15 August 2019

'DNA Down Under', and Newsletter Interests

  • After attending the first of the 'DNA Down Under' conferences, I am now even more enthusiastic about using DNA tests as a tool for family history. My comments and thoughts are in Why we enjoyed 'DNA Down Under'.

  • If you've subscribed to my free family history newsletter, check your Inbox (and, if necessary, your Spam folder) for today's email about using the 'update your preferences' link and ticking the boxes to say which topics interest you.

11 August 2019

Family History News, 11 Aug 2019

Some people apparently didn't receive my email newsletter, so I'll post it here.

  • In the past month, over 46,000 records have been added to the Ryerson Index. This is a truly magnificent online resource. Ryerson Index entries often include age, place of death, place of residence etc, which can lead you to other sources. Some entries are for death/funeral notices that you can see in Trove. Others are for newspapers that you'll find at a State Library.

  • On August 4th I added more names to the Insanity and Unsound Mind index, which now has more than 20,000 entries. This latest batch included surnames beginning with B, C, D, K, L, N and O.

  • There have recently been significant improvements to Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages online indexes for Victoria.

  • The City of London Cemetery and Crematorium (England) has made 440,000 digitised records, dating from 24 June 1856 to 7 Oct 1955, available online (free) as part of a pilot scheme. Select the time period that you want to search, then scroll through the images.


Genealogy Discounts and Freebies currently has links for these new discount offers:
  • During Aug 2019, downloadable historical birth, death and marriage certificates for Victoria cost just $20.

  • Until midnight (AEST) tonight (11 Aug 2019), full transcriptions of historical birth, death and marriage certificates for New South Wales are just $18.

  • Copies of Queensland's old age pension records are half price until 9am on 15 Aug 2019.

  • Until 14 Aug 2019, AncestryDNA tests *in the UK only* are cheaper.

  • During Aug 2019, new members pay a reduced price to join the Queensland Family History Society.

  • During Aug 2019, Family Tree DNA has discounts of between $20 and $150 depending on which test or upgrade you order.
More details are on Genealogy Discounts and Freebies.

New publications

Research tips

Genealogy software won't always warn you when you enter nonsense (eg, someone dying at age 150, or children born after the mother's death date). I recently added this comment to a tree on Ancestry:

'Sarah Jane NICHOLSON is my great-great-grandmother. Your tree says her father was Richard NICHOLSON, born c.1781, who married Mary MILLER 27 Feb 1775. That's impossible - he can't have married before he was born. And the Mary MILLER who married Richard NICHOLSON in 1775 cannot be the mother of Sarah Jane NICHOLSON born c.1830, because by then Mary would probably have been in her 70s.'

To avoid making silly mistakes like this, I recommend using FTAnalyzer (available for Windows and Mac) to find errors in your tree.

Success story

I recently broke down a long-standing genealogy 'brick wall' when I succeeded in identifying another set of 5xgreat-grandparents. My favourite genealogy research strategy worked once again! More details are in How I Found Sarah Sheppard's Parents.


This week I'm going to Brisbane for the first of the 'DNA Down Under' conferences. Similar events will be held in Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Canberra and Sydney. If you want to book for one of those cities but you live in the Northern Territory, Tasmania or New Zealand, email the organisers and ask for a special discount coupon code for NT/Tas/NZ residents. Note that the Sydney programme is almost entirely different from those in the other five cities. Details are on the DNA Down Under web site. Those who pre-book are entered into a prize draw, with a total prize pool of more than $17,000.

Did You Know?

Members of the Queensland Family History Society can (as a benefit of membership) have free access to the genealogy site MyHeritage from your home computer (via the society's website).


Genealogy is my *business*, not just a hobby. My Web site has lots of free advice, plus details of my professional services. Before you ask me a question, please read both of these pages and follow relevant links:

* http://www.judywebster.com.au/prof.html

* http://www.judywebster.com.au/index.html.

(This post first appeared on https://updatesgenie.blogspot.com/2019/08/family-history-news-11-aug-2019.html.)

8 August 2019

No.57 (free genealogy newsletter)

Because of time constraints, I now use my free email newsletter (instead of this blog) to share news about genealogy resources and events, plus my personal tips on research techniques and records for family history. On the sign-up form, note the advice below the 'subscribe' button. If you tick 'Prize draws and competitions', you will be eligible for rewards that are not available to the general public.

