Thursday, 9 April 2015


The recent announcement that Ancestry's DNA genealogy testing service is expanding to Australia is one I am kind of excited about.

I have been contemplating genetic genealogy for a while and I will admit to a significant amount of curiosity and a desire to share my 'genea-map' with my 'genetic map.' Although there are websites that will create a map of ancestors for you from your gedcom files, I have been using Google maps' custom maps function to create my own. Below is a rough map of the earliest spots I have traced family lines.

Genetic genealogy may be able to tell me whether the overwhelming Englishness is as it seems. I can't wait to pester everyone for cheek swabs.

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Trove Tuesday: Bowyangs?

"WORE DUNGAREE SUIT AND BOWYANGS." News(Adelaide, SA : 1923 - 1954) 26 May 1936: 3. Web. 3 Mar 2015 <>

Yes I had to google it and then had a "huh, so that is what they are called" moment. Laurence Thomas Tulloch is my gg great grandfather on my maternal side. He arrived in Australia as crew on the City of Adelaide  in 1882.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

When things work until they don't (or why I need to rethink how I am organising my genealogy files)

My system works pretty well. Most of the time. But with the more information I collect on collateral lines and associated individuals it is getting a little unwieldy. I don't want to throw the baby out with the bath water. I like my system. But it needs rejigging and perhaps some compromising as to the creation of sub-folders. I'm not a fan of having too many sub-folders.

This is my primary genealogy folder, the hold all if you will. 

Files are organised into family lines - my maternal grandfather and grandmother, my paternal grandfather and grandmother, my other half's maternal and paternal lines - I use folder colorizer as an immediate visual aid and an underscore to keep them at the top. The TBS file is kind of embarrasing, shorthand for To Be Sorted. The stuff I have been lazy about filing correctly. The Excel files are the lists of books from the State Library, and various uni and local libraries; and State Record NSW files that I want to follow up on my next genealogy outings. Pretty straight forward so far.

But this is where it is getting messy. 

I like keeping individuals as individuals, so folder convention is in general :
You can tell my direct ancestors at a glance because, yep folder colorizer again. I do have general folders too: !Surname,  Associated Names and yes a TBS folder. The insides of individual folders looks like this:

Ignoring the Trove docs I haven't renamed yet my naming convention is : 
This is Nip Sinclair's folder but you can see a few non-Nip files. One is his first wife and two pertain to Obituaries he is mentioned in, and Sinclair&Co is of course his business dealings. I feel a certain amount of guilt at having Hilda only as a subset of Nip. It offends my Feminist principles. But creating folders for every individual is my getting overwhelming.

I cannot always remember who belongs to who family wise or if they are even related. I like knowing about associated people, I like outlining relationships. But how do I do this in such a hierarchical folder structure? 

I like my system for its focus on individuals, chronological sorting within individuals, and the ease of searching...when I know what or who I am looking for, but I can't help feeling that the more people I add the less it will work and I am going to have to submit to sub-folders. I just don't know how. 

Monday, 16 February 2015

Software Frustrations

One of the big topics in genealogy across the web this year has been the Genealogy do-over. While I am not participating, I have - like many others - decided that it is a good idea to do some general housekeeping and making sure that my research is up to snuff. I am generally pretty good at recording sources and such due to all those years in an academic environment so I am adding detail.

Well attempting to.

I keep running into a persistent problem. Genealogy Software.  It just doesn't do what I want and need it to. Whether this is a function of the adherence to the dinosaur that is GEDCOM or the direct familial relationship model of genealogy I don't know. But it frustrates the crap out of me. I know I am not the only one, Tony Procter over at Parallax View and Louis Kessler of Behold Genealogy have written some marvelous posts on the subject.

So want is it exactly I want my genealogy software to do?
I want it to look beyond familial relationships. I'm a big proponent of cluster genealogy. I didn't know that there was an actual name for it, I just figured it was genealogy, but yes cluster genealogy. I want to be able to record information about entire communities. Windellama is a prime example for me.  As are the German Immigrants on the Commodore Perry. In both cases, the interactions and interrelations between a small number of families over about a 50-100 year period is fascinating.

I don't just want people, I want entities. Ships in particular. The Commodore Perry, the Neptune, the Earl Grey... Passengers on immigrant ships often were connected and remained connected in ways that genealogy software cannot account for. I want to be able to group people via an entity.

Events. Like entities, I want to be able to focus on people linked by events.

