January Genea-pourri

Photo by [Segle] - REFLEX IS BACK ! on Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

With thanks to Randy Seaver and Jill Ball for the meme - Pot Pourri - It has been a very productive month for me family history wise.

Here is what I have been doing.....


I completed another unit of my Diploma of Family History - Writing Family History on Wednesday night - the last day of January.  During January I had to write 3 x 250 word short stories and then one 750-1000 story. So that was quite a bit of work as you can imagine.

And then because I am a sucker for punishment I enrolled in another unit - Families at War.  I have to complete 8 units altogether to finish the Diploma.

I have completed:
  1. Intro to Family History
  2. Convict Ancestors
  3. The Photo Essay: an Introduction and
  4. Writing Family History
So that's all my foundation units done.

I have also completed Oral History.  So only two more units to complete after Families at War.  Writing the Family Saga and Convicts in Context are the two most likely.  I did start Place, Image, Object but unfortunately had to drop out.

Photo on Foter.com


I decided to order a marriage certificate for a Harriet Conner in New Zealand because it was for the time period when I had lost my Harriet Conner.  I ordered it on 5th January and it turned up last week I think, so not really a long wait when you think about it.  It cost $33 which isn't cheap and, as I suspected, it is not my Harriet CONNER but a "No" result is still a result.

I ordered a birth certificate for Harriet Conner using the new GRO's PDF service which is much cheaper than the full certificate service. Cost is about $10.70.  I ordered it on the 7th January and received it on the 11th.  Fabulous service.  Did I learn anything new?  Yes, I learned that her family lived in Sydney Street.  Yay.

Needless to say I've order a few more since then - the birth of Clara Rebecca Conner, the death of Rebecca Conner and the marriage of Clara Rebecca Conner and WH Smith in Watford, Hertfordshire. They got married twice within a month - once in Hertfordshire and once in Yorkshire.

ISO Republic photo


I went to Queensland Sate Archives on the first Saturday opening for the year and ran into genea-buddy Helen Smith.  This was to try and find more out about Harriet Conner's experience at Bustard Head Lighthouse - I didn't really find out any more information but it was good to go back to the Archives and see how they've moved furniture around again - specifically the microfilm readers. You can now pre-order records before you visit so that it's ready when you arrive (thanks for that hot tip Chris Goopy) - pre-orders must be received by 12pm the day before your visit but you can order up to 1 week prior.  This is a trial so let's make sure we use it so that it is implemented.  

To pre-order records go here, then select 'General enquiries" and then "Other".  

The National Archives of Australia sent me an image of a house in Darwin which I requested when I was studying Oral History last year mid December.  It took six weeks for the CD to arrive and cost an eye-watering amount of money.  I don't know why I didn't order a digital download.  It would have cost $20 less but I think I just didn't read the form correctly or realise that option was available. Sigh.  I blame the rush before Xmas and being in a new job which was a bit distracting.

I wrote to the West Yorkshire Kirklee Archives service on 25th January and received a reply the next day.  A negative one but a speedy one :)  Kirklee suggested I write to Wakefield which I did.  I recevied an automated response and then a real one today so that wasn't very long to wait either.  Also a negative response but at least a response.  

I wrote to the Brunel University London Archives and received a response the next day - also negative but with some great suggestions.

I wrote to the UCL Institute of Education in London archives and received a reply the next day - once again speedy and with suggestions of where else to look.

I wrote to the Church of England record centre in London also seeing if they could assist with information about school archives - they wrote back within a couple of days too. Again a nil result but confirmed what I suspected.

Photo by DRs Kulturarvsprojekt on Foter.com / CC BY-SA


I purchased a digital copy of a map of Portsea from the National Library of Scotland. Cost $13.60.  Being able to look closely at this map was enormously helpful in the writing of one of my assignments and gave me a real sense of the place.  It also provided me with lots of other place names which I could search for in newspapers and gave me better insights into where my ancestors lived.  If you haven't checked out these maps, you should really give it a go.  You don't have to pay for maps like I did...you can just look.  It's just I wanted to be able to enlarge and print certain sections which you can't really do on the website.  I ordered the map on the 20th January and received it two days later.  What a great service.

photo by Andrew Neel on Magdeleine

I found a great little book called The Victorian and Edwardian School Child by Pamela Horn on the Internet Archives.  I could read it on my desktop or borrow it and download it as a PDF.  They offered me two choices of file - encrypted Adobe PDF and encrypted Adobe ePub.  I chose the PDF which had apparently High Quality Page Images whereas the other file could contain errors.  I couldn't read it at all when I opened it on Adobe Digital Editions.  When I went back today to have another look, I downloaded the ePub file and it worked perfectly - pictures and all - just so you know.

Books I borrowed to try and help me with my research or give me a feel for the time were:

Tracing Your Yorkshire Ancestors by Rachel Bellerby - this was a great reference book and helped me pinpoint which society I should join and which repositories to target.

The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister (1791-1840) edited by Helena Whitbread - I didn't get to really get into this book but wow, what an interesting subject and a labour of love on behalf of the editor.

Writing a non boring Family History by Hazel Edwards - this looked great.  I didn't get to finish it but would borrow it again.

Felix Holt, the Radical by George Eliot  - I confess I am finding this somewhat protracted and turgid.

I confess to going to the Lifeline Booksale and buying quite a few peculiar cookery books and 

From my own personal library I pulled out:

Miss Marjoribanks by Margaret Oliphant - I am in absolute awe of Mrs Oliphant's prodigious output and career.

photo by Annie Spratt on Magdeleine

I joined the Huddersfield and District Family History Society in an attempt to find out more about why Clara and Harriet CONNER may have moved to Liversedge all the way from Portsmouth.  No joy so far. Cost $32.64

I received a Congress Newsletter from SAG and realised I'd better get on with booking travel and finding a place to stay in my old home town and birth place of Sydney. Congress will be held at the swanky new convention centre in Darling Harbour.  Here is what Darling Harbour used to look like when my grandfather was just 2 years old.

Darling Harbour from the Tyrrell Photographic Collection at the Powerhouse Museum - Gift of Australian Consolidate Press under the Taxation Incentives for the Arts Scheme, 1985

It looks a bit different today doesn't it?

A night time shot of Darling Harbour by Daniel Lee on Flickr

Social Media

Rootsfinder asked if they could feature me as a guest blogger on their site and I said "Yes" so look out for that in March.

I wrote a New Year and Trove Tuesday blog post.

Finally - I have made use of a few new-to-me Photo websites e.g. Foter and Magdeleine and ISO Republic - one of the handy tips I picked up on the Aussie Facebook group - Australian Local and Family History Bloggers. Thanks chums.


Crissouli said…
I'm exhausted just reading all that... in fact, I was feeling that way halfway through. You have achieved so much in a comparatively short time, but I guess I'm not really surprised.
I loved reading of all your achievements... I look forward to the next instalment.
Alex Daw said…
Thanks Chris for making it all the way through. I was exhausted writing it! Stand by.
Alona Tester said…
Busy, Busy, busy! Wow.
ScotSue said…
Phew! What a busy time you have had - I am impressed with all your research and writing activities. My husband’s ancestors were in Portsea about the same time as yours, with Robert Donaldson working in the HM Dockyard. He moved down there from South Shields on the Nirth east coast with his wife and baby son, but their eldest son was left behind with maternal grandparents - there is a story there that I have yet to unravel. Good luck with your course!
Crissouli said…
I have included your blog in INTERESTING BLOGS in FRIDAY FOSSICKING at


Thank you, Chris

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