Showing posts with label tips. Show all posts
Showing posts with label tips. Show all posts

28 January 2014

Finding Broken Links (Tuesday's Tip)

This is how I tackle the problem of finding links that need to be changed:

  1. I periodically use W3C's free link checker to identify broken links in my blogs and Web pages.

  2. I have downloaded and sometimes use Xenu's Link Sleuth.

  3. The HTML code for each of my Web pages is saved in a folder on my hard drive; and the HTML code for my blog posts (copied and pasted from the HTML tab while editing in Blogger) is saved in the nifty little programme Treepad. If someone tells me that a domain address or specific URL has changed, I can easily find out exactly where that link appears in my blogs or Web pages. I simply use the powerful search functions in Treepad (for my blogs) and Powerdesk (for text files with the HTML code for my Web pages).

Have you found other ways to tackle the problem?

(You can see more of my tips here. 'Tuesday's Tip' is a theme used by Geneabloggers.)

14 January 2014

Headstones and Distant Burials (Tuesday's Tip)

headstone of George and Mary Hudson
George Hudson is William's son
The fact that a person's name appears on a headstone does not necessarily mean that he or she is actually buried there. Many headstones include the name of a family member buried in another town or another country. Sometimes the inscription makes that clear, but in many cases it does not.

There is a headstone for my great-great-grandfather, William HUDSON (1806-1882) in the churchyard at Crambe, North Yorkshire, England. I had no idea that he was actually buried in Linthorpe Cemetery at Middlesbrough - until I found a funeral card among family documents.

Depending on the geographical location, records that may specify the place of burial could include a death certificate, will, inquest file, newspaper notice, memorial card, or a church, cemetery or local government burial register. (Indexes to many Australian cemetery headstones and burial registers are now on FindMyPast.)

Records created by undertakers and funeral directors are another source of information about the place of burial. In Australia, many genealogical groups have indexed such records for their local area. Some are listed in Specialist Indexes in Australia: a Genealogist's Guide.

The records of Gregson and Weight (funeral directors in Queensland, Australia) refer to burials or funeral services that took place as far away as New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Fiji, Sweden, Greece, Hungary, Austria and the Netherlands.

Have you found other sources of information about distant places of burial?

(You can see more of my tips here. 'Tuesday's Tip' is a theme used by Geneabloggers.)

01 July 2012

B is for Birth Place

Continuing with the Family History Through the Alphabet challenge...

B is for Birth Place.

Sources from which I have discovered an exact place of birth (a town or parish) include:
  1. census records
  2. names of family houses or farms
  3. death certificates
  4. marriage certificates in Queensland, NSW or Victoria
  5. birth certificates of the subject's children born in Queensland, NSW or Victoria
  6. hospital admission registers
  7. benevolent asylum records
  8. mental asylum records (insanity files)
  9. military service records
  10. inquest files
  11. documents in Supreme Court probate files
  12. newspaper notices (marriage, death, obituary etc.)
  13. newsletters / magazines published by clubs, churches, societies or occupational groups
  14. headstones
  15. memorial plaques in churches
  16. cemetery burial records
  17. church registers of baptism, marriage and burial
  18. Police Gazettes
  19. Police Station and Police Department records
  20. naturalisation records
  21. registers of teachers
  22. police staff files
  23. files on dentists who had difficulty being recognised by the Board
  24. immigration records (especially 20th century)
  25. personal family papers, diaries, letters, bibles etc
  26. any of the above records for the subject's brothers or sisters.

These are just the sources that I can think of right now. Some of these sources are online at (for example) FindMyPast (Australia) and FindMyPast (UK).

Where else have you found a reference to the exact town or parish in which a person was born?

You will find more tips for family history in my other articles in this series. If the information and advice is useful, have a look at this page.

30 January 2011

Natural Disasters and Family History

If a natural disaster occurred today, would your family history records survive?

In Hurricane Katrina and the Canberra bush fires, three of my clients lost everything. I was able to send replacement copies of my reports, plus the genealogical data and certificates that accompanied their requests - but many professional genealogists do not keep client files for very long.

