Ancestry.com.au Blog » Tips and Hints http://blogs.ancestry.com/au Where family history comes alive Tue, 30 Jun 2015 05:44:36 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.5.2 Fractured Families: Life on the Margins in Colonial New South Wales by Tanya Evanshttp://blogs.ancestry.com/au/2015/06/30/fractured-families-by-tanya-evans/ http://blogs.ancestry.com/au/2015/06/30/fractured-families-by-tanya-evans/#comments Tue, 30 Jun 2015 00:03:07 +0000 Ancestry.com.au http://blogs.ancestry.com/au/?p=2610 Guest blog by historian Tanya Evans Family historians accept that their research is a journey, often enjoyed over the course of many years, sometimes across a lifetime. My book Fractured Families: Life on the Margins in Colonial New South Wales explores why the life stories of some men and women in the past come to… Read more

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Guest blog by historian Tanya Evans

Family historians accept that their research is a journey, often enjoyed over the course of many years, sometimes across a lifetime.

My book Fractured Families: Life on the Margins in Colonial New South Wales explores why the life stories of some men and women in the past come to our attention, while others do not. It is a work of public history, targeted at family historians, which both celebrates the work of genealogists researching their poor ancestors and argues that academic historians and family historians should consider collaborating more. The book uncovers the life stories of men and women who lived on the margins and asks how, why and in what ways these individuals are remembered in Australia today. Their lives are refracted through a history of The Benevolent Society, Australia’s oldest surviving charity, established in 1813.

It seemed important to me that the major client group of the The Benevolent Society since its establishment – lone mothers and their children – some of the most-disadvantaged members of Australian society since settlement, should contribute, in some way, to the Society’s history. My research was driven by a desire to bring together the work of family historians, recovering the histories of their poor ancestors, with academic research on the history of the organization and the wider historical context of this particular nineteenth-century charity.

The research started with a ‘crowdsourcing’ project using local and national media, seeking expressions of interest from family historians to become involved. Many Australian family historians will know that the Benevolent Society requires written permission to access their archives at the Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales, and Mitchell Library staff had told me that the largest numbers of users of The Benevolent Society archive were family historians. It became clear that thousands of descendants of women who gave birth at the Benevolent Asylum during the nineteenth century have searched their family trees to learn more about their ‘illegitimate’ ancestors. Before the 1970s, these ancestors would have been buried and forgotten. I wanted to discover more about the fractured family lives of these people and why their histories were being revealed to us now.

Towards the end of July 2011 the The Benevolent Society sent a letter to those people who had requested permission to access their records at the Mitchell Library, inviting them to contact the Society to share their family histories and to talk about the reasons for their research into the Society’s records. We received a number of family histories in response. I also relied on the extremely generous contribution of genealogists Martyn Killion and Heather Garnsey. Over fifteen years ago they became aware of the exceptional richness of The Benevolent Society records for researchers working on the histories of fractured families in colonial Australia. Killion and Garnsey knew how hard it was for genealogists to discover details about families with absent fathers so they could recreate the family trees of ‘illegitimate’ ancestors. From their own practice as family historians they were also well aware of the value of indexes for facilitating genealogical research. So, over the course of thirteen years, Garnsey and Killion created and made publicly available a database of the admissions and discharge registers and an accumulation of detailed case studies of the Benevolent Asylum from 1857 to 1900. They continue to aid thousands of descendants hoping to learn more about their ancestors who used the services of The Benevolent Society.

Following my discovery of this resource and subsequent conversations with Killion and Garnsey, they offered to circulate my request for family histories to people who had accessed their site. Hundreds of family historians were contacted by this means. The book is the product of our collaborative research.

I hope that the book reveals the potential of historical research to understand our present lives better. Family history has become central to the construction of identity. We use the past in different ways to make sense of ourselves and our nation’s past, but most of us start with our family history, imagined and narrated in a variety of forms. What fascinates me most about family history is that it leaves us with more questions than answers. Family historians accept that their research is a journey, often enjoyed over the course of many years, sometimes across a lifetime. Most acknowledge that they can never know all there is to know about their family. There are too many paths to follow, dead ends and gaps that can never be filled. This is especially the case for those researching the lives of the humble.

Historical research and the acquisition of historical knowledge remain an active process, and one that can never be concluded. I hope that this book is a testament to the fact that the more people who become involved in the endeavour, the richer and more democratic our knowledge will be.

Useful links:
Search the early colonial records on Ancestry. Click here.
Search the Asylum Admissions and Discharges Index, 1857-1900. Click here.
Learn more about Tanya Evans book, Click here.

Fractured Families by Tanya Evans

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National Family History Month 2015http://blogs.ancestry.com/au/2015/06/17/national-family-history-month-2015/ http://blogs.ancestry.com/au/2015/06/17/national-family-history-month-2015/#comments Wed, 17 Jun 2015 02:54:00 +0000 Ancestry.com.au http://blogs.ancestry.com/au/?p=2594 National Family History Month (NFHM) is an initiative of the Australasian Federation of Family History Organisations (AFFHO). NFHM has been an annual event since August 2006 when it was celebrated during the first week of August. Due to its ever increasing popularity, NFHM was increased to the whole month of August from 2013. For individuals… Read more

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National Family History Month (NFHM) is an initiative of the Australasian Federation of Family History Organisations (AFFHO). NFHM has been an annual event since August 2006 when it was celebrated during the first week of August. Due to its ever increasing popularity, NFHM was increased to the whole month of August from 2013.