Recent editions are online (for a limited time) in the newsletter archive. It's only a few months since the newsletter began, but already 640 people have elected to receive it, and the feedback has been excellent.

(This post first appeared on https://updatesgenie.blogspot.com/2019/08/no57-free-genealogy-newsletter.html.)

27 April 2019

No.56 (genealogy news)

Links open in new windows. If you share the tips below, the Creative Commons license requires that you acknowledge the source as http://updatesgenie.blogspot.com.

  • Newsletter:   I'm now sending my email newsletter via Mailchimp. When you subscribe via the online form, you'll receive an email asking you to confirm your request. If it doesn't arrive promptly, check your Spam folder. The form is at www.judywebster.com.au/subscribe.html. If you'd like a 'sneak peak', the March edition of the newsletter is online for a limited time.

  • DNA tests:   Several DNA testing companies are offering reduced prices, but most of them end on April 28th. Links are on Genealogy Discounts and Freebies.

  • Learning about DNA:   You have until 30 April 2019 to take advantage of Early Bird discounts on bookings for DNA Down Under, a world class DNA themed conference and road show featuring Blaine Bettinger. The August 2019 events in Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Canberra and Sydney (Australia) will include topics suitable for all levels (beginner to expert), plus an exhibition of product and service suppliers, DNA interest groups, etc. If you have not done a DNA test and want to know how it can help with your family history, or if you have tested but are unsure what to do with your results, this event is for you! (Disclosure: As an appointed ambassador for the event, I'll receive free admission to the one-day event in Brisbane.)

(This post first appeared on https://updatesgenie.blogspot.com/2019/04/no56-genealogy-news.html.)
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12 November 2018

No.55 (genealogy news / discounts worldwide)

Links open in new windows. If you share the tips below, the Creative Commons license requires that you acknowledge the source as http://updatesgenie.blogspot.com.

  • Free access:   In case you didn't see this on Genealogy Discounts and Freebies... Until your local time zone's equivalent of midday (GMT) Monday 12 Nov 2018 (ie, until Monday evening in Australia), everyone has FREE access to Findmypast. You must to be registered (free), but no credit card is needed. This offer includes these record categories: Birth, marriage, death and parish records (and images of many original registers that are not online anywhere else); Military, armed forces and conflict; Education and work; Census, land and surveys; Institutions and organisations; Historical newspapers (including the British Newspaper Archive); Immigration and travel; 1939 Register. The offer is available on all of Findmypast's sites.

  • 50% discount:   After free access ends, Findmypast will offer 50% discount on short-term subscriptions. That offer will run from 12 November (GMT) to 19 November at 11:59pm (GMT). Later today these pages will soon be updated to show offer details and terms and conditions, so set a bookmark now: Australia (50% off 1-month); United Kingdom (50% off 3-month); Ireland (50% off 1-month); United States (50% off 1-month).

  • Special collections:   I've had a World subscription to Findmypast continuously since 2011, and I can't imagine life without it. Note their Special Collections for the British India Office, Canterbury, Cheshire, Devon, Hertfordshire, Lincolnshire, Manchester, Royal Archives, Shropshire, Staffordshire and Diocese of Lichfield, Wales, Westminster and (my personal favourite) Yorkshire.

  • England/Wales certificates:   At the moment it is still possible to buy England and Wales certificates for births 1837­-1916 and deaths 1837­-1957 as digital images (PDF format) for just £6.

  • 17th century:   From 'Who Do You Think You Are' magazine: 5 Best Websites for Tracing 17th Century Ancestors. They lead to many more sites.

  • London (England):   Alona has listed 17 Links to Free Sites for London Research.

  • Neglected children:   Names are online from the first stage of my 'Neglected Children' Index (which includes orphans for whom I've found information in sources other than orphanage records). Many children were sent to an orphanage when at least one parent was still alive.

  • Toowoomba area (Qld):   Garden of Remembrance Toowoomba: burials and cremations 1966-2008 is an updated database that goes right up to 2008. It has name, age, date of death (where recorded) and date of burial/cremation, and type.

