Wednesday, 16 December 2015

30 Today: might not have been for an inch and three quarters

Today marks thirty years of employment with the Department of Health as a public health microbiologist.

Hard to believe I started on a two week Christmas vacation fill-in. Only two of us wanted to do the two week placement when offered it during our exams. The others all wanted a break. Finished the exams on the Friday and went into the job on the Monday. 

Had a good time and they apparently liked me as at the end of the two weeks they said to come back the next Monday!

I went for an actual interview in April the following year and got a permanent position. 

Suddenly in the July they realised that I had not had my medical so I rock off to that and now I have to confess a guilty secret.

I have lied on a government form.

They measured me and told me I was five foot tall. Being an honest person I said "No I am 4 foot 10 and a quarter inches (hey that quarter is important!)"

"No you are five foot"

"No I'm not"

"Look do you want the job or not?"

"Yes I do"

"Then you are five foot tall now sign this form"

And I did. In the 1980s the Queensland Health Department still had a height restriction. Females had to be five foot plus to be employed. 

So my thirty years might not have happened for the sake of  an inch and three quarters.

How many of your ancestors worked thirty years for the same employer? 

I have a few who have worked for the railway and some government departments. Many others have worked in the same occupation such as being agricultural labourers, granite quarrymen, shoemakers etc.

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

MyHeritage adds 37 millions pages from books to collection

The below press release is from MyHeritage

Huge Free Collection of Digitized Books Now Available on MyHeritage!

We've just added an exciting new collection to MyHeritage SuperSearch™, containing over 37 million pages in 150,000 books relevant to family history!
Search Compilation of Published Sources now
The new collection includes tens of thousands of digitized historical books, with actual images of the books' pages, and all their text extracted using Optical Character Recognition. The books span the last four centuries and include family, local and military histories, city and county directories, school and university yearbooks, church and congregational minutes and much more. A vast amount of rich data from diverse publications makes this collection a fantastic source of rare genealogical gems, providing insight into the lives of our ancestors and relatives.
We've added this collection using a new process that adds approximately 250 million pages to SuperSearch™ per year, utilizing a team of 40 curators. The curators examine each digitized book for relevance to family history research, and enhance its meta data if they decide to include it. The collection is sourced from various published texts that are copyright-free, and will be updated from now on several times each year.
The Compilation of Published Sources collection is located in SuperSearch™ under Books & Publications and is free to access. Easily search the collection by any of the following: first name, last name, publication title, publication date, publication place, or keywords.
Our unique and powerful Record Matching technology is now matching this new collection automatically to all family trees on MyHeritage, and users are alerted if Record Matches are found for individuals in their family tree. Correct matches can be confirmed and source citations can be extracted directly to your family tree, using the extract information feature.

Saturday, 5 December 2015

Thank you to all the Volunteers!

International Volunteer Day


The United Nations (UN) annually observes the International Volunteer Day for Economic and Social Development on December 5. 

The day, also known as International Volunteer Day, gives us the chance to thank the volunteers for all the their contributions. 

So much of what happens in family and local history societies is done by volunteers. In fact without them very few societies would be able to open their doors at all.

Some of these are done with images being sent by email or people transcribing documents such as the Will Transcription project being done by the Oxfordshire Family History Society where they have put online transcribed wills  searchable by name and place.
Others are done online such as the Queensland State Library: PitchIn project which is digitising and tagging historical Queensland documents.There are other opportunities like this where you could help with West Australian transcription & indexing projects ::
Of course, FamilySearch is the best known of the online family history indexing projects where individuals or groups can go online and index documents. They are setting up a new indexing platform which will allow you to index using your iPad or Android tablets. The below graphic was taken from the FamilySearch site today showing what can be done by many volunteers around the world. That is 102, 786, 912 million records indexed by volunteers!

They are indexing many non-English language records so if you are clever enough (unfortunately I am not) why not index another language thereby  making those records accessible to all too. 

There are a number of very special records too such as the Freedmen’s Bureau Project which currently has 10, 000 volunteers who have indexed online around 15% of the records. This will be a fantastic resource for African American research.

With 521 current open projects there is sure to be something which you would find interesting.


I think of volunteering as giving back, paying forward some kindness and in today's troubled world any kindness shared around can make life just that much brighter.

The joys of modern communication and computers means we can all give back. 

Trove the so superlative FREE, yes I said FREE Australian newspaper digitisation site also has wonderful volunteers that correct the OCR (Optical Character Recognition) text. The computer has done a varying job in recognising the characters. Many wonderful volunteers spend time correcting the test so that you are able to find that entry when you search.