National Family History Month

For individuals researching their family history, it is a great opportunity to participate in events that may be happening near where they live and in recent years, there has also been a variety of online events too.

For genealogy and family history societies it is a time to promote your society to the hundreds of thousands of people across Australia who are researching their genealogy and family history and to help them understand the social context within which their ancestors lived. Reports from previous years indicate that many societies gain new members during August while participating in NFHM activities.

Why not join in the fun of National Family History Month?

Societies do not need to be a member of AFFHO to participate. Participation can be as simple as calling your August monthly meeting a NFHM meeting, or one of your library open days a NFHM open day and entering the event/s onto the NFHM web calendar. Or you can organise a special event such as a book launch, seminar, beginners session or anything else associated with genealogy and family history. Archives and libraries are also welcome to participate in NFHM and by adding your events to the NFHM web calendar many more people will see your events and help to make your events even more successful. Many archives and libraries are regular hosts of NFHM events in August but it would be wonderful if there were even more.

Individuals can see what is happening near them by visiting the events page for their state and then checking for their postcode, but also check surrounding postcodes because some events may be worth the travel time. Remember too that there are online events that you can do in the comfort of your own homes.

NFHM has some great sponsors and in 2015 our major sponsors are AFFHO and Ancestry and the National Archives of Australia is again the launch sponsor. In addition there are numerous prize sponsors who have donated prizes for both societies and individuals. Ancestry is also a prize sponsor with 10 twelve month subscriptions to World Heritage for individuals to win. Click here to read more about Ancestry subscriptions on offer!

This year there is a special bonus prize for societies who enter their event/s before 30 June 2015. Please see the NFHM Home page for terms and conditions and the Sponsors page for details of all the prizes and sponsors.

Genealogy and family history societies with events in the NFHM web calendar are automatically entered into the prize draw and individuals can enter from 1 August 2015 up until midnight on 27 August 2015. The prize draw will be on 29 August.

Why not Like the NFHM Facebook page and see all the latest news. Let us all join together to make NFHM 2015 the biggest and best NFHM yet!

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Help! Why can’t I find my ancestor’s surname?http://blogs.ancestry.com/au/2015/05/05/help-why-cant-i-find-my-ancestors-surname/ http://blogs.ancestry.com/au/2015/05/05/help-why-cant-i-find-my-ancestors-surname/#comments Tue, 05 May 2015 06:31:19 +0000 Ancestry.com.au http://blogs.ancestry.com/au/?p=2569 Guest blog by historian Carol Baxter; www.carolbaxter.com If you were researching the surname Staff, would it occur to you to look for Huff? At the Australasian Genealogical Congress in March 2015, an attendee mentioned the surname Staff. The expectation seemed to be that there weren’t too many ways in which this surname could be spelt… Read more

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Guest blog by historian Carol Baxter; www.carolbaxter.com

If you were researching the surname Staff, would it occur to you to look for Huff?

At the Australasian Genealogical Congress in March 2015, an attendee mentioned the surname Staff. The expectation seemed to be that there weren’t too many ways in which this surname could be spelt thereby ensuring that it would be easy to find. Nothing could be further from the truth. Let’s begin with some background information about surnames.

We live in a literate, bureaucratic world so we tend to think about surnames as groups of written letters. However, prior to the universal literacy of the late 1800s, a large portion of the population was illiterate. And, to state the obvious, the portion of illiterate people increases the further back we travel in time. That being the case, the ordinary person did not perceive surnames as groups of written letters. In fact, the illiterate in the community had no sense of surnames as letters. This is what writing must have looked like to the average person:

Carol Baxter what writing looked like

To the community in general, surnames were groups of spoken sounds. So, it is critical that family historians rid themselves of the notion that their ancestors’ surnames had fixed spellings (indeed, Shakespeare – who must be considered the epitome of literacy – apparently spelt his own surname in six different ways). By thinking that surnames have a single consistent spelling, we limit our ability to find our ancestors’ entries under different spellings.

Back to Staff. The first point to observe is that it reflects a meaningful word. When a scribe heard a person pronouncing a surname, he attempted to find meaningfulness* in the groups of sounds he heard. He searched his mental lexicon for a word or surname that matched this group of sounds and, in this instance, pulled out the meaningful word staff.

However, the spelling staff is not the most likely phonetic* spelling for this group of sounds. And phonetics is what the scribe drew upon when he didn’t instantly find a word in his mental lexicon. As the most common spelling for the vowel sound in staff is ‘ar’*, the most obvious phonetic spelling for this group of sounds is:

Starf

Would we find this variant if we were searching for Staff? There are four ways in which we locate surnames when we conduct genealogical research. Let’s simplify them to four terms so we can readily assess them in our analysis of this surname’s variants. We:

  1. Eyeball a source: that is, we scan a historical source by eyesight alone;
  2. Use an Index: that is, we search a strict alphabetical index or one that  groups surnames by their first letter;
  3. Use a Wildcard search: that is, we use a search function that allows us to replace letters with a question-mark or asterisk so as to readily find spelling variants; and/or
  4. Use a Soundex search: that is, we use a surname grouping algorithm like Soundex*, which is employed by some online databases to assist in finding surname variants. Soundex is only one of the algorithms used by online databases; however, the purpose here is to communicate the likelihood of a variant coming up in such an online surname search so Soundex provides a simple example.

