Friday, November 26, 2010

Please don't throw it person's trash is another's treasure

Keeptidy ask
Recently an old photograph album has come into the possession of my Mum and I. The cousin who gave it to us didn't know anyone in the photos and told us we could throw it out if we wanted. One look at the album and Mum and I are sure the photographs show relatives of my great great grandmother Susan Ellis (nee Hehir) who immigrated to Australia from Killow, Clareabbey, County Clare, Ireland. The photos appear to date from the 1880s/1890s.

When treasures are sometimes considered trash

I'm sure we've all experienced this story at one time or another in our family history journey... Aunt Nell remembers that her second cousin John had a photograph of great great great grandfather Smith. She remembers seeing the photograph years ago on John's wall - it was big, it was clear, it was treasured by the family...or so it was thought. Trouble is second cousin John had no children and when he passed away his nephew inherited all his 'junk'. The photograph meant nothing to this nephew...and one day it was thrown into the bin.

If you are like me such stories will possibly make you almost cry. Accidental loss would be tragic but understandable, but the deliberate destruction of priceless historical items is heartbreaking.

The story above was fictional, but I am afraid that similar stories have happened in my own family. We know a lot of historical things were thrown away by older relatives who unfortunately didn't like the "old things".

This photograph of my Randall ancestors was saved 
My Mum talks about a photograph her grandmother used to have at her house of a handsome Lighthorseman with a feather in his hat. When my Mum questioned her grandmother who the photograph showed she was told "Nobody you'd know dearie." It turns out the photograph was probably of her nephew who was killed at Gallipoli during the First World War - but we don't know what became of the photograph.

Among Mum's grandmother's other possessions was a photograph of my third great grandparents, emigrants from Essex, England. It almost went to the tip too, if it had not been saved by my great aunt. Mum now has the photograph in her possession and copies of it have been distributed to other descendants across Australia. It is the only known photograph of my third great grandmother (see Wordless Wednesday: My Randall Family).

Then there was the story my Mum accidently overheard on a bus trip one day. Two older gentleman were sitting across the aisle discussing the disposal of items which had come into their possession following a death in the family. One of the men was new to the experience and quite nervous about how he should act. The other man had been through all this before and was ready with useful advice, which went something like this:

I inherited all these photos from Mum. But it wasn't only our family there were the grandparents and the aunts and the cousins. I wasn't interested in all that stuff. What could I do with it? So I called in the shire garbage disposal, and they left one of those big bins with me for a week...and I put the lot in it. That's what I'd suggest you do.

So there went all the photographs from that family! It has been a joke between my Mum and I since that every ancestor we can't find a photograph of was likely to have been pictured in one of the photographs thrown out in that man's bin!  (That is, apart from the ones we know for certain went down old gold mines!)

But what if you don't want the treasure or can't take care of it?

If you are not interested in old photographs or documents, or you don't have a safe place to keep them, what should you do with them?

(1) I would suggest first of all to ask around any known relatives. You might find one of your cousins is interested in the family history, even if you are not.

(2) Check with the local historical society, genealogical society or local heritage museum. They might be interested in your old items.
(3) Check with local or state libraries, archives or museums. They may have photograph or manuscript collections to which your items may be a welcome addition, if they meet the relevant collections policy criteria. Even where photographs are unnamed they could still be useful for historians. If you have some idea of where the photographs were taken, then scenery or buildings may be able to be identified, or other local families may be able to identify people in the photographs (see Museum Victoria's Biggest Family Album for more information on how photographs can be a useful historical resource).

General library, museums and collections links:
Some collections have specific requests for material on specific topics:

Examples of collections policies for various repositories:
I treasure my items, how should I take care of them?

You may realise how precious the old photographs and documents in your possession are and you may want to keep them safe yourself. I would suggest that you first photograph or scan the items and distribute digital or printed copies to other relatives. There are many places to access information about keeping family treasures safe. The following are some resources you may find helpful.

Archival storage products are available from:

Copyright © 2010 Australian Genealogy Journeys.

Hard drive organisation for Genealogists and Family Historians

How can I organise family history on my computer hard drive?

I have searched the web for various resources to help beginner genealogists and family historians to create a useful organisation system for the family history information they store on their computer hard drives.

The first resource I have found is a video on YouTube, 'Organize Your Hard Drive', from Family Tree Magazine (US), presented by Lisa Louise Cooke (of Genealogy Gems Podcast).

Kimberley Powell at Genealogy has several articles about organisation including Organizing Digital Genealogy Files

Google's Picasa is excellent free software to help organise photographs and scanned files on your computer. 

What is your system for organising your family history files on your computer hard drive? I would really like to hear about it. At the moment I am working on re-organising my files with a system similar to that described in the Family Tree Magazine's YouTube video above.

