Ancestry.com.au Blog » Uncategorized http://blogs.ancestry.com/au Where family history comes alive Mon, 06 Jul 2015 02:53:06 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.2 Journey of Discovery – NSW/ACT Family History Conference, 11-13 September 2015http://blogs.ancestry.com/au/2015/07/06/nsw-act-family-history-conference-2015/ http://blogs.ancestry.com/au/2015/07/06/nsw-act-family-history-conference-2015/#comments Mon, 06 Jul 2015 02:50:19 +0000 http://blogs.ancestry.com/au/?p=2648 When: 11-13 September 2015 Venue: 1 Bay Street, Port Macquarie NSW – click to view on Google Maps. Web: www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~nswpmfhs There’s always more to learn when it comes to family history and the 2015 Fair and Conference will be held over three exciting days in Panthers Auditorium, Port Macquarie The FREE Family History Fair is… Read more

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When: 11-13 September 2015
Venue: 1 Bay Street, Port Macquarie NSW – click to view on Google Maps.
Web: www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~nswpmfhs

There’s always more to learn when it comes to family history and the 2015 Fair and Conference will be held over three exciting days in Panthers Auditorium, Port Macquarie

The FREE Family History Fair is open to the public from 10–4 with five specialist speakers and a great range of family history services and products from Exhibitors – something for everyone whether you are just beginning or well advanced.

At the Conference on Saturday and Sunday, ten presenters will each talk about Journey of Discovery – the journey of detecting, unearthing and encountering the records of our ancestors and also discovering the joy of using modern and innovative technology to access millions of historical records previously hidden away.

For more information, go to www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~nswpmfhs

Journey of Discovery Family History Fair and Conference – Port Macquarie

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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 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 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 London Workhouse Records, 1659-1930. Over 3.7 million new records!http://blogs.ancestry.com/au/2015/04/09/update-to-london-workhouse-records/ http://blogs.ancestry.com/au/2015/04/09/update-to-london-workhouse-records/#comments Thu, 09 Apr 2015 05:14:06 +0000 http://blogs.ancestry.com/au/?p=2513 Great news, we’re always trying to improve our collections and we’ve updated the London Workhouse Admission and Discharge Records, 1659-1930! We’ve added 303,179 new images [56%] and 3,771,083 [54%] new records, so this collection now has 542,642 images and 7,035,609 records! So, what’s in the update? We’ve added newly indexed workhouse admission and discharge records… Read more

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Great news, we’re always trying to improve our collections and we’ve updated the London Workhouse Admission and Discharge Records, 1659-1930! We’ve added 303,179 new images [56%] and 3,771,083 [54%] new records, so this collection now has 542,642 images and 7,035,609 records! So, what’s in the update?

We’ve added newly indexed workhouse admission and discharge records for poor law unions in the South of London as well as additional records from Central and West. Future updates are planned to include indexed records from the North and East areas of London, so stay tuned! Boroughs Added or Updated:

  • Greenwich
  • Lambeth
  • Lewisham
  • Southwark
  • Tower Hamlets
  • Wandsworth

For many centuries, the task of caring for the poor was left to the Church. Each parish was given an Overseer of the Poor to help with this cause in 1572. Then, in 1601, the Poor Law Act empowered these Overseers to collect a poor rate from wealthier members of the parish, and distribute the funds among the poor. The 1601 law remained in effect until 1834 when a new law, the Poor Law Amendment Act took over. This collected parishes into groups called Unions. Each Union elected a Board of Guardians, which was then responsible for the care of the poor across all the individual parishes. Many of our ancestors received help through these Poor Laws. These included the elderly, orphaned, unemployed, sick and afflicted. It wasn’t just money they were given – they also received other daily necessities such as food, clothing and work. Children from poor families were placed in apprenticeships, or sent to particular schools and other institutions.

Click on the image to start searching today!

Click on the image to start searching today!