  • Tip:   Always look at the inquest file even if you already have the death certificate. Example: For Marie Sophia SCAFFE, a typed copy of the death certificate gives the cause of death as 'bowel complaint', but the inquest file says it was 'ill treatment'. That's a rather significant difference!

  • Unsound mind:   Coming soon - a combined list of over 17,000 names from my corrected and expanded 'Insanity and Unsound Mind' index. When it goes online it will be announced first on my genealogy page on Facebook and my Website's WhatsNew page.

  • Qld State Archives:   It's hopeless trying to keep you updated about changes at Queensland State Archives, because there are so many (and most are, in my opinion, a backward step as far as serious researchers are concerned). One big change is that reference archivists are now only available to provide research support in the Public Search Room between 10am and 3:30pm. The Archives are open 9am to 4:30pm, but unless you are self-sufficient, don't arrive at 9am! The moral of the story is 'use it or lose it'. For years there have been unofficial warnings that with reduced numbers of people using the search room, opening hours might be reduced. That's already happened at the National Archives Brisbane Office.

  • Warning:   Like it or not, this is something that everyone needs to know. Please read it carefully and think about it calmly: Oh no, it's the L word.

(This post first appeared on https://updatesgenie.blogspot.com/2018/11/no55-genealogy-news-discounts-worldwide.html.)
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16 October 2018

No.54 (genealogy news / discounts worldwide)

Links open in new windows. If you share the tips below, the Creative Commons license requires that you acknowledge the source as http://updatesgenie.blogspot.com.

  • 15% discount:   I was delighted to hear that until 11:59pm (London time) 16 Oct 2018 (which, in Australia, is early on Oct 17th), both new customers *AND* returning subscribers can get 15% discount on a 12 month Findmypast subscription by using the links below. Each of these subscriptions gives you access to all of Findmypast's billions of records worldwide, including images of many original documents that are not online anywhere else. More records are added every week (see Findmypast Fridays), and there is a full list of records already on Findmypast (arranged by country). I've had a subscription continuously since 2011, and I can't image life without it. Choose the link for the region where you live:

  • Each person must subscribe using their own individual device and their own individual email address. If you don't want your subscription to renew automatically after 12 months, untick that box in 'My Account'. I've had a World subscription continuously since 2011, and I can't image life without it!

  • Marriage certificates:   I'm very concerned about the proposed changes to Australian marriage certificates - namely, the removal of 'usual occupation', 'usual place of residence', 'father's name' and 'mother's maiden name'. Those details (especially parents' names) are vital not only for family trees, but also for compiling a medical family history, tracing beneficiaries of deceased estates, etc. Read about the proposed changes and email your feedback to marriagecelebrantssection@ag.gov.au by Sunday 28 Oct 2018.

  • Qld BDM indexes:   If you can't find an entry via the Queensland Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages *new* search page, try the old version (the new page has a link to 'Previous Family History Search service'). WARNING! You must use the 'Clear' button between searches; and if your Internet connection drops out before that takes effect, you may be using 'hidden' search criteria that remain from a previous search. My understanding is that the Registry intends to shut down the Old Search - so if you still want it, please tell them so (email bdm.webteam@justice.qld.gov.au).

  • Doctors:   The Australian Medical Pioneers Index is a database of colonial doctors to 1875, with biographical data for over 4,500 doctors who lived in Australia or visited Australian shores. And if you're a descendant of Dr. Donald Rankin MACDONALD and his wife Ann CAMPBELL (sister of my great-great-grandmother) from Mudgee (NSW), please contact me!

  • Deaths/Funerals:   I recently went to the State Library and copied about a hundred death and funeral notices from newspapers that are not on Trove. Before my visit I'd found some title/date details in the Ryerson Index. If I drew a blank there, I looked for approximate death dates in cemetery and funeral directors' records etc. See 40 of My Favourite Genealogy Indexes / Sources.

  • My talks:   If you came to my recent family history talks at Strathpine or Tweed Heads, I sent you two emails regarding the handout. If they are not in your Inbox, check Spam/Trash/Junk. I will be repeating the talk 'Not Just the Patient: How Hospital and Asylum Records Tell the Story of a Family') on 14 March 2019. Admission is free but bookings are essential. Details are on www.judywebster.com.au/talks.html.

