Saturday, February 28, 2015

Rootstech 2015 - a chat with Martyn and Heather

Among the Australian returnees to Rootstech this year were Martyn Killion, Society of Australian Genealogists President and Heather Garnsey Society of Australian Genealogists Executive Officer.

Thanks Martyn and Heather for giving up your valuable time to talk with me and soldiering on with so much background noise. The marvellous tech team from Familysearch, did a super job to make the audio on our interview audible.

Heather was most gracious and did not correct me when I claimed that she came from a library background when in fact her initial degree was in Business.

I was thrilled to be able to give the Rootstech attendees an opportunity to hear of the work of the Society and meet the people who keep it running.

Friday, February 27, 2015

GAGs - GeniAus' Gems - 27 February 2015

Last week just flew by! It's Friday morning again so it's time to open my GAGs folder in Evernote and see what I have lined up to share with you this week. Evernote makes it so easy for me to keep track of the Gems I find during the week.

Oh dear, I had more than a dozen to share, here are those that made my final cut. 

1. First up I'm being self indulgent because I am so proud of this new endeavour.

2. News of a major new English Database.

3. 20 reasons to write from the New York Public Library.

4. Pauleen reminds us to Do the Right Thing.

8. A vexed question from Fran

9. A discussion of name chnages from a Lithuanian migrant.

11. Because I live on an old citrus orchard site this post from Michelle resonated with me.

12. 175th Anniversary of exiles transported from Canada.

13. In today's baker's dozen Denise discusses future-proofing our family history.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Congress Presenter Interview - Jan Worthington

My latest interview for AFFHO Congress 2015 is from Sydney based professional genealogist, Jan Worthington. Apologies to Jan for taking so long to post this interview but my trip to Salt Lake City and Rootstech got in the way.

Learn about Jan from her detailed responses to my questions.

Jan Worthington

I am a professional genealogist, family historian and researcher specialising in probate genealogy, tracing family histories, locating missing living people and writing historical non-fiction.

Over 30 years ago my mother and my daughter introduced me to my own family history and from that moment the quest to find out more took over my life. I obtained my Diploma in Family Historical Studies through the Society of Australian Genealogists in 1984 and started up a genealogical company which grew to 17 people, which I recently sold. I then started up another company – Jan Worthington Genealogy. For over 25 years I was a Councillor/Director of the Society of Australian Genealogists and served in various roles as Vice President, Company Secretary and Convenor of the Computer Users Group, Computer Committee, Education Committee, Library Committee, Premises Committee, Awards Committee and Diploma in Family Historical Studies and Certificate Course Committee, which I still convene.

During that time I have spoken and given lectures at many conferences in various States of Australia, USA, UK and New Zealand. As a regular researcher at the genealogical library in Salt Lake City I have partnered with Perry McIntyre and taken several family history groups there, so that we could support and share our knowledge with them. I was elected President of the Worthington Family History Society ten years ago and chair the Annual General Meeting every year as well as host the biennial three day Gatherings in either the USA or the UK.

Genealogy has improved and changed my life in many ways. It has enabled me to achieve a lifelong objective, i.e. start and build up a small to medium size successful business. It has enabled me to travel extensively, meet and help people and given me an unexpectedly passionate, exciting and rewarding career in every way. I have been lucky enough to be recognised and rewarded by my peers. In 1994 I was made a Fellow of the Society of Australian Genealogists. In 2012 I was awarded the Association of Professional Genealogists Professional Achievement Award in Birmingham, Alabama and the Independent Book Publishers Silver Award in the regional Historical Non-Fiction category for my book Inky Fingers in New York. In 2013 I was made an Honorary Member of the Society of Australian Genealogists.

The problem solving aspect of genealogy is what I love about genealogy the most. Every new job is an exciting challenge and adventure into the unknown.

