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Teaching and Troving March 12, 2016

Posted by Robbie in Crowdsourcing, Musings, News.
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It is a pleasure to share the adventure of researching Family History and, over the last four weeks, I have been sowing the seeds of what is likely to be a lifelong addiction for the students attending the course I am teaching.

In this Beginners Course, we are learning about research skills, learning how to avoid some of the pitfalls, how to be discriminating about those wonderful family legends and how to keep all that you find in the safest and most organised of manners possible.

Most importantly, we have discovered the human impact of probing into the past. I could see that not everyone thought it was relevant to be cautious about with whom they shared their most recent exciting discovery. I could warn them of the possibility that someone was likely to get upset if a long held belief was overturned or family secret uncovered and published. It was impossible to ensure that they heeded the message.

It is easy to assume that an official document like a birth, marriage or death certificate will be of all things accurate.  After all, its the official record, it will be right, surely?

I had shared my own experience of arriving at the church to find all the documents I was asked to sign had my surname spelled incorrectly.  I can recall quite clearly Canon Holt telling me I was going to be fashionably late whilst he rewrote all the paperwork – it seems I would not have been legally married if he had gone ahead with the wrong name on the certificate! My students humoured me…. but they took a second look at their own paperwork.  Imagine the surprise when one discovered that she too had a marriage certificate with her given name incorrect – she had been married for over 40 years and had never noticed!

Their heads bent over the certificates and, with fresh eyes, they looked for all those little clues that could lead to a new line of inquiry. They discovered how the details given on any certificate could be incorrect, or that information could have been missed.  They learned that death certificates could provide clues but not all the answers they sought.

But what could they do to uncover details of family comings and goings, funerals and financial scandals, deaths and deliveries, if these events occurred within the embargoed periods where state held information was protected by Privacy Acts?

This is where TROVE and the combined resources of the National Library of Australia and all the state libraries comes in.  The digitised newspaper collections accessible through TROVE can offer up all sorts of wonderful insights into the events of the day.

How wonderful is it to be able to browse the pages of the local newspaper and find the report of the wedding of your grandparents detailing the gowns, the gifts and even the grub served at the wedding breakfast?   Or perhaps a social event they attended in the weeks leading up to their wedding?

Recently, it was announced that funding cuts to the NLA would be applied to TROVE, jeopardising this world class resource and service beloved by historians, researchers, students and family historians alike.

The response was immediate – a Facebook page sprang into life, the Twitterverse went into overdrive #fundTrove and its making the news: ABC News

Trove is part of the future for research… its going to be vital in the making of this ‘clever country‘ as it is already to the many thousands who have already discovered its abundant treasures.  Why would anyone think it was a good idea to take funding away from the very place it needs to be if we are to become world leaders as smart, inventive and scholarly people?  The very nature of Trove in itself is world class – why would we settle for second best?

Support the campaign to restore and extend the funding to the NLA. Sign a Petition, write to your local Federal MP, blog about it, tweet about it, talk about it. Become part of the community that learns from and helps to build the resource that is TROVE for future generations of students, teachers, researchers and all round clever people!

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The GeneaDictionary April 19, 2015

Posted by Robbie in Musings.
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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!

 

Crowdsourcing to solve mysteries July 9, 2013

Posted by Robbie in Crowdsourcing.
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Having spoken recently at a couple of workshops on using Social Media as a means to extend your family history research opportunities, I am always on the lookout for ways in which people use that media.

Many people, particularly the more senior amongst us, have shied away from the likes of Facebook and Twitter, seeing both as something that is a waste of time, or just for the young ones or even dangerous.  There is no disputing the powerful nature of Social Media to effect change.

It can be used for good things like this “share” picture that has popped up in my feed over the past few days:

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Posted originally by Dave Golden (Penn, USA) he asks for this picture to be shared in the hope that the person to whom this dog tag belonged, can be found.  The ‘share’ notes that it was found by an Australian teacher in Vietnam 2 years ago. 57,039 people so far have spread the word about this picture in the hope of finding T. F. Martinson.

This is not the first time I have encountered historians, genealogists and even just caring people who have found something that they felt should be reunited with its owner.  Just last week it was a specialist road bike; a couple of weeks previous it was someone’s camera with precious family photos.

Many Social Media platforms can be put to good use when it comes to solving genealogical “brick walls”, reuniting families with lost historic mementos, even reuniting families.  Someone out there will know and someone will care.

Link to Dave’s Facebook Page – here

Geelong and District

covering local and family history in the greater Barwon region

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