(This post first appeared on https://updatesgenie.blogspot.com/2018/10/no54-genealogy-news-discounts-worldwide.html.)
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20 July 2017

No.53 (British Isles and European Ancestors)

Between 8th and 26th August 2017, family historians in Australia and New Zealand will have a unique opportunity to hear leading international genealogists Chris Paton and Dirk Weissleder explain how to research our British Isles and European ancestors.

I mentioned this briefly in a previous edition of UpdatesGenie and on my Facebook page, but here are a few more details.

Chris and Dirk will give a series of presentations in Brisbane, Auckland, Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, Adelaide and Perth during Unlock the Past's genealogy roadshow entitled Researching Abroad: Finding British Isles and European Ancestors.

Every time I've heard Chris Paton speak about Scottish and Irish genealogy, I've learned a lot (and the learning process has been fun). Dirk Weissleder (from Germany) is new to me, but he comes highly recommended by colleagues whose opinion I trust, and I'm sure he will inspire me to resume work on my STEINKE and RIENECKER family trees. While Chris and Dirk catch their breath between talks, local speakers will briefly describe British and European resources held by libraries and societies here. In each Australian city there will also be an introductory talk about using DNA as a tool for genealogy.

In some cities it may be possible to simply arrive and pay on the day, but if you pre-book you will save money, and you will also go in the prize draw. The prize pool is expected to total at least $10,000 over all six Australian cities.

On the roadshow's main page, click on your preferred city to see full programme details and a booking form for that venue. There are also links to pages about the speakers, prizes, special offers, sponsors and exhibitors.

The roadshow starts in Brisbane, and I'm looking forward to catching up with friends and colleagues there. We don't often see such renowned international speakers here, so make the most of this opportunity!

(This post first appeared on https://updatesgenie.blogspot.com/2017/07/no53-british-isles-and-european.html.)

23 June 2017

No.52 (genealogy news and tips worldwide)

Links open in new windows. If you share the tips below, the Creative Commons license requires that you acknowledge the source as http://updatesgenie.blogspot.com.

  • Asylum casebook:   I've indexed another Goodna mental asylum case book, and the names are on my Web site.

  • Council records:   Local Government Records for Family History has been updated and expanded.

  • Cooroy/Noosa:   Cooroy-Noosa Genealogy Group has a new purpose-built building (the Heritage Centre) at 17 Emerald Street, Cooroy.

  • E-book:   Using Macs and iPads for Genealogy, by Nancy Loe, is available as an e-book (59-page PDF download).

  • Free access to British and Irish records
  • Parish registers:   Many original parish register images for Cheshire, Devon, Hertfordshire, East Kent, Leicestershire, Rutland, Shropshire, South Yorkshire, Staffordshire, Wales, Westminster, Yorkshire North Riding and Yorkshire East Riding (with more coming soon) are online only at Findmypast and nowhere else; and for the next few days you can view them without a subscription, as explained below.

  • Free British/Irish records:   Until 11:59pm BST Monday 26 June 2017 (which is 8:59am AEST Tues 27 June), there's free access to over 1.1 billion British and Irish records on Findmypast.

  • Recommended reading:

    Common Latin Words for Genealogical Research. If your ancestors were Catholic, many of their church records will be in Latin.

    Widen the Search: a Genealogy Success Story includes links to the online sources I used.

  • Document copies:   If you want copies of the original records that I've indexed, or if you just want source references so you can do the work yourself, send a request soon, because I've temporarily reduced many of my fees. Follow links from the list of sources.

  • Roadshow:   If you have British Isles or German research, come to Unlock the Past's 'Researching Abroad' genealogy roadshow during August. Two top international speakers (Chris Paton and Dirk Weissleder) will be in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, Adelaide, Perth and Auckland. Pre-book if you want to save money and go in the prize draw (total value about $1500).

  • Talks:   I am giving free family history talks/workshops at Tully and Wongaling Beach on 11 July 2017 and at the Sunshine Coast on 24 Aug 2017.

(This post first appeared on http://updatesgenie.blogspot.com/2017/06/no52-genealogy-news-and-tips-worldwide.html.)
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6 May 2017

No.51 (genealogy news and tips worldwide)

Links open in new windows. If you share the tips below, the Creative Commons license requires that you acknowledge the source as http://updatesgenie.blogspot.com.