Here are some blog posts from other genealogy bloggers regarding genealogy organisation:
What about organising family history information off the computer?

I hope some of these links are of use. If you know of any other resources to help beginners learn about hard drive organisation or organising family history information generally, please share your links and ideas in a comment. Thanks.

Copyright © 2010 Australian Genealogy Journeys.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Beginners Guides to Genealogy & Family History Research - Part 3 - Books and Magazines

This is part 3 of my posts about Beginners Guides to Genealogy & Family History. You can also view Part 1 (online videos) and Part 2 (online guides)
Part 3 will feature books and magazines, with an emphasis on genealogy and family history research in Australia and the UK.

Books for Family History Beginners
I will start with a selection of beginners books I own myself. 

Who Do You Think You Are? 
Who Do You Think You Are?: The Essential Guide to Tracing Your Family History (Australian edition) by Angelo Loukakis. This guide is useful for absolute beginner Australian family historians, particularly for those who have become interested in family history through viewing the previous two series' of the Australian version of the television show Who Do You Think You Are? This book also give brief overviews of different periods of Australian history and examples from the family history journeys of the Australian celebrities who featured in Season 1. 

Compiling Your Family History. This is a small (48 pages) but useful book for beginners, prepared by the Society of Australian Genealogists, Sydney. Currently in its 22nd edition, published in 2008. 

Family History on the Cheap
Family History on the Cheap by Shauna Hicks, contains many useful tips for beginners and advanced Australian family historians alike. This book, along with several other publications for Australian family historians, was published this year by Unlock the Past. I am looking forward to some of Unlock the Past's upcoming publications

Another Australian beginners guide which I do not have a copy of myself but have seen highly recommended is Family History for Beginners and Beyond compiled by the Heraldry and Genealogy Society of Canberra. It is currently in its 14th edition, published in 2009. 

Tracing Your Family History in Australia
Tracing Your Family History in Australia: A National Guide to Sources by the late Nick Vine Hall, is another book I would highly recommend for beginners in Australia. 

Mark Herber's Ancestral Trails: The Complete Guide to British Genealogy and Family History is a comprehensive (896 pages) book covering many aspects of genealogy and family history research in the UK.  Highly recommended. 

Elizabeth Shown Mills' Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace is a far more advanced book (and rather large at 888 pages) but very useful for family historians who may be interested in the academic aspects of family history, such as source citation and evidence analysis.  I recommend this book for any beginners who want to start their research on the right foot!

Books for Beginners: Specific Repositories

National Archives of Australia (NAA)
Finding Families: The Guide to the National Archives of Australia for Genealogists

Family Journeys: Stories from the National Archives of Australia

Public Record Office Victoria (PROV)
Private Lives, Public Records is a guide to the records available at the PROV for family historians. I received this book as a Christmas gift from my Mum in 2003. It really boosted my interest in family history as I was fascinated by all the historical documents that existed. I highly recommend this book for any beginners with ancestors in Victoria. 

Magazines for Family History Beginners

Australian Family Tree Connections is an Australian independent monthly family history magazine which features many interesting family stories submitted by readers, as well as 'how to' articles, useful addresses for genealogical societies and dates for current and upcoming genealogy events across Australia and New Zealand. 

Genealogical and historical societies often have their own magazines or journals. For example, the Genealogical Society of Victoria produces an excellent quarterly journal, Ancestor. You can find links to various Genealogical and historical societies on Cora Num's Web Sites for Genealogists

The Genealogical Society of Victoria Online Bookshop has a selection of genealogy magazines available for sale. You can also find some of these magazine in newsagents across Australia. 
Another option is to read the back issues (and current issues) or genealogy magazines at your local public library or in the library of your local family history society. 

Some other genealogy magazines I have enjoyed reading in the past include: 

Note: Your Family Tree magazine is known in Australia as Your Family History. The newer magazine in the UK known as Your Family History is known in Australia as Tracing Family History. Confusing but true!

A new history magazine, Inside History, has recently been launched in Australia, but I have as yet not bought a copy! Hopefully I will do so soon. 

Where you can buy beginners books
National Archives of Australia Online Shop (NAA publications)

Public Record Office Victoria Online Shop (PROV publications)
Gould Genealogy & History 
Society of Australian Genealogists Bookshop: How To Books
Genealogical Society of Victoria Bookshop: Getting Started and Guides

Copyright © 2010 Australian Genealogy Journeys.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Beginners Guides to Genealogy & Family History Research - Part 2 - Online Guides

This is part 2 of my posts about Beginners Guides to Genealogy & Family History. You can view Part 1 (Online Videos) here.