My hat is doffed to John Warren the top ranker in the Hall of Fame for doing over 3 and a half million lines of corrections! (I have only managed 24, 736 lines corrected but I do try and stay in the top 1000 preferably in the top 900 depending on other commitments.)

There are so many wonderful volunteers and also so many projects that we would all dearly love to see completed.

Today on the International day of Volunteers pause for a moment to say thank you.

Then think for another about how you might be able to help. So many of these indexing projects can be done at your computer in the comfort of your home. What projects does your society have happening or are considering?

Can you spread some kindness today?

Monday, 30 November 2015

New Newspapers on Trove

Latest announcement from Trove.

Good to see so many and even some Queensland ones.

Trove's latest newspapers

Trove is pleased to announce that the following newspapers, digitised by the National Library through the Australian Newspaper Plan program, have been recently added to Digitised newspapers and more on Trove. Many of these newspapers are currently being added to Trove and further issues will become available shortly.

New South Wales
The Australian Workman (Sydney, NSW : 1890 - 1897)
The Bird O' Freedom (Sydney, NSW : 1891 - 1896)
The Dead Bird (Sydney, NSW : 1889 - 1891)
The Workers' Weekly (Sydney, NSW : 1923 - 1939)

Brisbane Telegraph (Qld. : 1948 - 1954)
The Daily Mail (Brisbane, Qld. : 1903 - 1926)
The Evening Advocate (Innisfail, Qld. : 1941 - 1954)
The Evening Telegraph (Charters Towers, Qld. : 1901 - 1921)
Johnstone River Advocate and Innisfail News (Qld. : 1928 - 1941)
The Toowoomba Chronicle and Queensland Advertiser (Qld. : 1861 - 1875)

South Australia
Border Chronicle (Bordertown, SA : 1908 - 1950)
Critic (Adelaide, SA : 1897-1924)
The Express (Adelaide, SA : 1922 - 1923)
The Pennant (Penola, SA : 1946 - 1954)
The Terowie Enterprise (SA : 1884 - 1891)

The Derwent Star and Van Diemen's Land Intelligencer (Hobart, Tas. : 1810 - 1812)
King Island News (Currie, King Island : 1912 - 1954)
The North Coast Standard (Latrobe, Tas. : 1890 - 1894)

The Colonial Mining Journal, Railway and Share Gazette (Vic. : 1858 - 1859)
The Colonial Mining Journal, Railway and Share Gazette and Illustrated Record (Melbourne, Vic. : 1859 - 1861)

Western Australia
The Avon Gazette and Kellerberrin News (WA : 1914 - 1916)
The Australian (Perth, WA : 1917 - 1923)
The Avon Gazette and York Times (WA : 1916 - 1930)
The Blackwood Times (Bunbury, WA : 1905 - 1920; 1945 - 1954)
The Leonora Miner (WA : 1910 - 1928)
Narrogin Observer (WA : 1952 - 1954)
The Northam Advertiser (WA : 1895 - 1918; 1948 - 1954)
The Pingelly Leader (WA : 1906 - 1925)
Pingelly-Brookton Leader (WA : 1925 - 1926)
The Southern Districts Advocate (Katanning, WA : 1913 - 1936)
The Sun (Kalgoorlie, WA : 1898 - 1919)
The W.A. Record (Perth, WA : 1888 - 1922)
Yilgarn Merredin Times (Southern Cross, WA : 1921 - 1923)

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Guild of One Name Studies Seminar: Perth

WAGS rooms Perth
An excellent day was had by all at the Western Australian Genealogical Society rooms today for the Guild of One Name Studies seminar day. 

It was ably organised by Ann Spiro who is the Guild's Western Australian and Northern Territory regional representative. This is a territory that covers 3, 879, 004 square kilometres and is roughly 16 times the area of the United Kingdom!

Ann Spiro left and Helen Smith 
The topics for the day after a slight change of plans from four talks to two two hour workshops, one on "Using DNA to solve Genealogical Puzzles" and the other on Fishing for Cousins:Using Blogs as Bait"

By making these lecture combined with a hands on demonstration gave a more thorough understanding of the topics.

There were even some blogs created during the presentation and I look forward to reading their posts. An informative day was had by all and I had great fun with an interested interactive audience.

Friday, 20 November 2015

The Introduction Letter: What Would You Write?

In the Internet age we take communication for granted.  We use email, Facebook, the phone and even at times write a letter to communicate with each other.We share (some people rather too much information) online about what we are doing, put up photos so the concept of not knowing people is not an easy one to consider.