I have attended and spoken at many local, interstate and international Congresses over 30 years. In 1988 I was Convenor of the First International Congress on Family History and 5th Australasian Congress on Genealogy and Heraldry in the newly opened Darling Harbour Convention Centre, Sydney. Many local, interstate and overseas speakers spoke to over 1500 attendees during this hugely successful five day event.

My topic for the Congress is The Abandoned Child – Social Changes in New South Wales 1850-1870 from the records of the Randwick Asylum for Destitute Children. This was a time period of little government support for families in need of assistance and private enterprise came to the rescue. There is also a paucity of primary records for family historians researching the 1850s and what there are can be very misleading. My talk will open up further avenues of research for family historians unable to trace their families back past this point in New South Wales.

There are huge benefits in attending any conference as there is always something new to be learned, no matter how long you have been in the game. For the more seasoned attendee there are catch ups with faces not seen for a while. For newcomers to family history an exciting plethora of sessions to attend, people to meet, new friends to make and lots of things to see.

My favourite piece of advice or tip to share with anyone researching their family history is simple: When researching your family history always go forwards in time to go backwards in time; and always go backwards in time to go forwards in time. In other words if you are not making progress tracing ancestral families, or looking for living relatives, go back to your starting point, or the point where the problem arose, and review your findings again. At that point you may need to carry out further research before continuing. Good Luck!

The Randwick Asylum for Destitute Children

Monday, February 23, 2015

GeneaBlogger Beads at Congress

We can't buck tradition.  In a tradition started by Thomas MacEntee Geneabloggers at large and small Geneaconferences wear Mardi Gras style beads so that they can easily recognise each other. Our blogger beads were a boon at the recent Rootstech Conference that attracted 22,000 people on Family Day.

Aussies at Rootstech - note the red and white blogger beads some of us are wearing
It is my pleasure to sponsor the beads for the AFFHO Congress in Canberra this month. I selected the beads from an online vendor recommended by DearMYRTLE and had them delivered to my hotel in Salt Lake City (as postage costs to Australia are horrendous). I didn't realise how heavy 50 strings of Black and Gold Satin Swirls Necklaces would be in my luggage. Thankfully the beads and I made it home without incurring an overweight penalty (I love Qantas' generous luggage limits).

Black and Gold Satin Swirls
I need to draw up a list of those geneabloggers who will be attending Congress and wish to proudly wear the beads.

I know that Pauleen Cass and Shauna Hicks, my co Official Bloggers will be coming along so I'll be reserving some beads for them. Alona, Carmel, Helen, Jenny J., Judy W and Sharn have indicated that they will be going too. How about you?

Geneabloggers please let me know if you are going to Congress by emailing me at with Blogger Beads in the subject line and stating your name and the URL of your blog. Once I have my list I will make arrangements for your beading..

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Myrt's Mission Control Center

Like many of my readers I am a member of the DearMYRTLE Community on Google+ and a regular attendee (when the time is right) in her Google Hangouts on Air.

After the recent Rootstech Conference I was invited to an after party at Myrt's house just ouside Salt Lake City. Her gracious husband, Mr Myrt, took some of us on a tour of their house and showed  me Myrt's Study from which she broadcasts her regular hangouts.

I couldn't resist the opportunity to try out Myrt's recliner from which she often broadcasts.

GeniAus finds Myrt's recliner extremely comfortable

When my friend Alona aka Lonetester arrived at the party I showed her Myrt's study and encouraged her to try out Myrt's office chair.

I don't know how Alona felt but I felt just like Goldilocks, Myrt's chair was "just right".

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Rootstech 2015 - Interview with AFFHO presenter Josh Taylor

FGS President, D Joshua Taylor, is a very busy man so I was delighted when he accepted an invitation to be interviewed by Pauleen Cass and me during the recent Rootstech/FGS conferences in Salt Lake City.

Josh, a very popular and busy genealogist in the United States who combines several roles with FGS, FindMyPast and the Genealogy Roadshow, will be travelling downunder for the AFFHO Congress in Canberra in 2015. Having heard Josh speak on his last Australian tour and at Rootstech I am keen to hear more from him at Congress.

