Wednesday, February 8, 2012

A new start

I haven't blogged here for a long time. There are many people who are distant relatives who have read these pages, taken information from them, and without bothering to share theirs in return. I've always been generous with what I have learnt, and in some cases have been fortunate to speak with and get to know a few other generous people. But they are not in the majority. Hence, there are many broad themes explored here, but without any real detail, as you'd find in my personal archives.

Where some people have been silly enough to copy and paste some of my unverified research, most of it has since gone on to be proven several times over, whilst other elements have proven to be errors. So when I see those errors copied and published elsewhere, it's always very obvious that it was written by someone selfish, and it's not worth my time to give them the updated details.

For an up-to-date body of work that I am currently publishing, mostly unrelated to my family history, see

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Moving Day!

Please don't mind the mess. The new website is online.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Last post?

Apologies to anyone I haven't replied to as yet, but I've been very busy with a couple of projects. This will probably be my final post here on blogger, before unleashing a new, more easily maintained and organised blog elsewhere. That's project numero uno.

Project two involves a larger scale, collaborative project. More on that when I know exactly where I'm going with it!

Thursday, March 11, 2010


Patience is the name of the game, especially in relation to the release of new archival sources to the internet. Do you get excited when you find a new email waiting in your inbox, notifying you of a new research source available at Ancestry? Can you contain your enthusiasm for the regular Lost Cousins newsletter? Or how about notification of new newspaper batches placed onto the NLA newspaper site?

I'm guilty of all the above. It may be particularly geeky to be so enthralled and enraptured by newly available resources, but that's OK. It's just you and I that know, right? I won't tell.

At the moment, I'm drumming my fingers waiting around for the above mentioned NLA newspaper additions. It's been some time since the last official update via email, and one is generally given by February, but there is no sign so far. The crux of Australia's major metropolitan newspapers have been digitized and uploaded, and now, hopefully, we'll see the addition of some more specialized, regional/rural newspapers as the original release list hints. The Sydney Morning Herald has been a gold mine for researching my family history, and for history in general. The Melbourne Age has been interesting and useful as well. But it's the regional newspapers that will give the best results, I think, given that my ancestors were based primarily in the Far North of New South Wales, and around the Murray / Riverina areas. Time will be telling. 

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

WDYTYA, USA - s01e01 Review

Having viewed the latest iteration of Who Do You Think You Are, I must say that I'm quite surprised! The American edition, produced by Lisa Kudrow and featuring Sarah Jessica Parker as the star of the first episode was an enjoyable piece of television. It remained true to the formula as originally set out by the UK production, despite a sometimes overt push for drama where it only existed in a mild form. Yes, it did have the obligatory American styled 'Entertainment Tonight' angle, pumping up the story, complete with dramatic music, but in most cases it didn't interfere with the basic premise of the show. It allowed for the story to unfold, and with help of the program's focal point (Parker), who offered her voice to the bulk of the programs narration (a welcome change to previous version's relying upon face to camera interviews).

I didn't learn much about American genealogy research, but the show did offer some excellent insights into events such as the Salem Witch Trials, and the California Gold Rush (which I'm interested in for a branch of my mother's genealogy that ventured there from Australia in the early 1850's).

The American WDYTYA is a worth addition to the others so far developed. It may not be a great research help, but it is highly enjoyable.

Friday, February 12, 2010


A long time coming, but finally the US series of Who Do You Think You Are has finally been wrapped up and is ready for the public. Great stuff. I've greatly enjoyed the original UK offering, the occasional Canadian episode, and the Australian series has fantastic production values as well. Hopefully the wait for the US series will have been worthwhile and it won't be another in a long line of watered down American translations of a hit British television programs. However, given the quality of the previews so far, I'd imagine it will pass with flying colours.


Saturday, February 6, 2010

Restricted web searching

Of the many genealogical tools at your disposal, which do you use most often? Is it ancestry com? How about your local family group? Maybe even a major archive or library? Whilst these are all common and well used research tools, I’d suspect that for most genealogists the most commonly used tool would actually be

Google is many things. It’s a starting point and a friend when we’re sometimes stumped for ideas, and it’s also so ubiquitous in our daily lives that at times we can barely register the truth of just how often we use it. Google has strangely become a universal font of knowledge, and one that is all too easily trusted, despite the obvious myriad reams of crap one must trawl through in order to find the truth. It is what it is, and quite clearly it’s a search engine. THE search engine.

However, is that about to change? Is google about to find itself caught between a rock and a hard place? The evidence is certainly building to that being the case, with the news that Rupert Murdoch’s News Ltd empire (Sky TV UK, Star TV Asia, Fox USA, Foxtel Australia) is no longer going to allow google to index its websites.

So what does that mean for genealogy? Well, immediately it means very little. But in the medium to long term it means that google, bing, yahoo and all of the other competing search engines are going to find that they will no longer be the one-stop solution that has served us so well.

Currently, search engines are formatted so that an illusion of universal record is maintained. The expectation is that almost every website on Earth has been indexed, and can be found in searches in descending order of popularity. This however is only partially true. Search engines often rank lesser websites ahead of those that have earned their popularity, simply because they provide the engines with a revenue source. They then rank the remaining websites only after the paying customers sites have been indexed.

Can you imagine doing a search for your great grandmother, and only having a third, or less, of all search results that are currently available missing, simply because the websites that contain your ancestors data are no longer dealing with the search engine you most commonly use?

This perhaps is the stark, unfriendly online world that we will face, and only just around the corner. So, enjoy the encyclopaedic form of web searching currently available, as it may soon be a thing of the past.