Define your Dash…. January 11, 2017Posted by Robbie in Musings.
Tags: Dawkins, define the dash, family history, genealogy
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When this line popped up in my Twitter feed, I was sucked in. I had to go and see what this was all about. It seems that there’s a challenge been started to define the bits of your life that fall between the two dates that bookend your life – birth date and death date.
I had to think about this for a bit – here I am spending hours each day or so ‘defining the dash’ of my ancestor’s lives, but I spend no time at all thinking about my own experiences, memories, stories, achievements, failures, the joys or sad moments. My first reaction was that this was a rather narcissistic exercise, then I thought it would be time wasted as no one would be interested.
The idea of this challenge is that you put pen to paper – or finger to keyboard – and write once a week. Now that for some would be a challenge in itself but the proposal contained lots of handy hints about topic areas you could address if inspiration failed you. By the end of the year, you would have put together 52 little vignettes that would tell others something about you and your life in that time represented by the dash.
I made the first move – I acquired a notebook. That was the easy bit. So far the notebook has just found its place on a table somewhere and hasn’t managed to tempt me to sully its virgin pages as yet. The discipline of regular writing isn’t something that comes naturally to me: I often start with good intentions and fail to follow through.
So, its off to read that blog post again recommending this activity taking note of those prompts and perhaps managing story number one this week (and to make the resolution to catch up on the other weeks I have missed!)
Another round of classes July 22, 2016Posted by Robbie in News.
Tags: Ancestry.com.au, family history, GoDigi, Maldon, MOOC, study, UTAS
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Not content with currently studying two units of the UTAS Diploma of Family History, I decided to sign up for a MOOC. What’s a MOOC?
A MOOC is a Massive Open Online Course – you can search for and take part in free online courses offered by Universities all over the world by looking here. What a great way to learn about something new!
And just what did I decide to study? Preventing Dementia. This is a MOOC offered by UTAS and its an area I have wanted to investigate and learn about. There’s a unit to do with Dementia offered in the degree I’m enrolled in that I had considered taking on this semester but chose to leave it until next year by which time I would have just about finished the Family History course. In the meantime, it seemed like a good idea to take this short unit and bring myself up to speed on all things demented before I launched into the other unit.
MOOCs are a great way to break into study as an adult – no fees, no exams, no stress and a supportive international student cohort who are all in the same place as you. Learning to navigate the delivery of the MOOC subject matter through UTAS is also a great way to learn their formal online study delivery system without the pressure of passing or failing hanging over you.
My local neighbourhood centre has invited me back to facilitate a second round of Family History classes – so not only am I knee deep in learning, I’ll be sharing those skills with others as well. If you’re a Central Victorian and want to get started on your own research, there are just a couple places left in this 4 week class that begins in August. Enrol here.
The neighbourhood centre has a computer lab and a library subscription to Ancestry.com.au so you don’t even need to have a computer to be able to get started – the centre is a GoDigi partner and have mentors in place for people wanting some IT guidance and support.
Saturdays in the Sun July 11, 2016Posted by Robbie in Musings.
Tags: family history, photographs, summer, winter
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Its the depths of winter here in Central Victoria. This morning there was ice everywhere, mist in the valleys and early morning smoke from kitchen stove hanging in the air. It was crisp and bright with promise of a cold but clear day.
This is about as far away from summer as you can get. I decided that I would spend the day scanning, sorting and filing some of the family archive images. Despite my resident feline’s best attempts at disruption, I managed to get a small of work completed.
This image caught my fancy:
At a rough estimate, I would suggest that it was taken about 1959-60 and would have been somewhere like Sandringham beach. The young man to the left of the image is my immediately younger brother, and I am the young lady in the fetching ruched bathing costume. There are no annotations on the image to identify the other children but I suspect that the gentleman is a neighbour – his profile was almost instantly recognisable to me even after all this time. The other children would then most likely be his two eldest sons.
Then there’s the odd dark mark in the sky….. Is it a bird? Is it a plane?
It was possibly a grain of sand on the lens…. whatever it was, it prompted memories of the brouhaha that always erupted with reports of UFO sightings. Reports of strange lights, odd shaped flying crafts and weird looking creatures were a regular feature of news reports of my childhood. I wonder whether the ease of access to affordable cameras and photography as a skill being more popularly spread post World War 2, led to this explosion of ‘falsified’ images purporting to represent theses extraterrestrial beings.
Classic summer experiences of childhood like these bring back the pain of too much sun…. I was, more often than not, red raw by the end of the day. There was always a tube of zinc cream about – but my fair skin just didn’t appreciate too long an exposure. These days, I prefer wild beaches in the depths of winter. No people about…. no sticky sand flies….. no risk of sunburn!
Wedding Wednesday Revisited July 6, 2016Posted by Robbie in Wedding Wednesday.
