inaccurate record keeping cast doubt on their fate, as happened in Margaret Cooper’s family.

Digging that little bit deeper often pays – you find information in unexpected places. For Sue Blackwood it was a Queensland ‘Old Insanity File’ that unearthed information, not about subject of the file, but about her husband, Sue’s great great grandfather. Darryl Grant reminds us that our ancestors did not always record the whole truth; a little extra digging may uncover some surprising facts about our ancestors that they may have deliberately covered up, or may even not have known themselves. Michael Woods found that references in Australian newspapers to his great uncle as a wrestler helped to trace him backward in time as well as forward.

‘Digging deeper’ reminds us of the great importance on not only relying on the international databases, such as Ancestry™and Find My Past™ for ancestral information. Nothing can beat a widespread search for information using the help of the GSV and diverse sources as illustrated above. There is no way the full story can be unravelled if you just stick to a computer at home or in a library. Make your family story interesting and complete!

As always Research Corner has some interesting tips – did you know that you might be able to find your ancestor’s name on a UK census prior to 1841?

Martin Playne – Editorial Team

GSV Members will already have received their copy as part of their membership. Others can get this issue, and much more, by joining now, or copies can be purchased via the GSV website http://www.gsv.org.au

 

Post expires at 6:45am on Wednesday 15 November 2017

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Over 170 family-history talks available from GSV

Have you listened to any of the GSV webcasts?

Membership of the GSV brings with it several benefits, many of which can be accessed in the comfort of your own home. The GSV webcasts, for example, can be downloaded and listened to at your convenience. In addition, many of these are accompanied by a downloadable PDF document outlining the content of the webcast.

At present there are over 170 webcasts available, covering topics ranging from the subject-specific (e.g. The history of Maldon and its gold discoveries; Women at work in Victoria: in public service and during war times) to research advice, covering Australia, New Zealand, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Poland, India, Sweden, France, South Africa, China, the Netherlands and more; to general genealogical advice (Methodology, research techniques and citations; Preservation of books, photographs and paper based items).

Have a look at the range of talks available in the GSV CATALOGUE : search by putting “webcast” (without quote marks) in the Call No box.

Listen to a sample webcast: Research in Tasmania, presented by Meg Bate from the Catalogue – CLICK HERE

Apart from these webcast talks, there’s lots more help for you at home as a GSV Member, on your family history journey.

 

Post expires at 12:52pm on Saturday 2 December 2017

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Give a dad in your family a GSV Membership for Father’s Day 3 Sept

 

How often do we hear someone say that they wished they had asked their father to tell them more about his early life!

Prompt and help the dads in your family to discover and record their stories and those of their fathers by giving him a Membership of the GSV on Fathers Day. For the year ahead he can receive help to discover his family history with access to databases at GSV and more importantly, to friendly knowledgeable volunteers who can help him find his way and suggest other sources. He will receive four issues of the Ancestor magazine, have access to free and discounted talks and can join special interest groups to share their insights. He can also participate in the GSV Writers Group where he will get assistance and guidance to write up his story in a lasting form for the family.

You can find out more and join online https://gsv.org.au/index.php/gsv-home/why-join.html or just call the office on 03 9662 4455.

 

Post expires at 9:39am on Monday 4 September 2017

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Tales of research from beyond the web

Kath McKay

Much as I love my computer and the internet, some of my most precious family history knowledge has come from being able to seek out original documents.

In spite of searching for decades, previous family historians had not been able to find the marriage certificate of our great grandparents: an Irish coach maker and a young maidservant from Wiltshire. We knew they had about ten children in the 1860s and 1870s in Ballarat, but didn’t have a clear record of the children’s names, births or even number. Online indexes didn’t help a lot.

Then I had a little brain-wave. I knew that branch of the family were all Catholic so I contacted St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Ballarat to enquire about records. They eventually replied saying they had all their original records but none were digitised or indexed. However, I was most welcome to come and look for myself.

So one freezing July day I took the train from Melbourne to Ballarat. In the cheery Parish office, warmed by a fire in the hearth, I pored over the huge leather bound tomes brought out of the archives by the Parish Secretary. These are daunting books indeed, nearly a metre by half a metre and several inches thick. They record the births, marriages and deaths of the parishioners, documented in careful copperplate with pen and ink on parchment. I had a fair knowledge that the first child was born about 1860 and the last, my long-dead grandmother, in 1877. So I started with 1860 but it revealed nothing, nor 1861, 1862 and on through the whole decade. The Secretary cheerily brought volume after volume and the piles grew around me. She also kindly made me several cups of tea.

By the time I got to the 1870s with nothing, I was beginning to doubt all I had believed about this branch of our extended family.

Then I found them! In the late summer of 1875, two little girls were baptised, one aged two, the other six. At last! I had found something! Then I turned the page and found the death record for the little six-year-old who had just been baptised days before. Most of the rest of the page and many after that, were taken up with deaths of little children – all from measles in an epidemic that must have swept Ballarat in those early days before immunisation.

Another few turns of the giant pages and there were the rest of them! Five children baptised together, boys and girls aged from 1 to 14 in one job lot! Another page turn and there was the death of the first baptised little girl, the two-year-old. This was followed quite quickly by the baptism of a new baby. Our poor great-grandmother was pregnant when she was nursing, then burying, two of her little daughters. Sad times indeed.

But I still had not found the object of my original search, the marriage of my great-grandparents. More volumes, more page turning. And, finally, in January 1877, after they have had ten children and lost three, this pioneer couple marry. We had been looking in the wrong decade!

A few months later, in April 1877, their new, and last, baby was baptised: a daughter, my grandmother.

Just another family story that was not handed down.

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At the Genealogical Society of Victoria we help members plan their family history search. This post’s author Kath McKay is a member of the GSV Writer’s Discussion Circle. See www.gsv.org.au for more information, or email gsv@gsv.org.au or phone (03) 9662 4455 for information about the Society.

 

 

Post expires at 6:04pm on Wednesday 11 October 2017

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