See what Josh had to share with Pauleen and me:

Friday, February 20, 2015

GAGs - GeniAus' Gems - 20 February 2015

In just a fortnight I have been there and back again and am slowly coming down to earth. I have managed to collate a new list of GeniAus' Gems for your consideration.

This week's list includes a few posts from libraries. It is pleasing to see libraries embracing geneablogging.

1. I am not including any individual posts about Rootstech in this week's list. As my number one inclusion today I direct you to an aggregation of  posts by the many geneabloggers who attended Rootstech compiled (and being added to daily) by my Genimate Randy Seaver. There is a ton of reading here including posts from the Aussie contingent at Rootstech.

Some of the Geneabloggers at Rootstech including Randy and GeniAus.
2. Please get behind Kylie and friends to save graves in South Australia

3. Lilian is spreading the word about family history.

4. Congrats to North Sydney Genealogy for including a guest post on their blog. A model other libraries and societies could follow.

6. Thanks to Campaspe Library for alerting me to this site.

9. This made me wonder if anything was named after an ancestor of mine.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Greatest Show on Earth....

...if you are a Genie.

I am just back from Rootstech 2015 and I feel vindicated. Because I have constantly spruiked about what an amazing event Rootstech is I feel largely responsible for a couple of  my genimates taking the decision to attend for the first time this year. You have no idea what a relief it was to hear that they enjoyed the experience.

As an Official Rootstech Ambassador I had the opportunity to use a video crew and studio during the conference to record interviews with people of my choosing.  On the third day of the conference I spoke with three first-timers at Rootstech to gauge their reactions to the event.

Here is what Tas from Australia, Hilary from Wales and Pauleen from Australia had to say.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Browsers for Work and Play

At times I have made some booboos with  social media when I post something under the wrong identity.

I have a simple solution that others may find useful.

I find that by using one browser eg Firefox, when I am wearing my Historical Society hat and a different browser, Chrome, when I am writing as GeniAus I can cut down on those errors I make.

This is not foolproof but it still avoids most slipups.

Sensational Saturday

It's been a frantic morning at #Rootstech. in Salt Lake City.   Here's a quick precis of my activities.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

A Scots Invasion at Rootstech

Look who just went marching by.

Caitlin and The Camera - at Rootstech

As I was setting up for my Lost Cousins Downunder? talk at Rootstech this morning I looked around for someone to take a couple of happy snaps. I entrusted Caitilin with my camera knowing it was in good hands and I wasn't far wrong - she took 83 photos during my session. I have very few photos of myself in flight at a gig so I really appreciate Caitlin's contribution (and she tweeted all through my talk too).


It was great to have some supporters in the audience too. Thank you Fran and Hlary

Supporters: Fran, Caitie, Hilary
Here are some of Caitie's photos:

Add caption
His descendants went all over the place

This lady came all the way from Texas for my talk

Thank Heavens that's over.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Australian Pride at Rootstech

There were some very proud Australians with tears in their eyes after the keynote presentation by entrepreneur and former Young Australian of the Year, Tan Le.

Tan shared the stories of her grandfather and parents in Vietnam followed by her escape with her grandmother, mother and sister to Australia via a refugee camp in Malaysia. She told of growing up in the Melbourne suburb of Footscray and talked about the way the feamles in her family influenced her life. I won't paraphrase her talk but will share a few photos and encourage to watch Tan Les' presentation should it be made available on the Rootstech website.

After the keynote Tan was escorted to the Media Center where she did a video interview with some FamilySearch people. Then some members of the media were invited to join Tan for a chat on the couches in the Media Center. You can see from the photo of  DearMYRTLE, Sue Maxwell and Carol Rice how enthralling the conversation was.