User-defined colour coding of ALL THE THINGS. Because I tend to record 'unrelated' people in my genelogy software I like to be able to colour code direct ancestors for quick reference. My maternal grandfather's line is red, maternal grandmother's green (it is her favourite colour), paternal grandfather's is blue, paternal grandmother's is yellow. My partner's maternal line is orange and his paternal purple (I was running out of coloured highlighters...) I also like information groups to be colour coded so I know at a glance whether I have birth info, death info etc.

There are other incidental things I'd like such as the ability to define things beyond Births, Deaths, Marriages and the occasional census; all the minute details of life that I collect, but those are the biggies.

I have customised The Master Geneologist through the use of tags and the somewhat awkward creation of a surname group '!Ship' for linkage via witness/associates but this is far from ideal. TMG is great at the colour-coding thing too which is possibly why I shed a tear or too when it ceased development.

Over the past year I have also tried Family Historian, Gramps, OneNote, Word, and Excel. I have just downloaded a trial of Behold. At the moment what is working for me is a combination of TMG, Timelines and Narratives manually written in Word with Endnote as my citation software simply because it and I are old friends with an extended comfort level, a OneNote research journal and general scratch pad, Excel research logs and comparative timelines, and a set of stubbornly adhered to file and folder naming conventions. It works, but it could work better ya know.

Friday, 16 January 2015

Hello 2015 and a visit to the State Records Office

Yes, yes, I am aware that it is now 16 days into 2015 but the truth is between finishing my Masters, getting the results - I passed of course - Christmas, New Year and the beginning of this week; I kind of just collapsed. In a heap. And did a whole lot of nothing. Well, if nothing is defined as eating too much, drinking too much and reading a whole lot of novels.

But thanks to Janelle, over at Janelle's Family Tree Addiction, I was back into the swing of things by the 13th. You see Janelle was lovely enough to organise a day trip and tour of the State Records Office at Kingswood. So spurred into productivity I preordered 4 probate packs but didn't think about what further I might want to look at. One can only be so organised when one is still off in the land of novels and general laziness.

The tour of the archives lasted about an hour and was a brilliant look at the masses of buildings, shelvings and infrastructure needed to house the State Archives and the Government Document Repository. We got a peek also at some of the things the Conservators are working on at the moment and I have to say, theirs is quite a task. Stuck together parchment, crumbling paper, water damage, general age. I was good. I didn't make a single joke about Librarian's Lung or Anthrax.

Then a quick lunch and onto the reading room where my Probate Packets were waiting for me. It is interesting to see all the goods and chattels listed for valuation. Death duties may be an unfair tax but gee it made for excellent family history resources. In ggreat grandmother Julia's there were a couple of letters hinting perhaps at a little family dispute. Julia, you see left everything to be divided equally amongst her four surviving daughters, three from the first marriage and one from her second. One son at least appears to have not been a happy chappy about this. Looking at my grandfather's was just heartbreaking and I think perhaps in hindsight something I should have left alone for another twenty years. It has been filed away with the newspaper reports.

The Probate Packets of great grandfather James Muffett and the convict Robert Bird, progenitor of the Bird line; while interesting; held no surprises. I was left with at least three more hours of prime research time. The choices, the choices!

I eventually decided to order up the Deceased Estate file for Robert Muffett and the Administration file for Rosevale School. Now the Deceased Estate file was a nice look into farm life in the late 19th Century. But the School file. THE SCHOOL FILE.

An absolute treasure trove. I only had time for a cursory look through the hundreds of pages of correspondence, memos, lease agreements and reports but it is a glorious thing. And this, see this:

That would be a copy of Robert Muffett's Will from the School File. THE SCHOOL FILE. Ahem yes. I need to spend some quality time with that file to see what other gems it does possess.

Overall I would call my first visit to the State Records Office a success and I am now keeping a spreadsheet of all the files I want a look at for future visits. (It is a work in progress of course)

This may be the impetus I need to get my driver's license and finally join the ranks of actual grown ups. Or I might just decide that 6 hours on public transport makes for excellent reading time.

Friday, 5 December 2014

Is this thing on?

Um hello. Yes, it has been awhile, but my Masters project was submitted last week and suddenly my time is once again my own. Well except for job hunting and hausfrau-ing, the latter of which I am unbelievably terrible at.  It runs in the family ;)

Of course now that I am ready to pick up my research again I have found myself in a bit of a pickle. My notes are in absolute chaos and I cannot remember exactly what it was I was working on. Not to mention the build up of untagged and unfiled documents and photos. And my favourite genealogy program; The Master Genealogist becoming obsolete.

Where should one start?

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Is it really July?

The year has been creeping away from me. Not much genealogy has been done in the past few months as I have been head down and concentrating on my Master's but with recent contact from various relatives and a couple of weeks break I am enthusiastic and ready to dive in again