So, would these strategies find the variant Starf?

  1. Eyeball: Yes, if we had an open mind to the possibility of spelling variations.
  2. Index: Probably not because there are dozens of surnames that fall between Staf.. and Star.. (unless the index is small).
  3. Wildcard: Yes, if we searched for ‘St?f’.
  4. Soundex: No, because Soundex generates a code for the internal letter ‘r’ as do other surname grouping algorithms. Staff is coded S310 while Starf is coded S361. This means that these different spellings are not brought up in the same search.

Back to the phonetic spelling Starf. Surnames that end in consonants often replace a single consonant with a double consonant, a pattern regularly found in single syllable surnames like Staff. Sometimes, they even include a silent ‘e’ at the end of the surname*. This gives us:

Starff and Starffe

Would we find these variants?

  1. Eyeball: Yes, if we are open-minded.
  2. Index: No, for the reasons listed above.
  3. Wildcard: Not if there is an ‘e’ on the end.
  4. Soundex: No, for the reasons listed above.

An important piece of linguistic information that surname hunters need to keep in mind is that most consonants have a sound pair*. This is critical information for surname searchers because the letters in sound pairs are often exchanged. The sound pair of ‘f’ is ‘v’ and an example of such a letter exchange is shown in the spellings Oliver and Oliffa; these are listed for the same person in the Biographical Database of Australia. (By the way, in terms of the surname examples used here and in Help! Why can’t I find my ancestor’s surname?, these were drawn from what could be renamed the Biographical Database of British and Irish Criminals. As criminals reflect a random sample of surnames, such variants—and everything else discussed in the Help! book—are of relevance to anyone tracing surnames from England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales.*)

If we replace ‘f’ with ‘v’, this gives us Stavv or Starv or Starvv or Starvve. These endings are not found in the English language for two reasons: we don’t use a double ‘v’ in English words and, at the end of words and surnames, we follow a single ‘v’ with an ‘e’.* So, if a scribe misheard ‘f’ as ‘v’, or if the speaker had a respiratory infection or an adenoidal condition leading them to articulate ‘f’ as ‘v’, the scribe could have drawn a meaningful word from his mental lexicon as follows:

Starve

Would we find this variant in our search for Staff?

  1. Eyeball: Unlikely, unless we had a linguistics degree or understood sound pairs;
  2. Index: No.
  3. Wildcard: No.
  4. Soundex: No. While Soundex does recognise that ‘f’ and ‘v’ are sound pairs and, accordingly, would bring up Staff and Stave in the same search, the coded ‘r’ means that Staff and Starve generate different Soundex codes.

Not all surname variants reflect meaningful words, of course. But, in the same way that jurors likes to have a motive if they are to convict a criminal, a scribe is more likely to have produced an odd variant if it made sense to him in one way or another. However, it is also important to remember that the type of meaningful error depends on the nature of the historical source we are using.

In Help! Why can’t I find my ancestor’s surname?, I discuss the importance of understanding the difference between an original source and a derivative source from the perspective of the general errors that are produced. In our surname searches, it is essential that we understand the difference between these types of sources from the perspective of the surname ‘errors’ we encounter. If we are dealing with an original source, the surname ‘errors’ mainly centre upon the mis-hearing of sounds. When we are dealing with a derivative source (an index or transcription, etc.), we are also dealing with the mis-reading of letters.

After we have broken down our surnames into letters and sounds (a strategy discussed in Help! Why can’t I find my ancestor’s surname?), we turn to Part 2 of the Help! book to find information about the individual letters in our surname of interest or to Part 3 to find information about the vowel sounds in our surname of interest. Most of us will have already worked out that the vowels in surnames are the most likely letters to experience changes. Sometimes, this involves a vowel sound change* while on other occasions it involves a mis-reading of the letter itself*.

Having separated Staff into its component parts, we go to Part 2 and look at the letter ‘A’. We find that lower-case ‘a’ can be misread as ‘u’. The table below lists some of the  letter substitutions for lower case ‘a’ along with an example of surname variants for the same person that show such a substitution; it also provides the reason for such a substitution. Tables for upper case and lower case letter substitutions are provided for each letter of the alphabet in the Help! book.

When ‘a’ is misinterpreted as ‘u’ (a common mistranscription), it gives us the meaningful word:

Stuff

Would we find a surname written this way?

  1. Eyeball: Almost certainly.
  2. Index: No, because Sta.. and Stu.. are too far apart.
  3. Wildcard: Yes.
  4. Soundex: Yes.

At this point we have moved from looking at changes at the end of a surname to changes in the middle. Importantly, though, letter changes at the start of a surname create the greatest problems for surname searchers. Why?

  1. Eyeball: Because we focus a lot of our attention on the first letter of a surname when we are searching for our surnames of interest, so a surname that has a different first letter will be hard to spot.
  2. Index: Because we will not find a surname listed under a different first letter.
  3. Wildcard: Because we try to use the first letter of a surname as a bookend or, otherwise, the search produces too many surname choices.
  4. Soundex: Because most surname grouping algorithms begin their code with the first letter of the surname.