DearMYRTLE, Sue Maxwell and Carol Rice

Rootstech Expo Hall

I tried an experiment this morning - Taking a video in the Expo Hall at Rootstech. It's very amateurish but I am sharing it just the same as it conveys better than my words can some of what is going on at the event.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Rootstech Media Dinner

I recorded yet another geneavlog to share details of the Rootstech Media Dinner I attended this evening.

A Quick Geneavlog Post from Salt Lake City

New York Geneanews

So excited to see this press release from FindMyPast. It's hard chasing New Yorkers from Sydney, Australia.

Findmypast, one of the world’s fastest growing family history companies, partners with New York’s largest genealogical organization to bring wider access to New York records
Findmypast will be the new home of the New York Genealogical & Biographical Society’s Digital Library, offering millions of records from across the United States.

Salt Lake City, Utah, 11 February 2015. Findmypast and the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society (NYG&B) announced today that Findmypast will host the newly expanded Digital Library of the NYG&B. The partnership will provide additional membership benefits for the one of the nation’s oldest genealogical organizations, while also offering a stream of new content to Findmypast’s growing collections.
When launched, the expanded Digital Library will bring  millions of new records to members of the NYG&B, including the complete U.S. Census, 1790-1940; U.S. Passenger Lists, 1820s-1950s; birth, marriage, and death records from across the U.S.; the PERiodical Source Index (PERSI), and many more. NYG&B members will be able to create an online family tree at Findmypast, and use new features such as Findmypast’s recently launchedHints to accelerate their research.
The partnership will offer Findmypast’s customers access to new records from the state of New York, covering more than three centuries. Major collections that will be added to Findmypast include the New York Genealogical and Biographical Record which has been in publication for 145 years, vital records, bible extracts, cemetery transcriptions, and more.  
The two organizations will also work together to bring new content online over the course of the partnership. “The partnership is a terrific step forward for anyone researching ancestors from New York – we are delighted to join forces with such a historic organization to enrich the family history experience for Findmypast and members of the NYG&B,” said D. Joshua Taylor, Director of Family History at Findmypast. 
“Our agreement with Findmypast offers our members two very significant benefits—vastly more effective searching of the complete run of the NYG&B Record and other NYG&B online collections, and direct access to the growing United States collections Findmypast subscribers also benefit significantly which makes the partnership a strong two-way street and thus sustainable for the long term," said McKelden Smith, the NYG&B's president.


About Findmypast
Findmypast is an international leader in online family history and genealogy research with customers and operations in the United States, United Kingdom, Ireland and Australia. Its searchable online archive includes over two billion family history records, from parish records and censuses to migration records, military collections, historical newspapers, the Periodical Source Index (PERSI) and lots more. For members around the world, the site is a crucial resource for building family trees and making family connections.
 Findmypast has an unrivalled record of innovation in the field of family history, and works closely with the genealogy community, including local libraries, archives, societies, and other organizations from around the world, to preserve, digitize, and provide access to historical records. Findmypast’s historical records, advanced search tools and accurate data work together to help both professional and budding genealogists discover, explore and share their family stories.

About the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society
The New York Genealogical and Biographical Society has been a primary resource for research on New York families since 1869.  The Society’s mission is to help people of all backgrounds find their places in American history through family history and genealogy. The NYG&B offers educational programs, including a biennial, three-day statewide conference; two essential quarterly publications, including its scholarly journal, the NYG&B Record; and extensive resources online at In January 2015, the NYG&B published its monumental, 856-page New York Family History Research Guide and Gazetteer, the first and only comprehensive guide of its kind in the United States.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Monday Madness - a Geneavlog from Salt Lake City

I was too tired to type tonight so I experimented with a geneavlog. I wasn't sure if the hotel wifi would cope but it did a reasonable job.

The main mistake that I made was with left and right (I got a bit confused when dealing with the mirror images).

Lunch with Genimates

What a day and it's only lunchtime. Went to DearMYRTLE's Hangout on Air in the Family History Library.  Now lunching with Pauleen and Jenny from Australia, Hilary from Wales. Thanks to Kiwi Roger for taking the photo and to DearMYRTLE for our beautiful blogger beads.

