Showing posts with label Australia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Australia. Show all posts

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Indexing (Transcribing, Really), British Maps, Scots, and Australians

Will you be participating in the FamilySearch Worldwide Indexing Project?  (Even though it's actually transcribing, not indexing, as any true indexer will be happy to explain to you.)

All of the searchable databases for the genealogy records available on are thanks to volunteers who transcribe information from digitized microfilm.  In 2012, FamilySearch had a 24-hour marathon session where 49,025 volunteers participated by transcribing or verifying records.  This year, on July 20 and 21, FamilySearch is trying to beat the record number of volunteers that was set in 2012.  They hope to have 50,000 people participate this time, which actually shouldn't be that difficult, since they were so close last time.

How about getting a bunch of people together and making a party of it?  That's what we're doing here in Oakland!  Several staff members from the Oakland FamilySearch Library are having an indexing party on Monday.  We're getting together for brunch and transcribing.  And we'll probably have lots of chocolate to munch on while we're working.

It's really easy to get started.  Everything you need to know is right here.  To be counted in the official total, all you need to do is submit one batch of records.  Of course, if you want to do more, no one's going to complain ....

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Similar to the New York Public Library appeal to crowdsourcing to identify details in 19th-century atlases that have been digitized and placed online, the British Library has uploaded more than 3,000 maps from 17th-, 18th-, and 19th-century references to Flickr and is now asking volunteers to help identify locations on the maps.

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The Gordon Highlanders' Museum has photographs of unidentified Gordon Highlanders from World War I.  As an experiment, the museum has teamed up with ScotlandsPeople to see if they can find anyone who can identify the men in a small number of photos.

They have created a Web page that showcases six photographs of the 7th Battalion (the Deeside Battalion) of the Gordon Highlanders.  The photos depict the 7th Battalion in the UK:  in Scotland, leaving for Bedford in August 1914, or training there until May 1915.  None of them depicts the 7th Gordons in France.

If you think you can identify anyone in the photos, please send a message to the e-mail address listed on the Web page.

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A research project at the Jewish Holocaust Centre in Melbourne is focused on Alfred Bergel (1902–1944), an artist and art teacher from Vienna.  He was one of the important figures in the cultural life of Terezín.  He was used by the Nazis to forge famous works of art.  He also worked as a painter and taught children and young people drawing, art history, and art appreciation.  He died in Auschwitz.  Today, his name and works are mostly forgotten.  If you have any information to contribute to this project, or want more information about it, please contact Mareike Montgomery at

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The Destination:  Australia Web site, a project of the Australian National Archives, wants to draw on the stories of the people and family members featured in the photographs showcased on the site to create an in-depth history of Australia’s postwar immigration.  They are looking for people to share immigration stories related to the more than 21,000 photographs from a promotional series taken by the Department of Immigration since 1945.  You can tag people you know, tag where they came from and went to, add descriptions and comments, and comment on others’ contributions.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

My Father through the Years

Heavily weighted toward more recent years, but I was able to find photos with all three wives!  Happy Father's Day!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Free Online Webinars on Using Victorian (Australia) Resources

"One Good Turn Deserves Another"
Museum Victoria and the State Library of Victoria are offering four free Webinars over the upcoming four months on how to use their and other online resources.  The series of Webinars, titled "Digging Deeper:  Making the Most of Victorian Collections", will each run from 4:00–5:00 p.m. Victorian time, which I think will be either 11:00 p.m. (during Daylight Saving Time) or 10:00 p.m. (Standard Time) in California.  The topics cover using multimedia, using digitized items, online historic and current newspapers (hooray for newspapers!), and researching historical and current science.  You need to register for each Webinar separately.  Information about the Webinars and registration links are available here.

Thanks to ResearchBuzz for posting about this!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

IAJGS Conference - Days 2 and 3

I was caught in a bit of a quandary yesterday.  I wanted to post about both my Monday at the IAJGS conference and finish my review of the Christina Applegate episode of Who Do You Think You Are?, but I had two problems.  I really didn't think I was going to be able to stay awake long enough to do both, and I didn't have the most informative day at the conference, so I wasn't sure how much I could say that was positive.  I settled for only finishing the WDYTYA post and hoped that Tuesday would be a better day at the conference.  Today was a vast improvement, so I guess I made the right decision.