For the surname Staff, when we look at the table documenting possible capital ‘S’ substitutions (page 201 in Help! Why can’t I find my ancestor’s surname), we notice that ‘St’ is sometimes mis-transcribed as ‘H’. The variants Startup and Hartup are offered as examples (remember, these are real examples found for the same person). If a transcriber misreads ‘St’ as ‘H’ (which can happen when the ‘S’ lacks much of a curve), and if a transcriber also misreads ‘a’ as ‘u’ (because the original clerk did not ‘close’ the top of the ‘a’), the result can be:

Huff

This type of multiple letter mistranscription is often found in the database (I’ll discuss other examples in future newsletters). In this instance, it could easily happen because the result again represents a meaningful word. Would we find this variant in any of the four searches we have been discussing? Probably not.

To take this surname further into the realms of the almost unimaginable: think about the word calf or the surname Metcalf. The word calf rhymes with staff but contains a silent ‘l’*. So, if ‘St’ was mistranscribed as ‘H’, and if the first ‘f’ (because of scrappy writing) was mis-interpreted as silent ‘l’, the surname Staff could also be mis-written as the meaningful word:

Half

Let’s now talk about boundary glides*. Imagine that our friend with the surname Staff had the given name James. When we are asked for our name, we don’t tend to say ‘James ………….. Staff’. We say, ‘JamesStaff’. Accordingly, the transcriber could conclude that the person was saying:

James Tarf

Taaffe is, in fact, a Welsh surname.

There are more suggestions I could offer about potential distortions to this particular surname; however, you are probably feeling daunted at the variety of possibilities. Don’t despair. The purpose of Help! Why can’t I find my ancestor’s surname? is to document the type of distortions that surnames can suffer and to show you how to find them. There is, in fact, a method to the seeming madness of most odd surname variants. Think about dart players attempting to hit a dart-board. If they miss, they usually hit a nearby ring. Surnames are similar. When a scribe ‘mis-heard’ a surname, he usually heard a ‘nearby’ sound*. When a transcriber ‘mis-writes’ a letter, he or she usually opts for something that looks similar*. Most surnames variants are therefore predictable when we have an understanding of the sounds and letters of surnames.

Hopefully, this information will have opened your eyes to the potential of finding odd variants for your ancestors’ surnames.

Interestingly, an attendee at the same genealogical conference mentioned that her ancestor’s surname Fonseca had been listed in one source as Fronseca. I asked if he was a convict who had arrived in New South Wales prior to the year 1828. When she replied that he was, I said that I had mentioned the Fonseca/Fransica example in my Help! book (with an explanation as to why the intrusive ‘r’ can be found and what other intrusive letters can be found). I also told her that I had found the man’s surname listed as Vauzaker. The latter variant was news to her!

Having reading this article, you can probably start working out why this odd variant occurred. It involves two sound pair exchanges (f/v and s/z), two letters that have the same sound (c/k), a mistranscription (n/u), and multiple vowel sounds that have different spellings. Most importantly, it is predictable when the surname analysis strategies in Help! are used.

So, go forth and surname hunt. Using these briefly discussed strategies alone, you will probably be amazed at what you will now be able to find.

More detailed information is included in Carol Baxter’s 310-page publication Help! Why can’t I find my ancestor’s surname? (2015).

You many also find Carol’s Surnames cheat sheet useful – click here to find out more.

Carol Baxter, the History Detective, is a Fellow of the Society of Australian Genealogists, an adjunct lecturer at the University of New England (NSW), and a professional writer and speaker. She has written three genealogical ‘how to’ books: Writing INTERESTING Family Histories (2010), Help! Historical and Genealogical Truth: How do I separate fact from fiction? (2015) and Help! Why can’t I find my ancestor’s surname? (2015). She also writes historical ‘true-crime’ thrillers. Her fifth such publication, Black Widow: the true story of Australia’s first female serial killer, will be published by Allen & Unwin in June 2015.

Carol Baxter Help Why Cant I Find my Ancestors Surname

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Update to Australian Electoral Rolls collection. Over 30 million new records!http://blogs.ancestry.com/au/2015/04/02/update-to-australian-electoral-rolls-collection-search-today/ http://blogs.ancestry.com/au/2015/04/02/update-to-australian-electoral-rolls-collection-search-today/#comments Wed, 01 Apr 2015 22:27:22 +0000 Ancestry.com.au http://blogs.ancestry.com/au/?p=2476 Great news, we’re always trying to improve our collections and we’ve updated the Australian Electoral Rolls, 1903-1980! We’ve added 61,953 new images and 30,953,567 new records, so this collection now has 1,465,956 images and 100,540,723 records! So, what’s in the update? About 70% of the electoral rolls in this collection were previously transcribed. In this… Read more

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Great news, we’re always trying to improve our collections and we’ve updated the Australian Electoral Rolls, 1903-1980! We’ve added 61,953 new images and 30,953,567 new records, so this collection now has 1,465,956 images and 100,540,723 records!

So, what’s in the update?
About 70% of the electoral rolls in this collection were previously transcribed. In this update, we’ve extracted records from OCR data for the remaining 30% of rolls. In addition, we’ve added images and records for select rolls that were previously missing from the collection:

  • Tasmania (all districts for 1958-1980)
  • New South Wales (select districts for 1968, 1972, and 1977)

Electoral rolls began being compiled for some areas of Australia in the 1840s. At that time only property owners were eligible to vote. In most of the colonies all men were granted voting rights by the 1850s. Half a century later, women were granted voting rights as well.

Click on the image to read more. Source: Australian Electoral Commission

Click on the image to read more. Source: Australian Electoral Commission

Non-British subjects were not allowed to vote until the 1940s. In 1962 the right to vote in federal elections was granted to Australian Aboriginal women who, together with Australian Aboriginal men, had been specifically excluded from the franchise in Australia by the Commonwealth Franchise Act 1902. Individuals falling into these two categories are not presently included in this database before those years.

