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EPISODE 38 - SHOWNOTES: Christmas stuff for genies: Family history traditions, stories and memories (December 2014)
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In episode 38, you'll find answers to these questions:

  • What are some family history traditions that my ancestors may have created or honoured?
  • What are some family history stories around Christmas?
  • What are some family history memories around Christmas?
  • How can we record Christmas themed family history traditions, stories and memories?
  • What are some Aussie Christmas gift ideas?


Check out Jacquie's blog, Leaves on my Family Tree

If you're looking for the article in the Australian Family Tree Connections magazine about how to organise a family reunion, you'll find it as the Getting Started article inthe August 2009 edition of the magazine. The article is titled Holding the Family Gathering by Ted Frost. Thanks to Janelle for tracking this down for us.

Here are a few more great resources andwebsites that Liz has contributed about how to organise a family reunion.

Book: How to organise your family reunion by Kaye Vernon and Kim Astill ($10 + postage) from Teapot Genealogy

Ideas on How to take photographs at family gatherings by Kristen Duke

A website dedicated to family reunions, Family Reunion

Interested in studying a family history course online that is free under some conditions? The University of Tasmania is offering a new course, titled Introduction to Family History. Thanks to Ros for alerting us to this new course.

If you'd like to contribute to any of tehse future podcasts, feel free to emai Maria at

  • Mistake stuff in family history: What to avoid to increase the quality of your research (Episode 39, January 2015)
  • Superstar stuff in family history: Messages from Aussie family history gurus (Episode 40, February 2015)
  • Maritime stuff in family history: Ancestors at sea (Episode 41, March 2015)
  • Anzac stuff in family history: 100 year anniversary (Episode 42, April 2015)
  • DNA stuff in family history: Tracing our roots through genetics (Episode 43, May 2015)


Episode 38 of the Genies Down Under podcast is dedicated to Phil Hughes, the Australian crickerter who tragically died during theweek.


Very Aussie Christmas ideas

Here are a few Aussie Christmas traditions:

  • Big baked dinner on Christmas day - whether it's 45 degrees in the shade or not
  • Some families now have cold turkey, ham and pork or cold seafood and salads
  • Family meal is often shared at lunchtime - hottest part of the day
  • Boxing day sales
  • Watching the Sydney to Hobart yacht race on Boxing day.
  • Barbeques at the beach
    Decorating the house and tree with all sorts of decorations, especially Christmas lights
  • Church on Christmas Day or Christmas Eve (maybe midnight Mass)
  • All sorts of traditions about leaving food and drink out for Santa's reindeer
  • Waking up to find gifts under the tree or in stockings or pillow cases
  • Keeping in touch with Christmas cards
  • Christmas bush (see picture below)


Source of graphic:

Here are a few more recent Christmas traditions:

The first Smith Family Christmas in 1922

More about Aussie Christmas traditions:

Recording your own Christmas traditions

Some ideas of how to record your own traditions:

  • Blog
  • Story book
  • Printed book (, Vistaprint)
  • Audio records
  • Collage of pictures

Creating your own Christmas traditions

Some ideas of items to create (thanks to Liz for many of these ideas):

For other ideas, check out Episode 15 from December 2012: Crafty stuff for genies: Family history creations.

Christmas STORIES

Holiday stories

In Australia, schools close for 5-6 weeks over the Christmas period so it's often a time that we have extended summer holidays with family and friends. Towards the end of January, we mark Australia Day on 26 January with a long weekend, and then school usually starts again soon after that time. Many familiies have stories of going north or going south to a favourite holiday destination including camping, caravans, long driving holidays, often to the beach.

Aussie styled Christmas caroles and stories

Some ideas:

See other examples of Christmas Season Celebrations in Australia

More stories about Christmas, see the National Archives site, Christmas Storytime

Aussie styled Christmas gift idea

Great gift idea from Liz, one of our listeners ...

CD: Unsuing Heroes of Australian History

Listen to some audio excerpts from the CD.

Don't forget to check out Warren Fahey's online music store for some other Christmas gift ideas.

Christmas MEMORIES

Christmas of our ancestors

Some Australian Christmas traditions of our ancestors:

  • Christmas picnics
  • Santa Claus
  • Christmas cards
  • Using the good crockery and cutlery
  • Eucalyptus leaves for decoration

Read about some other stories of Christmas from the early days of Australia:

  • A story: John Robinson diary, 1837-1838 by Chris Brothers February 26, 2013 which includes description of Christmas Day 1837
  • Christmas Day in the Australian Colonies on pages 12-14 of the December 2012 edition of the Australian Family Tree Connections magazine Dec 2012
  • The origins of the Aussie Christmas by Sarah Collerton
  • Christmas with the Churcher and Fisher families on pages 14-15 of the December 2014 edition of the Australian Family Tree Connections magazine
  • The Hawkins family Christmas Day 1944 on pages 16-17 of the December 2014 edition of the Australian Family Tree Connections magazine

If you'd like to find your own collection of old Christmas images from the early days of Australia, you could also just type in the following to Google images:

"family history" Australian Christmas.

To find images of old-style Australian Christmas cards, browse the following:

  • BESSIE ROUSE'S SCRAP ALBUM & THE FIRST AUSTRALIAN CHRISTMAS CARDS: "A nineteenth-century scrap album, carefully stored in a bookcase at Rouse Hill House, holds hidden treasure – if you know what you're looking at."
  • The joy of collecting early Australian Christmas cards by Michael Aitken at the Emphemera Society
  • Page 11 of the December 2011 edition of the Australian Family Tree Connections magazine which includes a, Nativity Scene Christmas card from the early 1900s - was given to Dorothy Kneipp which became a proud tradition in the family to display
  • Page 13 of the December 2014 edition of the Australian Family Tree Connections magazine - Amy Pratt's treasured Christmas cards
  • Front page of the Australian Family Tree Connections magazine in December 2010
  • Front page of the Australian Family Tree Connections magazine in December 2009

Christmas letters (thanks to Liz for these ideas):

Your Christmas memories

Record your memories on a blog. For example, see Maria's blogpost: Memories of a super Dragster Christmas and a Super Dad

Here are some sites to access to jazz up your blog (thanks Liz for these ideas):

Other examples of family Christmas memories from the Australian Family Tree Connections magazine:

  • Recollections of Christmas, family and life in the earlier Rockampton, pages 14-17 in the December 2011 edition of the Australian Family Tree Connections magazine
  • Christmas at the front 1917, page 27 in the December 2010 edition of the Australian Family Tree Connections magazine
  • Christmas at Mossy Point, page 11, in the December 2009 edition of the Australian Family Tree Connections magazine
  • Christmas at Spring Street, page 15, in the December 2012 edition of the Australian Family Tree Connections magazine

EPISODE 37 - SHOWNOTES: Reunion stuff for genies: Family history get-togethers (November 2014)
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In episode 37, you'll find answers to these questions:

  • What are some tips about running family reunions?
  • What are some tools that might come in handy for me when I'm running a family reunion?
  • Are there any tricks I should be aware of about family reunions?
  • What traps should I avoid or be cautioned about when running or attending family reunions?


Thanks to Jenny for suggesting the topic of today's podcast episode.

Newly Launched Irish Site: Irish Genealogy

Top 10 timeline tools (thanks to Janelle for suggesting these)

Read an article about Janelle's family history: Macquarie Connections: Convict descendant Janelle Collins visited the Hyde Park Barracks on Sunday 3 August and joined the Macquarie's Corner Tour


Episode 37 of the Genies Down Under podcast is dedicated to our cousins.

TIPS about family reunions

Tip no. 1: Set up online

Create some type of online presence in relation to your family reunions plans or outcomes such as a website (e.g., on Weebly), or a blog (e.g, Blogger) or a Facebook group.

Tip no. 2: Games

Consider including some family history games at your reunion. Check out the following sites for ideas:

Tip no. 3: For Aussie family reunions

Avoid December/ January/ February heat.

Display a map of Australia for reunion guests to label their current location or their ancestor's residence.

Use a gum tree motif to create a family tree to display at the reunion.

Create a table or display board of Aussie memorabilia that relates to your family such as print outs of old vegemite labels, uncle Tom's old cricket ball, great-grandfather's old hat, an old piece of clothing, an old map, an old pot, the opening of the harbour bridge, old newspaper clippings.

The Australian Family Tree Connections magazine runs classified advertisements for current and future family reunions.

Tip no. 4: A record

Produce something from the day. It may be a single blog post or a facebook post, a printed book of pictures, a collection of family recipes or stories, an audio file of quotes from family members (e.g., their earliest memory, their favourite ancestor, their favourite food, etc.).

Tip no. 5: Tips from Jenny

A pop up museum. This is usually best if based on a theme. Organising kit for a pop-up museum.

Another idea is to create a huge birthday card if the ancestor has a birthday near the date of the reunion.

You could also have people bring a preserving jar with an item of memorabilia in it, or a story about the item if it can't fit in the jar. It could even be a memory about a person or the family home, or incident that they'd like to preserve.

Tip no. 6: Other Genies Down Under episodes

Here are a few older episodes with ideas about family reunions.

  • Episode 17: Naming stuff for genies (Part A): Tips about naming patterns, traditions and stories in family history in Feb 2013. You'll hear about Kathy and Sandra, two of the GDU listeners, and their different stories about planning and attending reunions.
  • Episode 15: Crafty stuff for genies: Family history creations in Dec 2012: Trick no. 1: Family reunion ideas

TOOLs for family reunions

Tool no. 1: Organising a family reunion book by Leslie Barry, printed in 2010

This book is printed by Unlock the Past and is available through Gould Genealogy and History: Organising a family reunion for AU$11.

Some of the contents of this book includ: Where to start (including creating a timeline), What to do? (including nametags, guestbook, family tree, food, activities, awards, displays), Further help and Appendices (family reunions survey, family history evaluation).

Tool no. 2: Pinterest

Read Wikipedia's description of Pinterest. Pinterest is an online pinboard system that allows you to collect images and photographs about your favourite things (such as family history and family reunions).

This site is a great resource for family historians. You can join Pinterest free of charge or just observe other people's Pinterest boards.

Click here to access Pinterest.

Here are some ideas about family reunions, gained from Pinterest: Poems, invitations, icons, games, pin up boards, to do lists, save the date notes, family tree designs, family history jokes, ideas for Tshirts, posters (We are who we are because they were who they were, with pics around the outside), family reunion cakes, quilts, word clouds, even a family history crossword printed on a tshirt, FH honour book or guest book, family history food, sign with place names and distances pointing to all the places your guests came from, badges, table decorations (e.g., table runner made out of old photos, laminated, draped across a long table), cartoons, ideas on displaying photos, family reunion wreaths.

For more about Pinterest, on our Episode 15: Crafty stuff for genies: Family history creations, in Dec 2012.

Tool no. 3: Another great book about family reunions

Thanks to Janelle for sharing this information with us.

George Morgan, from the Genealogy Guys podcast has written a book called Your family reunion: How to plan it, organize it and enjoy it.

Click on the link above to see more details on the Amazon site. On 1 November 2014, it was selling for $15.79.

Tool no. 4: Blog

Blog about organising family reunions at Ancestral Story.

TRICKS about family reunions

Trick no. 1: Current family reunions

Find out which family reunions are happening in Australia now at: The Australian Family Tree Connections magazine advertisements for current and future family reunions

Trick no. 2: Create your own bit of family history

Create an artefact to take away after the reunion such as photos, a memory table cloth, a blog, an audio recording of each person at the reunion

Trick no. 3: Timeline

Create a Timeline (e.g., in a spreadsheet) to help you plan the event.

Here are some tasks suggested by Leslie Barry:

  • decide on venue
  • compile mailing or email list
  • prepare communication plan
  • plan itinerary
  • plan photography requirements
  • send thank you notes
  • last one … start planning next reunion

Trick no. 4: Have an offsider

Enlist the help of an off-sider to help you on the day with last-minute or unexpected tasks such as getting hold of an extra power board, finding another camera card for your camera, helping with technology, reminding you to perform important tasks.

TRAPS to avoid in relation to family reunions

Trap no. 1: Procrastination

Choose a date rather than putting off the decision. You won't please everyone in the family but it's important to make a decision about the date sooner than later. For those who can't attend, send them a memento of the day (e.g., a photograph) and invite them to help you plan the next reunion.

Trap no. 2: Awards

Some people suggest giving awards at family reunions such as the youngest, the most recently married, family members who look like each other, etc. However, if you decide to include awards as an activity at your family reunion, be cautious. Be aware that some awards may offend people and some family members may feel left out if they don't receive an award.

Don't forget to check out Warren Fahey's online music store.

EPISODE 36 - SHOWNOTES: Interviews with genies: Part 2 (September 2014)
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In episode 36, you'll find answers to these questions:

  • How can I get myself organised in my genealogy?
  • How can I use technology in my genealogy?
  • What are some good resources and practices to get into the habit of using


Episode 36 of the Genies Down Under podcast is dedicated to the listeners of the Genies Down Under podcast. Thanks for giving your time to be interviewed, to listen to the podcast and to contribute to it.

Blogpost links mentioned in this podcast episode:

Irish Genealogy News: Irish Directories Database Updated

Irish Directory Database

Genetic testing brings families together, And sometimes tears them apart by Julia Belluz on September 9, 2014

Maria's response to the online article above:

One of the most powerful genealogical sentences I've read in a long time: "his real family isn't his biological one" (by Julia Belluz)

GeneaPodcasters: Podcats for Genealogists by Marian Pierre-Louis

Interview with Marian Pierre-Louis on the Wikichicks site (thanks to Janelle for this link)

Lesa's family tree website

Interview with Janelle

Listen to this interview with Janelle Collins, a listener and regular contributor to the podcast.

Warren Fahey's music from the podcast

Don't forget to check out Warren Fahey's online music store.

EPISODE 35 - SHOWNOTES: Interviews with genies: Part 1 (August 2014)
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In episode 35, you'll find answers to these questions:

  • What can you find out about your own family history by talking to strangers?
  • What information sources can I access to find out more about my Irish ancestors?
  • Can I hear a couple of Irish-Australian family history stories?


Episode 35 of the Genies Down Under podcast is dedicated to the strangers we are yet to meet who may help us with our family history in the future.

Blogpost links mentioned in this podcast episode:

My Heritage Blog: Australia Celebrates National Family History Month

Read about Maria's recent family history trip in Ireland: 10 steps to tracking down the BUTLERs and FITZPATRICKs in and around Kilmihil, County Clare, Ireland

Interview 1: Jimmy

Listen to this interview with Jimmy O'Dwyer, someone Maria met while working around Inis Meàin.

Interview 2: Richard

Listen to this interview with Richard, someone Maria met while working around Inis Meàin.

Warren Fahey's music from the podcast

Don't forget to check out Warren Fahey's online music store.


EPISODE 34 - SHOWNOTES: Ancestor voices stuff: Learning about our ancestors through their words (July 2014)
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In episode 34, you'll find answers to these questions:

  • What are some examples of ancestors' voices?
  • How can I use my ancestors' voices in my family history?
  • How can I use the voices of other people's voices in my family history?
  • How can I record my voice for the future?


Episode 34 of the Genies Down Under podcast is dedicated to all of our ancestors who were teachers - as they were often the people who taught our ancestors to write so that they could record their words for us to read and remember.

Ancestors' voices example no. 1: My Bush Block

Some words from Katie Langloh Parker's recollections from the 1890s in an outback station in NSW.

Read more about this book: My Bush Block.

Ancestors' voices example no. 2: Memorials

Maria reads some memorials from the Sydney Morning Herald from the sons of one of her great-grandmothers.

Ancestors' voices example no. 3: The Lady McNaugten

Some words from the surgeon and passengers on the ill-fated Lady McNaughten as it sailed into Sydney in 1837.

Read more about this book: Quarantined!: The 1837 Lady Macnaghten Immigrants

Ancestors' voices example no. 4: From a Genies Down Under listener

Some ideas from a Genies Down Under listener about recording reel-to-reel tapes of family conversations and diaries from ancestors as they sailed into Sydney Harbour.

Ancestors' voices example no. 5: The Australian Women's Weekly

Some words from the past recorded in the Australian Women's Weekly.

Ancestors' voices example no. 6: Tips for family history researchers

Tips for how to incorporate ancestors' voices into your family history.

Warren Fahey's music from the podcast

Don't forget to check out Warren Fahey's online music store.


EPISODE 33 - SHOWNOTES: Mystery stuff for genies: Unanswered questions left behind by your ancestors (June 2014)
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In episode 33, you'll find answers to these questions:

  • What mysteries can be revealed on a tour of Rookwood Cemetery in Sydney?
  • How can you record your family history mysteries?
  • What are some family history mysteries that have been solved?
  • What are a few mysteries that have yet to be solved?


Thanks to Janelle for telling us about this new genealogical podcast:

The Genealogy Professional - Marian Pierre Louis

And the new series on the ABC on Thursday nights at 9.30pm:

Top 10 historical mysteries at the Top Tenz site

Australian History Mysteries

National Museum of Australia - Mystery

Nine Australian mysteries that have perplexed the experts


Episode 33 of the Genies Down Under podcast is dedicated to all of our ancestors known as "the swimmers" - people who reached the Australian shores with apparently no paperwork about their arrival.

Family history mystery no. 1: Barbara's mystery podcards from the past

Barbara has asked for some help in finding the family related to the postcards that she found a few years ago in a garage sale.

Read about the postcards and the transcriptions from this collection at her blog, Genealogy Boomerangs: A peek into the past, and a very touching story

Family history mystery no. 2: Annie's Ghosts: A Journey into a Family Secret

This book by Steve Luxenberg is a great family history mystery story including multiple layers of mysteries. Read about the book at Steve's website: Steve Luxenberg, or check it out on Amazon: Annie's Ghosts: A Journey into a Family Secret

Lisa Louise Cooke has devoted two podcast episodes to this book:

Family history mystery no. 3: Murder and Mayhem

There are a lot of mystery stories associated with the graves at Rookwood Cemetery in Sydney. The Friends of Rookwood run some very interesting walking tours around the cemetery, one of them is the Murder and Mayhem tour.

Find out about more of their tours: Friends of Rookwood- Tours and find out more about Rookwood Cemetery.

Family history mystery no. 4: The swimmers

Many genealogists researching Australian family histories have "swimmers" in their family trees. These are ancestors who seem to have swum to Australia because their descendants haven't yet found any evidence of their immigration records.

Read about one of Maria's "swimmers" in her family history, her great-grandfather, Walter William Northcote:

Family history mystery no. 5: Do you know Nellie Francisco?

Thanks to Jill Ball for permission to link to her solution story to a family history mystery.

This story comes in two parts:

Family history mystery no. 6: An Australian Navy mystery

This story, A rare find leades to a mystery solved, includes an interesting account of a solved mystery but also of an unsolved mystery.

Family history mystery no. 7: Mystery stories from previous Genies Down Under episodes

Listen to Toni's Australian genealogical forensic mystery in the April 2014 episode, Episode 31: Cruisy stuff for genies (Part 2). Toni's story starts at the 55 minute mark of this podcast episode.

Listen to Jenni's Australian convict mystery in the October 2013 episode, Episode 13: Convict stuff for genies. Jenni describes this mystery as a conjugal rights mystery. Jenni's story starts at the 46 minute mark of this podcast episode. You can also read about Jenni's story in our book, Convicts Down Under.

Warren Fahey's music from the podcast

Don't forget to check out Warren Fahey's online music store.

EPISODE 32 - SHOWNOTES: When I'm gone stuff: How to be a good ancestor (May 2014)
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In episode 32, you'll find answers to these questions:

  • How can I prepare my research for someone else to take over one day?
  • What steps can I take now to be a good ancestor?
  • Who should I speak to in my family to start preparing to be a good ancestor?
  • Are there some formal and informal things I could do to ensure my research goes on after I do?


Thanks to Jenni for telling us about this Facebook group

The Irish Surame Registry

Thanks to Kim for telling us about the Dutch Australian Family History Group. If you're interested in attending their guest speaker next Saturday 10 May 2014, click on the following link to download the brochure.

Thanks to Janelle for alerting us to this great new blog

Australian Female Convict Database


Episode 32 of the Genies Down Under podcast is dedicated to all of those workers, past and present, who have put effort and skills into recording the dates on our ancestors' graves.

TIPS about when I'm gone stuff for genies

Tip no. 1: Think about this topic from two points of view

1) How to pass on your research to someone else. 2) How to be a good ancestor.

Tip no. 2: Think about who you trust with your passwords

Consider organising a digital will organised or have some type of plan for how to pass on your passwords and digital materials. Read this article for some food for thought:

Digital will: How to share your data after your death

Tip no. 3: Formal custodianship

One of our listeners anonymously shared a sad story about a valuable set of family history records that are currently out of reach because they have fallen into the wrong hands.

TOOLs about when I'm gone stuff for genies

Tool no. 1: Audio

Consider recording some audio files of your own voice and your family's voices for future descendants.