The best session I attended Monday was learning about the resources at the City of Boston Archives.  Marta Crilly, an archivist there, gave an outstanding, well organized presentation.  The archives has a fantastic collection of resources for Boston research -- records of taxes, voter registrations, the almshouse, a correctional institution, children's institutions, the lunatic hospital, business registration certificates (including ones for married women; they had to register their businesses separately to protect their husbands' assets if the business went bankrupt), school transcripts and publications, teacher lists, city employees, maps, and photos.  A lot of the photographs have been digitized and are online, but most records are available only at the archives.  Luckily, you don't have to go in person; they have a friendly and knowledgeable staff who can help people who are not local.  I didn't bring information about my half-sister's family (who lived in Boston for several years) with me to the conference, but when I return home I think I'll have to take a look and see what kinds of questions the archives can help me with.

Another useful session was on postwar resources at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.  Reference librarian Megan Lewis gave an overview of the resources available, which include photographs, oral histories, films, and transcripts.  The museum has merged what once were separate catalogs for each collection into a unified catalog that covers most of the museum's holdings.  There is also a search page for part of the ITS inventory.  The other good part of the day was a roundtable session that I coordinated for Jewish genealogical society newsletter/journal editors.  We had some productive discussions about what different societies are publishing in journals and newsletters, and how there is now much more of an intersection between those publications and digital communications.

The disappointing part of the day was that the three sessions I attended that were focused on my own personal family research, in Latvia and Belarus, were all duds.  The descriptions in the program didn't really match what the presenters talked about, and I took away very, very little useful information.  I felt that half my day was wasted.

Board of Special Inquiry transcript
On the positive side, Tuesday I learned quite a bit.  The best session was on Jewish family history research in Australia.  Since there are few Jewish-specific archival collections, the talk covered several general resources as well.  Robyn Dryen of the Australian Jewish Genealogical Society, the presenter, knew her material well.  The fact that much of the information is online was nice to learn.  And I can try to find records from when my family lived Australia in the early 1970's!  I heard Genie Milgrom talk about her research into her family's converso roots in Inquisition Spain.  She did deep research and made some incredible discoveries about her family and the town of Fermoselle, where they were from.  She has now traced her female ancestral line back 22 generations.  Gladys Friedman Paulin followed up her Sunday talk about U.S. ports of arrival with a presentation on the Immigration Service Board of Special Inquiry, which could decide whether a potential immigrant was allowed to remain in the U.S. or be deported.  Even though the process was highly political and there was almost no training for the men conducting the inquiries, about 98% of immigrants were eventually allowed into the country.  Unfortunately, the only ports for which board records still exist are New York, Philadelphia, and San Francisco, but that is better than nothing.  And Israel Pickholtz gave a very entertaining presentation about recent DNA testing he has encouraged several family members to do in conjunction with his Pikholz family research.  He explained several possible family connections he had hypothesized and was hoping to confirm with the testing.  As far as I could tell, so far none of the results they got turned out as expected, but he and his cousin Jacob Laor are still hopeful some useful information will come out of it.

The other really good part of the day was that my new presentation about online Jewish historical newspapers was very well received.  The room was packed to overflowing (okay, it was a really small room; apparently the programming committee didn't think the session would attract many people).  Later in the afternoon I had several people who were at the talk come up and tell me they thought it was a great talk and that they found the information very useful.  And someone from a Florida genealogical society said she wants to have her group bring me out there to give a presentation!

I was particularly proud, because this was the first time a family member was able to come to one of my talks.  My cousin Janis wasn't able to come after all, but her husband George took some time off from work to come and listen to me.  Plus my cousin Yoni volunteered to help look over the PowerPoint file ahead of time to make sure I didn't have any grammatical errors in the slides; he decided it looked good.  He did admit, however, that he had been hoping to find a mistake just so he could correct me.

And I just looked at the clock and noticed it's 1:30 a.m.!  I better get to bed; the first session starts at 8:15 ....

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Things I Learned from My Father

Both of your parents influence and teach you, but you learn different things from each of them.  I know that some of what I learned growing up came from both parents, but some definitely came from my father.