Tags: Facebook, family history, Honiton, pictures, Richardson, Wedding
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Some twelve or so months ago, I wrote a post about the Richardson family Honiton Lace wedding veil. As part of the post I included a copy of the only image I had found amongst the family treasures of my grandmother Dorothy Una Ophelia (Richardson) Stockfeld.
Posting this image has resulted in some wondrous happenings – firstly it connected me with a hitherto unknown second cousin. That connection has resulted in some profitable exchanges of information, pictures and stories, new friends on Facebook and, just last month, the chance to meet with said cousin and one of her sisters.
Whilst they were here, we worked through the information I had collected on the maternal side of our family, we exchanged more information, we explored the area where their grandfather (my great uncle) was killed in air crash in 1945, we ate a great deal and talked for hours.
After they had gone home, I started back at work on the latest units of study in the UTAS Diploma of Family History. One of those units covers images – so back to the box of photos I was steadily working through archiving, scanning, identifying and storing.
Yesterday I found a negative – just floating about loose in the jumble. A quick look as I held it up to the light revealed what looked like three figures suspiciously like a wedding party. This morning, with some help from the resident tech expert, the image was revealed.
What a delightful surprise it was to find another part of the story of my Gran’s wedding day. Now the challenge is to identify the two young ladies accompanying her on her special day. It is possible they are two of Gran’s Dixon cousins as she grew up with a great tribe of girls around her.
Perhaps one of these ladies, seen here with my Grandmother some 55 years after the wedding, might be one of those fresh faced girls?
Study…. July 1, 2016Posted by Robbie in Musings.
Tags: family history, school, study, UTAS
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I’m often asked why I spend so much time on researching family history – not just mine, but other people’s families as well. History of any sort has always been something that I have enjoyed. Whilst at high school, I took every history class I could. I attended high school at a time when classes were streamed with either a Maths/Science emphasis, Humanities or Commercial emphasis.
Those in the Maths/Science stream were invariably tagged as the bright kids, the Humanities tended to average but creative and the Commercial were going to be the early school leavers. The Commercial stream subjects included Home Economics, Typing and Shorthand; subjects I could never have imagined myself needing or wanting to study.
I fell into the Humanities basket – creatively average! I hated the languages but was forced to study them right through to Year 12. I also just managed to scrape through to Year 12 in the basic Maths class which was also compulsory. Where I had some choice was in the History areas. Over the latter years, we could choose – and I chose them all. Everything that was offered, I did.
I’m not good with the dates or the major wars – that sort of History isn’t captivating. What fascinates me is the how people lived, what factors influenced their life choices, how world events could affect the ordinary person, how did the not-so-ordinary person function within the society’s strictures, customs and expectations at any given time. The list could go on and on.
At one point, I spent a great deal of time looking at the history of people marginalised by their sexuality or their calling – there’s not a lot of people about who would read for ‘entertainment’ histories documenting the dire fates awaiting homosexuals in the 18th Century if they were discovered. Such reading enabled me to understand the influence of the church on the law, societal standards and double standards, impacts of industrialization in UK and Europe and how women could be financially independent at a time when they were still regarded as property. So illuminating!
Is it any wonder that, when I discovered that the University of Tasmania was offering units of online study in Family History, I jumped in boots and all? I haven’t studied formally for the best part of 40 years. I wasn’t going to let that stop me although I doubted whether my research and writing skills would be of the required standard, let alone my computer skills.
It seems I needn’t have been too concerned. I was up to the mark – and I have developed somewhat of an addiction to study. I have to date completed three units of the Diploma of Family History and am currently enrolled in two more. There are three more to complete for the Diploma and my name is on the list for those.
Just because I could, I have also undertaken three units in the Health Sciences field and a Photography unit in the Arts stream. My results have all been pretty good – High Distinctions – although in the Diploma we are only given an ungraded pass as a final result, we are marked and graded as we complete each assessment.
Why am I doing this? Why not? Just because I am technically a “Senior” doesn’t mean that I can’t continue to broaden my horizons, expand my skills, meet new people and generally want to be challenged by the unknown. I want to learn – so why not learn about something that intrigues and delights me?
I can hear the observant muttering “But what about those Health Science units she mentioned. What’s that got to do with family history?” Good question. They were offered and I thought that I might give them a try after having successfully completed the first unit of the Family History diploma. They hooked me in too as they were just as much about answering some of those questions posed earlier. What factors influence how people behave/eat/exercise? More opportunities to explore social issues in a health science environment couldn’t be ignored. Besides, they helped out with better equipping me as an effective volunteer in the health and aged care sector.
So, one creatively average high school student has evolved into a multidisciplinary mature aged university student. I’m studying History, Art, Health Sciences and English across three different study plans online at a Uni I will probably never set foot in and I’m having the time of my life!
I’ve realised, having got to the end of this post, that my real reason for writing was because I had received the latest unit results today. I wanted to celebrate my achievement. Instead I’ve reflected – that English class must have taught me something after all!