What’s Included in This Database:
This collection includes selected admission and discharge records for workhouses created and administered under the Poor Law Acts in Central, West, and South London. Records from additional areas of London are planned to be added in the future. The exact information you can find about your ancestors varies according to the record. You may find:

  • The person’s name
  • Date of admission
  • Age
  • Date of discharge
  • Other details regarding the person’s condition and care
Dinnertime at St Pancras Workhouse, London, 1911

Dinnertime at St Pancras Workhouse, London, 1911

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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 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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Australian Imperial Force – What the average Anzac took into service with him and what he brought homehttp://blogs.ancestry.com/au/2015/03/20/australian-imperial-force-what-the-average-anzac-took-into-service-with-him-and-what-he-brought-home/ http://blogs.ancestry.com/au/2015/03/20/australian-imperial-force-what-the-average-anzac-took-into-service-with-him-and-what-he-brought-home/#comments Fri, 20 Mar 2015 06:50:52 +0000 http://blogs.ancestry.com/au/?p=2423 Guest post by Matt Smith, historian at Australian War Graves Photographic Archive For the majority of young Australian men who joined the Australian Imperial Force [AIF] during the First World War, it was their first time separated from family, a familiar world and most certainly, in battle. Many of these men would have experienced an… Read more

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Guest post by Matt Smith, historian at Australian War Graves Photographic Archive

For the majority of young Australian men who joined the Australian Imperial Force [AIF] during the First World War, it was their first time separated from family, a familiar world and most certainly, in battle. Many of these men would have experienced an element of compulsory military training in the Citizens Military Forces or Cadets, but almost never in wartime. Most were single men, lived with their families and knew little about the world around them, beyond a brief British-centric colonial education. This ANZAC Day, the 25th April 2015, in the Centenary year of the Gallipoli Campaign, we will pay closer attention and homage to their service and sacrifice.

The experience of service during the First World War gave young men the opportunity for adventure, escape from the boredom of everyday life, a chance to visit the ‘Mother’ country and a chance to possibly cement a future through reputations earned. Men departed in the tens of thousands, fearful of missing the ‘big show’ and eager to prove their worth. They ultimately accepted death, as long as it was quick and painless.

Men of the first A.I.F. departed their homes carrying small comforts of a life that they knew. In their minds, the reality was that the material structure of those lives would remain in situ for the period of their service. Hindsight has proved that for many of those men, who were often on active service for four or more years, the reality was far from the truth. Life continued on in their absence.

The question of what the average Australian Anzac took with them into service provides a most interesting social insight into the nature of Australian society into the second decade of the 20th Century. What those same men brought back to Australia is equally as unique.

Aside from the ‘official kit’ that was supplied to the members of the AIF, they also carried many personal artefacts. These items represented the average soldier’s societal calling, religious affiliation, employment, love of family, desire to return to civilian life following service, or were keepsakes from the aforementioned life that they knew, having been secreted away from a loved one.

For the first Australian Anzacs, the Gallipoli Landers, their assault possessions would have been purposely kept to a minimum. Instructed to carry emergency rations and water for twenty-four hours, additional personal items were stowed in kit bags onboard transport ships for delivery later. Rations would have consisted of Bully beef (tinned corned beef), rice, jam, cocoa, tea, some bread and hard tack, or “ANZAC Wafer”; a rock hard biscuit that was often ground to make alternative meals.

The Anzacs carried varying smaller items on their person, often in the breast pockets of their often over-sized uniforms. Smoking paraphernalia such as ‘Woodbines’ Cigarettes or a bakelite pipes were commonplace overtime, even for original non-smokers. The comfort of tobacco was a small consolation in the trenches and a ready source for barter and trade. Photos of loved ones for those ‘quieter’ moments of reflection were also often carried in breast pockets for easy access around uniform webbing. Either singularly stowed or within a keepsake notebook, bible or small hold-all, such photos were a direct connection to a distant life. Commonplace with Anzac mythology, the bible kept close to the heart could on occasion offer possible divine intervention by stopping a errant or stray bullet from shortening a Digger’s service. Letters, notes, poetry, postcards, and other memory artefacts such as pocket watches, compasses and lighters were also carried on the person.