Arrangement of Records:
Within each state voters were organized into electoral districts and subdistricts according to where they lived. Electoral rolls were compiled according to these geographical divisions. The boundaries of districts and subdistricts could change throughout the years.

Click on the image to start searching today!

Click on the image to start searching today!

Why Use Electoral Rolls:
Electoral rolls are great to use as “census substitutes.” They’re useful when census records are either incomplete or non-existent, and are usually available in between census years. Because electoral rolls were published on a fairly consistent basis and are generally country-wide, they are useful for tracking individuals over time and place.

Click here to start searching today!

Information listed in electoral rolls usually includes:

  • Number
  • Name of voter
  • Gender
  • Address
  • Occupation
Click on the image to start searching today!

Click on the image to start searching today!

State and Years Presently Included:
This database currently includes electoral rolls for the following states and years. Those marked by asterisk have been transcribed. For all other years, the records were extracted using a new OCR indexing method. They were not transcribed. We encourage you to correct any errors you find in the data by going to the image and editing the name in the correction panel at the bottom of the page.

Australian Capital Territory: 1928*, 1929-31, 1935*, 1937*, 1943*, 1949*, 1954*, 1958*, 1963*, 1968*, 1972*, 1977*, 1980*
New South Wales: 1930*, 1931-32, 1933*, 1934-35, 1936-37*, 1943*, 1949*, 1953-54*, 1958*, 1963*, 1968*, 1972*, 1977*, 1980*
Northern Territory: 1922*, 1928, 1929*, 1930-31, 1934*, 1937*, 1943*, 1949*, 1954*, 1958*, 1963*, 1968*, 1972*, 1977*, 1980*
Queensland: 1903*, 1905*, 1906, 1908*, 1909-10, 1912, 1913*, 1914-17, 1919*, 1921*, 1922, 1925*, 1926, 1928-29, 1930*, 1931-32, 1934, 1936-37*, 1943*, 1949*, 1954*, 1958*, 1963*, 1968*, 1972*, 1977*, 1980*
Tasmania: 1914*, 1915-17, 1919*, 1921, 1922*, 1925, 1928*, 1929-31, 1934, 1936-37*, 1943-44*, 1949*, 1954*, 1958-1980
Victoria: 1856*, 1903*, 1905-06, 1908, 1909*, 1910, 1912-13, 1914*, 1915-18, 1919*, 1920-22, 1924*, 1925-28, 1931*, 1932-35, 1936-37*, 1942-43*, 1949*, 1954*, 1958*, 1963*, 1968*, 1972*, 1977*, 1980*
Western Australia: 1903*, 1905, 1906*, 1909, 1910-11*, 1912-15, 1916*, 1917-22, 1925*, 1926, 1928-30, 1931*, 1934, 1936-37*, 1943*, 1949*, 1954*, 1958*, 1963*, 1968*, 1972*, 1977*, 1980*

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Member benefit. Order discounted BDM certificate transcriptions for NSWhttp://blogs.ancestry.com/au/2015/03/19/member-benefit-order-discounted-bdm-certificate-transcriptions/ http://blogs.ancestry.com/au/2015/03/19/member-benefit-order-discounted-bdm-certificate-transcriptions/#comments Thu, 19 Mar 2015 00:54:52 +0000 Ancestry.com.au http://blogs.ancestry.com/au/?p=2293 Ancestry members can now order Birth, Death and Marriage certificate transcriptions for New South Wales at a discounted rate, just $17.50, from GeniCert with our friends at Marilyn Rowan transcriptions. The transcriptions can only be ordered direct via your Ancestry subscription. So you have to be logged in to your Ancestry membership to search on… Read more

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Ancestry members can now order Birth, Death and Marriage certificate transcriptions for New South Wales at a discounted rate, just $17.50, from GeniCert with our friends at Marilyn Rowan transcriptions.

The transcriptions can only be ordered direct via your Ancestry subscription. So you have to be logged in to your Ancestry membership to search on the Australian Birth, Death and Marriage [BDM] collections. Here’s some handy links to the Birth, Deaths and Marriage sets:

Australia, Birth Index, 1788-1922
Australia, Death Index, 1787-1985
Australia, Marriage Index, 1788-1950

So, how do you take advantage of this great offer and order your certificate transcriptions? Please read on for tips on how to order.

First, log into Ancestry with your username / email and password and either double click on “Search” on the main menu to find all of the Australian collections:

GeniCert_Ancestry_Login_2_230215

Or hover your cursor over “Search” and select “Birth, Death & Marriage” from the drop list.

GeniCert_Ancestry_Login_230215

Then search the Australian BDM collections for your ancestor:

GeniCert_BDM_Ancestry_230215

Results for your search will be returned, including records for all states and territories that relate to your search terms:

GeniCert_Marriage_Jessie Baker_190315

Click on the cart image on the far right on the search results relating to New South Wales records and you’ll taken to GeniCert to allow you to order the transcription of the certificate type that relates to your search. In the example below, you’ll notice that this order is for a Marriage certificate transcription.

GeniCert_Marriage_Jessie Baker_Transcription Order_230215

At this stage you’re able to view a sample, see the “View a Sample” button in the top right of the window, or proceed to buy by clicking on the “Checkout” button. At any time during the process, you’re able to send an email to info@genicert.com with any questions you have.