Part 2 will feature online guides, with an emphasis on genealogy and family history research in Australia and the UK.

Queensland Genealogist Judy Webster gives some good general advice for beginners on her web site: Genealogy Basics.

Graham Jaunay's Adelaide Proformat web site includes a guide to Getting started in family history research.

Barry Leadbeater's Family History South Australia web site includes a guide to Starting your family tree.

The web site for the monthly Australian family history magazine Australia Family Tree Connections includes a Getting Started page which gives the useful 'Golden Rules of Genealogy' as well as references to beginners articles in previous issues of the magazine.

Unlock The Past - How Do I Start Tracing My Family?
Unlock the Past have a very useful introductory article written by Shauna Hicks - ‘How Do I Start Tracing My Family? - A Brief Introduction’. This article has many useful tips for beginners including: how and where you should start your research, what documents you should obtain and in what order, how you can keep your research organised and where else you can look for further help.

Shauna suggests visiting the web sites for state archives, state libraries and genealogical societies to see what ‘how to’ guides they offer. The following are links to family history guides available on the web sites of the various Australian State Libraries and Archives.

State Libraries
National Library of Australia - For Family Historians
National Library of Australia:
For Family Historians: Starting your research and Subject Guides

State Library of New South Wales:
Family History Research Guides and Family History Service

State Library of Victoria:
Research Guides - Family History and Family History Resources

Queensland State Library:
Information for family historians and Family History info guides (including Info Guide 3.1 How to Trace Your Family Tree)

State Library of Western Australia:
Guides to Family History

State Library of Tasmania - Family History
State Library of Tasmania:
Family History and Beginners Guide

State Library of South Australia:
LibGuides - Family History

Northern Territory Library:
Getting Started in Family History and Family History/Genealogy

National Archives of Australia - Family History
State Archives
National Archives of Australia
For Family Historians and Researching your family

State Records New South Wales:
Family/Local History and How to start your family history

Public Record Office Victoria (PROV)
Family and Local History and PROVguide 51: Family History - Family History research at PROV
For more information about the PROV, see my earlier post.

Queensland State Archives:
Family History - Where to Start and Brief Guide 10 - Archives for Genealogists

State Records of South Australia:
Family History and Guides for Family History

State Records Office of Western Australia - Family History
State Records Office of Western Australia:
Family History

Archives Office of Tasmania:
Records Useful for Genealogical Research and Guides to Records and their use

Northern Territory Archive Service
The Archives Collection

Genealogical Societies
The Society of Australian Genealogists have a good collection of research guides.
Cora Num's Web Sites for Genealogists has links to many family history and historical societies from across Australia.

Other Beginners Guides
As I have stated in earlier posts, I am making a new start with my research and hope this time around to follow a detailed research process. The following are various descriptions of the genealogy research process which I have found useful.

FamilySearch Wiki contains other useful articles for beginners including: Organizing your files and Rookie Mistakes. Various other articles are tagged under the category Beginners

Several of the commercial family history online services have beginners guides including: - Beginners Questions for Australian Research by Jeremy Palmer. - Help and Advice Centre - Plan The Attack - Help and Advice Centre - Ten Common Research Mistakes - Getting Started - Knowledge Base

BBC Family History - Get Started
The BBC have a page titled Family History - Get Stated. They also have a main Family History page with various useful links.

The GENUKI web site has a guide to Getting Started in Genealogy and Family History.

There are also many Beginners links available on Cyndi's List.

Here are a few posts on other genealogy blogs with advice for beginners:

Do you know of any other good online beginners guides to genealogy and family history? If you do, please share them in a comment. Thanks. 

Copyright © 2010 Australian Genealogy Journeys.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Beginners Guides to Genealogy & Family History Research - Part 1 - Online Videos

As promised in an earlier post, I am beginning a series of posts about Beginners Guides to Genealogy & Family History Research.  Part 1 will feature online videos for beginners.

The first video is a simple introduction to family history I found on YouTube,  'Family history - made simple'.

FamilySearch have a collection of Research Classes Online including videos with tips for beginners about research in England, Germany, Ireland, Italy, New Zealand, Poland, Mexico, Russia and the USA. There are also videos about 'Reading Handwritten Records' and 'Research Principles and Tools'. Update: 2011, FamilySearch have added new Getting Started videos, also see the FamilySearch YouTube Channel. have a collection of family history video tutorials, relevant to research in the UK.

There are several YouTube Channels which may be of interest to Australian Family Historians.
Do you know of any other online videos for family history beginners? If so, I would like to hear about them. Please post a comment if you know of any other useful online videos or YouTube Channels. Thanks.

Upcoming posts:

Copyright © 2010 Australian Genealogy Journeys.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...