Tool no. 2: Research journal

Keep track of what you have achieved and what you plan for your research in the future in your Research Journal.

Tool no. 3: Daily photos of you

Why not use your digital camera to take a shoulder and head photo of yourself each day. Also, consider taking photographs of everyday events in your life, rooms in your house and perhaps even your office or place of work. This will give your descendants a fuller contextual picture of your life.

Tool no. 4: Timehop

This website, Timehop, allows you to record what you did, add a photo and then check out what you did the same time the previous year. You could even record what your ancestors did on this day in the past on this site.

TRICKS about when I'm gone stuff for genies

Trick no. 1: Bundle it up and make it a whole

Imagine you had a bushfire heading for your home. Decide what family history research you would take with you. Ensure that this precious summary of your research is neatly bundled up and easy to recognise in an emergency.

Trick no. 2: Reminders to your custodian

From time to time, remind your family history custodian what they agreed to do with your family history research after you die.

Trick no. 3: An introduction

Include an introduction to your family history research collection. This could be done in a letter, an audio file, a short video or a "Read me" note in your electronic files. This will help the person who inherits your research to understand why you started your family history research, why it was important to you and what you suggest should be done next.


TRAPS to avoid about when I'm gone stuff for genies

Trap no. 1: Don't forget to value handwritten records

Value handwriting records and add to this collection of handwritten records by recording some of your own handriting. Read about the Titanic Letter that recently sold for AU$210,000

Trap no. 2: Don't forget about the small stuff

In family history research, it is often the everyday side of life that is missing from our records. Provide your descendants with some information about your everyday life such an account of your typical day, an audio or video recording of a dinner table conversation or a few photos of what you tend to do each day.


Don't forget to check out Warren Fahey's online music store.

EPISODE 31 - SHOWNOTES: Cruisy stuff for genies: Genealogy news from aboard the 4th Unlock the Past History and Genealogy Cruise (Part 2) (April 2014)
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In episode 31, you'll find answers to these questions:

  • What's it like being on a genie cruise?
  • Who is your favourite ancestor?
  • What are some tips for other genies?
  • What is your biggest family history mistake?
  • What is the biggest brick wall mystery you'd like to solve in your family history?
  • Which one of your ancestors would you like to meet?


Episode 31 of the Genies Down Under podcast is dedicated to a few different groups of ancestors including our ancestors who were Jewish, our ancestors who arrived in Western Australia, our ancestors who arrived in Australia at an older age, our military ancestors and our ancestors who are lying in unidentified graves.

Genealogy Cruise information

If you'd like to find out more about the 4th Unlock the Past Genealogical Cruise that sailed in February 2014, check out these websites:

For information about Maria's presentation on the cruise, go to Cruise 2014. See Maria's Unlock the Past Cruise Speaker Profile: Maria Northcote.

Interview with Maureen Trotter

Check out Maureen's Exploring Family blog.

I asked Maureen:

1) 1) Who do you think you are?
2) Do you have a favourite ancestor? Quite an unusual ancestor - much older when she came to Australia than most other immigrants in the 1800s
3) What would you ask your favourite ancestor, if you were here?
4) Biggest mistake you'd warn people against?
5) How are you planning to be a good ancestor?
6) What made you think of joining the cruise?

Interview with Mel Black

Mel is a volunteer guide at the Jewish Museum in Melbourne. Find out more about the Jewish Museum.

Mel was very generous is giving me a great tour of the museum and then sat down in the museum and had a chat to me about the history of Jewish people in Australia.

I asked Mel:

1) Can you tell us a little about this museum?
2) What's your favourite part of the museum?

Interview with Mike Murray and Lesley Silvester

I asked Mike and Lesley:

1) What is your role in WA?
2) What advice would you give people about doing research in WA?
3) Where is the WAGS in WA?
4) What would people expect to see on a visit to WAGS in Perth, WA?
5) What would you like to say about the cruise to the Genies Down Under listeners?

Find out more about the Western Australian Genealogical Society at WAGS.

Interview with Neil Smith

Find out more about Neil and his military research at his website: Mostly Unsung. Neil also provides his phone details during the interview.

I asked Neil:

1) What do you do
2) What types of presentations have you given on the cruise?
3) How would someone contact you if they wanted help with some of their family history research - about their military ancestors?

Interview with Toni Munday and Genni Gregory

Tony is the curator of the HMAS Cerberus Museum in Victoria. She is involved in solving a 73 year old Australian military mystery, identifying one the last to be identified soldiers who died when the HMAS Sydney sunk off the coast of Western Australian in 1941. Toni tells us about our very own Australian genealogical forensic mystery. Toni is joined in this interview by her sister, Genni, who is also involved in historical research.

If you'd like to contact Tony with any information about the HMAS Sydney, email her at: or go to the Cerberus Museum website.

Find out more about the HMAS Sydney on the Australian Navy Website or HMAS Sydney on Wikipedia.

The sinking of HMAS Sydney Fact Sheet from the National Archives and the Finding Sydney website

I asked Toni and Genni:

1) What's your name and what are you doing at the moment.
2) What is your role in finding out about the unidentified
3) Who else has helped with your research?
4) What are you enjoying about the cruise?

Warren Fahey

Interested in Warren Fahey's music? Access his online store.

EPISODE 30 - SHOWNOTES: Cruisy stuff for genies: Genealogy news from aboard the 4th Unlock the Past History and Genealogy Cruise (Part 1) (March 2014)
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In episode 30, you'll find answers to these questions:

  • What's it like being on a genie cruise?
  • Who is your favourite ancestor?
  • What are some tips for other genies?
  • What is your biggest family history mistake?
  • What is the biggest brick wall mystery you'd like to solve in your family history?
  • Which one of your ancestors would you like to meet?


About sensitive stuff from Barbara

Barbara reminds us not to share photographs of people who are still alive, or any recent photos to anyone except to family you know well.

About ancestors' homeland stuff from Duane

Duane emailed me recently, following up with some comments and his plan for his visit to his ancestors' homeland. He suggested joining a meeting with a local family history group. He also had a very creative idea of taking along some Aussie Tim Tams as thank you gifts for people who help us on our quest to find out ancestors' records.

Darren has a few questions for Genies Down Under listeners

Darren would like to know: How do you best approach a 'new' living relative? What is the best mode of contact? How do you determine between ignorance and unwillingness when met with rejection? Is there any way back from the rebuttal?

Darren also reminded us of the White Pages as an excellent resource for finding addresses and home telephone numbers of possible living relatives.


Episode 30 of the Genies Down Under podcast is dedicated to all of our ancestors who travelled to Australia by ship.

Genealogy Cruise information

If you'd like to find out more about the 4th Unlock the Past Genealogical Cruise that sailed in February 2014, check out these websites:

For information about Maria's presentation on the cruise, go to Cruise 2014. See Maria's Unlock the Past Cruise Speaker Profile: Maria Northcote.

Interview with Alan Philips

Alan organises the Unlock the Past genealogy cruises.

I asked Alan:

1) What should genealogists expect on a cruise?
2) What do you enjoy about organising cruises like this?

Find out more about Alan:

Genealogy and history news

Interview with Chris Paton

Chris is a well known genealogist and expert in Scottish and UK family history research.

I asked Chris:

1) What is your experience of the cruise?
2) What can you tell us about your ancestry?
3) Do you have a favourite ancestor?
4) What tips do you have about researching family history with Scottish connections?
5) What is the best thing about the cruise?

Find out more about Chris:

The British Genes Blog

Unlock the Past Cruise Speaker Profile: Chris Paton

Interview with Jill Ball and Pauleen Cass

Jill and Pauleen run a few of the most popular blogs for anyone with Australian or Irish connections in Australia in their genealogy.

I asked Pauleen and Jill:

1) How are you liking the cruise so far?
2) Who do you think you are?
3) What could you tell the other Genies Down Under listeners about this cruise?
4) What advice do you have for people in early stages of family history research?
5) What is your most exciting find in your family history research?
6) What is your biggest mistake in family history research?
7) Which one of your ancestors would you most like to meet?
8) Is there anything else you'd like to say to the Genies Down Under listeners?

Find out more about Jill and Pauleen:


Interview with Joy Averis

Jill has a great brick wall/ mystery to solve in her family history research. I asked Joy:

1) What is the main brick wall mystery in her family history?
2) Would you be interested in hearing from others with ideas about how to break down your brick wall?

Warren Fahey

Interested in Warren Fahey's music? Access his online store.

EPISODE 29 - SHOWNOTES:Ancestor homeland stuff for genies: How to plan a visit of a lifetime (February 2014)
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In episode 29, you'll find answers to these questions:

  • How can I prepare for a trip to my ancestors' homeland?
  • What should I do before I visit an archives office?
  • How can I manage what I find out on a genietrip?
  • How can I maximise the benefit of being on a genietrip during the trip?


Thanks to David for telling us about this wonderful, detailed database of orphan girls on the Irish Famine Memorial website

Famine Orphan Girl Database

Thanks to Janelle for letting us know that our Convicts Down Under book has made it onto the list of genealogy books on the

Yarra Plenty Regional Library e-book list

More tips from, written by Jeremy Palmer:


Episode 29 of the Genies Down Under podcast is dedicated to Lesley Uebel who passed away on 20 Jan 2014. Her Claim a Convict site has helped many, many genealogists and her genie friends have enabled the site to be reinstated in Lesley's memory.

Genealogy Cruise update (for cruise leaving on 4 February 2014)

Maria is one of the bloggers on the 4th Unlock the Past Genealogical Cruise in February 2014. Read Maria's most recent blogposts about the cruise:

For information about Maria's presentation on the cruise, go to Cruise 2014.

TIPS about ancestor homeland stuff for genies

Tip no. 1: Tips from someone who's been there, done that (Liz, one of our listeners)

Thanks to Liz, a Genies Down Under listener, for her great tips about Planning a research trip on her Yarra Plenty blog.

Tip no. 2: Decide on a focus for your trip

By having a specific focus or two before you launch into your genie trip, this will make your trip and your expectations of the trip manageable and achievable.

Tip no. 3: Use of maps

A good old-fashioned map is a great way to record your genie-journey. Buy an inexpensive map, draw all over it and keep it as a memento of your genie trip.

Tip no. 4: Record your sources

As with all good genie research, remember to record the sources of information that you gather on your genie trip - no matter how informal the sources were (such as a conversation at a cafe, or an article in a local newspaper).


TOOLs about ancestor homeland stuff for genies

Tool no. 1: Local resources

By scouting in around in local libraries, local tourist offices, local antique shops and local family history societies, you may find some local knowledge that cannot be found anywhere else about your ancestor's homeland or your ancestors themselves.

Tool no. 2: Use of timelines

Many genealogists are making more and more use of paper-based and online timelines to keep track of their ancestors' experiences and whereabouts. Timelines are especially useful as a tool for gathering up a lot of family history information that crosses over various families.

Tool no. 3: Technical tools

There are so many technological tools to take along on a trip to your ancestors' homeland. Some of the following may come in handy:

  • laptop computer
  • iPad or tablet
  • digital audio recorder
  • Flip-pal scanner
  • torch
  • camera
  • portable wi-fi modem
  • smart phone
  • chargers for all of the above

The above devices will help you to gather, store and sort your precious family history information gathered on a trip to your ancestors' homeland.

Tool no. 4: Paper-based resources

Remember to take along some paper-based resources to use as conversation starters on your genie journey. Items such as the following can help to explain the purpose of your search:

  • old postcard
  • photographs
  • old letters
  • newspaper articles
  • maps


TRICKS about ancestor homeland stuff for genies

Trick no. 1: The photo intermission

When taking collections of photos (e.g., at a cemetery, in a street lined with old houses, at a museum), take a signpost photo in between collections that reminds you when you have started and ended taking photos of one group of items or places. Take photos of the road, the palm of your hand or a blank piece of paper to divide up the collections of photos on your camera or phone.

Trick no. 2: Stay at local B&Bs

When tripping around your ancestors' homeland, try staying at local Bed & Breakfasts rather than being an almost anonymous guest at larger hotels. You may come across people who run the B&B who have some very valuable historical and local knowledge about the places where your ancestors lived.

Trick no. 3: One-place studies

Before you launch into your genie journey, remember to do a search for one place studies that may coincide with the places you are about to visit.

Trick no. 4: Preparing for an archives visit

When preparing to visit an archives office, here are a few things to consider before your go:

  • take a passport photo with you as some offices may require one
  • fill in as many forms as you can before you attend the office for a visit
  • phone or email beforehand to find out any special information or instructions required of you as an "out of town" visitor
  • find out about the opening hours and days of the archives office, especially in smaller rural areas which may run on voluntary labour
  • if you have a library or an archives cards from another place, take these along as sometimes these can help streamline the process of gaining permission to use libraries or archives offices in other places


TRAPS to avoid about ancestor homeland stuff for genies

Trap no. 1: Lack of preparation for a cemetery visit

Don't fall into the trap of forgetting to take the following on a cemetery visit:

  • strong walking shoes
  • a backpack to hold your belongings and free up your hands
  • hat and sunscreen
  • lots of water
  • food (sometimes cemetery cafes are quite expensive)

Trap no. 2: Don't forget to tell your fellow family history research buddies where you are going (before you go)

If you have other members of your family who are researching your family line, remember to tell them where you are planning to visit. They may have valuable tips about where to go, who to contact etc.

Trap no. 3: Forgetting to schedule time to sort

Schedule some time on your journey and when you return to sort out all the valuable pieces of information, items and photographs you have gathered on your journey. Allow yourself some time to link these to your current family history.

Trap no. 4: Forgetting to warn your travel buddy

If you're travelling with a non-genealogist, remember to warn them of how long you will probably be spending each day on your genie searches!


EPISODE 28 - SHOWNOTES: Sensitive stuff for genies: stuff for genies: Touchy topics in family history (January 2014)
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In episode 28, you'll find answers to these questions:

  • What issues are considered sensitive to family history researchers?
  • How do I record sensitive issues that I've found out about in my family history research?
  • Are there any research findings that I shouldn't record anywhere?
  • What are some examples of how other people have dealt with sensitive stuff in their family history research?


Following up from our recent clothing episode in October 2013

Betty Kreisel Shubert is the author of the fantastic Out-of-style book that we spoke about in the Clothing Stuff episode 25 of Genies Down Under in October 2013. Thanks to Betty for sharing this great article with us: Dating Old Photographs Through Fashion by Betty Kreisel Shubert (©copyright 2013 Betty Kreisel Shubert).

Check out Maria's review on Amazon of Betty's Out-of-Style book.

Here are a few additional books that Maria found recently on the clothing of our ancestors:

Uncovering your ancestry through family photographs: How to identify, interpret and preserve your family's visual heritage by Maureen Taylor. Published in 2000 by Betterway Books in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Dating family photos 1850-1920 by Lenore Frost. Valiant Press, Berwick 1992. [great book with loads of photos, many examples too that have been analysed by the author]

My ancestor was a Studio Photographer: A guide to sources for family historians by Robert Pols. Published in 2011 by the Society of Genealogists Enterprises in London.

Family photo detective: Learn how to find genealogy clues in old photos and solve family photo mysteries by Maureen Taylor, the photo detective. Published in 2013 by Family Tree Books in Cincinatti, Ohio.

Following up from our recent handwriting episode in December 2013

Thanks to Jenny for the tip about the speech to text app called Dragon Dictation. I'tsfree for theiPhone and no doubt it's available for other devices.

Example of Nelson Mandela's handwriting: Nelson Mandela: 12 letters from the desk of a freedom fighter

Cruise updates

Maria is one of the bloggers on the 4th Unlock the Past Genealogical Cruise in February 2014. Read Maria's most recent blogposts about the cruise:

Now Hear This! ABC podcast

This is a great new podcast in which everyday people share their stories. Get-togethers are organised in places all over Australia. Check out the ABC Now Hear This website. Keep an eye out for the broadcast of the 13 December 2013 Now Hear This event that was held in Brisbane. The theme was family photos. This podcast can also be accessed via iTunes.

Following up from our earlier cemetery episode in October 2011

If you have ancestors buried in the Catholic section of Rookwood cemetery and can't access their records via the Rookwood cemetery site, check out the Catholic Cemeteries and Crematoria deceased search online. It's a great search engine and also allows you to search for graves either side of your ancestors.

To read about how Maria used this search to locate the gravesite of one of her gravestone-less ancestors' graves, see her blogpost:


TIPS about sensitive stuff for genies

Tip no. 1: What are some sensitive or touchy issues in family history research?

Here is a non-exhaustive list of issues that may be considered sensitive or touch in family history:

  • illegitimacy, unmarried parents or a " non-paternal event", term used by the Genealogy Guys
  • convict ancestry
  • adoption
  • abortion
  • extra-marital affairs
  • not so fashionable crime such as violent crimes
  • medical problems and diseases
  • past fights and family rivalry
  • miscarriages
  • the use of clairvoyants
  • slavery or abuse of staff
  • being evicted or acting as an evictor
  • racism, outdated attitudes to other cultures and groups
  • occupations such as - prostitution, mercenary soldiers, hangmen
  • where was a person conceived -Sometimes the person themself doesn't want this known, let alone sharing it with the world.

To read more about such issues, see the following sites:

Tip no. 2: Be wary about other people's research

Unless you are absolutely sure of the source of the information and who has put it together, it's best to use other people's research as clues rather than actual historical fact.

The 12th golden rule of genealogy from the GotGenealogy site, is useful: Anything you post online will be "borrowed".

Also read Jill Ball's post Caveat Emptor about sharing information online.

Tip no. 3: Respect living relatives

We often are faced with the decision - either to publish or share information that may be hurtful or offensive to our living relatives, or not to publish or share the information

For more information about this issue, read Kimberley Powell's article Making Genealogical Connections: 5 Ways to Get People to Share by Kimberley Powell, taking special note of the section titled: Respect the privacy of living relatives.

Tip no. 3: Respect living relatives

Don't publish anything that is not yours and always acknowledge the source of the info. Ask permission rather than forgiveness.

For more information, see Ethics in Publishing Family Histories


TOOLs about sensitive stuff for genies

Tool no. 1: Old podcast: Federation of Genealogical Societies 2008 Philly Podcast

Check out the 2008 podcast called Federation of Genealogical Societies 2008 Philly Podcast. Especially note Episode 9 of this podcast, Dealing with Family Skeletons and Stories, which is about 15 mins long). Thanks to our listener, Janelle, for sharing this information with us. Some tips from this podcast about dealing with sensitive information in your family history research:

  • look at evidence, not just hearsay
  • consider the strength, source and authority of the evidence
  • be sensitive and gentle when revealing information to living relatives, if it's necessary to reveal it
  • you can ignore things but don't lie

Tool no. 2: Unfit for publication records

Sometimes you may come across records that you hope will not feature your ancestors. One such set of records is the "Unfit for publication" collection that Janelle, one of our listeners, found at the Kingswood Archive Centre in Sydney. See Janelle's blogpost: Please don't let me find my ancestors in this book. For more information about this collection of records, refer to Episode 24 of the Genies Down Under podcast in September 2013.

Tool no. 3: Blog - The Legal Genealogist

Blog dealing with many legal aspects of genealogy: The Legal Genealogist. This blog is written by Judy G. Russell, a Certified GenealogistSM and Certified Genealogical LecturerSM with a law degree.

Although this blog is written primarily for a US audience, there are plenty of posts relevant to genealogists with Australian connections.


TRICKS about sensitive stuff for genies

Trick no. 1: Colour coding

When recording information in wordprocessed files, such as Microsoft Word, consider colour coding information that is particularly sensitive (for example, grey highlighting = sensitive information, not to share). This will provide you with a reminder about what family history research information to share and what not to share in the future.

Trick no. 2: Information to include in family history databases

When deciding on what to include and what not to include in your family history databases, online or on your computer, only including the information that you are willing to share with others. This is particularly important with online information as it is very accessible, unless you have a private tree on, by people that you don't know.


TRAPS to avoid about sensitive stuff for genies

Trap no. 1: Sharing everything with everyone

Don't share everything with everyone. Some knowledge may go to the grave with you. Sometimes information is so sensitive that, based on your decisions, it may not be shared with anyone.

See the advice on this site: Share and beware.

Trap no. 2: Not to look into the ethics of DNA

Investigate the ethics of DNA when investigating how to use DNA records in family history research. Here is some food for thought about the use of DNA in family history research by a blogger, Aillin: Stop! Ethics and genetic testing - my opinion.

Trap no. 3: Not to consider the experience of genealogical researchers

If you ever do ask (or pay) for help with your genealogical research, consider the extent of the experience of the person and whether or not they are qualified with official certificates or with loads of experience.

EPISODE 27 - SHOWNOTES: Handwriting stuff for genies: stuff for genies: Getting to know our ancestors through their written words (December 2013)
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In episode 27, you'll find answers to these questions:

  • How can we interpret the handwriting of our ancestors to get to know them a little better?
  • What are some tips about reading old styles of handwriting?
  • How can we preserve our own handwriting for future descendants?


