Wordless Wednesday

Shades of Autumn


The Hamilton Spectator needs you!

There are only a few hours left to pledge your support to get the Hamilton Spectator digization project up and running.


Support Inside History and the National Library of Australia in their campaign to crowd fund this iconic regional newspaper. Here’s the link to the Pozible site: http://www.pozible.com/project/191002#p2

Time’s running out…. make your pledge now!

The GeneaDictionary

The wonderful Jill Ball aka Geniaus has the most amazing collection of words, phrases, inventions and descriptions of a language that is devoted to the world of family history and genealogy – there are some classic terms explained, new ones you never would have imagined and a whole heap that you recognise as having crept into your own daily use lexicon.

Tim Sherratt (@wragge) couldn’t contain his delight at having discovered there was a whole list of Trove related words that had evolved as the Trove user community had grown over the past few years. Carmel Galvin (@crgalvin) has created this great list in her Troveictionary.

So here I was this morning taking a look around to see what else I could find in the way of free online courses for those amongst us who have caught the study bug. Quite a few of the students who completed the UTAS course on Family History have gone on to study other subjects like ‘Introduction to Technology for Healthy Living’ and FutureLearn‘s courses on WW1 – quite a few including myself are currently engaged with World War 1: A History in 100 Stories being presented by Monash University.

I found a site that was offering a course on researching British Army nurses. Of course it was necessary to share this information with my fellow students which I did via Twitter and on the Family History course’s Facebook group page.

In the process of keeping to the character limit for Twitter, I coined the term “genistudents” – in my head I defined it as family historians and genealogists who improve their knowledge through online study. It also struck me that there are a number of us who have become quite addicted to the online delivery model and can’t help signing up immediately a new course pops up!

Knowing of Jill’s GeneaDictionary, I just had to pop over to her blog and check whether it was already there….. and, lo and behold, it isn’t!

So… distraction for the day complete, I must get back to that study or I will fall behind!


Women of Empire Exhibition – Capitol Theatre, Bendigo

Last week, my friend Sonja and I went to visit “Women of Empire” Exhibition in Bendigo, Vic.  The exhibition closed here in Bendigo on Wednesday but as it is touring (and growing) over the next few years, a review is still relevant.

A major project of the Dressing Australia Museum of Costume, this exhibition looks at the role of women during the years of WW1.  It examines the careers and contributions of many women and vividly illustrates just how they would have been dressed at the time.

One of the outstanding features of these beautiful costumes is the size… or should I say, lack of size.  Those waists were waspishly thin, those shoes tiny and narrow and the women whose clothing was on show certainly weren’t tall.  It is remarkable to see how we have grown in just 100 years.

On the day we visited, curator Fiona Baverstock was on hand to talk about some of the pieces, to tell us about the touring future of the collection and to explain the wonderful carpet of poppies that stretched across the carpet.  I had noticed that on display were a number of large framed embroidered pieces and postcards that were sent or brought home by servicemen. However, there were none of the embroidered postcards that were a feature of wartime correspondence.

A quick trip back the next day and Fiona had four embroidered postcards to display for the rest of the exhibition in Bendigo. It is envisaged they will also be part of Kyneton’s and Ballarat’s exhibitions in the coming months. A future post will describe these items… and hopefully find families with whom they will be reunited.


Screen shot of Women of Empire website
Screen shot of Women of Empire website

Where you can see the exhibition in the next few months:


Monday 20 April 2015 – Sunday 31 May 2015

Bowen Library, Anzac Avenue, Maroubra & Waverley Library, Sydney


Friday 5 June 2015 – Sunday 21 June 2015

Kyneton Museum, Piper Street, Kyneton

Telephone – (03) 5422 0333


Friday 11 July 2015 – Sunday 19 July 2015

St Patrick’s Hall, Ballarat

Ticketing details to be advised

For information call 03 54 68 7418


Searching for Signatures

Today’s Melbourne paper “The Age” carries an article by Bridie Smith about a 19th Century signature quilt.

You can read the article here.

The challenge for conservators is to identify all the people whose names appear on the quilt.  What a challenge for the geniesleuths amongst us!  Who wouldn’t want to take up the challenge of identifying those mysterious donors and the story of this wonderful work of art and its fundraising background.

The National Museum of Australia has already begun some of the research but now needs the help of the public in order to identify some of the donors.  As we are all no doubt aware, not everyone pops up in the Australian Dictionary of Biography as a potential source! Check out the research progress here.