During the past month, five Australia States have been affected by catastrophic floods, and an 'inland tsunami' destroyed one small town. Several other towns were hastily evacuated by helicopter. 75% of Queensland (an area larger than Texas) has been declared a Disaster Area. Now three cyclones (one potentially a Category 5) are expected to cross the coast in Queensland and Western Australia within five days. Severe weather events are becoming more frequent, and they are occurring in areas that have not traditionally been at risk. If you live in an area where bush fires, cyclones, hurricanes or tornadoes are common, you may be ready. The rest of us? Maybe not.

In the recent floods, electricity and mobile phone towers went out very early in some areas. Many people could not be warned to evacuate because they did not have a standard (non-cordless) telephone or a battery-operated radio. (Let that be a lessen to us all!) In pouring rain, with flood waters approaching Brisbane, I helped a friend prepare to move some of her belongings to storage on high ground. She has 10,000 books. Where to start packing?! That story had a happy ending, but it certainly made me think.

I live a long way from the river, but a major flood extends into large creeks, which could flow back into the small creek behind my house. If local heavy rain had continued, creeks would have been full before the flood peak arrived, and I might have had water through my house. As a precaution, I loaded the car with important personal and business documents, family history folders and notebooks, photos, laptop computer, data backups, mobile phone and charger, torch, radio, spare batteries, clothes, toiletries, medications, sheets, towel, pillow, blanket, and some food and water. Inside the house I lifted as many things as possible onto benches and tables.

It turned out to be total overkill, but it was good practice. For future reference, I have made a list (in order of priority) of other things that I would try to save if I had time. High on my list would be irreplaceable mementos from my travels (handcrafted wooden and pottery miniatures) and the beautiful beefwood fruit bowl, magazine rack, picture frames, coffee tables and book cases that my father made from timber he felled on the grazing property where I grew up.

Many Web sites have advice on disaster preparedness. As a family historian, I have some additional comments:
  • Think about what is stored where. Should items in lower shelves and drawers be moved higher?
  • If you only had minutes to grab books, could you find the ones you treasure most?
  • Some disasters wipe out an entire town. Store one electronic backup locally and another much further away, preferably interstate.
  • If you have a free account with Google, Yahoo, Hotmail etc, send yourself emails with important files attached, and save them there. You can retrieve them from any computer with Internet access (eg, at a library).
  • Upload a GEDCOM file to Rootsweb's WorldConnect (free). You can download it if you need it.
  • Various Web sites (eg, State Library of Qld) have advice on salvaging items damaged by water. Print a copy and store it in your Emergency Evacuation Kit (with some freezer bags).
  • If your computer is submerged, it may still be possible to retrieve data from the hard drive.
  • Read Geneabloggers' guides to data backup and disaster recovery plans.

24 September 2010

Sassy Jane Genealogy (Follow Friday)

'Follow Friday' is a theme used by Geneabloggers. This week my suggestion is Sassy Jane Genealogy.

Here you will find practical advice from a family historian who is also a librarian and archivist. Pay particular attention to posts with 'Wisdom Wednesday' in the title. Items that I liked include:

19 September 2010

Genealogy conference papers (Sources Sunday)

From time to time, using my theme 'Sources Sunday', I talk about a source that I have used for genealogy. It may be a specific source or series in a record office; a book; or a library, museum etc as a source in the broader sense. You won't see 'Sources Sunday' here every week because it is sometimes in one of my other blogs (which are listed in the sidebar).

This week I am recommending published papers of genealogy conferences to help you locate and understand a wide variety of sources. Well-known overseas speakers (and locals with expertise in overseas research) present papers at the Australasian Congress on Genealogy and Heraldry and some small conferences here - so wherever you are in the world, have a look at the Web page listing topics covered at six major conferences. Some of the papers on Irish and English research are outstanding.

16 September 2010

Newspapers, birthdays and Christmas gifts

What was happening in the world on the day your grandfather was born?

A good family history is one that includes historical context, and newspapers are an obvious resource. My 'list of things to do' includes 'Find a newspaper for the day each of my direct ancestors was born and died'.

I once researched a person who died in Sydney NSW at the age of 103. Normally I would have expected to find a short paragraph in the newspaper, but the death was completely overshadowed by reports of the dramatic opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge!