Following up from our recent clothing episode

Thanks to Janelle for the following two links:

Thanks to Barbara for the following link on Pinterest:

Following up from our recent immigration episode

Thanks to Brooke for the following two links:

TIPS about handwriting stuff for genies

Tip no. 1: Ask an older person to help

Often older people can read old-fashioned handwriting better than younger people. If you know some older people or if you have some older relatives, ask them to help you interpret documents that include old handwriting.

Tip no. 2: Tips from Lisa Louise Cooke

The following video from Lisa Louise Cooke has a lot of tips about interpreting your ancestors' handwriting: Genealogy Gems: Analysis of Ancestor's Handwriting

Tip no. 3: Courses in old handwriting

The following three courses can assist you to develop your skills in interpreting your ancestors' handwriting:

Tip no. 4: Split screen

To enable more streamlined transcription processes, split your computer screen between the handwriting (scanned-in) version of the document and the Word document that you are typing into. This saves you going back and forth between two windows.

Tip no. 5: Practice

Transcribing old documents becomes easier with practice. Try transcribing some of the following examples of old handwriting at the Daily Genealogy Transcriber: One Quick Handwriting Transcription Challenge Every Day-for the genealogist in you

TOOLs about handwriting stuff for genies

Tool no. 1: Fontifier

Fontifier is a site where you can digitise your own handwriting. What a great way to preserve your handwriting style for future generations.

Thanks to Dot, one of our listeners, for telling us about this tool.

Tool no. 2: Letters of note

I recently heard about this interesting book where an author, , has collected a bunch of important letters from history and published them in one place. See Letters of note: Correspondence deserving of a wider audience by Shaun Usher. Here is an example of one of the letters in the book: a letter from Nick Cave, in which he does not accept an MTV award for his music

Tool no. 3: Cardboard with a postbox slit

When transcribing difficult-to-read handwriting from old documents, use a piece of cardboard with a slit in the middle (like a postbox slit) to mark your place.

Tool no. 4: Handwriting recognition software

Handwriting recognition software is a new technology that is currently being developed. Check out this blogpost for more information: Handwriting recognition for documents? Yes, it's coming.

TRICKS about handwriting stuff for genies

Trick no. 1: Mistakes

Mistakes in handwriting or spelling can give you clues in your family history research. For example, an ancestor who consistently mis-spells a word can be tracked across various documents.

Trick no. 2: 1911 UK census

If you have ancestors who were in the UK when the 1911 census was collected, you will have the chance to view their handwriting because the head of the household completed the census in 1911. See 1911 Census and handwriting of ancestors and About the 1911 census.

Trick no. 3: Collect signatures

Collecting ancestors' signatures over the years is a great way to gather up some evidence about their lives. Check out this site that gives you practice in reading old handwriting and signatures: Old signatures: Can you read them?

Trick no. 4: Handwriting analyst

Sometimes, handwriting consultants may be able to analyse your ancestors' handwriting to give you some insight into their personalities. Here are a couple of examples to read about: Robert Shane handwriting analysis and Robert Arbuckle handwriting analysis.

Trick no. 5: Abbreviated names

Many names were abbreviated in old records such as:

  • Charles - Chas
  • William - Wm
  • Thomas - Thos
  • George - Geo

For a more extensive list of how names were abbreviated in days gone by, see Old time abbreviations.

TRAPS to avoid about handwriting stuff for genies

Trap no. 1: Some letters look the same

Some tips from Some letters look the same:

For the source of the tables above and for more tips, see Tips for reading old handwriting from

Trap no. 2: Over-reliance on transcribed records

Go to the original source. Someone's else's transcription is not necessarily accurate.

Trap no. 3: Separating typed and handwritten versions of documents

Handwriting sometimes can make more sense to you later. It's very useful to keep a copy of the original handwritten document alongside the typed/printed transcript of the writing. This enables easier comparison in the future.


EPISODE 26 - SHOWNOTES: Sharing stuff for genies: Spread your research around (November 2013)
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In episode 26, you'll find answers to these questions:

  • How can I share my research with other genies - now and into the future?
  • How can I be a good ancestor?
  • How can I benefit from what other researchers have shared?
  • How can I share my enthusiasm about family history research with others?
  • How can I share stuff when I'm dead and alive?


Interested in transcirbing records for the National Archives

Find out how by going to National Archives Help us make records more searchable. Thanks to Barbara for this information.

Interested in attending a Tank Stream tour in the future?

Find out more about Tank Stream tours at the Sydney Water site.

Check out Maria's blogpost: Two genies go down under: Janelle and Maria tour the Tank Stream beneath Sydney. Thanks to Janelle for this great tour.

Out of style book by Betty Kreisel Shuberty

Check out Maria's review of this book at the Genies Down Under blog: Fantastic book about ancestor clothing.

New ABC Series: Julia Zemiro's Home Delivery

Julia takes well known Australian personalities down memory lane by revisiting their home town, school, old homes etc. Just right for family history buffs with a real Aussie flavour. Check it out on iView

New family history magazine

Check out Jill Ball's blogpost about a new family history magazine: Family Tree Tracker magazine hits the shelves.

Want to purchase some Aussie-flavoured music?

Warren Fahey's music store

TIPS about sharing stuff for genies

Tip no. 1: Sharing is a good way to find ancestors

Check out the tips at FamilySearch about how to Share Information from your family history research. Read Jill Ball's blogpost with some good tips about sharing (or not sharing) your research: Caveat Emptor.

Tip no. 2: Ask, don't push

Be wary about telling people about your family history research if they're not interested. Less is more of family history for some people. I find that if I ask the question, "Would you like to hear about ...?" before I launch into the details of family history research, this gives people a polite way of saying, "Not at the moment," or "Yes, I'd love to hear more!".

Tip no. 3: Share your research with your descendants, whether you're dead or alive

Recommended: Talk to someone younger in your family and ask them to be the caretaker of your research after you leave this earth. Even if they are not that keen to continue the family history research you have done so far, it's good to have someone nominated to look after your work until another keen family history researcher raises their head in your future family.

Check out number 10 of the 12 Golden Rules of Genealogy that Jill Ball reported on her Geniaus blog recently: Don't die with your stories still in you.

Tip no. 4: Keep some printed copies

As well as having all of your files electronically stored and scanned, consider having some summaries of your most interesting documents and photos in printed format that will enable you to share your research with family and friends in an easy, efficient way. This is often a more enjoyable way to share your research instead of huddling around a computer screen.

TOOLs to share stuff for genies

Tool no. 1: Online family trees

Upload some of your family history to an online family tree site such as, FamilySearch or Be careful about how much detail you include - especially about recently deceased or living members of your family.

Tool no. 2: Facebook

There are many location-based family history groups on Facebook where you can ask for assistance from very active members. For example, search for the County Clare Ireland Genealogy group on Facebook. See Maria's blogpost, A trip to a waterfall in the Blue Mountains ... but which waterfall?, of how she found out the location of where an old photograph was taken, via her contacts on Facebook.


Tool no. 3: Blogging

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I have to highly recommend blogging as a way to share your family history research. Setting up a blog at is one of the easiest ways to start blogging. Also check out Episode 8, May 2012 of the Genies Down Under podcast for more blogging ideas: Blogging stuff for genies: Getting online with your ancestors

Tool no. 4: Genealogy blog finder

Check out this genealogy blog finder which is very handy for finding genealogy-related blogs on specific topics such as Australian genealogy.

Tool no. 5: Online slideshows

Online slideshows are handy, mobile ways to create a collection of photographs about specific family history topics. Some places to store and display your family history photographs include: Flickr, Kizoa and Adoramapix.

TRICKS for sharing stuff

Trick no. 1: Creative Commons

Consider sharing your family research products (such as books, blogposts, websites, etc.) through a Creative Commons licence which allows others to copy and share your research. Find out more about Creative Commons in Australia. Check out the Family Search's article, Using Creative Commons Licenses for Sharing your Genealogy, to find out more ideas about using Creative Commons licences to help you to share your research outcomes.

cc logo logo small

Trick no. 2: It's all about you

When family members don't appear that interested in your family history research, try to relate your research to them in the present. For example, ask questions like, "Do you know how many of your great-grandparents were from Ireland?" or "Do you know which of your grandparents lived a few km away from where Ned Kelly's family lived?"

Trick no. 3: Create and give

Instead of concentrating on sharing verbal and text-based stories about your family history research, why not create and give something that is based on family history research this Christmas. For more ideas on how to create objects from your family history research, see Episode 15, December 2012 of the Genies Down Under podcast for more crafty ideas: Crafty stuff for genies: Family history creations.

Trick no. 4: Write a short story

Write a short story about an event or a person in your family history. Consider entering family history story competitions such as: The Janet Reakes Memorial Award (entries are due before 20 December 2013)

TRAPS to avoid when sharing stuff

Trap no. 1: Sharing too much

It's important to think about how much to share with others of our family history research - especially when you have found out details about sensitive stuff in your family's past (such as crime, medical conditions, etc.). Sharing EVERYTHING is not recommended, especially with people you don't know that well, even if they are related to you. In Episode 28 of Genies Down Under, in January 2014, we are planning on devoting this whole episode to Sensitive stuff for genies. If you have any tips about this aspect of family history research, please email Maria at with some ideas.

Trap no. 2: Your critical eye

Whenever you receive shared information from someone else in your family, remember to consider it with a critical eye. Check the information against more than one source of information, if possible, and apply the 10 golden rules of genealogy from the Australian Family Tree Connections magazine or the 12 rules of genealogy from

EPISODE 25 - SHOWNOTES: Clothing stuff for genies: Investigating the fashions of your ancestors (October 2013)
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In episode 25, you'll find answers to these questions:

  • What do the fashions of my ancestors tell me about the times they lived in?
  • What do the fashions of my ancestors tell me about their family life?
  • How can I work out the year photographs were taken by clues about the fashions of photographs of my ancestors?
  • Where can I find information about the fashions of my ancestors?


New blog

A new resource found by one of our listeners, Janelle: Biographical Database of Australia

Resources for listeners with ancestors in Tasmania

Australia, Tasmania, Civil Registration, 1803-1933 (through the Family Search site). See Example 1 and Example 2.

A few sites to look at for clothing stuff for genies, before we get into our tips, tools, tricks and traps

National Archives: Rationing booklet, New Clothes from Old, 1943. Rationing Commission (CA 264).

National Museum of Australia's exhibition of Crowns and Gowns:

British Library info about women's fashions in the 1860s

TIPS about clothing stuff for genies

Tip no. 1: Use advertisements in TROVE

Advertisements about fashions in old newspapers can give you a very visual way of understanding what clothes and fashions your ancestors wore. Here is an example of a "dainty blouse" that was included on page 6 of the newspaper, Stawell News and Pleasant Creek Chronicle on Saturday 25 September 1915.


Tip no. 2: Photos of special occasions

Photographs taken during special events can be used to work out the fashions of the time, such as funerals, weddings, baptisms, even trips into the city.

Dot's story in Episode 25 explains how this photograph was taken at the time of the funeral of their grandfather. The description below explains the circumstances of the death of Charles McIntosh. Thanks to Dot for sharing this story, the photo and the newspaper excerpt below.


Tip no. 3: Clothing heirlooms

A precious pair of leather boots is the focus of Kathy's story in our 25th episode of Genies Down Under. Thanks to Kathy for sharing this story and this photo.


Tip no. 4: Tips for finding clothing clues in old photographs

Here are a few tips for finding clues about clothing in old photographs. See the links below for the sources of these tips.

And check out the following websites:

TOOLS to investigating clothing stuff

Tool no. 1: Coronors' inquests

Listen to Gill's story on Episode 25 of the Genies Down Under podcast for a very detailed account of her ancestor's clothing from a coroner's inquest.

Tool no. 2: Police gazettes

Police records can hold a great deal of descriptive details about your ancestors' clothing, belongings and appearances.

Tool no. 3: Books to help you investigate your ancestors' clothing

  • OUT-of-STYLE: A Modern Perspective of How, Why and When Vintage Fashions Evolved by by Betty Kreisel Shubert
  • Dating family photographs by Lenore Frost
  • Family Photo Detective: Learn How to Find Genealogy Clues in Old Photos and Solve Family Photo Mysteries by Maureen Taylor

Tool no. 4: Other people's blogs

Such as:

TRICKS to use when using official records

Trick no. 1: Using photos to work out your ancestors' lifestyles

Read Janelle's blogpost, My great-great-grandmother's brooch, for an example of how this listener used her ancestors' jewellery to record her lifestyle and history.

Trick no. 2: Old dated postcards from second hand shops and ebay

Old postcards such as the one below (taken of Maria's grandmother around 1915) show the styles of the times.

Trick no. 3: Create your own genealogy clothing

Create your own genealogy clothing by visiting

Trick no. 4: Get help from an expert, such as Maureen Taylor, the photo detective

Photo detective, Maureen Taylor

See an example of how Maureen analyses photographs

TRAPS to avoid when using official records

Trap no. 1: Studio photographs

Note that, when analysing photographs of your ancestors taken in photographic studios, the backdrops and props were probably not authentic but were objects used by the photographer to enhance the photograph.

See tips at Internet Genealogy for tips on how to date photographs of your ancestors

The following book includes a wealth of information about photographic studios and styles in Australia, The Mechanical Eye in Australia: Photography, 1841-1900 by Peter Stanbury (Author) , Alan Davies (Author)

Trap no. 2: Fashions on movies and TV series

Sometimes period movies and TV series do not always portray the clothing of the working class person but focus more on the fashions of the wealthy

Trap no. 3: Relying too heavily on transcribed records

Where possible, check original and/or handwritten records. Sometimes errors occur during transcription. Remember that you are the expert on your family's history, and you may recognised some unusual place or people's names, whereas transcribers may not have your insider-knowledge.

EPISODE 24 - SHOWNOTES: Official record stuff for genies: Publicly available genealogy records (September 2013)
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In episode 24, you'll find answers to these questions:

  • What official (vital) records can I use to extend my family history research?
  • How can I access these official records?
  • How can I use these records to extend and deepen my family history research?
  • How can I learn more about how to use these official records?
  • What are the benefits of using multiple official records to confirm details of my family history research?


New blog

Blog from one of our listeners, Jenny: Caddy Scrapbook: Research into the Caddy family from Ireland to England to Northam, Australia

More WA immigration resources

Immigration resources, sent in by Graham, one of our listeners. He has checked and found the following CD indexes that are now available online to WAGs members:

The actual shipping manifests are available for viewing on microfilm on level 3 at the State Library of Western Australia in Northbridge Perth, and the National Archives of Australia.
WAGs have also made available to the public at large, WA Ship Arrivals 1898-1926 listing which shows ships that arrived, the number of trips each made and the number of passengers arriving during this period. While this might not be particularly useful some do have an image of the ship also shown, and WAGS are asking that people advise them of where images maybe located so that they may be inserted.

For more information, contact: Western Society Genealogical Society

Lake Macquarie Library digitisation project

See the Library's website for further details.

Unlock the Past Genealogy Cruise in February 2014

See the cruise program and information about cruise presenters.

TIPS about official records

Tip no. 1: What are official records in Australian family history research?

These records are also called vital records or civil registration records. They are often collected and stored by government departments and officials. They are usually considered to be one of hte most reliable set of records. Some of these records are listed on the genealogy site.

Tip no. 2: What types of records are official records?

There are some main types of records and other types of records. The main records are:

  • Birth and Baptisms/Christenings
  • Death
  • Marriages
  • Divorces
  • Probate records

Other types of records include:

  • Census and voter records
  • Cemetery records
  • Newspapers
  • Military
  • Courts and law records
  • Convicts
  • Immigration
  • Church records -baptisms, burials, marriages
  • Hospital records
  • Government and Police Gazettes

For more details about these records, see Australian Family History and Genealogy Selected websites on the National Library of Australia website.

Also check out Free Vital Records Online - Australia and Births, Marriages and Deaths in the Family Tree.

Tip no. 3: Availability of records

Not all official records are available. Some records are available and some are restricted. Some records, such as early Western Australian records, have fewer details than later offiical records.

For example, the following records are not available in the online indexes in NSW:

  • births in last 100 years
  • deaths in last 30 years
  • marriages in last 50 years

However, the certificates for these events can be obtained by family members through application.

Here are a list of the available online BDM (Births, Deaths, Marriages) in each state and territory in Australia

  • Northern Territory (only available on CD-ROM, not online)

TOOLS to use when accessing official records

Tool no. 1: Family search "lessons"

There is a great set of lessons (videos and slides) available to teach you how to use official records. Here are a few examples:

Thanks to the Australian Family Tree Connections magazine for featuring these helpful "lessons" - see page 42 of the May 2013 edition for more information.

Other lessons are available at the Learning Center of the Family Search site include:

Tool no. 2: National Archives of Australia resources

A great collection of resources about official records are available at the National Archives of Australia website.

Tool no. 3: Word Vital Records site

To get a broader view of the vital or official records that are available in countries other than Australia, check out the World Vital Records site's page that focuses on Australian Vital Records.

TRICKS to use when using official records

Trick no. 1: Widen your view

Don't just concentrate on the one family member of the one family. Look wider to see if there were other brothers and sisters. There may have been a birth before a marriage. The marriage may not have occurred.

Check out Pattie Gainsford's article in the September 2013 edition of the Australian Family Tree Connections magazine (pages 30-31) to find out about some good tips for searching official records - starting with a wide approach and narrowing down your searching.

Trick no. 2: Links between official records and other records

There's no doubt that there are definite benefits gained from using multiple official records (and not-so-official records) to confirm details of your family history research. As much as possible, try to make links between birth, marriage and death indexes and the actual certificates. Triangulate, corroborate, check for accuracy, strengthens the validity and reliability, or the trustworthiness of the data you use to build up your genealogical research.

Trick no. 3: Additional records

Don't forget to search and browse through additional records that supplement official collections of records. Here are a couple of examples:

TRAPS to avoid when using official records

Trap no. 1: Avoid looking for records that don't exist

Know the background of when official records, e.g., BDM, began in each state and territory. In some cases, the state or territory didn't even exist until a certain time.

Here is a quick summary from Wikipedia, Territorial Evolution of Australia:

  • 1788 Colony of NSW (all of Australia except WA)
  • 1825 Van Dieman's Land (later Tas)
  • 1829 Swan River Colony, changed to WA in 1832
  • 1834 or 1836 declared in 1834 and proclaimed in 1836 Colony of SA
  • 1840 Colony of NZ annexed to NSW
  • 1841 separation of NZ from NSW
  • 1846 Colony of North Australia (today's Qld and NT)
  • 1847 Colony of North Australia revoked, became part of NSW again
  • 1851 Colony of Vic
  • 1856 Van Dieman's Land changed name to Tasmania
  • 1859 Colony of Qld
  • 1860 Colony of SA border changed (to the left, lined up with WA)
  • 1863 Part of Colony of North Australia was annexed to SA
  • 1901 Federation (uniting the British colonies of New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria, and Western Australia. Note that the Northern Territory was under South Australian administration at Federation. - Wikipedia)
  • 1911 Federal Capital Territory formed within NSW and NT split off from SA
  • 1927 NT split into 2 territories: North Australia, Central Australia
  • 1931 North Australia and Central Australia reunited as NT
  • 1938 Federal Capital Territory's name is changed to the Australian Capital Territory

Also see a detailed account of the evolution of the states and territories:

Beginning of civil regisdtration in each state and territory:

  • Tasmania 1838 1 Dec
  • South Australia 1842 1 Jul
  • Western Australia 1841 9 Sep
  • Victoria 1853 1 July
  • Queensland 1856 1 March
  • New South Wales 1856 1 March
  • Northern Territory 1870 24 Aug
  • Australian Capital Territory 1930 1 Jan

Source of information: Australian Civil Registration - Vital Records

Trap no. 2: Only looking at one source for records

Don't relax when you've found your ancestor's details in one record only. Having two or three records to corroborate is best. Remember the 10 Golden Rules of Genealogy from the Australian Family Tree Connections magazine, especially those italicised below:

  1. ALWAYS work backwards from the known (yourself) to the unknown (forebears)
  2. NEVER believe everything on a Birth, Death or Marriage certificate
  3. NEVER completely trust the spelling of surnames, place names etc.
  4. ALWAYS check surname variants when researching
  5. ALWAYS aim to have at least 2 separate sources of proof for each event
  6. REMEMBER that everything is only speculation until verified
  7. ALWAYS photocopy certificates and important documents and leave the originals in a safe place
  8. IF a document exists, read it!
  9. DO join at least one Family History Group, Genealogical Society or Historical Society
  10. SHARE your information and documentation - copies only - with others researching similar lines

Trap no. 3: Relying too heavily on transcribed records

Where possible, check original and/or handwritten records. Sometimes errors occur during transcription. Remember that you are the expert on your family's history, and you may recognised some unusual place or people's names, whereas transcribers may not have your insider-knowledge.