Signature quilts and quilts with signatures worked into them, like the Victorian era Crazy Quilts, are the most wonderful source of family history.  Signature quilts were, as described by the NMA, often used as a means to fund raise for specific purposes.  They were sometimes known as shilling quilts – as that was the price to ‘buy’ your space for your name to appear.

Shilling quilts were used by Red Cross groups to raise funds to support the work of the Red Cross during World War 1.  I believe there is one such quilt in the hands of a local historical society in Melbourne but at the time of writing was unable to confirm this.

Perhaps the most well known signature quilts are in the possession of the Australian War Memorial – I refer, of course, to the Changi Quilts created during WW2 by women prisoners in held Changi Prison – the history of these quilts can be read here.


This is just one of the blocks created in the Australian Changi Quilt – all the blocks and the complete quilt can be viewed on the AWM website along with transcriptions and descriptions of each individual block.

When a quilt of this nature is held in a public institution, it becomes something more than its initial purpose.  Quilts such as these have become, in effect, memorials to those people whose names appear on them.  They no longer fulfill the goal of fundraising, having done their duty in this role at the time the quilt was created.  They no longer offer a distraction from the horrors and boredom of prolonged incarceration as this time has passed.  They do, however, provide us with some small insight into the lives, aspirations and conditions in society at the time they were created.

A quilt such as that which is currently being studied and researched by the curators at NMA tells us something of society in Melbourne and Sunbury at the time of its creation.  It is also a reflection of the skills of the women who created it and these are quite possibly not the names recorded thereon.  Yet this quilt stands testament to their devotion to church and community.

Do you have quilts in your family treasures collection? These wonderful objects conceal stories about which we can only guess, especially those in the hands of family members treasured as often all is known is that great great grandmother bought the quilt with her on the journey from England or Ireland in the 1800’s, or from Scotland early last century. There are some families who treasure their Scandanavian and German pieces, others who have American made quilts acquired whilst their ancestors followed the gold from California to Ballarat and beyond.

Embroidery Sampler originally brought to Australia by Lucy Jane Dixon (nee Banks)
Embroidery Sampler originally brought to Australia by Lucy Jane Dixon (nee Banks)

I am lucky enough to have pieces of embroidery and a lace veil that made the journey from Liverpool to New Zealand in the 1870’s and then on to Australia in the 1880’s.

Not all signature pieces are quilts…. cushions, tea cosies, piano covers all appeared at times during the Crazy patchwork fashion period. This lovely example is still a mystery:

Crazy Patch Tea Cosy Side 1    Crazy Patchwork Tea Cosy side 2

Front and reverse of a Crazy Patchwork Tea Cosy made in velvets, silks, cottons and other fabrics dated 1899. As all the initial sets end in R, it is reasonable to assume this has been made by a family group or is intended to record a family.


AFFHO Congress 2015…. still!

I’ve been a home a few days now and have finally unpacked the conference satchel.  I haven’t unpacked my head yet – there are so many thoughts floating about, clues to follow, posts to write, books to read and contacts to enter up in the database.

I was reminded today of one of the finals day’s presentations from Tim Sherratt, manager of Trove , the treasure house of wonderful information and resources available to us all via the National Library of Australia.  Tim’s entertaining presentation explored the how, when, where and why of Trove as well as some of the places it is going in the future.

One of the interesting sidelines of the Trove service and, by default, community that has grown up around the site is how ‘Trove’ as a word has entered the lexicon. My house mate commented over breakfast this morning about how, on a word site he belongs to, they define a word a day.  Trove, they say,  is usually found in the company of treasure as a phrase and nowhere else is it in common use…..that is, except in Australia!


Shhhhh! We won’t tell that word site about the online game called Trove, will we?

Tim was delighted to recount examples of how the extended Trove community was creating its own ways of interacting with Trove.  He gave examples of amazing efforts in OCR text correction, support by local history groups in submitting their digitized newspapers for inclusion, IT gurus who have taken the Trove API and created new ways of interacting with the service, blog posts like ‘Trove Tuesday’ and particularly Carmel’s Troveictionary!

We can all be part of expanding this wonderful resource if we so choose.  We can give back by text correcting the OCR transcriptions of articles, we can add tags and build lists thereby enhancing the search experience for others; if we are smart enough, we can build our own TroveBot or QueryPic as Tim has done.We-Need-You-v1_3

We can also help to make it possible for more resources to be added by contributing to the fund raising for the digitization of the Hamilton Spectator, a Victorian Western District newspaper, from 1860 to 1913.  Inside History magazine has launched a Pozible Fundraising campaign to raise $10,000 needed to complete this project.

Your support is needed and would be welcomed!  You can help get the Hamilton Spectator into Trove.