A few years ago, as Christmas gifts for my father and sisters, I laminated A3 photocopies of the front page of a major local newspaper for the day each of them was born. My father was born in 1919, and his page was filled with stories about the aftermath of World War I. My youngest sister was born during a cyclone, and the newspaper reports prompted Dad to tell us some interesting tales about rushing to the hospital in cyclonic conditions.

I hasten to add that important documents should never be laminated, as explained in 'Step away from the laminator!' The A3 pages I laminated were not for long-term preservation. They were just inexpensive gifts (which are used as place mats for informal family meals!)

25 July 2010

10 Things I Can't Live Without

In the discussion ('meme') 10 Things I Can't Live Without (related to genealogy), nine of Elyse's ten things require a computer. My list is very different - possibly because I did most of my research in the 1970s/80s! Genealogy is certainly easier and more fun if you have a computer, email, the Internet, and the ability to visit local libraries or LDS Family History Centres - but a lot can be accomplished without them. Just ask any genealogist who is a full-time carer or physically unable to get out and about.

I am often without a computer for a week or so, but I can still work on my family tree if I have:
  1. The family history 'book' that I wrote on a typewriter in the 1980s. It has a lot of my data, detailed source references and a bibliography.
  2. Address book and Correspondence log (I can write letters on paper to relatives or repositories); 'Style sheet' to remind me how my filing system works; 'Where Is It?' index book.
  3. Small magnifier; 2B pencils; enclosed pencil sharpener (so I can put it in my pocket at repositories); good quality coil-bound notebook (A5 or A4); 4-ring binders and copysafe page protectors.
  4. Camera. Preferably digital, but an old SLR and a roll of film will do.
  5. Pedigree Charts and Family Group Sheets. With these I take a summary of names, dates, places etc to repositories where I cannot take a computer.
  6. Maps, including the Ordnance Survey Motoring Atlas of Great Britain. It shows rivers, hills etc that may influence where people went to market, church etc, and has a good place name index.
  7. The Macquarie Book of Events (Bryce Fraser). I can put my ancestors' lives in context if I know what was happening in Australia. The book covers Discovery, Settlement, People, Transport, Communications, Industries, Trade, Taxes, the Economy, Work Force, Regal/Vice-Regal, Politics, Law, Defence, Education, Religion, Health, Social Welfare, Science, the Environment, Arts, Disasters, Sport.
  8. Ancestral Trails: The Complete Guide to British Genealogy and Family History (Mark D. Herber).
  9. The Phillimore Atlas and Index of Parish Registers. Parish maps, topographical maps, location of parish registers/indexes (England, Scotland, Wales).
  10. Newspapers in Australian Libraries: a union list. Part 2: Australian newspapers. Often quicker than the Internet if you want to know what newspapers were published when/where and the location of copies.
Before I go travelling without a computer, I use my genealogy software (The Master Genealogist + SecondSite) to create (on a USB flash drive) a family tree in HTML format. I omit living people for privacy reasons. If I am visiting friends or a public library, I can usually look at my tree (which is just a series of Web pages) on their computer.

What would you put on a 'Top Ten' list of things you need for genealogy?

24 July 2010

Reading Handwriting (52 Weeks to Better Genealogy, no.29)

Challenge no.29 was Practice reading handwriting. Deciphering the penmanship of our ancestors is an exercise in patience, but this is a great skill to have.

Family historians love indexes, but most indexing errors arise from difficulty in interpreting handwriting. If the first letter of the name is indexed incorrectly, you will not find that entry unless you 'think outside the box'. To help you do this, my Web page on using and compiling indexes has examples of letters that are commonly misinterpreted and names that have been incorrectly indexed. It also warns of other indexing mistakes, such as incorrect sorting of names, listing a person's middle name instead of their surname, listing 'Senior' or 'Junior' as a surname, etc. (I was honoured when Shauna Hicks recommended this page in her book Family History on the Cheap.)

Ancestry's index got it wrong!
There is always something new to learn, but indexing tens of thousands of names from old documents at Queensland State Archives has given me lots of practice. About 51,000 of those names are on my Web site.

('52 Weeks to Better Genealogy' is a series of tasks devised by Amy Coffin for Geneabloggers.)
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