EPISODE 23 - SHOWNOTES: Storage stuff for genies: Paper based, cloud based, computer based (August 2013)
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In episode 23, you'll find answers to these questions:

  • How can I store my family history research files so that they are easy to access and easy to add to?
  • What is "the cloud" and how can this help me with my genealogy research?
  • How can I put my personal touch on my storage systems?
  • How can I organise and store my research files in a way that helps me spend more time on research and less time on boring administration tasks and fruitless searches?

News updates isreducing the amount of formats they publish. If you have published with Luly before, check their site. You can order old formats of books before 20 Aug 2013.

The Unlock the Past Genealogy Cruise information is available regarding their 4th genealogy cruise in February 2014. Maria is giving a presentation on Wednesday 5 February 2014 at 4pm. See the full program.

Check out the 50 best blogs recommend by the the Inside History magazine.

Tips from Graham, one of our listeners, about Western Australian immigration research

The immigration records "Britain: outbound passenger lists 1890-1960" are very helpful in tracking ancestors coming to Australia.

Trove Newspapers are helpful for finding newspaper notices about people who were about to arrive on a particular day in an Australian port (e.g., Fremantle, Western Australia).

It is worth searching for information on the internet about the ship that your ancestors may have travelled on to Australia. For example, Graham found an on-line article of someone else travelling the same route as his ancestors but in a different time of the year. See this link for the diary: Will Bowden - Lineman

The Western Australian Genealogy Society (WAGS) have recently advised that shipping records, Western Australian Passenger Arrivals, 1898-1926, will soon be available to WAGS members on the WAGS site.

Paper-based storage ideas

Tip no. 1: Types of systems. Some genealogists recommend numbering systems, family grouping systems, place-based systems, etc. to organise your paper-based files. See a few ideas on varied systems: Cyndilist: Numbering systems and DearMyrtle who doesn't recommend using numbering systems.

Tip no. 2: Types of records. Think broadly when considering the types of records you have that exist in paper-based format: pictures and photographs, pages full of information you have created, certificates, information about objects/keepsakes, handwriting samples, cards, postcards, printouts from family history programs. These all need to be stored. The nature of the file will dicate teh way it should be stored.

Tip no. 3: Cite your sources. Always record the source of the information in your paper-based files and records. Some people add annotated handwritten notes, other people add post-it notes, other's use print outs of computer created files. The main message here is to ensure you record where you found the information and/or who gave you the information. It's better to have more information than less information about your information sources.

Tool no. 1: Hand written letters. Never under estimate the power of handwritten, old-fashioned letter sent via snail mail to your relatives. Let them know about your interest in the family history and they may refer other relatives to you years into the future.

Tool no. 2: Annotating photographs. Does anyone know of a safe way to annotate paper based photographs that doesn't destroy or harm the photograph?

Tool no. 3: Use other people's tools. Check out online tools that other genealogists have created to get your storages systems in order. For example, see Gould Genealogy: How to Organise Your Genealogy: That's the Big Question! and DearMyrtle's Organisation Checklist

Trick no. 1: Matching. Keep a close link between your paper-based and computer-based files so that they are easy to find within a similar structure in both collections.

Trick no. 2: Handle once. Wherever possible, set yourself the challenge of handling your new incoming paper-based records only once. This will reduce time spent on filing and boring administrative tasks.

Trick no. 3: Consider the dropping order of your files. Think about the best way to store your files that, if dropped, they will still remain in some form of order. Lever Arch files with plastic sheets are usually quite safe and will retain their order when dropped as the files are secured within their plastic sleeves.

Trick no. 4: Genealogical office supplies. Office supply stores are often quite expensive. Think outside the box when searching for office supplies for your genealogy research - access craft shopts, $2 shops and second hand office supply and furniture stores.

Trap no. 1: Death wish. There is probably a much nicer way to describe this trap but I would recommend you include a message to the person you bequeath your family history research, after you cross the line from being a live family history research to a passed-away ancestor! Consider writing a letter or recording an audio message to include with your research files to let the person know who takes over your research files why you started your family history research, what you have done and how you hope your research files will be included in the future.

Trap no. 2: Over-use of colourising systems. Because you will probably restructure your filing systems a few times over the years, I would recommend not using excessively complex colourising systems for your paper-based systems as they are difficult to reverse if/when you change your organisation system.

Trap no. 3: No annotations. Our family history records become much more interesting and useful when we annotate them - add notes to photos, certificates, and other paper-based files you have. This will ensure that you look at these records beyond just the dates and facts recorded on them.

Computer-based storage ideas

Tip no. 1: Cite your sources. Just as we mentioned above, remember to cite your sources in your computer-based files. You could use footnotes in Microsoft Word or consider using a referencing software such as Endnote or Zotero.

Tip no. 2: Metadata. The video of Lisa Louise Cooke interviewing Randy White includes plenty of tips for digitising your family history records. It includes some excellent tips on how to add metadata to your photographs through the "Properties" information in digital images.

Tool no. 1: Metadata. The Organised Genealogist's blog by Susan Peterson has plenty ofgood tips about organising your computer files and software.

Tool no. 2: Communication log. Keep a Word document or an Excel sheet for recording who you have contacted about your genealogy research. One of our listeners, Janelle, has shared her Excel sheet with us. See Janelle's Contact Tracker or Maria's Communication Log template (from the January 2012 episode).

Trick no. 1: Searching skills. Spend a bit of time revising, practising and extending your electronic searching skills. This will help you to reduce the time you spend searching through your computer for files or searching genealogical records on line. Go to Youtube and type in "search skills" and you will find a wide selection of video tutorials to help you with your searching skills.

Trick no. 2: Reduce your paper-based records. For non-essential paper-based records, such as conference notes, consider scanning them and adding them to your computer files and throw the paper files away. This will give you more space on your bookshelves and will enable you to search the files with greater speed on your computer. Susan Peterson has some good tips on her blog about how to reduce your paper files.

Trap no. 1: Redoing searches. Redoing searches you have already done can give you an annoying sense of deja vu. Instead of wasting time on searches you have already conducted, consider keeping a searching log which records what you have searched for, where you searched for the information and the outcomes of your search (positive - results, negative - no results). It's just as important to record the results of negative searches as positive searches.

Trap no. 2: Over use of the "To do" folder. Having a "to do" or "to sort" folder is a great idea. However, over-using this folder can become a proscrastination strategy. Set yourself a date or a goal to review this folder regularly (e.g., once per month).

Cloud-based storage ideas

Tip no. 1: What is "the cloud?". There are loads of definitions of "the cloud" but I find it most helpful to think of files on "the cloud" as files that you have not stored on your computer but files you have stored on an internet-based site, database or tool (e.g., online email such as gmail). Here is Wikipedia's definition of cloud computing and here is a layperson's definition of cloud computing from the 4cloudcomputing blog.

Tip no. 2: Have an online presence. Whether you create a blog, a website, a podcast, a Facebook page or contribute your ideas to an online site such as Ancestry or FindMyPast... whatever you do, be sure to have some type of online presence about your family history research so that other potential researchers can find you, contact you and help you to extend your research.

Tool: Online backup and file transportation systems. Mozy is a well known backup system for your cloud based files while Dropbox and YouSendIt can help you to send large files that aren't always accepted by regular email systems.

Trick: Talk to younger relatives. If you have younger relatives who are familiar with social media and online systems, ask them what types of online tools they use. Consider whether you could use some of these tools for your genealogy research.

Trap no. 1: Sharing too much. When other researchers contact you via online communication, don't share too much. Be sure of who the person is and how they are related to your family before disclosing important genealogical information (birth dates, maiden names, etc.).

Trap no. 2: Having no genealogical information online. Less researchers will find you if your only records are in your house or on your computer. Having information online is also a form of backup..

If you have any tips, tools, tricks or traps to add to the list above, about storage stuff for genies, please email me at

EPISODE 22 - SHOWNOTES: Immigration stuff for genies: Tracking our migrant ancestors (July 2013)
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In episode 22, you'll find answers to these questions:

  • What ways of thinking can I adopt to assist me in my research about my ancestors' immigration?
  • What types of immigrants came to Australia in the early days?
  • Where can I find evidence of my ancestors' immigration?
  • What research methods can I use to really get the most out of the immigration records of early Australian immigrants?

TIPS about immigration research

Tip no. 1: Types of immigrants. From my experience, there were four types of immigrants and it's useful to know what type of immigrant your ancestors were because this knowledge will help you to select the most appropriate records to access:

  1. Free, unassisted immigrants, who paid their own way to Australia.
  2. Assisted immigrants, sometimes known as "bounty immigrants" -the full or part of the cost of their passage was provided by employers or relatives in Australia (sponsored).
  3. Forced immigrants – convicts
  4. Ship crew and staff – on immigrant or convict ships.

Tip no. 2: Why did your ancestors come to Australia? Ask yourself and your living relatives these questions ...

  • Why did they emigrate from their homeland and why did they choose Australia to immigrate to?
  • Did they have family already in the colony?
  • Were they part of the goldrush? Chinese ancestors?
  • Were they a remittance man or woman?
  • Did they come alone or with a friend or family group?
  • Were they escaping from famine, financial problems, unemployment?

Tip no. 3: Track on a map. Track the distance, route and time taken of the places your ancestors travelled to and from.

Tip no. 4: Immigration timeline. Record, in chronological order, when your ancestors emigrated from their homeland, when they immigrated to Australia and when they moved around in between.

Tip no. 5: Keywords. Use some of these keywords when searching for immigration records of your ancestors: Immigration, migrant, emigrate, passage, assisted passage, unassisted passage, shipping, crew, convicts, free immigrants, bounty immigrants, ship's manifest

TOOLS for immigration research

Tool set no. 1: Online immigration records. There are many, many records available online and through libraries. Firstly, check out the immigration records through the Australian Archives site.

Go to the National Archives site. Under the subheading "Finding migration records", click on the link "RecordSearch" to search for records about your ancestors.

Then consider accessing the following categories and collections of immigration records on Ancestry:

Categories of records on

  • Passenger Lists
  • Citizenship & Naturalisation Records
  • Border Crossings & Passports
  • Crew Lists
  • Immigration & Emigration Books
  • Ship Pictures & Descriptions

Featured collections on

  • New South Wales, Australia, Unassisted Immigrant Passenger Lists, 1826-1922
  • New South Wales, Australia, Assisted Immigrant Passenger Lists, 1828-1896
  • Victoria, Australia, Assisted and Unassisted Passenger Lists, 1839–1923
  • UK, Incoming Passenger Lists, 1878-1960
  • England & Wales, Criminal Registers, 1791-1892 FREE INDEX
  • Queensland, Australia, Passenger Lists, 1848-1912
  • New Zealand, Naturalisations, 1843-1981

The following resources will guide you about which records are available in each state and territory in Australia. Some of these are available in full online whereas others provide online indexes which outline which records are available from within a library's or archive's set of collections.

Mariners and Ships in Australian Waters 1854-1900:

NSW passenger lists

Queensland immigration records

SA immigration records and the "Immigration to SA" Info sheet (8 page PDF file)

Vic immigration records including PROVguide 52: Immigration Records: Transport immigration records and PROVguide 50: Ships' Passenger Lists: Transport – Ships' Passenger Lists

Western Australia immigration records

Tasmania immigration records including information about Free immigration

Northern Territory immigration records

ACT Archives

Tool set no. 2: Genealogy magazines. Don't forget to scan Australian and overseas magazines for news about new immigration records that come online. Some of the magazines could include:

  • Australian Family Tree Connections
  • Inside History
  • Discover Your Ancestors

Tool set no. 3: Blogs about immigration. Quite a few bloggers focus on immigration records related to Australian genealogy, including:

Tool set no. 4: Fact sheets. You can find out more about immigration to Australia from the fact sheets (Department of Immigration and Citizenship – Australian Government)

Tool no. 5: Log of logs. These three volumes of Log of Logs by Ian Nicholson provides a range of information and images of ships that brought free immigrants and convicts to Australian shores.

TRICKS for immigration research

Trick no. 1: Death records. These often hold information about where the person came from and how long they were in the colony. Sometimes your ancestors' gravestones will also include information about their homeland (e.g., "Native of County Clare").

Trick no. 2: Resources containing contextual information. These resources can give you plenty of ideas about what life was like as a free immigrant, an assisted immigration or a forced immigrant (i.e., a convict). For example:

  • Novels such as, For the term of his natural life, provide information about what it was like to be a convict in the early days of the colony.
  • Songs about immigration - see Warren Fahey's collection of songs
  • Museum exhibitions such as the "Waves of Migration" exhibition that was held at the Australian National Maritime Museum in Feb 2013
  • Movies about immigration such as: Immigration - The Waves That Shaped Australia

Trick no. 3: Immigration keepsakes. Ask around your family members in case a member of your family is in possession of a homeland keepsake that may have been brought out from the ancestor's homeland.

TRAPS to avoid in immigration research

Trap no. 1: Don't just focus on individual ancestor's records. When browsing ship passenger records, the records that exist alongside your ancestor's records can be valuable. They may indicate other friends or relatives that were travelling with your ancestor. They may reveal the name of a future spouse of your ancestor. Check the names, occupations and homelands of other passengers on the ships which brought your ancestors to Australia. Get hold of original, handwritten shipping records where possible to check for any transcription errors.

Trap no. 2: Don't forget to be a collateral researcher. Don't just focus on your direct line of ancestry. Consider the siblings and more distant relatives of your ancestors, especially when it comes to shipping records.

Trap no. 3: Don't ignore travel out of Australia. If you have some gaps in your ancestor's history in Australia, it may be worth exploring outward bound passenger lists which record passenger details of migrants who left Australian shores.

EPISODE 21 - SHOWNOTES: Favourite ancestor stuff for genies: Ancestors who stand out in the crowd (June 2013)
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Maria broadcasts this podcast episode from the island of Inis Meáin (Inishmaan), part of the Aran Islands off the coast of Galway, Ireland. Here are a few pics of Inis Meáin.

welcome thatched cafe double donkeys


In episode 21, you'll find answers to these questions:

  • How can you have an ancestor that apparently was never born or never died? Find out the answers to this question in Barbara's story about her great grandfather, Joseph Clark – Story no. 1 in today's episode
  • How was one little girl so influenced by the personality of her grandfather, her Papa, Walter Bertram Maddocks? Find out about this man by listening to Dot's story – Story no. 2 in today's episode
  • Why is Duane's Great Grandfather, George John Phillips-Broughton, one of the most interesting, outrageous and self centered man that Duane knows of? You'll hear answers to this question in Duane's story that I've called "George being George" – Story no. 3 in today's episode.
  • What role did Jennifer's grandmother play in Irish political history? Find out about Annie Magee Geraghty's amazing story in Story no. 4 in today's episode.
  • Why was one of Jennifer's relatives called "The little woman who ruled with an iron fist"? Find out about Anne Fitzpatrick Ward's life in Story no. 5 in today's episode.
  • What gruesome end did three of Janelle's ancestors come to? Find out in Story no. 6 in today's episode about Thomas Dixon.
  • Who is one of Maria's favourite ancestors? Find out about Lily Ann Kingsbury's life in the final story in today's episode.

Throughout today's podcast you'll hear some stories about the favourite ancestors of some of the Genies Down Under listeners. If you would like to make a comment or help with the research of any of these listeners, please email me at and I'll put you in touch with each other.

Story no. 1 by Barbara

Listen to Barbara's story of the birthless, deathless Joseph Clark - her great-grandfather. Don't forget to check out Barbara's blog: Genealogy Boomerangs Blog

Story no. 2 by Dot

Listen to Dot's story of her maternal grandfather, Walter Bertram Maddocks.

Story no. 3 by Duane

Listen to Duane's story of his great grandfather, George John Phillips-Broughton.

Story no. 4 by Jennifer

Listen to Jennifer's first story of her paternal grandmother, Annie Magee Geraghty. Don't forget to check out Jennifer's blog: On a flesh and bone foundation: An Irish history, and to read the full version of this story at: Fearless Females: A revolutionary: Annie Magee and the Cumann na mBan

Story no. 5 by Jennifer

Listen to Jennifer's second story today of her great grand-aunt, Alice Fitzpatrick Ward. Don't forget to check out Jennifer's blog: On a flesh and bone foundation: An Irish history, and to read the full version of this story at: The little woman who ruled with an iron fist: Alice Fitzpatrick Ward, 1861-1952

Story no. 6 by Janelle

Listen to Janelle's story of her 4x great grandfather, Thomas Dixon. [Warning: This podcast includes some gruesome details and focuses on the topic of suicide.]

Story no. 7 by Maria

Listen to Maria's story of her maternal grandmother, Lily Ann Kingsbury. Photographs of Lily are featured in the following posts at Maria's Wishful Linking Family History blog: Can my dead people talk to your dead people? and Ripped memories

More Favourite Ancestor stories?

If you'd like to read about more Favourite Ancestor stories, here are a few ideas:

  • Diane Cole writes about her favourite ancestor, Reuben Edward PAGE, on the Rootsweb Ancestry boards. This story starts in England moves to the Hunter Valley in NSW. Diane describes him as: "My favourite ancestor is one of my great-grandfathers, who came to Australia about 1883. Much has been found out about him, but there are still many mysteries to unravel."
  • Grant Butters writes about his favourite ancestor, David Brown (1798-1865), on his Taybank website. He explains that: "David Brown is my favourite ancestor because I know so much and so little about him."
  • Barbara J Starmans, at her Out of My Tree blog, of her favourite ancestor: Rebecca STOREY (nee WEARNE)
  • And if you want to be sure of reading a favourite ancestor story with an Aussie flavour, there are also a load of stories on the Janet Reakes memorial site which features stories that have been competition winners about some people's most unusual ancestors, most elusive ancestor, earliest ancestor.

Like to create your own story about your favourite ancestor?

Don't miss some marvellous tips and examples of how to write a story about an ancestor in digital format at Ian Kath's podcasts:

You may also find a theme song, tune or poem to match your ancestor from Warren Fahey's website. See his song and poetry index.

Some news to catch up on between May-June 2013

Here are some tips and ideas sent in by listeners of the Genies Down Under podcast between May-June 2013

  • Listen to the beautiful voice of Lasairfhíona Ní Chonaola, a singer from Inis Oírr (the smallest of the Aran Islands in County Galway). You can hear some of her songs at: Lasairfhíona Ní Chonaola -- Inis Oírr in Inis Oírr and Bean Phaidin, Lasairfhiona Ni Chonaola. Read her about her on Wikipedia: Lasairfhíona Ní Chonaola. Thanks to Jennifer to telling us about this singer.
  • Read about an interesting blogpost by Jennifer about people's perceptions of Ireland: Perceptions of Ireland: The rose-coloured glasses girl, the cynical student, & me
  • Here's a bit of news about a new UK-based genealogy magazine, Discover your Ancestors, which is being offered in digital format for an annual subscription fee of £12 (£1 per issue)
  • A fun and handy tool to keep all of your online sites organised: PearlTrees. Thanks to Barbara for this tip.
  • The Down Survey of Ireland. "Taken in the years 1656-1658, the Down Survey of Ireland is the first ever detailed land survey on a national scale anywhere in the world. The survey sought to measure all the land to be forfeited by the Catholic Irish in order to facilitate its redistribution to Merchant Adventurers and English soldiers. Copies of these maps have survived in dozens of libraries and archives throughout Ireland and Britain, as well as in the National Library of France. This Project has brought together for the first time in over 300 years all the surviving maps, digitised them and made them available as a public online resource. Thanks to Ros for this tip.

EPISODE 20 - SHOWNOTES: Irish stuff for genies: Connecting with your Irish ancestors (May 2013)
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Maria broadcasts this podcast episode from the island of Inis Meáin (Inishmaan), part of the Aran Islands off the coast of Galway, Ireland. Here are a few pics of Inis Meáin.


In episode 20, you'll find answers to these questions:

  • What are some strategies to find information about my Irish ancestors?
  • What are some of the myths about Irish family history research?
  • What are some of the underlying ideas about Irish history and family history that will help with the practical side of Irish family history research?
  • If my ancestors spoke Irish, what were some common words and phrases that they may have spoken?

Throughout today's podcast you'll hear some interviews with people (thanks to Maureen, Colm, Jenny and Cormac) who live on Inis Meain and some of the music (thanks to Cormac, Kate and Louis) played at the local pub on the island.

TIPS about Irish family history research

Tip no. 1: Think "land". Many sources of Irish genealogical resources are land-based, relating to how our ancestors owned or rented land and property. Thinking in this way will help to understand how our Irish ancestors lived and worked.

To get a fuller understanding of how important land ownership and use is in some parts of Ireland, check out the movie called The Field, starring Richard Harris and Tom Berenger.