Research to come after sustenance. 

Monday, February 9, 2015

Aussie and Commonwealth Cousins Dinner - Tuesday 10 February

The table is booked for 6:30pm, Tuesday 10 February. I will be in the Radisson foyer at 6:00 and will set off around 6:10pm if anyone cares to walk with me.

For those who can't recall the details I am reposting my earlier message. If you are in Salt Lake City for Rootstech and would like to join us for a pre-Rootstech get together please email me or hunt me down in the Family History Library tomorrow or the next day.

Aussies and Commonwealth Cousins at Rootstech

Following on the success of our dinner in 2013 I have invited a few Aussie friends plus Audrey Collins from the UK and NZ expat Roger Moffat to a pre Rootstech get together in Salt Lake City at The California Pizza Kitchen in The Gateway Center on Tuesday February 10  prior to Rootstech. We'll be there from 6:30pm (it gets cold at night in SLC) and will try to order by (The California Pizza Kitchen is still showing up as being in the Gateway Center but I will confirm this on my arrival in SLC and also warn them of an impending invasion.)

We members of the British Commonwealth are greatly outnumbered at Rootstech so it's nice to get to know a few people before the big event.  

I am hoping that our Commonwealth Cousins from Canada, the UK, South Africa and other Commonwealth nations who would like to meet up with people from downunder will drop in and say G'day.  If you are able to join us please drop me an email (or message me via the Rootstech App) so I can get an approximate idea of numbers.

The Gateway Center is just a brisk walk down from the Radisson Hotel and Family History Library or a couple of stops on the free Trax light rail. California Pizza Kitchen (which serves more than just pizza) is number 14 on the Gateway Mall Map below

Gateway Center Map
Directions from Radisson Hotel to California Pizza Kitchen

CPK's address is 
156 South 400 West
Salt Lake City, UT 84101
One Block South of the Delta Center
(801) 456-0075

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Changes at the Family History Library

I took myself on an orientation tour visit to Family History Library in Salt Lake City today to familiarise myself for my research days prior to Rootstech this week.

I was expecting to see some great changes since my last visit in 2013 but they didn't seem to be as radical as I expected from reports I'd read. I noticed that the hours had changed slightly, the library isn't open until 9pm on a Saturday evening any more.

These banners were new

The new (not so new now) FamilySearch logo is displayed on the door

Australia gets its own heading on the directory. I'm pretty sure it was part of The British Isles last time I was here.
There still seems to be quite a few Australian books in the collection

The big timber desk on B2 has been replaced with a laminate structure and some easy chairs

There is a World War 1 display on the US floor and the books from there have moved downstairs

There is a new kids' activity area on the Main floor
I did spot the new photo scanning area on the Main Floor and note that the service desk had been replaced on another floor I visited.

The library still seemed to be alive with volunteers and there was a sign to let you know to direct one type of query to those wearing red lanyards and another to those with blue. I'll take proper notice when I need to ask a question.

The big change I noticed (and I didn't take a photo) was in the appearance of the welcome (first) screen of the patron computers. I found it quite confusing, with headings all in white. Some of these headings were hyperlinks and some were just plain text. I found this so frustrating as I had some futile attempts to follow them. I would like to see a proper menu on a well designed welcome page. Trying to find a list of and access the subscription databases available in the library took me way too many clicks. Perhaps I need some tuition! I think that it's a shame for such a superb facility to have such a daggy.

All in all I don't think the changes will have a great impact on my research days at the library next week.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

A Never-ending Friday

Friday has gone on forever.  I left Sydney on Friday evening at 5:45 pm and after 24 1/2 hours travel arrived in Salt Lake City at 7:45pm the same day!

I'll spare you the details of the journey. It was long, mostly on time and reasonably comfortable.