GeniCert_Samples_1_190315

Clicking on “Checkout” to buy the certificate transcription, you’ll need to login to GeniCert or create a GeniCert account if you’re new to their service.

GeniCert_Login_Register_230215

The signup process is simple to follow and once purchased GeniCert has committed to providing the certificate transcription in 5 to 7 days. Again, if you have any issues during the sign-up and ordering processing, please send to info@genicert.com with your questions.

Happy searching and fingers crossed you find the person you’re looking for. Try it out today!

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Don’t let mould destroy your family historyhttp://blogs.ancestry.com/au/2014/05/09/dont-let-mould-destroy-your-family-history/ http://blogs.ancestry.com/au/2014/05/09/dont-let-mould-destroy-your-family-history/#comments Fri, 09 May 2014 05:00:24 +0000 Ancestry.com.au http://blogs.ancestry.com/au/?p=2214 Mould, a five letter word that causes a lot of four letter words from historians around the world. It can destroy your documents and it can make you sick. What do you do when you discover that granddad’s WW1 letters or the family Bible has mould on it? Here are some tips to help you… Read more

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Mould, a five letter word that causes a lot of four letter words from historians around the world. It can destroy your documents and it can make you sick. What do you do when you discover that granddad’s WW1 letters or the family Bible has mould on it? Here are some tips to help you when you discover mould.

First, protect yourself:

You can’t tell who will be affected by exposure to mould. Common reactions to mold exposure include runny nose, eye irritation, cough, headache, fatigue, and aggravation of asthma. Anyone with asthma, serious allergies, respiratory problems, diabetes, compromised immune systems, or taking steroid therapy should avoid moldy materials and the area where they are.

Take steps to protect yourself. Mould spores can enter your body through your breathing and also through small breaks in your skin. Here are some ways to help prevent mold exposure:

  • Use a N95 disposable respirator, available online and in some home improvement stores
  • Use disposable gloves when handling the materials
  • Wear goggles or protective eyewear
  • Do not touch your eyes or mouth after touching a mouldy item
  • Wash your hands as soon as possible after you’ve left the area where the moldy item is
  • Shower with hot water as soon as possible
  • Wash your clothes in hot water; use bleach. (And don’t wear good clothes. Mould can stain and it does not come out.)

Get the item safe and dry

Mould thrives on moisture. If the item is wet, you’ll need to dry it before you can attempt to remove the mould. Store it somewhere away from people, perhaps a garage or a dry shed. If you have something with multiple pages, like a book or magazine, you may need to put paper towels or blank copy paper between the pages. Here’s how I recently dried out a book that landed in my bathtub.

Removing the mould

After the item is dry, use a clean paint brush to lightly dust off the mold. If there are stubborn spots, you can try gently wiping with a slightly damp cloth or sponge. A better solution is to use a non-chemical natural dry sponge. These are often advertised as “soot sponges.” (Absorene is one brand name.) They are available in many home improvement stores. What’s nice about them is that they are designed to be used dry, so you’re not introducing any moisture to the item.

When you’re using a sponge, remember to be gentle. This isn’t like rubbing out a stain from your shirt. Rub too hard and you might end up tearing the paper or erasing the print!

If in doubt

If you’re not comfortable working with a mouldy item or if the job is too big for you to handle, contact a professional conservator. Many historical societies and archives maintain lists of conservators and preservationists in your area.

About the author

Nancy E. Kraft is a preservation librarian and the Head of the Preservation and Conservation Department, University of Iowa Libraries. She is part of the American Institute for Conservation-Collections Emergency Responders Team (AIC-CERT). Nancy received the Midwest Archives Conference 2009 Presidents’ Award for her extraordinary work following the historic levels of flooding that struck Iowa in the summer of 2008. She is a lecturer and preservation consultant for the OceanTeachers Academy, Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, UNESCO, in Ostend, Belgium. She is active in the American Library Association having served as Chair of the Preservation and Reformatting Section of the Library Collections & Technical Services Division and currently serving as the ALA Voting Representative to the National Information Standards Organization (NISO). She is a regular contributor to the Preservation Beat blog at the University of Iowa – click here for more.

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Spelling Didn’t Matter To Our Ancestors — Wild Cards to the Rescuehttp://blogs.ancestry.com/au/2014/03/20/spelling-didnt-matter-to-our-ancestors-wild-cards-to-the-rescue/ http://blogs.ancestry.com/au/2014/03/20/spelling-didnt-matter-to-our-ancestors-wild-cards-to-the-rescue/#comments Thu, 20 Mar 2014 00:59:45 +0000 Ancestry.com.au http://blogs.ancestry.com/au/?p=2166 Our ancestors often used a variety of spellings for their first names and surnames. You can use wildcards with the Exact filter selected to find unusual spellings of names. There are two wildcard characters: ? (question mark) : matches one character which can be anything * (asterisk) : matches 0 to N characters So if you enter… Read more

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Our ancestors often used a variety of spellings for their first names and surnames. You can use wildcards with the Exact filter selected to find unusual spellings of names.

There are two wildcard characters:

  • ? (question mark) : matches one character which can be anything
  • * (asterisk) : matches 0 to N characters

So if you enter Sm?th* you can match Smith, Smyth, Smithe and Smythe

Ann* will match Ann, Anne, Anna, and Annabelle

My maiden name is Gillespie, and it is very often spelled: Gillaspie, Gillispie or Gillespie or even Gillespy.