My father probably never met a vehicle he didn't like.  He was racing cars when he was a teenager in New Jersey and won trophies there and in California, Texas, and Australia.  He also raced motorcycles and won with them.  I grew up hanging around cars, motorcycles, boats, garages, and racetracks.  I used to hang over the engine compartment when my father was working on a car and knew the names of most of the engine parts and tools (I'm a little out of practice now!).  I started riding behind my father on motorcycles when I was about 3 years old and got my first bike at about 13, a little 75cc Yamahauler (which my 6'1" father also used to ride around, which looked pretty silly).  I'm still hooked on driving; since I've been able to afford a vehicle, I think the longest I've gone without one is a week.  The smell of a garage takes me back to my childhood.  And one of these days I've got to get another motorcycle.

My dad was (and is) very talented musically.  He used to play piano and guitar (unfortunately, he can't anymore due to arthritis).  He would play and sing songs to us children.  When we were really little he would do the whole songs, but as we got older he would sometimes try to skip a verse.  Of course, we, being smart-alecks, always noticed and told him he had to sing the entire song.  I know I got my love of music from him (especially since my mother couldn't carry a tune in a bucket).

I learned to appreciate spicy food from my father.  When I was young he especially liked spicy chili.  Even though it bothered his stomach, he would tell my mom to make it really spicy.  Then, after dinner, he would ask (okay, yell) for bicarb (bicarbonate of soda) to help settle his stomach.  I've never had to use the bicarb, but I love my chilis.  I put them in almost everything.

I'm not saying my father is egotistical, but he taught me two great phrases about self-promotion:  "If you got it, flaunt it", and "I'm not conceited, I'm convinced."  I'm not sure how much of that I've taken to heart, but at least I remember the lesson.

Both of my parents were openminded and nonracist, which they passed on to us, but I didn't know just how color-blind my father was until I tried to track down a copy of a talent show on which he had appeared.  He had told us for years that he had been on Ted Mack's Amateur Hour with a band and that they had come in second to "a female singer."  That was all he remembered about her.  After several years of research, I spoke with the curator of the Amateur Hour collection (now housed at the Library of Congress).  He has an extensive index of the acts that had competed on the show.  He found my father's band (the Court Jesters) and was absolutely positive that no recording of that episode existed, as he himself had been trying to find one for many years -- it was the first televised appearance of Gladys Knight, who won that night.  And my father had no recollection that the winner had been black.  For 1952, that's pretty impressive.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

New Links on Online Newspaper Archives Page

I am a huge fan of newspapers for family history research.  Newspapers can give you information on births, marriages, divorces, deaths, jobs, military service, court cases, and more.  I have been teaching classes on using online newspapers for a few years now, and one of my favorite resources to tell people about is the Wikipedia page for online newspaper archives.  This page is a portal with links to other sites with digitized newspapers, abstracts, and indices.  The links are sorted by country (and in some cases are broken down further by state or province), and there are also links to multicountry and informational sites.  And most of the sites are free!  This is one of the first places you should look when you are checking to see if newspapers in a given area are available online.

Because the page is on Wikipedia, everyone can contribute links to new resources when you find them.  I add information on a regular basis.  The latest links I added are:
• Australia: Police Gazette of Western Australia from 1876-1900
• Cyprus: American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee archive of newspapers published between 1947-1949 by Holocaust survivors detained on Cyprus
• Scotland: Word on the Street, broadsides from 1650-1910
• Worldwide: Newspaper Abstracts, abstracts and extracts from eight countries

Check for the area you're researching and see what's available online!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Auction of Book Listing Prostitutes Sent to Australia

Sotheby's will be auctioning an unusual item on December 12:  a gaol [jail] book from 1790 listing English prostitutes who were transported to Australia on the ship Lady Juliana.  This ship brought the first large group of female British settlers to Australia and is apparently well known in Australian lore, not least for its reputation as a floating brothel.  Several of the women must have descendants who are alive today; it's suggested that one of the women might have tens of thousands of living descendants.  I really hope that one of them will be the lucky winning bidder.

The Sotheby's description of the lot says that it is the property of the Law Society of England and Wales, which sounds like a fairly serious group.  The Daily Mail has an article about the book, which states that the book "has come to light" but doesn't explain just how that happened.  C'mon, guys, how does someone just come across a book like that?  Where has it been hiding for the past 200+ years?

And please tell me that the names will be transcribed and entered into a database?