In recent years, the discovery of the bodies of 250 Australian solders in mass graves outside the small village of Fromelles in northern France, has given us greater insight into what the average Australian had on their person. Some 6,200 artefacts were removed and catalogued during the archaeological dig and recovery of the bodies for identification. These included usual pieces of military uniform such as buttons, buckles, fabric and even the occasional boot, often with Australian maker’s marks. However, many objects recovered reflected a soldier’s daily life a fountain pen, a bible, a French phrase book, and a leather pouch with coins still inside. More personal and intimate things included rings and bracelets, rosary beads, a lock of hair in a leather heart and a commemorative medallion from the local district presented to one of the Diggers prior to his departure. Ironically, a return rail ticket from Fremantle to Perth in Western Australia was found. The purchaser, then to soon be a soldier, would have intended to use the return section of the fare upon his cessation of service. A number of smoking pipes were also recovered, often in the breast pocket area of the remains discovered. In military service of the era, smoking was commonplace and for many men it assisted with the monotony of military life and the aromas of No-Man’s Land.

Often, the curious larrikin nature of the Australian Digger would result in the collection of souvenirs from the battlefield or enemy. John “Barney” Hines, a British-born Australian soldier of World War I, was particularly known for his prowess at collecting souvenirs from German soldiers. The German Pickelhaube or spiked helmet was a prized find and one such example was found in the knapsack of Private Alan James Mather, No. 1983, when his body was recovered from the Messines battlefield in Belgium almost 95 years after he disappeared. He was identified and reinterred in Prowse Point Cemetery in Fanders. His record can be found at Ancestry. Pistols, particularly German Lugers and Mausers, were prized by the Anzacs, often being reused during trench raids and silent attacks. These souvenirs were brought home after the war.

After four long years of campaigning, the Australian Diggers had procured a vast array of souvenirs, personal effects and essential non-official kit. Compiling a full inventory of the quintessential items within a returning solder’s kit would not be feasible. However, the greatest insight into the personal effects of the Anzacs that may have been brought home to Australia after the war, is to examine the service records of fallen men. Captain Leslie Russell Blake MC, No. 7306, 5th Brigade, Australian Field Artillery, of Hawthorne, Victoria was killed in October 1918. His service file indicates that following his death, three storage items were returned to his family in probate; a tin trunk, a sealed suitcase and one parcel. The contents each package was as follows:

NAA WW1 Service Records Leslie Russell Blake Effects 2

NAA WW1 Service Records Leslie Russell Blake Effects 3

NAA WW1 Service Records Leslie Russell Blake Effects

In contrast, Lance Corporal Benjamin Lancaster, No. 3814, who enlisted at a similar time to Captain Blake, had his own personal effects returned to his family. The package consisted of one Wallet, 2 Badges and a purse.

Despite the hardships of war and throughout the service of the Australian Anzacs during WWI, there remained a willingness of the individual soldier to maintain personal effects. Whether fulfilling a link to home and past, out of necessity for survival, or through curious larrikinism, the personal nature of the Anzac’s possessions were as varied as the characters themselves.

Read more about Captain Leslie Russell Blake MC on Ancestry – click here to search the WW1 service records – and on Discovering Anzacs – click here to search.

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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 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:

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

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Then search the Australian BDM collections for your ancestor:

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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.

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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.

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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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Tomb of the Unknown Australian Soldierhttp://blogs.ancestry.com/au/2015/02/23/tomb-of-the-unknown-australian-soldier/ http://blogs.ancestry.com/au/2015/02/23/tomb-of-the-unknown-australian-soldier/#comments Mon, 23 Feb 2015 00:34:13 +0000 http://blogs.ancestry.com/au/?p=2276 “He is all of them. And he is one of us.” Behind all headstones are the stories of our community, of our families, of our history and the Tomb of the Unknown soldier is no different. The man who now rests here met his death in France and for 75 years he rested under a… Read more

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“He is all of them. And he is one of us.”

Behind all headstones are the stories of our community, of our families, of our history and the Tomb of the Unknown soldier is no different. The man who now rests here met his death in France and for 75 years he rested under a headstone in Plot III, Row M, Grave 13 in Adelaide Cemetery in Villers-Bretonneux. Of this one man, who lay quiet for decades in a grave marked simply, ‘An Australian Soldier of the Great War, Known Unto God’ nothing is known. His name was lost among the hundreds of thousands of missing men along the Western Front between 1914 and 1918. On 11 November 1993, he was laid to rest in the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, to represent all those soldiers lost in WW1 without names, units or dates of death.