Tip no. 2: Get a sense of the county where your ancestors originally lived. The counties in Irealand are very different from one another in their position (inland, coastal, etc.), their landscapes and histories. Some counties were hit harder by famines than others. Here are a few links to help you to understand the counties of Ireland in more detail:

Tip no. 3: Keeping up-to-date. The Irish Genealogy News website is great for keeping up to date on Irish genealogy. New information is constantly being added to this site about new records being paced online.


TOOLS for Irish family history research

Some tools sent in my our listeners after last month's podcast episode:

Tool no. 1: Land-related records. Here are a few land related records to explore and bookmark:

Tool no. 2: Document sites

Tool no. 3: Ask about Ireland.This site, AskAboutIreland has some very useful links, especially under the "Reading Room" and "Libraries" tabs. Check out the "eBooks by County" link.

Tool no. 4: Roots Ireland. This site, Roots Ireland, has over 20 million online records. This is not a free site but the pay-as-you-go rates are fairly reasonable. This site is described as follows: "This website was created by the Irish Family History Foundation (I.F.H.F.), an all Ireland not-for-profit organization, that is co-ordinating the creation of a database of Irish genealogical sources to assist those who wish to trace their Irish ancestry."

Tool no. 5: National Archives of Ireland. This site, National Archives of Ireland, includes a massive collection of records. One of the interesting sections of this website is the featured "Document of the month".

Tool no. 6: Cemetery records. There are many large fee-based and free sites that provide searchable databases of cemetery records in Ireland, such as Ancestry, Find a Grave, Billion Graves, Find My Past, Family Search and Deceased Online. Also, many locally based sites exist that offer information about cemetery records from various towns and counties in Ireland, such as:

TRICKS for Irish family history research

Trick no. 1: Blogs about Irish Family History. There are many genies out there who are more than willing to share their ideas and experiences about their own Irish family history research. Here are a few of them:

Trick no. 2: The Gathering. The Gathering is a set of Ireland-wide events encouraging people with Irish ancestry to come back to Ireland this year.

Trick no. 3: Google alerts. Setting up Google alerts enables you to effortlessly search the web for phrases and words (such as Irish place names, Irish names, addresses and Irish family history records) related to your Irish family history research.

Trick no. 4: Irish language. Get to know a few Irish phrases that your ancestors may have spoken. The podcast has some examples.

TRAPS to avoid when doing Irish family history research

Trap no. 1: Myth - most Irish genealogical records were destroyed. Although many Irish family history records were burnt in the 1922 fire, there are now a lot of records available online.

Trap no. 2: Don't ignore Ireland's famine history. The famine wasn't just about potatoes - it was also very much related to property ownership, land rights, government, exports and imports. There was also quite a political edge to the 1840s famine in that some elements of the government of the time were blamed for not distributing food adequately to the poor and suffering.

Here are a few websites with information about Ireland's famines:

Some photos Maria has taken of famine memorials in Ireland:


Trap no. 3: Don't only use Ireland-wide genealogical sites. There are many more sites becoming available that are created by local history experts and genealogists that focus on Irish towns, cities, counties are regions. For example:

Trap no. 4: Don't ignore Irish history. There are some excellent podcasts available to help you to brush up on your Irish history. For example:

Trap no. 5: You don't have to find all the online Irish family history sites on your own. Other genies have done much of this work for you. For example:


Warren Fahey's music

Check out Warren Fahey's homepage and general store to peruse and order his very Aussie music at very reasonable prices. Warren has kindly given us permission to feature his excellent music in our podcast. He describes himself as a "folklorist, record producer, author, performer and oral historian" -so you can see he is a real fan of history, research and music.

EPISODE 19 - SHOWNOTES: Techy stuff for genies: Computer and online resources to use with our family history research (April 2013)
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Maria broadcasts this podcast episode from the island of Inis Meáin (Inishmaan), part of the Aran Islands off the coast of Galway, Ireland. Here are a few pics of Inis Meáin.


In episode 19, you'll find answers to these questions:

  • How can I use techy stuff to help with researching my family history?
  • How can I use techy stuff to organise my genealogy research?
  • How can I use techy stuff to create and share my genealogy research?
  • Where can I get more techy ideas and keep learning about my family history research?


Each of Maria's tips, tools, tricks and traps are presented in this podcast within her Genealogy ROCKS! approach for dividing your genealogy research time:

  • Research
  • Organise
  • Create
  • Keep learning
  • Share


Tip no. 1: TO DO folder. Within your main folder for genealogy research, keep a folder where you keep all of your ideas for future research and make lists of future tasks such as: Certificate wish list; What to create; List of questions that I need to find answers to; Goals for the year

Tip no. 2: Soft and hard copies. Keep both electronic (soft) and printed copies (hard) of your research information. Link the two sets of information so that you use the same categorisation system to organise your electronic and printed files. This structure can also be applied to email folders.

Tip no. 3: Conferences. Make the most of attending conferences and seminars about family history. Speak to the presenters as well as members of the audience. You can pick up a lot of techy tips and ideas to use in your family history research through informal networking. For example, Rootstech.

Tip no. 4: The underscore. To ensure that important folders (directories) or files are listed at the top of the list, add an underscore (_) to the beginning of the folder name or file name (e.g., _To Do). This naming strategy will ensures that the folder with an underscore at the beginning of it's name will be listed first in the list of alphabetically listed files or folders (directories).

Tip no. 5: Publish. Aim to publish something each year from your family history research. This could be a printed or electronic book (e.g., through Lulu) a website (e.g., using Weebly).



Tool no. 1: Online newsletter. Subscribe to local and national genealogical societies to receive their newsletter. Subscribe to international newsletters about genealogy such as Dick Eastman's newsletter.

Tool no. 2: Webinars. Join in on some of these reasonably priced or free online seminars. "Webinar" is the shortened term for web-based seminar. For example, the SAG (Society of Australian Genealogists) run a series of webinars on topics such as:

  • Internet Resources for British History and how they can help genealogists
  • NSW BDM Records

Tool no. 3: Apps for the iPad. There are now many apps for genealogy for the iPad. Lisa Louise Cooke's new book, Turn your iPad into a genealogy powerhouse, can be purchased at for $12.59.

Tool no. 4: Calendar. This freely accessible online calendar,, from Janelle, one of our listeners, allows you to calculate ages and time periods based on known start and end dates.

Tool no. 5: Online bookmkarking. Instead of only relying on your computer's browser to store your favourite or bookmarked websites, Liz (one of our listeners) suggests using an online bookmarking tool such as Delicious.



Trick no. 1: Google Drive (Google Docs). This is a great way to store, retrieve, modify and collaborate on your genealogy files. You can access these files from any internet connected computer. Read Jill Ball's Geniaus blogpost about using Google Drive for genealogy research: Need to share files easily? and Google Docs and Evernote.

Trick no. 2: Cover letter. To ensure your precious genealogy research isn't ignore after you die, nominate someone in your family to care for your research, and hopefully extend it, when you are gone. To make it easier for this person to access and understand what you have done, create a cover letter or an audio message to store with your files - this can explain why you started your research, what needs to be done next and a heartfelt message about what you would like done with your legacy of research.

Trick no. 3: Note discrepancies. Work out some techy way of highlighting the discrepancies in your research. Sometimes, these discrepancies can form the point of moving your research onwards and upwards. You may ask yourself question such as: Why were ages listed differently? Why were names listed differently across documents? Why was the father's name missing?

Trick no. 4: Ancestor online presence. Most of our ancestors existed before the internet was even heard of. However, some of my ancestors have their own website - because I have created one for them. I've also heard of other people creating a Facebook Page which is linked to their own Facebook page. Creating an online presence for some of your more interesting ancestors is a great way to create some "bait" for other researchers with whom you can share and extend your research.

Trick no. 5: Google image search. As well as doing Google searches for your ancestors, don't forget the potential that lies within Google images. Search for your ancestor's name, along with some key dates and place names. Older photos are very recognisable within the collection of Google images.



Trap no. 1: Backing up. How much of your work are you willing to lose? If you are willing to lose a day's work, back up every day. If you are willing to lose a week's work, back up every week. Consider purchasing one or two external hard drives to keep a copy of your precious files. Buy a couple of $100 external hard disks and get into a pattern of using them very regularly. You could also investigate online backing up systems such as Mozy.

Trap no. 2: Over reliance on a family tree program. When using a family tree program such as Legacy, Family Tree Maker or Rootsmagic, be sure you know why you are using it. Don't be a slave to these programs. Also consider traditional ways of storing your information such as Word documents and databases.

Trap no. 3: Software upgrades. Don't be a slave to regular software upgrades. Sometimes the upgrades are very minor. You can sometimes afford missing a few versions as long as you don't wait too long in between upgrades.

Trap no. 4: "hints". If you are an online user, you will notice the "hints" on your screen in the form of shaking leaves. Sometimes these hints link you up with other researchers. When the researchers have thousands and thousands of people on their tree, beware that you are not dealing with "ancestor hunters" and "name collectors" who don't always check their sources.

Trap no. 5: Not just text. When creating products from your family history research (books, websites, etc.), be careful not to overuse text. Readers also like seeing graphics, diagrams, tables, video and audio.

EPISODE 18 - SHOWNOTES: Naming stuff for genies (Part B): Tools, tricks and traps about naming patterns, traditions and stories in family history (March 2013)
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Maria broadcasts this podcast episode from the island of Inis Meáin (Inishmaan), part of the Aran Islands off the coast of Galway, Ireland. Here are a few pics of Inis Meáin.


In episode 18, you'll find answers to these questions:

  • What are some good online tools I can access to help me add some context to my family history about naming stuff – naming patterns, traditions and stories in family history?
  • What are some tricks I should be aware of to help me add some context to my family history about naming stuff – naming patterns, traditions and stories in family history?
  • What are some traps to avoid when I'm researching the names used in my family history research?

Thanks to all of these genies down under (from Australia and overseas) for contributing their fantastic and inspiring ideas to Episode 17 and 18 of the Genies Down Under podcast episodes: Andrew, Dot, Duane, Fiona, Jacqui, Janelle, Jenni, Kai, Kathleen, Kathy, Kerrie, Kylie, Lesa, Liz, Nancy, Marilyn, Pauleen, Rachel, Ros, Sandra, Tanya and Vic. It's so great to have your ideas in this podcast.

[More shownotes for Episode 18 are coming soon.]


EPISODE 17 - SHOWNOTES: Naming stuff for genies (Part A): Tips about naming patterns, traditions and stories in family history (February 2013)
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Maria broadcasts this podcast episode from the island of Inis Meáin (Inishmaan), part of the Aran Islands off the coast of Galway, Ireland.

inishmaan inishmaan Inishmaan

In episode 17, you'll find answers to these questions:

  • What naming patterns were used by our ancestors to name their children?
  • Were there any particular naming traditions used by our Aussie ancestors?
  • What are some funny naming stories from family history research?
  • How can our knowledge of naming patterns helps us to analyse and extend our family history research?

All the best to the genies down under who are going along to the Unlock the Past geneaology cruise from Sydney to Noumea and Fiji and back to Sydney from 10-19 February 2013. Have a wonderful time and we look forward to hearing about your adventures when you return.

Thanks to all of these genies down under (from Australia and overseas) for contributing their fantastic and inspiring ideas to Episode 17 and 18 of the Genies Down Under podcast episodes: Andrew, Dot, Duane, Fiona, Jacqui, Janelle, Jenni, Kai, Kathleen, Kathy, Kerrie, Kylie, Lesa, Liz, Nancy, Marilyn, Pauleen, Ros, Sandra, Tanya and Vic. It's so great to have your ideas in this podcast.

Whether you agree or not with the title of this web article, Baby names that are just plain wrong, it's an interesting read to see what types of names people give their children. There are some very ususual names on this list!

And here are some interesting and funny names given to babies by celebrities: Celebrity baby names - Top 20 Crazy List

In this episode, you'll find answers to these questions:

  • What naming patterns were used by our ancestors to name their children?
  • Were there any particular naming traditions used by our Aussie ancestors?
  • What are some funny naming stories from family history research?
  • How can our knowledge of naming patterns helps us to analyse and extend our family history research?

Check out some of the most popular babies' names in 2012: Top boys' names of 2012 in Australia, Top girls' names of 2012 in Australia, Popular Aussie baby names, Most popular babies' names in Ireland in 2012.

Talking about popularity, here are the Top 100 Most Popular Genealogy Websites for 2012. Thanks for sending in this link, Liz.

Tips about Name origins

Kai reminded me recently that many people are named after saints. If you are named after a saint, check out these sites:

Here is a list of saints of Ireland on Wikipedia and some information about St Brigit whose saint's day is celebrated on 1 February, the beginning of Celtic spring in Ireland.

Read about orgins of Welsh, Scottish, Irish or unusual, unique or creative names at the NameNerds site

Thanks to Kathy for sharing the history of the name of BRERETON. See the BRERETON surname website for more info.

Thanks to Vic for sharing the history of the name of MALHAM.

Thanks to Janelle for sharing the funny urban myth story about Remus Rudd. Note that this is just a fun story that someone has created to make a point about political spin. This was included in this episode for it's family history theme.

You might like to have a sneak peek at Liz's blog where she has shared a lot of the tips and links she sent me for the naming stuff episodes: Yarra Plenty Genealogy - Naming Patterns (thanks also to Andrew for sending in this link). Many of these links will also be shared in Episode 18 in March 2013.

Tips about naming patterns including surnames, first names and middle names

Tips and links from the podcast will be added here during the first few days of February 2013.

Thanks to Tanya for telling us about the "James, George, James, George...and then Warren" naming pattern in her family.

Thanks to Fiona for telling us about the use of the name, Maria, in her Italian family history.

Thanks to Kathleen for telling us about the history and origins of her first name.

Thanks to Jacqui for telling us about the origin of her mother's first names.

Thanks to Janelle for telling us about the origins of her surname.

Thanks to Sandra for her story, the finding the parents of Martha Carbis.

Thanks to Kylie for reminding us about the use of a mother's maiden name as a middle name in later generations.

Thanks to Janelle for telling us about the use of Lorne as a middle name.

Thanks to Jacqui for telling us about the use of the name Roland and Rollo as middle and first names.

Tips about international naming patterns (including Scandinavian, German, Indian, Scottish, Irish, Welsh)

Tips and links from the podcast will be added here during the first few days of February 2013.

Thanks to Liz for sharing with us the following naming pattern used by Scottish ancestors:

First son is named for the Father's Father.
Second son is named for the Mother's Father.
Third son is named for the Father's Father's Father.
Fourth son is named for the Mother's Mother's Father.
Fifth son is named for the Father's Mother's Father.
Sixth son is named for the Mother's Father's Father.
Seventh through Tenth sons are named for the Father's Great-Grandfathers.
Tenth through Fourteenth sons for the Mother's Great-Grandfathers.

First daughter is named for the Mother's Mother.
Second daughter is named for the Father's Mother.
Third daughter is named for the Mother's Father's Mother.
Fourth daughter is named for the Father's Father's Mother.
Fifth daughter is named for the Mother's Mother's Mother.
Sixth daughter is named for the Father's Mother's Mother.
Seventh through tenth daughters are named for the Mother's Great-Grandmothers.
Tenth through fourteenth daughters for the Father's Great-Grandmothers.

Also, thanks to Liz and Andrew for sharing these sites relating to Scottish naming patterns: Scotlands People - Forename Variants, Information about naming pattern at Rob's Family and Naming traditions at the Rootsweb site.

Still on the Scottish theme,

  • Thanks to Andrew for sharing with us some examples of how middle names were used in the BLACK family, in which the surname  of their forefather’s was used as a middle name.
  • Thanks to Marilyn for telling us about how her daughter was given the name of both grandmothers, and how her son's middle name was based on one of her first ancestors who arrived in Australia in 1855.
  • Thanks to Jenni for sharing the information about how her ancestors used a pattern of first and second names being alternated, for the first-born sons.
  • Thanks to Ros for reminding us that it was not uncommon for some of her Scottish ancestors, at least amongst the Highlanders,  for two brothers to have the same given name even with the older was still alive and well. 

Thanks to Kathy for reminding us about the excellent book by the late Janet Reakes, How To Trace Your English Ancestors, which has some great information about English and Welsh naming patterns.

Thanks to Lesa for sharing information about Scandinavian ancestors, specifically Norwegian names. She explains that Norwegians were identified by their Christian name and their father’s name plus the appropriate suffix – “sen” for son and “datter” for daughter.
A third name was often used and this was usually the farm name and signified a place of residence. Legally, the use of a fixed surname was not made compulsory by law in Norway until 1923. Before this, surnames were not used generally by rural Norwegians, but were used by families of educated upper class and people who lived in cities. Lesa also shared these websites: Lesa's website about her Norwegian ancestors.

Thanks to Liz for sharing this website about German naming practices.

Thanks to Tanya for sharing her mystery story about the surname, ST CLAIR HONEY.

Here are some sites which offer information about Irish naming patterns, Rootsweb.

Look out for a load of Tools, Tricks and Traps about naming stuff in the Episode 18 podcast episode in March 2013.

Mini-genie 003 - SHOWNOTES: Ideas for cemetery (25 January 2013)
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Thanks to Kerrie for the ideas in this podcast!

This mini-genie podcast looks at some great tips from a Genies Down Under listener, Kerrie, about cemetery searching and uploading photographs of graves and plaques to online cemetery index sites, including:



EPISODE 16 - SHOWNOTES:Using what's not on the internet for family history (January 2013)
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Maria broadcasts this podcast episode from Galway Bay on the beautiful west coast of Ireland.

Galway Bay

In episode 16, you'll find answers to these questions:

  • Before the internet, how did family historians research their family history?
  • What offline resources, resources that are not on the internet, can I use to extend my family history research?
  • What offline processes can I use to extend my family history research?
  • Where can I find out more about where to access offline resources and processes to extend my family history research?

Podcast dedication

This podcast is dedicated to Pauleen from the Family history across the seas blog - especially for her series, Beyond the Internet, that she has produced over the 52 weeks in 2012. See her final blog post in the Beyond the Internet series in December 2012 - Final

Thanks Pauleen, for all of your hard work and for sharing your expertise.

Tips about offline stuff for genies

  • Tip no. 1: Archives and books. Don't forget the masses of resources that are available for you to search through at your local State or Territory archives office and the books that are housed in these offices. Sometimes the books are catalogued and sometimes they are just available by browsing through the shelves.
  • Tip no. 2: Ask for photos. Make sure members of your family, both close and far, know that you are a genealogist. Ask them for copies of photos they may have and, if possible, ask for a commentary about the photograph. Ask questions about where the photo was taken, who took it, who is featured in the photo, whether or not the photo marked a special occasion, etc.
  • Tip no. 3: Library shelves. When visiting your local library or a library in the town or city of your ancestors, walk the shelves and don't just rely on the catalogue. You may even find some research that other members of your family have done that you didn't know about. By browsing the shelves you may find clumps of books and resources that have been catalogued together - sometimes these collections are more obvious when you see them "in real life" rather than on an online catalogue.
  • Tip no. 4: Family history conferences. Go to Family History conferences and talk to people. You find out a lot from the key speakers but you'll also find out even more from other conference attendees who you may speak with at morning tea and lunch breaks. Remember there are so many experts in the audiences of these events.

Tools to use for offline family history research for genies

  • Tool no. 1: Shauna Hicks' book, It's not all online. This is a great little inexpensive book (about $15) that provides loads of ideas about how to use offline resources and processes to extend your family history research.
  • Tool no. 2: Audio recorder. A hand-held audio recorder is an invaluable resource to capture stories and info provided to you by family members and friends of family members.
  • Tool no. 3: Old maps. Old maps can provide you with a lot more context to your ancestors' whereabouts than just an address. Access old maps through your local or state government lands office or access copies or orginals through local historical societies and libraries.
  • Tool no. 4: Timelines. Go no further than all the family research you have done so far. Analyse and summarise your research about key or difficult ancestors by creating a timeline that traces the milestones in their life - birth, baptism, location, job, training and qualifications, schools attended, marriage, children, migration, businesses, divorce, bankruptcy, death, etc.
  • Tool no. 5: Lands department. These government offices hold original copies of land titles and some mortgage details of your ancestors' lives. More than just addresses and land information is often provided in these records.
  • Tool no. 6: Family history society journals. Many family history societies regularly produce journals (sometimes only in a paper-based format), in which the history of the local community is recorded by its members. Contextual and specific information can be gathered from these journals which can usually be accessed at archives offices, family history society offices and some libraries.
  • Tool no. 7: Family history magazines. Although full copies of these magazines are not always available electronically, they are a wealth of information. Magazines such as Australian Family Tree Connections and Inside History are some favourites of Aussie genies.
  • Tool no. 8: Beyond the Internet blog series. Pauleen has created a superb set of ideas on her Family history across the seas blog, about researching family history using offline resources and methods. Her Beyond the Internet series of blog posts that she has produced over the 52 weeks in 2012 is an excellent resource. See her Final blog post in this series.