The weather here in Salt Lake is unseasonably balmy but there's quite a strong breeze tonight. Hotel checkin was pleasant, I asked for a front room and the receptionist obliged by putting me on a high floor. On opening the curtains I was greeted by the familiar sight of the State Capitol and the lights of  the Temple in Temple Square. I will have to wait until morning to see if the mountains that ring the city are snowcapped.

Night lights.

Having dumped my bags in the room I had a tough decision, should I satisfy my hunger or have a soak in the tub, the stomach won. I slinked into the restaurant and took a table for one.  Before I even saw the group of geneastars sitting across the room  I heard one of them sharing a story. It was the effervescent Cyndi holding court. I was pleased to meet Michael Lacopo (left of photo), author of the Hoosier Daddy blog (Read it). Although I was asked to join the group I politely declined as I knew I was really in need of a bath.

Geneastars at Dinner

Among the jobs I have on my list for tomorrow are: buy snacks and bottled water, locate some more genies, prepare my schedule for the week, blog, visit the FHL, research, break for retail therapy (thanks Cyndi for the discount coupon - the 20% off will make up for the fall in the Aussie dollar) and retweak my Rootstech presentation. My last job of the evening is to decide which bed will have the pleasure of my company.

Friday, February 6, 2015

GAGs - GeniAus' Gems - 6 February 2015

I'm in a a bit of a dither as this afternoon I fly out to Salt Lake City for the Rootstech Conference so while I have managed to gather some GAGs this week I cannot promise that there will be a post next week when I am soaking up the atmosphere in Slat Lake City.

I present for your reading pleasure in no particular order some selections from my RSS feeds this past week.

1. Lilian reports to her Society members on a recent outing. Why don't more Society Presidents do this?

2. Su follows the trail of a young soldier.

3. Nurse Irving was a fine figure of a woman. I'm a sucker for a good photo.

4. An Australia Day award for Murchison member.

5. A friend on Facebook (I should have noted who it was) directed me to this fascinating story about a DNA mystery. This is a Gold Star post.

6. Trove tells Amy about a family feud.

8. I wonder if Eliot was a boy scout.

9. Jess taught me something about mourning.

10. Althea takes us on a pillar box tour.

11. Thanks, Helen, I've added this to my bucket list.

12. Decrapifying is proving to be a problem for Pauleen.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Practice makes perfect (I hope)

As I may be blogging from my smartphone while in Salt Lake City for Rootstech  I thought I should practice with the Blogger Android app.

I was so proud when I added a photo, some tags and a couple of hyperlinks to the post and then uploaded it successfully. When I pulled up the GeniAus blog I could not find the post I was so proud of. I then remembered  that there is a little box at the top left of the app page where one needs to select the blog for which the post is intended.

Over I went to jillballau, the personal blog I use in fits and starts, and there was my post.

Lesson Learnt - I think I will now remember what to do when trying to post from Salt Lake City.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Getting Conference Ready - Badges, Beads and Bling

GeniAus felt almost naked when she attended Rootstech 2011, her first geneaconference in the United States.

You see I didn't realise that Badges, Beads and Bling are an important part of conference geneawear, So one of my  important pre Rootstech tasks this week is to delve into the drawers in my geneacave and gather up my collection of geneabadges and ribbons. I won't need to find any geneabeads as DearMYRTLE and Cousin Russ are providing the geneabloggers wiht a smart set of red and white beads (I am coordinating my Rootstech wardrobe to match these.)

Mr Geneabloggers, Thomas MacEntee, models geneabling at Rootstech 2012
If you are a Rootstech novice you had better get organised with some stickers, badges and ribbons to wear and swap.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

GeniAus Geneavlog - These Few Lines

I'm giving my fingers a rest today so have recorded my blog post, a book review, on Youtube.

The bibliographic details for the book in question can be found at the NLA. Apologies for the booboo I made in the broadcast where I quoted an incorrect title for the book (I am blaming stage fright).

You will need to turn your sound up to listen to the recording as (for a change) I was speaking quietly.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...