Imagine being in the past, in this case 53 years ago which doesn’t seem that long ago but phone calls were not something you made as a usual thing. People did not always travel much. 

Imagine you are a parent whose son is marrying a girl in another state. 

You have never met them, only know what your son has told you and the girl’s family also don’t know you. 

They have had a short engagement of five months and the wedding is fast approaching. You are attending the wedding. 

What would you write to introduce yourself to the girl’s parents?

Below is the letter written by Lillian Smith, my grandmother, introduce herself to her new soon to be in-laws. She did leave it a bit to the last minute as Violet and David married just ten days after this letter was written.

Lady Gowrie Legacy House
12 Jersey Road
Strathfield, NSW
1 March 1961

Dear Mr and Mrs Busby,
I have tried many times to sit down long enough to write to you but as you will realize it isn’t easy, in a position like this. Seeing that the children will soon be married and no longer our responsibilities we will have the chance of meeting and getting acquainted, at the wedding. I had hoped David would not think of marriage for a few years but as they are of age and have prayed about it, and feel it is the real thing, there is no more to be said. I guess you feel the same. It seems strange doesn’t it to think they are old enough, we watch them grow up and think of them as children , then all at once they are adults. I do trust that all will go well for them, and that god will spare them to have many happy years together.
When I come back from England I hope you will come and stay with me at Manly when you come to Sydney.
I don’t know if there is anything you would like to know about us, giving your daughter to a young man is not easy, I guess, especially when you don’t know his family. David’s father was a wonderful man. He broke his neck and back getting ready for the D-Day invasion. His father was a grand man also, he died 6 years before my Husband was killed.
My own Father was a Station Master on the British Railway and served 53 years unbroken service. His father was also on the Railway. We never had any money to spare but we had big home which was open to all, there were six boys and six girls in my family and we all took our friends home, my parents expected it. We had a very happy family life. I was very disappointed at having only one son, however I shall soon have a Daughter. The Lord always supplies our needs if we wait.
I ran a long splinter down my finger yesterday so my writing isn’t all it should be, please excuse it.
I do hope you are feeling better in health, Mr Busby and that you are not too anxious about the choice your girl has made. David has always been a very self-reliant boy, at 3 years old he would collect his teddy and be in the dugout in record time. As the years went by after my Husband’s death he gradually became the man of the house. 

At 11 years when we moved into our first Australian home, he laid the lino with me and did repairs, helped with the garden and housework, more like a boy of 18. When he was 15 he started on the Railway and after just a few months asked for country relief, often he would be on level crossing gates 16 -20 miles from anywhere, in a small room out in the bush alone for 12 hour shifts sometimes where there were snakes and things he had never been used to. He did so well they transferred him to Metropolitan relief when I moved from Goulbourn to Manly. He made good progress there also and after getting five certificates and having to mark time for 18 months he decided to join the Military for 3 years. 

In some ways this may have been good, but in other ways it wasn’t so good. However it was his life and in June he will finish his 3 years and as far as I know go back to the Railway. I think boys go through a silly stage, and have crazy ideas about cars and making money etc but I believe it happens to most boys. It certainly did with David but I think I can safely say that he will take great care of your girl. He is so like his father in many ways and if I can help them in any way I can , you can rest assured I will do my best, as David will be on the Railway they will travel cheaply or free, so you will not be separated from her altogether.

I had better close, if there is anything you would like to know about us please ask and very soon now we will meet, I trust you are both well and feel happy bout Violet’s future.
God Bless You
Yours Sincerely
Lillian M. Smith


Tuesday, 27 October 2015

World War One Portraits: Museum of Brisbane

The Museum of Brisbane have put out the call for images of soldiers or nurses in uniform from World War One.The individual can be from anywhere in Australia.

They need to be original photos. The Museum has had a scanning weekend but you are still able to send your photos for the planned exhibition: 

Facing WW1: Stories of loyalty, loss and love
part of our upcoming exhibition, Facing WW1: Stories of loyalty, loss and love - See more at:
part of our upcoming exhibition, Facing WW1: Stories of loyalty, loss and love. - See more at:
part of our upcoming exhibition, Facing WW1: Stories of loyalty, loss and love. - See more at:
part of our upcoming exhibition, Facing WW1: Stories of loyalty, loss and love. - See more at:

Images must be scanned at a minimum 600 dpi and jpeg format. The deadline for emailing images is 30 November and should be emailed to
Please call Curator Phillip Manning on 07 3339 0827 if you have any queries.
For more information visit

Ernest William Weeks 5th Light Horse