Tricks to use for offline family history research for genies

  • Trick no. 1: Oral history. Try to collect as many short and long stories as you can about your family's history from living relatives, as well as from the people who may have known your deceased ancestors. Many of these people may not be active on the internet so you may have to use old fashioned methods of communication to contact them. As Pauleen says on her blog site "Don't forget there are other families who've lived in the area for many years and experienced many of the same crop failures, weather problems, wars, socials and weddings."
  • Trick no. 2: Visit tourist offices and museums. These types of places in country towns and big cities often sell material that is not available on the internet - such as historical books written by local community members or family history booklets produced by local townspeople. If you can't find exact references in the material available in tourist offices and museums, you may find handy information or photographs which provide you with contextual information about where your ancestors lived in particular times or the types of jobs they may have been employed in.
  • Trick no. 3: Contact or visit schools. If you know the school or schools attended by your ancestors, you could try to contact the school or visit the school. Many old schools produce year books and have had historical books written about them. Again, you may not find exact references to or photographs of your ancestors in these books, but you may find out some interesting contextual information about what it was like when your ancestor attended this school - such as the rules for children, the principal at the time and the subjects taught at the school during the time your ancestor attended the school.
  • Trick no. 4: Timelines. Go no further than all the family research you have done so far. Analyse and summarise your research about key or difficult ancestors by creating a timeline that traces the milestones in their life - birth, baptism, location, job, training and qualifications, schools attended, marriage, children, migration, businesses, divorce, bankruptcy, death, etc.

Traps to avoid when doing offline family history research for genies

  • Trap no. 1: Library books not all on public shelves. If you are searching for library books that appear in the catalogue but not on the shelf, ask your librarian for help. Many libraries store older or less used books away from the main public access area.
  • Trap no. 2: Don't only keep your records electronically. Remember to print out some of your key documents, photographs and records. As well as providing an alternative backup format, this can also provide a quick-to-access set of records for family members to browse through, without requiring a specific commentary from you.
  • Trap no. 3: Don't ignore handwritten records. Because so many of our family history records are now online, we tend not to use or create handwritten records as often as our ancestors did. If you are lucky enough to have records of your ancestors' handwriting, feature these examples in your family history research. Also, remember to be a good future ancestor by including some of your own handwriting in your records.



EPISODE 15 - SHOWNOTES: Crafty stuff for genies: Family history creations (December 2012)
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Our book, Convicts Down Under, is now published!!!

We have some exciting news for you to start this podcast! In November, six of the Genies Down Under listeners joined Maria in publishing a book of seven stories about seven convicts who landed on Australian soil between 1796 and 1844. We are very pleased to officially launch our book on the December episode of the Genies Down Under podcast. Our book is called Convicts Down Under and you can purchase a printed copy of our book for $20.99 or an e-book version of the book (for $7) at the website. We are purposely keeping the prices of the book as low as possible. Any profits made will be used to buy copies of the printed book to send to local and national libraries and family history societies. Please let us know what you think of our book by emailing Maria at geniesdownunder@gmailcom

Want to get hold of a
printed version
of our book?
Click on the link below

$20.99 at


Want to get hold of an
e-book version
of our book?
Click on the link below

$7 at


In episode 15, you'll find answers to these questions:

  • What types of family history items could I create with my hands?
  • What types of family history items could I create using my computer?
  • What types of family history items could I buy for others or for myself?

Tips about family history craft



  • Tip no. 3: Family tree corkboard. This is a nifty way to create some family tree craft that is useful and interesting. Buy a large corkboard, print out some photographs of your ancestors and represent your family tree on the corkboard.
corkboard tree


  • Tip no. 4: Create a set of ancestor playing cards. Choose your favourite ancestor and print their photo on the back of a set of playing cards. The following companies can do this for you for about $20:
    Harvey Norman playing cards
    - Big W playing cards
    - Snapfish playing cards
    - Overseas:

  • Tip no. 5: Create ancestor placements. Choose a collection of your ancestors' photos and use these to print and laminate A4-sized placemats. They can be created as a set of 6, 8, 10 or more and given as gifts or used around the Christmas table. You may also like to create matching drink coasters. Here are a few examples of placements that Maria made for a recent family reunion.


Tools for creating family history craft

  • Tool no. 1: Pinterest. This is an online pinboard where you can gather up collections of photos of beautiful things. There are many "pinners" who are interested in family history. Here is a video that describes Pinterest. Here is an example of family history craft images on Pinterest.

  • Tool no. 2: Word cloud. These tools, such as Wordle, allow you to create word pictures. Why not use the names and places of your family history to create a word cloud. This process takes just a couple of minutes.

    Here are a few examples of genealogy word clouds:
    - genealogy word cloud on Pinterest
    - a family tree word cloud at Cassmob, a genealogy blog
    - genealogy addition word cloud at Original Hunter's blog
word cloud


  • Tool no. 3: Shape Collage. Here is an example of using Shape College to create a banner on the top of my family history blog: Wishful Linking.

  • Tool no. 4: This is a self publishing website that provides a high quality service for a reasonable cost with very quick turnaround times.

  • Tool no. 5: Laminator and laminating sheets from Target, K-mart or Big W. About $40 -$100. Provides a very professional job. Turn on, put paper into the laminator envelope. Wait 5 mins for machine to warm up and then push the envelope through. Takes about 5 mins to cool down.

  • Tool no. 6: Youtube and These sites will provide you with all sorts of tutorials that will guide you through family history craft processes.

Tricks for family history craft

Here is a small bunch of tricks when creating family history crafty stuff. I hope these tricks will especially help you to think creatively about what you could make for others or yourself this Christmas.

  • Trick no. 1: Family reunion ideas. Whenever you look up books or websites or hear podcasts about family reunions, they often have great ideas of things you can create using your hands, your computer or both. Here are a few examples:
    - Family Reunion Planning Kit for Dummies [With CDROM] on Ebay for about $30
    - Family reunion tips from Ancestral
    - Book by Gould Genealogy: Your Family Reunion: How to Plan it, Organize It, and Enjoy It

  • Trick no. 2: Scrapbooking (Memory keeping). Scrapbooking is described as: "a method for preserving personal and family history in the form of a scrapbook. Typical memorabilia include photographs, printed media, and artwork. Scrapbook albums are often decorated and frequently contain extensive journaling." (Wikipedia, November 2012).
    You could use your scrapbooking skills for family history preservation. Here are some ideas for using your scrapbooking skills in family history crafts:
    - provides information about Scrapbooking Your Family History: How to Create a Heritage Scrapbook. They suggest using items such as birth and marriage certificates, report cards, old letters, family recipes, clothing items, and a lock of hair can also add interest to a family history scrapbook.
    - Gould Geneaology sells family tree charts for $1.50 that can be incorporated into your family history scrapbooking. These pedigree charts are sold as single sheets. They have a lovely vintage looking background, a tree in the centre and plenty of places for you to record your family's names and events.
    - Family history quotes from to add throughout your scrapbook: such as "But those who came before us will teach you. They will teach you from the wisdom of former generations." and "Family faces are like magic mirrors. Looking at people who belong to us, we see the past, present, and future." Or perhaps you could include sayings from various members of your family.

  • Trick no. 3: Pictures instead of cards on presents. See an example on Pinterest.

  • Trick no. 4: Story journal. Buy or create books to use as journals for recording family history stories. You could do this yourself or ask someone to do it for you. There are some lovely journals you can buy on e-bay. Just put in "journal" or "notebook" into ebay, you may get the purple furry variety (first one on the list), so I'd recommend adding something like "vintage" "old style" "antique" or "old". Here are a few examples:
    - Vintage classic notebook blank diary journal note book writer gift hard cover $11.99
    - Vintage classic notebook blank diary journal note book writer gift hard cover $15.99
    - Handmade Leather Journal Rustic Blank Notebook Travel Diary Olive Green $1.99
    - Suede Leather Bound Older Blank Diary/Journal $75
    - SILK PAPER JOURNAL Red Gold Lotus Lined Diary Gift S $5.25

Traps to avoid when creating family history craft

Here are some traps to avoid when creating family history items. I hope these traps will save you time, money and effort.

  • Trap no. 1: Don't use originals. Use copies, not originals, especially when glue and laminating is involved. This is especially important if your family history creation involves using photographs of precious items from the past.

  • Trap no. 2: Can't make? Then, buy instead. There are loads of ideas about in the shops these days (also online) that will inspire you in your gift buying for others or for yourself. How about some of these ideas:
    - A book, often available at local newsagencies and book shops, which provides focus questions and partly blank pages to fill in to record the details of your family's history
    - A cross-stitched creation of 6 generations of your family tree. Caroline at CEMA Designs can help you there. She often advertises in the Australian Family Tree Connections magazine or can be contacted by email at:
    - If you're thinking of giving family history related items as gifts this year, using the search terms "family history", "family tree" or "genealogy" on Amazon, Lulu or Ebay will provide you with more ideas that you can ever imagine
    - Keep an eye out for family tree related products such as this cute little ornament, by Blossom Bucket Inc., that I found in my local chemist shop recently.
2 birds
  • Trap no. 3: Stick to the proven facts. When creating family history craft, it is quite likely, we hope, that your creation will be kept for a long time. It may even be passed onto others or passed down the family tree. So, whatever facts and figures you may include about your ancestors on these creations, only include the information that you are absolutely sure about. It's better to pass on a selecton of your most accurate research findings, rather than pass on a collection of possible facts.

Mini-genie 002 - SHOWNOTES: Ideas for searching through the NSW Police Gazettes (24 November 2012)
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In this Mini-genie, you'll find out some ideas about how to search through the NSW Police Gazettes (1854–1930) for information about "the lives of people on bothsides of the law", including information about:

  • missing persons/ missing friends
  • crimes committed
  • wanted criminals
  • criminals who had been apprehended
  • police officer promotions
  • vacant positions for police offers
  • police appointments

The Police Gazettes can be accessed and searched through If you don't have paid subscription access to Ancestry, you can access it through computers at some libraries, archives offices and family history centres.

EPISODE 14 - SHOWNOTES: Convict stuff for genies: Stories of crime, punishment and freedom in our ancestors' lives (Part 2)
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In episode 14, you'll find answers to these questions:

  • How would I know if I had a convict in my family history?
  • How can I research a convict?
  • What records are available for convicts who were transported to Australia??

The shownotes for this episode will be available during the next few days.

Information, photos and links about Port Arthur convicts:

Pictures of Port Arthur convicts from the National Library of Australia
Port Arthur site
Port Arthur image library
ABC story: "Face of brutality: the hidden Port Arthur photographs"
Information about, Exilted: The Port Arthur Convict Photographs by Edwin Barnard, a book from theABC shop. Paperback. $39.99

Blogs about Australian convicts

Rebel Hand

A little bit of Irish: My mother's people in Australia

A Pocket Full of Family Memories: My Written Journey Back To My Roots & Heritage : From The Heart of England To The Shores of Australia

Convicts Australia: A blog for researching Australian convicts

Tips about researching convicts

How to write your story.

Check out the Rebel Hand blog as a great example, especially the convict story, When John met Sarah, a story of convict courtship. From this blog, you come to understand the plight of female convicts.

Understand the convict experience by listening to the Hindsight podcast: FRANK THE POET: A CONVICT'S TOUR TO HELL. This podcast celebrates the 151st anniversy of the death of Frank the Poet (Francis MacNamara). Frank is considered to be one of Australia's leading poets. You can gain an understanding of Frank's attitude to the authorities, the punishments he received and how he entertained his fellow convicts.

Tools for researching convicts

Wondering where to begin? Maree Shilling's book, Is There a Convict in the Family?, will help you. Some of her tips include:

  • Talk to elderly relatives (rumours, stories, assumptions?)
  • Join a family history society, especially as they can provide advice about which records are relevant to each state
  • Focus on primary records (actual certificates and original records)
  • Consult the index: Index to Convicts who arrived in NSW i1788-1842 and an index to the ships that transported them

Books to help with your convict research, recommended by one of our listeners, Andrew.

Information about researching female convicts:

Tricks for research convict ancestors

  • Trick no. 1: Don't be satisfied with one or two records.
    Search through the following records:
    - Convict musters
    - Newspaper reports
    - Court records (home country and in Australia), such as the Central Criminal Court in London (Old Bailey), Courts of Quarter Sessions, Church courts, local courts in major nearby towns
    - Shipping records and surgeon's journals
    - Indents – on-ship records, like a convict muster
    - Ticket of leave dates and details (often have details about appearance)
    - Conditional pardon
    - Absolute pardon
    - Certificate of freedom
    - Assignment
    - Marriage applications and records
    - Convict bank accounts
  • Trick no. 2: Where to look online.
    Browse through some of these links to find information aboout convict ancestors:
    - National Archives: Scroll down to "Convicts" and you'll get links to all of these gain access to all sorts of records including Convict transportation registers 1787-1867, Convict records at State Records NSW, Convicts to Australia: a guide to researching your convict ancestors, First Fleet online, Ireland-Australia transportation records, 1791-1853, Irish convicts to NSW 1791-1836, Ships of the First Fleet, South Australian transported convicts 1837-1851, Swan River convicts 1850-1868, PRO Victoria - Convict records, Index to Tasmanian Convicts - index and digitised records, Index to convict applications for permission to marry 1829-1857 - Tasmania, Cascades Female Factory (Tasmania) Historic Site, Proceedings of the Old Bailey 1674-1834 - records of trials held in the Old Bailey, Claim a convict
    - Australian Convict Sites
    - Coraweb: Convict records
    - Convicts to Australia. A guide to researching your convict ancestors (by Perth DPS – Dead Persons Society – but relevant to all places in Australia):
    "Most family historians in Australia regard a convict in their ancestry as enormously desirable. "Convicts to Australia" is intended to guide, inform and entertain those just starting the hunt as well as the more experienced researcher. The site is a 'work in progress' and data is being added regularly. We hope your convict research is made easier by our efforts and above all we hope you have FUN. Although feedback and suggestions are welcome, unfortunately we are unable to answer individual questions and research requests."
    - This site " allows you to search the British Convict transportation register for convicts transported to Australia between 1787-1867. Information available includes name of convict, known aliases, place convicted, port of departure, date of departure, port of arrival, and the source of the data. To get started, enter the firstname or surname of the person you are looking for, or click advanced search options to search by year or ship name. Only one search field is necessary to get started."
    - Convict ships to Australia. This site provides details of convict ships to Australia. Connected to
    - History of Australian convicts. This site includes good information on women convicts, Port Arthur andtransportation
    - NSW convict records
    - Convict transportation registers database
    - Irish Convicts to NSW 1788 – 1849
    - Tasmania's Heritage convict records
    - Fremantle Prison Convict Database
    - Convicts transported from South Australia
    - Convict Life in NSW And Van Diemen's Land


Mini-genie 001 - SHOWNOTES: Upcoming episodes of the Genies Down Under podcast (27 October 2012)
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In this Mini-genie, you will find out what episodes are planned for the future of Genies Down Under. Based on listeners' ideas, Maria gives you a list of some of the episodes that are planned for the next few months of the Genies Down Under episodes, with plenty of opportunities for you to contribute your ideas and stories:

  • Episode 014 - Nov 2012 Convict stuff (Part 2)
  • Episode 015 - Dec 2012 Crafty stuff (ideas on items to make, based on family history research)
  • Episode 016 - Jan 2013 - Offline stuff (resources that are not on the internet)
  • Episode 017 - Feb 2013 Naming stuff (patterns of how children are named in various families, history of surnames, how surnames were developed, any stories about names in your family)
  • Episode 018 - Mar 2013 Techy stuff (online tools and software, apps, etc. to use with our research)
  • Episode 019 - Apr 2013 Irish stuff (anything to do with Irish ancestry and Aussie family history research, since I'll be in Ireland for a few months next year)
  • Episode 020 - May 2013 Favourite ancestor stuff (the most mysterious, the most roguish, the most interesting, etc.)
  • Episode 021 - Jun 2013 Immigration stuff
  • Episode 022 - Jul 2013 Storage stuff
  • Episode 023 - Aug 2013 Official record stuff (archives, record offices and libraries)

Please note the above list was updated on 3 February 2013, to accommodate an additional "Naming stuff" episode, to:

  • Episode 018 - Mar 2013
  • Episode 019 - April 2013 Techy stuff (online tools and software, apps, etc. to use with our research)
  • Episode 020 - May 2013 Irish stuff (anything to do with Irish ancestry and Aussie family history research, since I'll be in Ireland for a few months next year)
  • Episode 021 - Jun 2013 Favourite ancestor stuff (the most mysterious, the most roguish, the most interesting, etc.)
  • Episode 022 - Jul 2013 Immigration stuff
  • Episode 023 - Aug 2013 Storage stuff
  • Episode 024 - Sept 2013 Official record stuff (archives, record offices and libraries)



EPISODE 13 - SHOWNOTES: Convict stuff for genies: Stories of crime, punishment and freedom in our ancestors' lives (Part 1)
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In episode 13, you'll find answers to these questions:

  • What are some true stories about convicts from Australia's history?
  • What types of crimes were convicts transported for?
  • What did convicts get up to once they arrived in Australia?
  • What sources of information have our listeners used to research a convict history?

Short listener survey (7 questions): Tell Maria what you think of the Genies Down Under podcast

In this episode, we had some excellent stories from our Genies Down Under listeners, including:

  • Story 1 by Gill about George Sherriff
  • Story 2 by Janelle about Esther Spencer (nee Salamon)
  • Story 3 by Andrew about Thomas Baggott
  • Story 4 by Dot about Patrick Mullally
  • Story 5 by Jenni about a convict from England
  • Story 6 by Vic about Henry Patterson
  • Story 7 by Maria about Thomas Riley

Website resources accessed by Andrew in his research:

Website shared with us by Vic:

Next month, we'll have a lot more links and resources that you'll be able to access to do your own convict research.


EPISODE 12 - Extra SHOWNOTES: Interview with Ian Kath, host of Create Your Life Story and Your Story podcasts (September '12)
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In episode 12 - extra, we ask Ian questions such as:

  • What are your two podcasts and what are they about?
  • How would your podcasts be helpful for family historians?
  • What are your best tips for interviewing people you may know?
  • What are some traps to avoid when engaging people in guided conversations?

Here are the links to Ian's podcasts and the link to his new book:


EPISODE 12 SHOWNOTES: Interview stuff for genies: Finding our more about our ancestors (September '12)
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In episode 12, you'll find answers to these questions:

  • Who should I interview for my family history research?
  • What are some effective interview questions?
  • How could I set up a good interview?
  • What can I do if I can't interview people face-to-face?

Some news

Annual State Conference - Look forward to seeing you at this conference if you are able to attend from 14-16 September 2012in Gymea in Sydney. Hosted by Botany Bay Family History

Petition - Click on this petition if you'd like to make Australian Birth Death and Marriage certificates easier to access and less expensive.

Historic Newspapers
Thomas Walker, from Historic Newspapers, explains his company as: "The worlds largest private newspaper archive where you can obtain genuine originals for past dates, such as birthdays. There is also a dedicated research team in place for special requests. The price of the newspapers ranges depending on the title and day of the week as Sunday papers carry a premium. There is a £5 off offer running for the rest of this month which means that genuine originals can be obtained dating as far back as 1900 from as little as £29.99 and any 3 items means free shipping."

Music of Michael Stewart, the Geneaology Widower. Some of the music in this podcast has been composed and recorded by Michael Stewart. Three of his songs have a special genealogical flavour. Michael Stewart has composed and recorded three songs about genealogy:

  1. The Genealogy Widower
  2. 10 More Minutes
  3. Who Do you Think You Are?


On our September podcast, you'll hear some tips about interviewing stuff for genies, including:


On our September podcast, you'll hear about some interviewing tools for genies, including:

  • Tool no. 1: Ian Kath's podcasts including Create Your Life Story, helping you record a lifetime of stories, and Your Story, sharing the stories of others with the world. Don't miss out on Ian's new book, Prompts and Topics for your Life Story
  • Tool no. 2: Dear photograph. A great way to blend the past with the present in one photograph using an old photograph and your hand-held camera.
  • Tool no. 3: Audio recorder. Consider using the free, downloadable software, Audacity.


On our September podcast, you'll hear about some interviewing tricks for genies, including:

  • Trick no. 1: A non face-to-face interview - use Skype, email, phone, letters
  • Trick no. 2: Use props such as photos, jewellery, quotes from other relatives, books, photo albums, video clip, songs, perfume bottle, iPad, mobile phone, digital photo frame
  • Trick no. 3: Watch other people's interviews such as the Teapot Genealogy Ladies interviews on Youtube.