We do not know this Australian’s name and we never will. We do not know his rank or his battalion. We do not know where he was born, nor precisely how and when he died. We do not know where in Australia he had made his home or when he left it for the battlefields of Europe. We do not know his age or his circumstances – whether he was from the city or the bush; what occupation he left to become a soldier; what religion, if he had a religion; if he was married or single. We do not know who loved him or whom he loved. If he had children we do not know who they are. His family is lost to us as he was lost to them. We will never know who this Australian was.

Read or listen to the eulogy delivered at the funeral service of the Unknown Australian Soldier by Paul Keating. Click here for the Eulogy for the Unknown Australian Soldier.

Tomb of the Unknown the Soldier, Australian War Memorial

Tomb of the Unknown the Soldier, Australian War Memorial

The Unknown Soldier lies in a tomb beneath the dome of the Memorial’s Hall of Memory in remembrance of all Australians who died in war. For 75 years he rested in Adelaide Cemetery. There is still a headstone there but it carries this inscription:

The remains of an Unknown Soldier lay in this grave for seventy-five years. On 2 November 1993 they were removed and now rest in the Tomb of the Unknown Australian Soldier at the Australian War Memorial, Canberra.

Want to know more about Adelaide Cemetery? Go to Australians on the Western Front 1914 – 1918, and the Australian Remembrance Trail in France and Belgium. A brilliant project from the Australian Department of Veteran Affairs.

Adelaide Cemetery, Villers-Bretonneux. Source: DVA, Australians on the Western Front 1914-18

Adelaide Cemetery, Villers-Bretonneux. Source: DVA, Australians on the Western Front 1914-18

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Family Tree Maker expert Duff Wilson touring Australia in Julyhttp://blogs.ancestry.com/au/2014/06/19/family-tree-maker-expert-duff-wilson-touring-australia-in-july/ http://blogs.ancestry.com/au/2014/06/19/family-tree-maker-expert-duff-wilson-touring-australia-in-july/#comments Thu, 19 Jun 2014 05:27:19 +0000 http://blogs.ancestry.com/au/?p=2228 Duff Wilson, Senior Product Manager for Family Tree Maker in Provo, Utah, is touring Australia in July to share his expertise on Family Tree Maker and Ancestry. Duff will be speaking in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne, so make sure you book early to secure your spot using the details below. Duff has worked for Ancestry… Read more

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Duff Wilson, Senior Product Manager for Family Tree Maker in Provo, Utah, is touring Australia in July to share his expertise on Family Tree Maker and Ancestry. Duff will be speaking in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne, so make sure you book early to secure your spot using the details below.

Duff has worked for Ancestry for over a decade, with more than twenty years of software design and development experience and a number of notable awards for his work. He holds a Master’s degree from Utah State University in Instructional Technology with an emphasis on computer-based instruction. Duff has been passionate about genealogy from a young age, and as part of his work with Ancestry, he has travelled to numerous countries and connected with countless genealogists, ranging from novice to expert.

Duff’s work has given him an increasingly high profile, as the ‘voice’ in the Family Tree Maker webinars, and also getting rave reviews from the recent ‘Who Do You Think You Are’ Congress in London.

This is Duff’s first visit to Australia, so don’t miss this rare opportunity to hear from one of the world’s foremost experts on Family Tree Maker and Ancestry.

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Session details:

Brisbane
Queensland Family History Society (QFHS)
20th July: Time 10:00 am – 4:00 pm. Registration from 9:30 am
Venue: Aspley Hornets Football Club, 50 Graham Road, CARSELDINE
Cost: $55.00 ($45.00 QFHS and VicGUM Members (both prices GST inclusive))
(Morning and afternoon tea, and a light sandwich lunch provided. Please advise special dietary needs.)
Bookings: for Ancestry and Family Tree Maker Seminar online at www.qfhs.org.au/events
or by post to QFHS, PO Box 171, Indooroopilly, QLD. 4068 or by phoning (07) 3355 3369 during library opening hours.

Sydney:
Society of Australian Genealogists (SAG)
22nd July: Time 10.00 am – 4.00 pm. Registration from 9.45 am
Venue: Wesley Conference Centre, 220 Pitt Street, SYDNEY
Cost: $60.00 ($50.00 for SAG & VicGUM Members; (both prices GST inclusive))
Includes morning & afternoon teas & light sandwich lunch
Bookings: Through SAG website at www.sag.org.au Enquiries (02) 9247 3953

Melbourne:
Victorian GUM Inc. (VicGUM)
26th July: Time10:00 am – 4:00 pm. Registration from 9:30 am
Venue: State Library of Victoria, 328 Swanston St, MELBOURNE
Cost: $60.00 ($50.00 for VicGUM Members (both prices GST inclusive))
Includes morning & afternoon teas & light lunch
Bookings: through VicGUM www.vicgum.asn.au/30thMelbourneSeminar.html or ring the office (03) 9639 2005 Tuesdays or Thursdays.

