Monday, December 17, 2012

Australia's History in Glass

Fairfax Media has donated a collection of about 13,000 photographic glass plate negatives to the National Library of Australia. The photographs, taken by Fairfax photographers between 1908 and the mid-1930s, will be restored and put into digital form in a partnership between Fairfax Media, the National Library and the government's National Cultrual Heritage Foundation, which contributed $425,000. This is Australia's rarest collection of photojournalism and provides an insight into times long past including images of depression-era dole queues, the first Anzac Day march, life on Sydney's streets, as well as the intricate art of glass plate photography. The collection is particularly significant for Australians' understanding of the early 20th Century, as it provides a complete archive of photojournalism during the era. Cataloguing the collection will offer a better opportunity to access and appreciate the collection, which will be available from mid 2013.
Photograph: Spit Bridge c. 1935.

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Monday, December 10, 2012

Tracking your photocopies

While any organizing system is personal and should be adapted to one's own style, a few general principles can help.
When making photographic copies (photocopies) in a library or elsewhere, or when researching using online document images, it's always important to document and record or cite the exact source and its location on the photocopy itself and in a research log, making it easier to transfer that information to a genealogy software program, if you use one. Family researchers typically accumulate a volume of photocopied documents in the course of their research: the problem then becomes organizing those documents so they can be easily located.
For printed documents, you want to keep them in the most logical place where they can be easily accessed. For example, keeping all documents for a particular family or individual together in one file folder or notebook. It is also a good practice to keep a list, something like a Table of Contents at the front of the folder or notebook, listing the documents inside, providing a ready reference.
For documents stored online, a simple but consistent way of naming image files is important (e.g. name>document type>location), as is keeping the documents together in a documents folder by subject: both such practices make searching for a document easier. Today, documents can also be attached to individual files within one's genealogy software or stored and accessed online; even so, the researcher's own practice of recording and labelling documents is still paramount.
Don’t forget that you can store copies of the same document in different places. An additional copy, such as a marriage certificate in both family folders, may save you time searching later.

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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

UK certificates

I recently came across a press release from the British Home Office warning about unofficial sources offering British Birth, Death & Marriage certificates. The Registrar General has complained to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) about misleading websites that imply they will supply official certificates. The full article is at .
It is always more efficient to deal direct with the General Register Office (GRO) for your family certificates. The cheapest way to obtain an English or Welsh certificate is online through the GRO website for more info at where payment by credit card is required and standard certificate costs £9.25. ( )

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How’s your handwriting these days? Texting and typing rather than writing? Do you keep handwritten notes, or are they all electronic now? You may not be the only one whose handwriting is suffering. Schools are placing less emphasis on handwriting and children are using print more so than running writing (cursive script). So will your children be able to read hand written records when it comes to their family history?
Gene Weingarten addresses the question in an article in the Washington Post Magazine at Although this is an American story, such influences are becoming more widespread. It is not only today’s youth – how are you at deciphering old records? There are many transcription mistakes in the current databases available, and it is always worth going back to the original. I have had many people confuse ‘T’, ‘L’ & ‘S’ when capitalised. I spent many hours looking for ‘Solano’ (someone’s ancestor’s maiden name) but after checking a copy of the original document, found it was actually ‘Tolano’. You can image the effect this had on my research.
Cyndi’s List website has a section with links to numerous articles about handwriting and interpreting writing from times past.