On our September podcast, you'll hear about some interviewing traps to avoid for genies, including:

  • Trap no. 1: What not to do in an interview: Never be late. Never, never cancel. Never go way over time. Never ask for permission after you have turned on the recording device. Never push if someone doesn't want to talk about something. They may come back to it but they probably won't come back to it if you are too pushy. Leave it open. Don't take photos away
  • Trap no. 2: Don't get too caught up in the "fact or fiction" debate. Memories are memories – not historical textbooks. Record the story being told to you.
  • Trap no. 3: What not to ask. Tricky topics include: illegitimacy, adoption, abortion, alcoholism, divorce, bankruptcy, violence, crime, convicts, murder. Keep questions open – they will tell you want they want to tell you and they won't tell you what they don't want you to know.
  • Trap no. 4: Golden Rule of Genealogy (from AFTC magazine)
    Rule no. 10: SHARE your information and documentation - copies only - with others researching similar lines


The September 2012 podcast episode is dedicated to one of Maria's great-grandmothers, Margaret RILEY (who became Margaret NORTHCOTE) 1843-1927. She was the person I'd most like to interview if I could go back in time.

Margaret Riley

I'd ask her questions like:

  • What was your father, the convict, like?
  • How did your mother put up with him?
  • What was it like to be the eldest of 12 children?
  • Whatever happened to that first husband of yours that you met and married when you were a domestic servant at Wellwood, just outside of Orange?
  • Speaking of husbands, how did that second husband of yours die and how did you get his body back home for burial?
  • What was your third husband like?
  • Did he give you any hints of the big family secret that he promised to reveal?
  • How did you support your 9 sons after your third husband died in 1888?
  • What do you think of your devoted sons' memorials to you in the paper year after year?

Here are a few blog posts about Margaret Ann RILEY:


EPISODE 11 SHOWNOTES: Occupation stuff for genies: Working with our ancestors (August '12)
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In episode 11, you'll find answers to these questions:

  • How can I use information about my ancestors' occupations in my family history research?
  • How can I modify my thinking about occupations in my family history research?
  • Are there any connections between my ancestors' occupations and my current family's occupations?
  • How can I find information about my ancestors' occupations?


On our August podcast, you'll hear some tips about occupation stuff for genies, including:

  • Tip no. 1: Ways of thinking about our ancestors' occupations (consider whether or not they worked for themselves or for someone else, what training and/or qualifications they received, whether or not they could find work, how you can find information about your specific ancestors' occupation, how you can find out information about their occupation - in general, what types of records to look into to find information about your ancestors' occupation)
  • Tip no. 2: Sources of occupation information (consider looking in all these sources of information: telephone directories, post office directories, almanacs, census records, electoral rolls, BDM - certificates, newspapers, advertisements, military records, divorce and bankruptcy records, gravestones, classifieds in newspapers - deaths, funerals, memorials, obituaries)
  • Tip no. 3: Family History Societies (join a family history association to gain assistance with finding information about your ancestors' occupations). Follow the Australian Family Tree Connections magazine's Golden Rule no. 9:
    DO join at least one Family History Group, Genealogical Society or Historical Society. See their full list of Golden Rules.


  • Tool no. 1: Online tools and resources. Here are a few online tools and resources that you could use to help you with tracking down information about your ancestors' occupations:

    The Society of Australian Genealogists' information about the Basics on Occupations

    Various podcasts about occupations, such as:
    - Artisan Ancestors by Jon Kay
    - Genealogy Guys. Check our their special episode about ancestors occupations: The Genealogy Guys Podcast - 10 September 2006. George and Drew discuss how to find out about our ancestors' occupations.
    - Digging up your roots podcast (BBC). See especially Episode 3. Episode 3 of 8, Series 6 in which the Bill Whiteford looks at occupations. Resident genealogist Professor Bruce Durie and Secretary for the Scottish Local History Forum Dr Eric Graham reveal what records can reveal about the working lives of our ancestors.

    These websites are particularly helpful:
    - Occupation names including some of my favourites: Feather Wife Woman who cleaned feathers for sale, Lamp Exhauster who removed the air from the glass envelope of electric light bulbs, Seeker of the Dead During the Plague - old women who were employed to diagnose the Plague from the buboes and count the dead to enable the compilation of Bills of Mortality, for which they were paid from 3 to 4 pence per corpse. Risky job!
    - Cora Web's page on Occupations in Australia with an especially helpful an alphabetical index to Colonial Occupations
    - Glossary of old occupations and trades:
    - Obscure Old English Census Occupations
    - Family tree occupations including mining, agricultural workers, cloth industries and publicans
    - History of apprenticeships in Australia (2001) including an overview of the Australian apprenticeship and traineeship system
    - Follow-up paper to the 2001 paper, above: Evolution of apprenticeships and traineeships in Australia: An unfinished history

  • Tool no. 2: Archives. Your state or territory and your national archives can present a treasure trove of information about your ancestors' occupations. Here are a few examples to give you an idea of what can be revealed in our Australian archive collections:

    National Archives which also includes an A-Z for researchers including links to archives about the Air Force, Navy, Army, Electoral rolls, Immigration, Passenger records, Prisoner of war records.
    The National Archives also provide a huge selection of Fact Sheets, including the following examples:
    Cockatoo Island Dockyard – Fact sheet 140
    RAAF service records – Fact sheet 32
    Commonwealth Reconstruction Training Scheme applicants and trainees – Fact sheet 179
    World War II Army pay files held in Adelaide – Fact sheet 132

    NSW State Archives including "good news" records relating to:
    Census, Chemists, Druggists and Pharmacists, 1876-1920, Doctors - Australian Medical Pioneers Index (AMPI), Firms - Registers of Firms, 1903-22, Immigration, Insolvency records - 1842-87, Land records, Mines - Register of auriferous (gold) leases - 1874-1928, Police Service Registers - Covers police appointments from 1852 to 1913, Publicans' Licences - 1830-61, Railway Employees - Nominal Roll of the First Railway Section (AIF) - 1917-20, Squatters and Graziers -1833-49, Teachers' rolls - 1869-1908, Railway Employment Records, NSW Government Railways and Tramways Roll of Honour - 1914-19
    ... and the "not-so-good news records relating to:
    Bankruptcy, Convicts, Courts, Deceased Estates, Divorce (anecdote of divorce papers I came across), Gaols - Gaol Photographs, c. 1870-1930, Intestate Estate Case Papers - The index currently covers the years 1823-1896, Probate packets

    The NSW State Archives also offers a Good guide about occupations: Short Guide 10 - Professions and occupations, including an alphabetical list of occupations from Accountants through to Watermen.

  • Tool no. 3: Books about occupations. Here are a few that may prove to be useful for your search for information about your ancestors' occupations:
    - Female Occupations: Women's Employment from 1840-1950 by Margaret Ward (Nov 17, 2008)
    - The Worst Children's Jobs in History by Tony Robinson (2005)
    - The Worst Jobs in History by Tony Robinson
    - The French Worker: Autobiographies from the Early Industrial Era by Mark Traugott (Mar 25, 1993)
    - A Dictionary of Old Trades, Titles and Occupations by Colin Waters
    - Dictionary of Old Occupations" by Jane Hewitt
    - Genealogical Society of Victoria Online Shop has plenty of books about occupations including titles such as "Bakers and Bakeries", "Charcoal and Charcoal Burning", "Chimneys and Chimney Sweeps", "Coachbuilding the Hand Crafted Car Body"
    - Books from the Society of Genealogists (UK), including titles such as: My Ancestor was an Agricultural Labourer - £7.50, My Ancestor was an Anglican Clergyman - £6.50, My Ancestor Was a Coalminer - £8.50, My Ancestor was a Lawyer - £10.50, My Ancestors were Manorial Tenants - £5.95, My Ancestor was a Merchant Seaman - £8.50, My ancestor was a Policeman - £5.50, My Ancestors were Thames Watermen - £5.95, My Ancestor worked in the Theatre - £5.95

  • Tool no. 4: Tools of the trade. Keep an eye out for information about the tools of your ancestors' trades and occupations in newspapers, books about occupations and even ebay. Note that some of this information can be found in general history books that may not be particularly related to family history publications or items.


  • Trick no. 1: Magazines and Journals. There are often articles and series of articles published in the following magazines and journals about occupations from the past:
    - Australian Family Tree Connections magazine
    - Inside History magazine
    - DESCENT, the journal of the Society of Australian Genealogists. For example, see the article titled, Was your ancestor in business?" on pages 142-144 of the DESCENT publication in Sept 2011.

  • Trick no. 2: Then and now. Make a list of your ancestors' occupations and compare them with your current family members' occupations. Are there links, similarities, trends, patterns?

  • Trick no. 3: Quotes. Spice up your family history writing with quotes from classic Aussie books or from other well known authors such as:
    - My Brilliant Career by Miles Franklin
    - The Harp in the South by Ruth Park
    - My Brother Jack by George Johnston
    - All the Rivers Run by Nancy Cato
    - A fortunate life by Albert Facey
    - Kings in Grass Castles by Mary Durack

    And if you can't find any suitable quotes from the books above, why not try browsing through sites such as BrainyQuote or ThinkExist where I found some of these quotes about jobs, occupations and work:

    "Agriculture for an honorable and highminded man, is the best of all occupations or arts by which men procure the means of living" Xenophon quotes (Greek historian, author of the Anabasis, BC 431-350)

    "Acting is a masochistic form of exhibitionism. It is not quite the occupation of an adult." By Laurence Olivier
    "Friendship is a pretty full-time occupation if you really are friendly with somebody. You can't have too many friends because then you're just not really friends." By Truman Capote

    "There are worse occupations in this world than feeling a woman's pulse" Laurence Sterne quotes (Irish born English Writer, 1713-1768)

    "I trust the time is coming, when the occupation of an instructor to children will be deemed the most honorable of human employment." Angelina Grimke

    "If you make listening and observation your occupation you will gain much more than you can by talk." Robert Baden-Powell

    "It is neither wealth nor splendor; but tranquility and occupation which give you happiness." Thomas Jefferson

    "The best way to appreciate your job is to imagine yourself without one." Oscar Wilde quotes (Irish Poet, Novelist, Dramatist and Critic, 1854-1900)

Podcast dedication

Our August podcast has been dedicated to John Joseph WALTERS, one of Maria's great-grandfathers who was a tailor by trade. Find out more about him on this blogpost: What were they really like?



EPISODE 10 SHOWNOTES: Coincidence stuff for genies: Tales of genealogy flukes (July '12)
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In episode 10, you'll find answers to these questions:

  • What are some coincidences that have happened to other family history researchers?
  • What can I do to increase the chance of coincidences happening in my own family history research?

There aren't that many links for this month's website - but there are plenty of stories about coincidences when you listen to the podcast. However, if you'd like to read more stories of genealogical coincidence ...

Here are a few stories of coincidence that you can read about, in addition to our podcast episode number 10:

Visit to a nursing home pays off by Jody Dean

Coincidence or Family Tree Serendipity?

Couple find 1858 tombstone in yard

Laughing their celestial socks off!

Another great Aussie genie site to check out


EPISODE 9 SHOWNOTES: Context stuff for genies: Getting to know your ancestors (June '12)
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In episode 9, you'll find answers to these questions:

  • What do we mean by the "context of family history research"?
  • How can I fill out some of the context of my own family history research?
  • How can I find out a bit more about my ancestors' everyday lives?

A few more Aussie genie sites to check out

Janelle Collins' new blog - Janelle's Family Tree Addition

Fiona's Dance Skeleton's blog: Tracing our family history to Australia, one skeleton at a time

Caroline Pointer's website: Blogging Genealogy

Maria's Genies Down Under blog: A-Z series of tips for Aussie Genies:

Jill Ball's blog post about how to access the British Newspaper Archives

What is the difference between family history and genealogy

To work out the difference between family history and genealogy, read Martin Flint's article:

Is there any difference between 'genealogy' and 'family history'?

Context idea 1: Hit the road and walk in their shoes

This is one of the best ideas I have for getting to know some context of our ancestors' lives - walk in their shoes, their footsteps, down the streets, into churches, shops, sit near rivers, walk through farmgates, talk to locals who may have written books about earlier times.

Here are a few blog posts to give you some examples of how I walked in my ancestors footsteps

Kay from Oklahoma has another good set of points about how to walk in our ancestors' shoes.

Context idea 2: Read those mags

Reading family history magazines is an easy way to find out about the context of your ancestors lives.

Check out my two favourite magazines:

Context idea 3: Why oh why?

Ask ourselves the "why?" question about our ancestors' lives:

  • Why did they come to Australia?
  • Why did they commit those crimes?
  • Why did they have so many children?
  • Why did they choose to dig for gold?
  • Why did they all work as gamekeepers?
  • Why did they go bankrupt

Context idea 4: Tic, toc, tic toc - timelines

Create timelines for your favourite ancestors' lives, track groups of your ancestors, work out where your families were living at similar times in their lives.

Read Leslie Albrecht Huber's Quick Guide: Timeline Generators (2011)

Context idea 5:Myths and legends

Don't forget to record the twisted or stretched tales of woe and joy from your family's oral history. You never know, you may find out some info one day that helps you to extract that truthful kernel from these family myths and legends.

Record the story, note who told the story and make a list of questions about the story that you have.

Context idea 6: Pics, pics, pics

There's nothing like a few pictures, diagrams, maps, photographs to bring your family history documents to life.

For a few more ideas on using pictures to add context to your family history, check out:

Context idea 7: Handwriting

For ideas on how Fiona uses handwriting on her Dance Skeletons blog, see her post: Apps, writing and what we leave behind

Context idea 8: Dig, dig, dig up info about dead ancestors

Think wide and deep when considering what types of records can be found about your ancestors' deaths: grave inscriptions, cemetery records, death notices in newspapers, funeral notices in newspapers, memorial notices in newspapers, photos of gravestons, cemetery plot information, church records, undertaker details, newspaper reports about accidental or suspicious deaths, inquests, court records, obituaries, war grave memorials, prayer cards from funerals.

Don't forget to check out the Billion Graves and Australian Cemeteries websites.

Context idea 9: Neighbours

Don't ignore your ancestors' neighbours in your search for contextual family history information. Check out the census records to find out who was living nearby, next door, across the road, down the street, around the corner. Find out what occupations the neighbours had.

See a link to an advertisement about one of Maria's ancestor's neigbours, Mrs Ettie Kocass of 12 Red Lion St Rozelle who found the wonders of Dr Morse's Indian Root pills which solved all of her billeous headache problems.

Context idea 10: Hit the history books

Books about Australian history and local history about the places where our ancestors lived can provide masses of information about the context of our ancestors' lives. If hitting the history books doesn't always sound that appealing to you, check out some of the Aussie blogs below. The writers of these blogs have done the hard work for us:

Frances' Rebel Hand blog. Here are some of my favourite Rebel Hand posts (plenty of context here):

Margie's blog, Australian History for Genealogists has loads of contextual information for Aussie genies. Here are some of my favourites from her blog:

Podcast dedication: William Walter NORTHCOTE

One of my great-grandfathers who was also known as Walter William, Walter Stafford, George Bede, John and Henry. Read about him in these blogposts:


EPISODE 8 SHOWNOTES: Blogging stuff for genies: Getting online with your ancestors (May '12)
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In episode 8, you'll find answers to these questions:

  • What is a blog?
  • How can I create a blog?
  • How can I use blogs to share my family history research?
  • How can I access other people's blogs to build up my own family history research?

Who do you think you are ?(Australia version)

I'm a huge fan of this series, whether it's showing in Australia, the UK or the US - I love 'em all! Check out Kerry O'Brien's Who Do You Think You Are? Episode, Vince Colosimo's Who Do You Think You Are? Episode or John Wood's Who Do You Think You Are? Episode

If you'd like to hear a story about Kerry O'Brien's interest in wearing white gloves, check out the Director's interview.

What is a blog?

Definition of a blog at

A couple of YouTubevideos that will explain the concept

Types of blogs

There are many, many types of blogs that you can create and read. Whatever type of blog you create, always have a clear purpose and communicate this to your readers. Here are a few ideas of the different types of blogs you can create:

  • Tell a story about your family history research
  • Share your research processes and findings
  • Provide information (end of the research process) about part of your family history
  • Create a blog for each of the main surnames in your family
  • Share an ancestor's diary - on a day-by-day basis
  • Record the transcript of an interview. For example, see Amanda's blog where she interviewed Maria
  • Record a memory – for example, a memory about being given a dragster for Christmas
  • Blog for society's newsletter
  • Record of your touring around and visiting family history places
  • Just something inspirational – such as a cemetery with a rainbow south of Hobart (Jackson's Point)
  • Collect and share info that isn't about your family – just to help others. See Jill Ball's blog about photographing grave info for others

Examples of blogs and websites

To find more genealogy blogs, click on the "GenealogyBlog Listing" link or the "Blogs by type" link on the home page of Geneabloggers or check out Genealogy blog finder

Tips for writing blogs and blogposts

Nine nifty tips from Maria:

  1. Just start – you get better with practice
  2. Include the purpose of your blog somewhere in the header
  3. Unless you have a particular reason for creating a long blog post, try to write short, informative, entertaining
  4. Don't just use text – photos, dot points, lists, tables, videos, links
  5. Read other people's blogs
  6. Acknowledge the source of your info
  7. Share your blog with others. Creating blogs will create more success in your family history – your blog entries will show up on other people's searches in Google but there are some tthings you can do to get your message out there yourself: – Twitter, Email, Facebook, Geneabloggers, etc. Click on the "Suggest a blog" on their site to get your site listed to their site. And, let me know your URL and I'll add it to the GDU site as well.
  8. Create more than one blog. Blogger for example will let you have multiple blogs and you can manage them all from the same site (the blogger dashboard)
  9. Let your personality, your sense of humour and your quirky ideas shine through

There are plenty of others tips on the internet, including:

How to create a blog?

There are a number of tools to use:

Blogger : Take a quick tour of Blogger or watch a video tutorial

Steps to create a blog using Blogger:

  1. Create a Google account or sign in, if you already have one
  2. Name your blog (gives you a URL)
  3. Choose a template (gives you a look and feel)


Live Journal


Ideas of blog series

Diary records, for example Joan's Jottings

Sepia Saturday: (Leslie Ann) at her Ancestors Live Here blog

Forebear Friday at Ancestor Soup

Dr. Bill Tells Ancestor Stories

MYOG - Mine, Yours', and the Other Guy's Genealogy


EPISODE 7 SHOWNOTES: Place-based stuff for genies: Tracking down your ancestors (April '12)
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In episode 7, you'll find answers to these questions:

  • What free resources can I use to find out more about my ancestors' places, where they lived, were born, married, etc.?
  • How can I use information that I find out about places in my own family history research?
  • How can I use maps to make my family history come to life?
  • If I can't get to these places, what other things can I do instead?

A few more ideas about graphics stuff for genies (from our March 2012 podcast)

Maureen Taylor's site, the "photo detective":

Tips for finding out about place-based research information

TROVE (digital archive of Australia's newspapers):
TROVE is great for finding information about addresses of your ancestors, and information about the places where they lived and died.

Here's a link to a story Maria wrote about what she found out about some of her "honest" ancestors by searching on TROVE. The story is called, What were they really like?

SMH 1932

British Newspaper Archive:

Don't forget to inquire about access to the British Newspaper Archives via your local State or Territory library.

Tools to use in your place-based family history research

Newspaper Map: (this resource is extensive, especially handy for place-based research, locates newspapers for places all over the world)

Antique Print Room: (specialist dealers in C15th – C20th antique maps and antique prints of the World, Australia, Pacific, Asia, America, Africa, England and Europe, situated in the Queen Victoria Building in central Sydney, contact them to inquire about prices)

Geograph UK: (this project aims to collect photographs and information for every square kilometre of Great Britain and Ireland, genies like us are encouraged to contribute)

History pin: (this site aims to collect the old photos stashed in old shoeboxes and stories from wise heads, allows us to compare then and now, links to street view in Google Maps, allows you to pin photos with information about key places in the world)
Check out the 90 second introduction to History Pin at:

Google Earth:

Tutorials about Google Earth:

Tricks for your place-based family history research

Australian Genealogy Journeys (Tips about researching the interiors of churches):

Traps about place-based family history research

Be aware of changing borders in th eplaces that your ancestors lived. Here are some helpful sites:

Australian Government - State and Territory Borders:

States and territories of Australia (Wikipedia):

Mabo - the Native Title Revolution:

Free maps of Ireland:

Old maps online:


EPISODE 6 SHOWNOTES: Graphics stuff for genies - Using images in your family history research (March '12)
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In episode 6, you'll find answers to these questions:

  • What types of graphics can we use in our family history research?
  • Where can I get my hands on some graphics or my family history research?
  • What tools can I use to create my own graphics?
  • How can I use these graphics to record my family history?

Twitter and Facebook

Genies Down Under is now on Twitter and Facebook. Check us out:

Mystery woman

Do you know this woman? Her surname may be Carrick, Kingsbury, Staples or McLister. This photo was taken at Tasma Studio in Newtown, Sydney in the late 1890s or early 1900s. If you recognise her, please email me at

Mystery woman

Other terms for graphics?