I can use wildcards to match a variety of combinations.

image09

 

This matches a variety of spellings, making my search just a little bit easier.

image10

Happy Searching!

Ancestry Anne

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Preserve your Photos and Documents Like an Expert!http://blogs.ancestry.com/au/2014/02/05/preserve-your-photos-and-documents-like-an-expert/ http://blogs.ancestry.com/au/2014/02/05/preserve-your-photos-and-documents-like-an-expert/#comments Wed, 05 Feb 2014 03:47:23 +0000 Ancestry.com.au http://blogs.ancestry.com/au/?p=2126 You’ve found that image or document that reveals a great story or confirms that missing clue you needed, and you want to make sure it is saved for generations to come. What is the best way to save and preserve your images? I asked Sabrina Petersen, Director of Global Imaging here at Ancestry, and she… Read more

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You’ve found that image or document that reveals a great story or confirms that missing clue you needed, and you want to make sure it is saved for generations to come.

What is the best way to save and preserve your images?

Lord Morpeth Roll 1I asked Sabrina Petersen, Director of Global Imaging here at Ancestry, and she shared these 5 tips:

  1. Think like an Archive. Archives think about how to preserve records and photographs for their patrons and posterity within a budget.  Digitization allows for multiple copies of the original that can be shared as well as stored, which allows you to store a master copy and make copies as needed.
  2. Future Use. Think about how you are going to find this particular picture or document in the future.  Putting metadata within the name of the image itself is the easiest way to find it in the future. You might put “Aunt Nancy Family Reunion 1982 picnic” as the name of the picture or “Death Certificate Benjamin Franklin Blansett 1912”.  By making the name the basic information you can then easily search and find it again. Then you can further organize the files by putting them in folder by event, family surname or by type of record, which will help make retrieval of this easier in the future.
  3. Digitize your records.  This can be done by using different types of equipment, but probably the easiest is a digital camera for most documents. Capture the document or picture as straight as possible when photographing, this avoids creating unwanted “artifacts” or spots on the image if you need to straighten it on your computer. Our Shoebox app is a great tool to use as well.
  4. Choose formats wisely. There are a lot of formats to choose from – JPEG and TIFF are the most common. Whichever you choose, make sure that you have the original copy someplace safe and then make a second copy which is the one you play with, send to others or upload for safe keeping to your family tree on Ancestry.  This second copy can be any file format you choose, including a PDF.  This makes it easy to share, send and upload.
  5. Anything is better than nothing! Lastly remember that anything you do now is better than nothing.

A little thought as you store your finds will save you a lot of angst later.

Happy Searching!

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Top Tips for Searching Marriage Recordshttp://blogs.ancestry.com/au/2014/02/04/top-tips-for-searching-marriage-records/ http://blogs.ancestry.com/au/2014/02/04/top-tips-for-searching-marriage-records/#comments Mon, 03 Feb 2014 23:50:17 +0000 Ancestry.com.au http://blogs.ancestry.com/au/?p=2118 Vital records—records of births, marriage, and death—are the basic building blocks of family history research as they contain lots of information for your family tree. Marriage records can reveal religion and other details like age and place of birth, occupation, residences, and parents’ names. We’ve put together our top search tips to help you make… Read more

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Arge's Wedding

Vital records—records of births, marriage, and death—are the basic building blocks of family history research as they contain lots of information for your family tree.

Marriage records can reveal religion and other details like age and place of birth, occupation, residences, and parents’ names.

We’ve put together our top search tips to help you make the most of our Marriage records.

  • Narrow your search for marriage records by looking at the age and birthplace of the first child. This information can also be found in census records. Start your search a year prior to the child’s birth and gradually widen your search back (and forward) in time until you locate the record. Tracing your ancestor through directories can be helpful as well.
  • Seek out the marriage records for all family members. Information found on the records of siblings may include helpful details that aren’t found on your ancestor’s record.
  • When you find a record in a marriage index, always follow up and request the original record. Click on the database title and the source information and description on the collection page will tell you where the records are held.
  • Keep in mind that when civil registration first began, not everyone complied immediately. When you can’t locate a civil marriage record, look for census records and directories that can place your ancestor in a particular place around the time of the marriage. Then investigate churches in the area where the couple might have been married.
  • Once you find a matching record, save it to your family tree – that way you can provide evidence to back up the info in your family tree, easily share your discover with your family, and quickly find the historical record again later.

What’s your top tip on searching marriage records? Let us know on our Facebook page.

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Top 10 tips for family history researchhttp://blogs.ancestry.com/au/2014/01/14/ten-top-tips-for-family-history-research/ http://blogs.ancestry.com/au/2014/01/14/ten-top-tips-for-family-history-research/#comments Tue, 14 Jan 2014 03:54:47 +0000 Ancestry.com.au http://blogs.ancestry.com/au/?p=1626 By Jeremy Palmer, Dip. Gen. Family history research can be an exciting and rewarding experience. Knowing who your ancestors were, where they lived and what they did for their living can provide a very strong sense of connection with history. Ancestor hunting is a step-by-step process based on logical thought and conclusions. To help you along that… Read more

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By Jeremy Palmer, Dip. Gen.

family tree

Family history research can be an exciting and rewarding experience. Knowing who your ancestors were, where they lived and what they did for their living can provide a very strong sense of connection with history. Ancestor hunting is a step-by-step process based on logical thought and conclusions. To help you along that path, we have put together a list of ten top tips for success.