  • 10% discount:   Until 11:59pm (BST) Sunday 7 May 2017 (which is early on Monday 8th Australian time) Findmypast is giving new and lapsed subscribers 10% off the cost of a 12 month World subscription if you use Findmypast.co.uk or Findmypast.ie or Findmypast.com. You can subscribe there even if you live in Australia/NZ. If two or more people share a computer and/or an email address, only one of you can take up this offer. If you need a separate email address, I recommend a free Gmail account.

  • Queensland:  Over 4,000 new records have been added to the Queensland School Pupils Index, which now has over 1.6 million names from 1,022 schools.

  • UK parish records:   Findmypast, through their exclusive partnership with the Federation of Family History Societies, has the largest online collection of UK parish records. Recent additions include records for Devon, Kent and Wiltshire. Find out how best to search them.

  • 1861 source:   Researching someone aged 14 or older in 1861? Try searching the British Army Worldwide Index 1861, which covers units serving in Britain and the British Empire.

  • Missing records:   Find out what records are missing from UK censuses (links are on the left side of the page).

  • Catholic records:   Scottish records have been added to the Catholic Heritage Collection. Most of the collection has never before been available to the public.

  • Scotland:   Viewing images on Scotland's People.

  • Ireland:   The Irish Genealogy website and workbook will guide you through the free online resources that exist.

  • Evernote:   Lisa Louise Cooke explains an innovative way to use Evernote for genealogy - create your own genealogy library for easy on-the-go reference.

  • Giveaways:   Prizes up for grabs here last week were a 12 month subscription to Findmypast (value: about $114) and a choice of five genealogy-related items (value: about $30). Winners' names are on the Prize Draws and Competitions page.

(This post first appeared on http://updatesgenie.blogspot.com/2017/05/no51-genealogy-news-and-tips-worldwide.html.)
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24 April 2017

No.50 (genealogy news worldwide)

Links open in new windows. If you share the tips below, the Creative Commons license requires that you acknowledge the source as http://updatesgenie.blogspot.com.

  • Prize draw:   If you'd like to win a 12 month Findmypast subscription, this is your chance! Submit your entry by 8am (AEST) Wednesday 26 Apr 2017 in two easy steps on my Prize Draws and Competitions page. I'm grateful to Findmypast for allowing me to give away such a wonderful prize (RRP $114.50). I've had a Findmypast subscription for many years, and I love it!

  • Free access:   All Australian and New Zealand records on Findmypast are completely free until 25 Apr 2017 (AEST). Another 'free access' offer will be announced on Genealogy Discounts & Freebies later this week.

  • Discounts:   Genealogy Discounts & Freebies currently has more offers listed than ever before, but most of them end soon. One offer is NSW certificate transcriptions for just $18.

  • New records online:   Interesting records that went online last week include stage 1 of 'crew and passengers on ships arriving in New South Wales' (check this for anyone you can't find in the British 1881 census); parish registers for Christ Church Cathedral in Newcastle NSW; more Boer War records; and more NSW closer settlement and returned soldiers transfer files.

  • UK records:   Findmypast's United Kingdom parish records collection (already the largest of its kind online) is about to get a whole lot bigger. Records from six more counties (the list is on that Web site) will go online over the next 6 months.

  • Books:   During April, Gould Genealogy has the entire Unlock the Past guide books range on sale (25% off), and the Australian History and Genealogy Handbook is just $1.

  • Finding death dates:   My family history project for Easter started with a list of Australian relatives for whom I had no death date. I searched 13 million Aus/NZ deaths, burials, wills and probate records. If I didn't find the name, I searched individual Findmypast record sets and Ancestry databases. I also used the magnificent Ryerson Index to find recent death/funeral notices. There are many other resources available, but these are my usual 'first steps'.

  • Updated index:   Check out CQFHA's new Master Name Index (over 767,590 entries for people from many areas). I had unexpected success with this.

  • My talk at Noosa:   If you're interested in hearing my talk (11 May 2017) on Ancestors who Moved or Vanished, book now (free). When I checked today there were only 7 seats left.

(This post first appeared on http://updatesgenie.blogspot.com/2017/04/no50-genealogy-news-worldwide.html. The 'win' image is by Stuart Miles, freedigitalphotos.net.)