Keep these terms in mind when analysing, finding and creating graphics in your family history: drawings, illustrations, photos, maps, engravings, slideshows, movies (moving graphics), collages, flowcharts and diagrams (classic – is the family tree), graphs, pie charts, houseplans, suburb plans, brand symbols on products, paintings, sketches, murals, graphic-style text fonts, icons

Places to find graphics

Mocavo: family history search engine

Google images: graphics found using the Google search engine

National Archives of Australia, including a Record Search Forum

State Records of NSW, includes a special photographic search function, which includes a few photographs of Maria's ancestors:

Queensland State Archives

State Records Office of Western Australia

Graphics of all types from Morguefile

TROVE: Including access to more than 6 million pages from Australian newspapers from as early as 1803 (including many, many photographs)

Creating objects using graphics

Try creating a book online at Lulu or Big W

Ideas from Lisa Louise Cooke

Graphic creation tools

Photostory3: Software to download and use to create slideshows on your computer

Adoramapix: Online site that allows you to upload photos and create online slideshows

Shape Collage: Allows you to create collages of photographs and other graphics in less than a few minutes. See an example of a a collage made using Shape Collage at Maria's family history blog, Wishful Linking.

Wordle: a word cloud creation tool

Banner making tool: from the University of Melbourne

BeFunky: online photo editing tool

Other ideas for using graphics in your family history reseach

Dear Photograph: compares old and new photos of the same place

Add photosgraphs to your family tree. Here are a few examples: Generation Project Blog, Descendants of Rufus Elmo Halls, Scottish Houses of Bruce & Stewart Family Tree


EPISODE 5 SHOWNOTES: Newspaper stuff for genies - Read all about your ancestors (Feb '12)
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In episode 5, you'll find answers to these questions:

  • What newspapers are available for me to access here in Australia?
  • What newspapers are available for me to access overseas?
  • How can I use newspapers to add some of the interesting foliage on the bare family tree branches?
  • How can I search newspapers for information about my family?

Background information about newspapers

History of Newspapers in Australia from the National Archives – tell us that "Australia's earliest newspaper, the Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser, was first printed in 1803."

Press timeline: Select chronology of significant Australian press events to 2008.

Online book (36 pages), called "Two hundred years of Sydney newspapers: A SHORT HISTORY by Victor Isaacs and Rod Kirkpatrick"


When citing newspapers as sources in your research, remember to acknowledge where the source of the newspaper, and collect information like:

  • Header of the newspaper
  • Section
  • Page
  • Edition
  • Day and date
  • Town
  • Note articles on or near the article you are focusing on

Tools - Where to find Australian and UK newspapers

TROVE: Including access to more than 6 million pages from Australian newspapers from as early as 1803.

Explanation of TROVE on ABC news (2 minutes)

ABC news (2 mins) explanation of TROVE in 2010 when TROVE was released. It is described as Australia's National Library's new search engine: "Rose Holley talks about Trove in the Australian News. April 2010".

Ryerson Index: "The Ryerson Index is an index to death notices appearing in current Australian newspapers. It also includes some funeral notices, probate notices and obituaries." The last time I looked, this website boasted access to 199 Newspapers and 3,312,136 entries.

British Newspaper Archive. Archive of over 3 million historical newspapers across the UK and Ireland. About 8000 pages are added daily to this site. See the price guide for accessing full newspaper articles from the British Newspaper Archive. Watch a short video about a tour of the Newspaper Library in which the speaker says: "The stories that you'll find in here are going to be beyond your imagination".

Tools - Where to find other overseas newspapers

Ireland Old News: Organised by counties.

Fairfax Newspapers: News until 1990. Free index.

Infokoori: in Australian Indigenous Index to the Koori Mail, a national newspaper published in Lismore, NSW. Focuses on the Indigenous people of Australia (May 1991-present).

New Zealand Papers Past: This site is described as: "Papers Past contains more than two million pages of digitised New Zealand newspapers and periodicals. The collection covers the years 1839 to 1945 and includes 68 publications from all regions of New Zealand."

Chronicling America (Historic American Newspapers) from the Library of Congress site

Newspaper Map: Shows you which newspapers were published in various locations around the world.


Optical Character Recognition (OCR): Information about this process can be found on the TROVE website.


EPISODE 4 SHOWNOTES: Planning stuff for genies - Getting ready for family history research in 2012 (Jan '12)

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In episode 4, you'll find answers to these questions:

  • How can I organise my files and databases?
  • How can I make my research a bit more manageable, especially if I only have short bursts of time?
  • What goals should I make for my family history research?
  • How can I involve living relatives in my family history research this year?

For 2012, plan to attend to:

  1. New stuff: Find out some new stuff
  2. Old stuff: Organise some old stuff
  3. Write and share stuff: Write some stories
  4. Request stuff: Ask others to write some stories
  5. Learn stuff: Learn some skills
  6. Equipment stuff: Revise, update or add to your equipment

Tools for keeping on track:

  • Calendar: Use an online calendar (e.g., the calendar within gmail) to send reminders to yourself about keeping on track with your research goals for 2012. For example, send yourself a reminder on the 15th day of each month. Try the online Google Calendar.
  • Website or blog: Create a blog (e.g., or a website (e.g., to record stories about your family history research or to record the life of individual ancestors. See an example of a website about Maria's great uncle, Carew Northcote, the publican.
  • Communication log: Keep a record of who you contact about your family history research (emails, letters, certificate ordering, etc.). See a blank template for the Communication Log that Maria uses. Suggested categories: family surname; date sent; sent to (contact); iInfo requested (inc. name); date received; follow-up required.
  • Letters to relatives: Consider sending a letter or email to relatives, requesting information about the family (with specific questions). Remember to include a gift for them as well (e.g., a story about a relative, a portion of the family tree, etc.). Here's a sample letter that Maria uses - feel free to use this and modify it to suit your own purposes.

Suggestions for backing up files in the "cloud":

Drop box


Golden rules of genealogy

10 Golden Rules of Genealogy from the helpful genies at the Australian Family Tree Connections magazine. In this episode, we focus on
Rule no. 4: ALWAYS check surname variations when researching.

Surname suggestion list: Free computer program that is intended to assist you in searching the web for information on your surnames and their variants.

Online names: Online names is a searchable database compiled from public submissions.

Janet Reakes

Find out more about Janet

Find out about the Janet Reakes Memorial Award for writing stories about your ancestors.

EPISODE 3 SHOWNOTES: Heirloom stuff for genies - Old things around the house (Dec '11)
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In episode 3, you'll find answers to these questions:

  • What is an heirloom?
  • How can I get my hands on family heirlooms?
  • How can I record information about my family's heirlooms?
  • How can I help to preserve the family's heirlooms?

Blog to check out

Check out Kylie Willison's blog with loads of photos and stories about Aussie ancestors.

Read what Kylie has to say about the Genies Down Under podcast.

Extra cemetery links

Check out the additonal links to Aussie cemetery information for Western Australia, Victoria, Queensland and Tasmania, and the UK, the US:

Metropolitan Cemeteries Board, Western Australia (WA): The Metropolitan Cemeteries Board for the Perth Metropolitan area covers the Guildford, Karrakatta, Midland, Pinnaroo, Fremantle, and Rockingham cemeteries. While photos are not available on the site, it is very comprehensive for tracing records of those interned there. This site provides name searches of deceased persons' names.

Oz Burials in Western Australia (WA): Useful for Western Australian Country areas. The site also covers other states of Australia and may be helpful when you cannot locate someone in the Australian Cemeteries Index

[Thanks to Graham Wilkie for contributing the WA sites.]

Deceased search (Victoria): Especially helpful for ancestors buried in Victoria. You can search by surname, given name, date of death, date of birth and locaton.

Genealogical Photography (Tasmania): A semi-commercial site for Tasmania, Genealogical Photography – Tasmania. This site is described as ""We are aiming to make this site a useful resource for people researching their Family History or otherwise engaged in Genealogy in Tasmania."

Millington's Funeral Services (Tasmania): This site for a funeral director in Hobart is very helpful and can supply maps and other information. Also provides a name search service online. This link searches the four Cemeteries operated by Millingtons – Cornelian Bay, Kingston Regional, East Risdon and Cambridge. Pontville Catholic Cemetery will be added to the database in the coming months.

Carr Villa Memorial Park, Launceston (Tasmania): Owned by Launceston City Council, this is Launceston's major cemetery and crematorium.

[Thanks to Vic Malham for contributing the Victorian and Tasmanian sites.]

Deceased Online(UK): is described as "the central database for UK burials and cremations". Holds records from the 1850s onwards. Searching is FREE but if you register with, you can then purchase credits online which will help you to access further information about the records you’ve found.

Resting spot (US): A way of recording digital photographs, GPS coordinates of grave locations and biographical information of people who have died. It's described as: "RestingSpot connects the memories of loved ones who have passed with their final location on earth. A unique combination of mobile and web technologies preserves the legacy of loved ones for generations to come."

Findagrave (US):This website is described as: "Find A Grave is a resource for finding the final resting place of family, friends, and 'famous' individuals. Visitors can leave 'virtual flowers' on the memorials they visit, completing the online cemetery experience."


Thinking about heirlooms - what is an heirloom?

An heirloom is an object that is valuable to you or your family that you think should be passed on to your descendants.The stories about the objects make them meaningful.

Heirlooms can include all sorts of object – photos or photo albums, ornaments, jewellery, kitchen objects, trade objects (e.g., pair of scissors), documents, a journal, a painting, a bible, military medals, trophies, awards, clothing. Here are a few examples:

black coat

1930s-1940s Black coat, made by trained tailor for his wife

metal spoon

Metal spoon, passed down through four generations, from mid-late 1800s

tailor's brush

Tailor's clothes brush from early 1900s



National heirlooms

Read about the Not just Ned: A true history of the Irish in Australia exhibition held at the National Museum in Canberra recently (March – July 2011). The exhibition traced the influence of the Irish in Australia from the First Fleet in 1788 to the present day. The exhibition included items like the Kelly gang armour, the Rajah quilt, sewn by convict women and Cardinal Patrick Moran's magnificent replica of the Cross of Cong brought to Australia in the 1890s.

You can listen to a podcast about this exhibition on the National Museum podcast where the curator, Richard Reid describes his five favourite things in the exhibition (about 47 mins into the podcast).

Information about Ned Kelly

Ned Kelly's World

Australian Government site about Ned Kelly

Ned Kelly on Wikipedia

About heirlooms

Genealogy in 3D: An article about heirlooms on page 54 of the Family Chronicle magazine.

Maria's tips on preserving heirlooms

Here are four tips I'd like to share with you about preserving heirlooms

  1. Location: Keep heirlooms safe from weather, possible thieves andinsects. Keep them dry and cool, out of direct light. Keep them in an environment where the temperature is as stable as possible (not in an upstairs hot attic, not in a damp basement). Store them away from outside walls.
  2. Records: Keep detailed records. Consider how could you attach the story of this heirloom to the object itself.
  3. Repairs: Be wary of repairs. Don't repair in most cases, unless you are completely sure it won't damage the object. Keep away from stickytape, glue, other chemicals. Consult a professional curator or antique repairer but be wary as many repair processes can damage the original item.
  4. Backup and copy: Many of the precious items that you'll be able to pass on to your descendants are on your computer or in files on your bookshelves. Remember to keep backups of your computer files (audio, video, graphics, text documents, scans) and make photocopies and electronic copies of paper based heirlooms. Make sure they're not all in the same place. Remember the question – what would I lose if my house burned down? Share your copies around to trusted relatives and friends.

More tips about preserving heirlooms:

Listen to Lisa Louise Cooke's Family Tree Magazine podcast. This podcast has a regular feature called "Safe Keeping" which includes detailed ideas on how to preserve and conserve family heirlooms.

Artile called Save your treasures the right way by Heritage Preservation.

Article called Preserving Family Treasures & Heirlooms: How to Protect and Save Them for Future Generations by Kimberly Powell. Includes tips about light, where to display or store, what to do if the heirloom is broken.

5-minute podcast by Amanda Pontifex, the Museum Development Officer for North Queensland, about preserving heirlooms in Australian conditions.

Book: Keeping Family Treasures. An illustrated guide by the National Archives of Australia on how to look after precious family heirlooms in the home. Chapters cover how to preserve letters, albums, photographs, diaries and notebooks, scrapbooks, and precious objects and textiles, as well as the preservation of audio and video tapes, home movie film, CDs and DVDs and time capsules.

Book: Tales from the Attic: Practical Advice on Preserving Heirlooms and Collectibles by Colleen Wilson (about $21 with free shipping in Australia):

Recording family heirlooms

Use Maria's Heirloom Checklist Record for Aussie Genies to record key information about your special family heirlooms. Download it in PDF or Word format. Download an example of how an one of these record templates has already been completed.

Additional record forms to download from the Family Tree magazine in the US, including: Artifacts and Heirlooms, Tradition Recording Form, Time Capsules, Oral History Interview Record and an Heirloom Inventory.

7 Tricks for accessing family heirlooms

  1. Ebay alerts (saved searches).
    Instructions on how to create Ebay saved searches, see instructions from Lisa Louise Cooke or tips from the Auction Sniper.
  2. Online antique shops.
    Here are a few antique shops and heirloom sites that will give you hours of browsing pleasure:
    Australian Antique and Art Dealers Association, Antiques Australia, Antiques Plus in Armadale Victoria, Antiques and Collectibles in South Perth, Roy's Antiques in Clifton Hill Victoria, Ancestor Docs in the UK - reuniting families with precious family documents, Just a Joy in the US, Artfact, and Ruby Lane in the US.
  3. Google alerts.
    Check them out at this site. Video tutorial on how to set up Google alerts from the Google Genealogist.
  4. Visit the town.
    Don't forget to check out the local second hand and antique shops, and tell the locals who your ancestors were.
  5. Ask a live person.
    This is especially important if you have older relatives. Ask about whatever happened to that old book, that old watch, etc.
  6. Create heirlooms.
    CEMA - a business that specialises in creating cross-stitched family trees as heirlooms.
  7. Look around the house.
    Don't forget to look under the house and don't overlook everyday items such as kitchen utensils, ornaments and paintings.

For information about other tips on how to access heirlooms, see:

Other places to find tips about heirlooms

Geneabloggers podcast: The 6 August 2011 episode of this podcast was titled: Family Treasures - Heirlooms and Genealogy.

A guide on How to manage family heirlooms. This is especially useful for working out how to distribute heirlooms before and after someone dies. It sounds a bit mercenary but this guide includes some very useful tips.

Top 5 Places to Dig Up Family Treasures by Kimberly Powell. Provides suggestions such as connecting with cousins, checking out antique stores, ebay, visit the family home.

Golden rules of genealogy

10 Golden Rules of Genealogy from the helpful genies at the Australian Family Tree Connections magazine. In this episode, we focus on
Rule no. 3: NEVER completely trust the spelling of surnames, place names etc.

Stories about heirlooms

She wears her ring: Story about a wedding ring heirloom in which a great-grandaughter wears the wedding ring of her Irish great-grandmother

Listen to Lisa Louise Cooke's touching story about a family quilt. Episode 39 of the Genealogy Gems podcast, January 2008 (story starts at about the 27-28 minute).

SBS Heirloom site includes a series of ten stories of men and women from diverse cultures. Beautiful animated stories.

Janet Reakes Memorial Award stories


EPISODE 2 SHOWNOTES: Free stuff for genies - It fell off the back of a truck (Nov '11)
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In episode 2, you'll find answers to these questions:

  • What free stuff can I access online for my family history research?
  • What free stuff can I access that isn't online for my family history research?
  • If I'm a bit short of money, how can I still keep going with my genealogy?

Family Group Sheet

I especially like this family group sheet from the Western Australian Genealogy. Or you can download a family group sheet from

Pedigree Chart

A handy pedigree chart from the Western Australian Genealogy Society (WAGS). Or download an ancestral chart, also known as a pedigree chart, from

Genealogy Relationship Chart

To help work out how you are related to various members of your family, some researchers find it helpful to use a Genealogy Relationship Chart from the Western Australian Genealogy Society (WAGS).

Maria's research checklist

Download this handy Research Checklist for Aussie Genies from Maria in Microsoft Word or PDF format. This checklist gives you a list of suggestions for information and ideas to source when researching your ancestors in Australia.

Magazines to access


Australian Family Tree Connections magazine. Click on the "Free magazine offer" link at the bottom-left of the screen, and you will immediately be able to access, free of charge, six articles from this magazine which have appeared over the last few years. You can download them as PDF files and keep them on your own computer.

If you'd like to take this one step further and get a printed sample copy of this magazine sent to your door, you will have to fork out a $1.20 for a stamp – so I suppose this is not absolutely free. But, if you're willing to send an A4 size stamped, self addressed envelope with a $1.20 stamp attached, to the folk at AFTC will send you a past copy of the magazine.

See a photo of Maria's grandmother, Ellen Maria Keneally, and her brother on the front page of the Australian Family Tree Connections magazine in September 2011.


Inside History Magazine. To access a free issue of this magazine, go to their website and click on "look inside Issue 6". Although this doesn't offer you a printed copy to be sent to your door, it does allow you to basically read almost half of the magazine online. Here are some of the titles of the articles that you'd be able to access online:

  • Bob's your uncle – networking with other descendants on page 11
  • What's on in genealogy – page 19


Family Chronicle. This magazine is published out of Canada. It's described as a "how to" genealogy magazine. The current magazine being offered free of charge is from 2009 but the tips are timeless. Click on free issue link, and click on "Simply click here to begin downloading your FREE issue". You can save it as a PDF.

Here are a few examples of what the magazine includes:

  • 50 timesaving research tips
  • My grandmother's gift and what it taught me
  • A research treasure hunt
  • Genealogy in 3D. (The author of this article, Bill Leslie, offers heaps of tips about how to "round out" your research with heirlooms and artefacts. Be sure to read about the very meaningful but small lump of lead that's been passed down from person to person in one family.)

The mystery Henry NEWTON's death date

So when did Henry NEWTON die? What other mysteries were suggested during the process of solving the riddle of Henry's death date. Read about how the research process of triangulation helped solved this myster. Read more ...

Comparison of certificates costs in Australian states and territories

Go to Cora Nunn's website for a handy comparison of the costs of birth, death and marriage certificates across all Australian States and Territories. This comparison chart was updated in April 2011.

Creative Commons, Copyright and Copyleft


Find out more about the Creative Commons licence in Australia. The Creative Commons motto is "Share, Remix, Reuse — Legally. Creative Commons works to increase sharing, collaboration and innovation worldwide."

Golden rules of genealogy

10 Golden Rules of Genealogy from the helpful genies at the Australian Family Tree Connections magazine.

Warren Fahey's music

Check out Warren Fahey's homepage and general store to peruse and order his very Aussie music at very reasonable prices. Warren has kindly given us permission to feature his excellent music in our podcast. He describes himself as a "folklorist, record producer, author, performer and oral historian" -so you can see he is a real fan of history, research and music.


EPISODE 1 SHOWNOTES: You're a long time dead - Cemetery stuff for genies (Oct '11)
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This podcast should answer some of these questions for you:

  • How can I find my dead ancestors without taking too much time and without wasting money?
  • What should I take on a cemetery visit? What can I do before the cemetery visit to make my visit more enjoyable and successful?
  • How can I find that hard-to-find cemetery?
  • How can I use tools that I have at home for my genealogical research?
  • How can I avoid genealogical time-wasting traps?

Finding cemeteries

Australian Cemeteries Index: This online index contains information about headstones from almost 900 cemeteries in Australia.

Result of search on the Australian Cemeteries Index for "Northcote":

Northcote search
Photo of headstone of Carew Northcote's grave at Gulgong Cemetery:

carew northcote headstone

Australian Cemetery Geolocations: This website helps you to find a cemetery's exact location in Australia – and it also gives you a link to an interactive map to show you exactly where the cemetery is.

Result of search for cemeteries in Gulgong:

geolocations gulgong

Rookwood cemetery, Sydney

Rookwood Cemetery: Known as the largest cemetery in the southern hemisphere, located in Sydney.

Grave of Ellen Fleming (nee Torpy), 1904, Rookwood Cemetery, and surrounding graves:

ellen fleming gravestone ellen fleming grave rookwood flowers

Teapot Genies visit Rookwood Cemetery (see two videos below):


Advice for cemetery visits

Advice for your cemetery visits: See Kimberly Powell's article called Tiptoeing Through the Graveyard includes some very handy tips on what to take on your visit to the cemetery and Carla Ridenour's Packing for a Genealogical Journey is also helpful.

Golden rules of genealogy

10 Golden Rules of Genealogy from the helpful genies at the Australian Family Tree Connections magazine.

A family history story

Love in the graveyard: A story about how a couple's courtship began in a graveyard in the 1920s. From Maria Northcote's Wishful Linking Family History blog.

Warren Fahey's music

Check out Warren Fahey's homepage and general store to peruse and order his very Aussie music at very reasonable prices. Warren has kindly given us permission to feature his excellent music in our podcast. He describes himself as a "folklorist, record producer, author, performer and oral historian" -so you can see he is a real fan of history, research and music.



©2011-2014 Genies Down Under