Tip 1 – Talk to elderly relatives 

Your parents, aunts and uncles and grandparents may have a lot of information that can start you off in your research. Ask them what they know about their own parents and grandparents, but also question them about what life was like for them when they were small. Family history is more than just names and dates and places – you should find out as much as you can about the people in your family if at all possible. The more information your relatives can provide for you, the better your starting point will be. Remember, they may not always be around for ever and a common complaint in family history is ‘If only I had asked my grandparents about their relatives when I was younger…’

You can download our FREE guide to interviewing family members here.

 

Tip 2 – Work from the known to the unknown 

Genealogical research is likened to following crumbs along a trail. You can’t jump ahead at any point and still be sure you are on the right track. Instead you have to work on a step-by-step basis looking for clues which we lead you to the next generation before them. Until you have proven a link with the preceding generation you can’t move on and still be sure you are researching the correct people. It is all too easy to jump ahead and end up tracing the ancestry of people who are not related to you.

 

Tip 3 – Record your progress 

In your research you will amass a great deal of information, so at every stage you need to know exactly where you are and what you have discovered. It is a good idea to draw a pedigree chart showing how everyone is related, as this can then act as a handy reference work to your research. The ‘Family Tree’ feature found on the Ancestry site will allow you to create a chart of your family in easy and simple steps.

 

Tip 4 – Record your searches 

As well as recording what you find, you will also need to record what you have looked for, especially if you haven’t found anything. If a particular record makes no mention of your ancestor, it is easy to simply not record the fact that you have looked at it. However, in a few months or years time you may return to that record and not recall that it has already been searched. Therefore to avoid duplicating searches and wasting your time, you should always note down details of all of the searches you have undertaken and the records you have consulted, whether the results are positive or not.

 

Tip 5 – Get a map 

One of the problems researchers encounter is discovering that their ancestors have moved into a town or parish from another locality. In order to make your research more effective it is worth locating the places where your ancestors lived on a map. If you do this you will then see where they lived in relation to other nearby towns and villages. This may provide you with clues as to where they may have moved from by looking at roads, rivers and other lines of communication. Similarly, you may find that there are several places of the same name in the country in which you are researching, and a map will help make sure that you are concentrating on records from the correct locality and not the one with the same name three hundred kilometres away!

 

Tip 6 – Consider spelling variants 

There is no such thing as the correct way to spell your surname, and a little research back to the 1800s will show you that names can be spelt in a wide variety of ways – sometimes even within the same document. Many people were not able to read or write and were reliant on someone else recording their name on important documents such as marriage certificates. That person would write down how they thought the name should be spelt, and this may be different from how we would do it today. You will therefore need to be flexible in regard to the spelling of the name you are researching. For example, Whittaker, Whitaker and Wittaker would all be pronounced the same way and could all therefore be encountered if you were researching a family of that name. Just because the spelling is different does not mean it is a different person being recorded.

 

Tip 7 – Do not make assumptions 

You can’t rely on your ancestors to have necessarily acted in the way you would have expected them to do. The majority of people are married after the age of 20 and have children in the 15 years or so after that. However, that isn’t the case for everyone. People in England could marry over the age of 12 (for girls) or 14 (for boys) prior to 1929. Similarly, some people might not marry until their 60s perhaps. Many people might have a child prior to their marriage, and some women were able to have children over a 25-year period or more. It therefore pays not to assume anything about your ancestors and instead to make sure that you have covered all possible scenarios in your searches.

 

Tip 8 – Work as effectively as possible 

Many records are now being made available online and the internet has revolutionised family history research. It can now be carried out much more quickly and also from the comfort of your own home. It is therefore important to discover what information is available online and what information still has to be sought in person in the various archives and record offices. As with any transcribed and indexed material it is good practise to make sure that you also check with the original documents if at all possible to make sure that the online details are correct. Sites like Ancestry, where you have access to digitised images of the original documents, make this much easier. By discovering what information is available online you can plan your research in an effective way so that when you have to make trips to an archive, you can maximise your research time there.

 

Tip 9 – Share your findings 

One of the benefits of researching your family tree is, of course, discovering members of your extended family. Second, third and fourth cousins whose relatives have long since lost contact can soon be reunited. By sharing the results of your research with your family, and the wider genealogical community, you will encounter other people who have also been working on the same ancestry. This is a great way to learn about extra information and family memorabilia which may not have passed down to your own side of the family. By sharing the results of your labours on Ancestry, you add to the knowledge of the family history community and can reap the benefits of the research by others.

 

Tip 10 – Join a family history society 

There are thousands of family history societies around the world, and it can be helpful to join the one which covers the area from where your ancestors originated. Similarly, you may also want to join the society in the area where you live so that you can attend their meetings. The societies do a lot of work making records from their locality available for researchers and they also provide a useful forum for swapping information and research. They also usually have an interesting education and lecture program from which you can learn about new research skills and sources.

What’s your top family history tip? Share it with us on our Facebook wall!

 

Jeremy Palmer has been a full-time professional genealogist since 1992. He was the Registrar at The Institute of Heraldic and Genealogical Studies in Canterbury, England for many years before emigrating to Australia where he now runs his own research business which specialises in tracing the British origins of families in Australia and New Zealand. He also lectures on a wide variety of family history topics for the Society of Australian Genealogists.

 

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