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Ancestry.au Discovers Princess Kate and Jane Austen Are Relatedhttp://blogs.ancestry.com/au/2014/04/29/ancestry-au-discovers-princess-kate-and-jane-austen-are-related/ http://blogs.ancestry.com/au/2014/04/29/ancestry-au-discovers-princess-kate-and-jane-austen-are-related/#comments Mon, 28 Apr 2014 22:51:13 +0000 http://blogs.ancestry.com/au/?p=2209 Kate Middleton shares traits in common with Austen heroines—and a distant relative with Austen herself. “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.” So said Jane Austen in her famous novel Pride and Prejudice. And now, as the royal couple… Read more

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Public domain

Public domain

Kate Middleton shares traits in common with Austen heroines—and a distant relative with Austen herself.

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.”

So said Jane Austen in her famous novel Pride and Prejudice. And now, as the royal couple settle down into comfortable domesticity, Ancestry.ca has announced that the former Catherine Middleton and Jane Austen, one of the best known and most popular novelists in the English-speaking world, are related.

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Catherine, Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cambridge, and Austen, best known for her novels focusing on lower gentry or middle-class women and their romantic interactions with men of higher rank and wealth, are related through their common ancestor Henry Percy, the 2nd Earl of Northumberland. Percy, who lived in the first half of the 15th century, is Kate’s 16th great-grandfather and Jane Austen’s 10th great-grandfather, making them 11th cousins, six times removed.

Though her work touched on many topics, from economics to equality, Jane Austen is largely considered to be the pioneer of the romantic fiction genre. Her novels are known for their biting social commentary and romance between classes and her heroines for their spirit, intelligence and wit; they are readers and walkers; they are loyal friends and sisters.

It has been just over 200 years since Jane Austen published her first novel, Sense and Sensibility (1811). Written with both comedy and emotional depth, Sense and Sensibility is considered to be one of the greatest romantic dramas ever written, demonstrating why Jane Austen remains one of our most popular authors almost 200 years after her death. The 1995 film version of the novel earned Emma Thompson, who authored the screenplay and starred in the film, an Academy Award.

 

Sisters and Friends

Throughout her life, Jane Austen’s best friend and strongest supporter was her elder sister Cassandra. In fact, when Cassandra was sent off to boarding school at age 10 in 1783, eight-year-old Jane refused to be separated from her sister, demanding to go also.

The close relationship between the Austen sisters is easily comparable to the bond Catherine shares with her younger sister Pippa, who served as Catherine’s maid of honor at her wedding, attended the same boarding school as her older sister and then followed her to Scotland to college.

While all her novels conclude with a happy marriage between the heroine and her hero, neither Jane nor Cassandra ever married. There is however every expectation that Pippa will follow her sister’s example and marry her own prince charming.

 

Fame and Fortune

Born in 1775, Jane Austen is perhaps best known for her works Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility, two of six novels she wrote in addition to lesser-known short stories and unfinished works. While her writing brought Austen little fame or fortune during her lifetime, today a cult of “Jane-ites” has emerged around the world. Numerous sequels to her works have been penned, various film adaptations of her novels produced, and a new generation of female readers, often speculating on their romantic endeavors, asks themselves, “What would Jane do?”

 

Royal Connections

Henry Percy, the ancestor who connects Catherine and Jane, was born in 1392 at Alnwick Castle in Northumberland, England. Percy was a 2nd great-grandson of King Edward III—meaning that King Edward is also a distant great-grandfather of Catherine Middleton.

Spending his youth in Scotland, because his father and grandfather were killed fighting against King Henry IV of England, in his early twenties, Percy reconciled with King Henry V (after Henry IV’s death) and was tasked with protecting the Scottish border. He was killed in 1455 during the first battle of the Wars of the Roses, at St. Albans, England.
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