Monday, November 3, 2014

Military/Service records

With the centenary of the First World War approaching, there has been a lot of interest in military and service records of family members. Below are some useful sites for locating military records and other information about Australians who served in military conflicts and records of British soldiers in Australia in the early days of settlement.

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National Library of Australia's Digital Future

The National Library of Australia (NLA) has undertaken an innovative digital library program to redevelop its infrastructure in order to manage its huge digital collections and provide access to collections from hundreds of libraries across its network. The library is expanding its online and mobile services for Australian and international users. More than 70,000 people use its Trove service each day and 22 million users were clocked up last year.  Over 3 petabytes of content is being accessed online and through mobile devices. This content includes more than 13 million digitised newspapers and hundreds of thousands of digitised Australiana items. Access to the Library’s digital content is through Trove, a free discovery and engagement service that also integrates content from more than 1000 libraries, museums, archives and research organisations. Trove offers online access to a vast catalogue of online books, newspapers, maps, music and journal articles. Trove has more than 7000 Twitter followers and tweets feature items of interest in the national collection. The NLA’s main twitter account has more than 23,000 followers. The NLA is the fourth most followed Australian government organisation and the most followed cultural institution. Using social media has proved an effective way of getting the NLA collections to online users, as increasingly, library users are online or using mobile and smart devices to download or share content. You can read more about this project at

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Great Aunty Alice

When doing our family history, we all need help from a great aunt at some time. If yours have all passed on, you could try Great Aunty Alice, a new website, which is a directory of independent genealogical researchers based across the UK and around the world. No matter what stage you are at with your family tree, whether you need help with a small specific problem or would like someone to carry out extensive research, Great Aunty Alice has an array of researchers for you to choose from.
The site contains listings of genealogists, some are professionals while others are amateurs who are willing to help. All genealogy research questions are handled privately in email, not on the web site. Of course, professionals would need to be paid for their time and everyone should be reimbursed for any expenses they may incur, such as travel expenses, photocopying fees, postage, and more.
The web site's owner does not receive commissions for clients the researchers receive, and each listing is written by the individual researcher explaining their services. Great Aunty Alice simply serves as a directory to help put people in touch.

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Monday, October 13, 2014

NSW BDM new online search

Have you tried to use the new online search facility at NSW Births, Death & Marriages? We have been spoiled in NSW with ease of searching historical registrations of births, deaths & marriages. The new search facility was to offer improvements, but they have been slow in coming and users have had to learn some new techniques to get the best use from the site.
The website address is still & from this main page go to the Family History Tab. There is no longer an annual release of registrations, but access is now available to births over 100 years old, marriages more than 50 years old and deaths more than 30 years old.
The wildcard function has been restored. You can use '?' or '*'
e.g. Anders?n to search for Anderson or Andersen (The ? replaces one character)
 or  Thom* will search for Thompson, Thomson, Thomas, Thomms etc. (The * replaces multiple characters)
A Soundex search facility is supposed to be coming.
You need to select your search i.e. Birth, death or Marriage. You are required to enter both a Surname and Given name, however if you use the wildcard *, it will help you get around this. e.g. Surname: Anderson & Given Name: * - so you get all the Andersons in the data base. Don't forget to enter a specific date or a date range. e.g. 21/4/1890 or 1/1/1890 to 31/6/1890. this will help narrow down your results.
There is a step-by-step guide to make better use of the website, but you won't get any helpful hints when using the search facility. The site is being continually improved, so users just need to be patient as better functionality is introduced.

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Sunday, October 12, 2014

NSW Probate Notices now online

Up until last year, NSW Probate notices had to be published in a newspaper. This requirement has now ceased. It is now optional, however it is a requirement of the Supreme Court of NSW that Probate Notices appear on its website at 
This is still relatively new, but should become a useful tool for family historians to check for recent deaths. You can enter quite a broad search, e.g. a surname, and the results screen will show you the full name of the deceased, their location, date of death and date that the application for probate was lodged. Clicking on their name (which is hyperlinked) opens a new screen which shows who applied for Probate, Letters of Administration etc. Although you don't get additional information such as the occupation of the deceased, at least you get an indication of where they lived and the exact date of death. You can also search by a place or postcode rather than a name. It records applications for probate which occurred after 21 January 2013 although the death may have occurred much earlier.


14th Australasian Congress on Genealogy and Heraldry

The “14th Australasian Congress on Genealogy and Heraldry” otherwise known simply as “Congress” is Australia’s largest genealogy conference. Organised by AFFHO (the Australasian Federation of Family History Organisations) this event that is only held every three years. in an Australian or New Zealand city.
This next congress will be held from Thursday 26 – Monday 30 March 2015 in Canberra, ACT
It’s not BIG in the same sense as RootsTech in the US, that can attract 10,000-15,000 people, but it is big for Australia. And for anyone that is wanting to learn everything they can about genealogy, take this opportunity to learn from so many experts.
Being in Canberra next is a plus for attendees, as it is Australia’s mecca for archives - The National Library of Australia, the National Archives of Australia, the Australian War Memorial, the National Film & Sound Archives, the National Museum of Australia, the Noel Butlin Archives Centre to mention a few.
If you bring along your non-genealogy family,  there’s plenty of things for them to do while you’re busy at the conference (
It is a four day conference, which makes the travel worthwhile. The length of the conference gives you ample time to meet, hear and learn from 34 world-renowned guest presenters. Many of these are Australian and New Zealand speakers, but there’s also quite a number of expert presenters from the northern hemisphere who’re making their way to Australia’s capital. For the speaker list, click here.
A wide variety of topics will be covered, so there really is something for everyone, including subjects for the beginner through to the advanced. Check the program here to see what the topics are. As well as a stimulating program there will be exhibitors as well.
You will get to meet, mix and mingle with many other genealogists, throughout the day, or at the various other social functions that Congress has organised.
8. If you’re attending be sure to register your research interests, so can maximise your chances of making a connection with someone.
The $550 cost is very reasonable for a four day conference, but if it is beyond your means, or you can’t attend for the full length of time, you can opt for just a single day for $140. There is  also an  EARLY BIRD PRICE of $495 if you book by 31 October 2014.
For more information about the Congress check out their website

You can also Follow them on Facebook or Twitter and subscribe to the Congress newsletters

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Monday, August 25, 2014

Irish Genealogy website closes access to records

The Irish government closed part of its genealogy website last month, after the country's data protection commissioner warned that potentially sensitive personal details were available to all.
Irish Genealogy, a website created by the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, offered people born or married in Ireland the ability to search for civil records such as birth certificates as part of their research into their heritage. But those records contain data such as dates of birth and mothers' maiden names, information which is frequently used as security questions for accounts such as online banking. That information is not legally defined as "sensitive" under Irish data protection law, but the commission stepped in to prevent the data anyway.
Billy Hawkes, the Irish data protection commissioner, said his office had been consulted on the site, but that it had not been made clear that the information available would be contemporary as well as historical.
The information contained on the website has always been publicly available, but before online access to civil records was turned on, it had required payment of a fee to get a copy of an individual record. But online, free searches offered the potential of malicious actors bulk downloading data in an effort to match up information with records from other sources.
The site, which only launched the search on Thursday 3 July, now notes that "Civil Records Search [is] temporarily unavailable … Further update will be provided."
In March 2013, when the Irish Genealogy site launched, it focused on historical records, offering users the ability to search the 1901 and 1911 censuses.

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