Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Train my geneabrain!

In my continuing quest to bite off more than I can chew (at least, more than I have time for), I've just taken two steps towards training my geneabrain.

I've signed up for the One Place Study course at Pharos. Pharos is affiliated with the Society of Genealogists and offers online courses on a wide variety of general and UK-specific genealogical subjects. I'm hoping to pick up some fresh perspectives and, dare I say it, a more rigorous methodology to my madness? Secretly I'd love to do the assessed certificate but unfortunately I appear to be short the £450 I'd need. If you're interested in one place studies, why don't you join me on the course? It starts 31 August and is £33.

To keep me entertained over the next month until the course starts, I've purchased a copy of Evidence Explained by Elizabeth Shown Mills. This book has sections on the fundamentals of evidence analysis and the fundamentals of citation, followed by extensive discussions and examples of the different types and forms of historical records we are likely to encounter and how to correctly cite them in our genealogical software and writing. It's a relatively expensive reference book in physical form, but the first edition can be purchased online in PDF form at Footnote.com for a much more affordable USD25. I'm already casting an aghast eye at some of my webpages, so expect to see some tweaks being made to get them ship-shape.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Picture perfect

Seen the new-look Google Image Search yet? It hasn't yet been rolled out to google.co.uk or google.co.nz but is operational on google.com.

In a nutshell it's prettier (particularly if your ancestors were from West Lulworth in Dorset and you were searching for photos of that particularly stunning location!), has a lot more images on the first results page, has a pop-up box as you mouse over images to give you more information about the image, and has better filters including image size and predominant colour palette.

I can't help thinking that all this ease of use may lead to increased copyright breaches - remember to ask permission to use any photos you find on the internet unless they are clearly tagged with a Creative Commons licence or similar, and follow any attribution or other rules attached to the image.

Note that I haven't bothered hyperlinking to Google in this post as your browser will probably auto-direct you to your local version of Google - if this isn't google.com you should have a link on the local version page whereby you can "Go to Google.com".

As in the past, the search function may bring up some not-so-accurate images based on the words surrounding the image - I found a familiar image when searching for Wing Buckinghamshire...

Monday, July 19, 2010

NZ Family History Fair 2010

From what I saw attending on the one day only, the organisation and execution of the first NZ Family History Fair was excellent. One of the seminars I attended was by the newly-elected-President of the NZ Society of Genealogists Fiona Brooker, who seemed particularly lovely and has awesome digital scrapbooking skills! I'm part-way through a project to name my grandad's photos by loading them into Photoshop Elements pages, looks like I must try harder...

My impression of the seminar list before going, that these weren't targeted at or that useful for the more experienced genealogist, was probably correct based on the sessions I attended (which were mostly from the Sharing My Past For the Future stream rather than the more-obviously-beginner streams). It would be interesting to see what the experience levels of attendees were - most people seemed to be NZSG members attending for the whole weekend so you would think that there would be a reasonable level of experience there. While the seminars were okay, I don't know that I would go out of my way in future. I also didn't purchase anything from exhibitors/retailers as there wasn't much that was relevant to my area of interest - one of the problems of living in one country and researching solely in another.

Meeting some online people in real life was worth the trip to Hamilton though - I met up with Brett, the Photo-Sleuth at lunch, after a false start where we thought we were in the same seminar in the morning. I was therefore smiling optimistically at every lone male entering my seminar, but then it turned out Brett was in an entirely different room....

I was also able to meet Seonaid Lewis, the family history librarian from the Auckland City Library - I'll be sure to pop into the library again sometime soon.

I do think that I can learn more about my ancestors and their lives (and how to research my ancestors and their lives) by doing what I've been doing on my own, rather than being a member of NZSG or attending any generic genealogical education events, and I definitely get more energy, enthusiasm and ideas from the geneablogging and tweeting community. So I'll keep on doing what I'm doing, starting today when I have the day off work!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Bookshelf: Village Sketches by Whitehead

Village Sketches descriptive of club and school festivals and other village gatherings and institutions
By TC Whitehead, M.A., Incumbent of Gawcott, Buckinghamshire
Published by Bosworth & Harrison (London) 1861
Available on Google Books

As I have an interest in 19th-century Buckinghamshire (ahem) this was a must-read. Thomas Clark Whitehead had been resident in Gawcott for a decade when he wrote this outline of his various initiatives to improve the lot of the residents.

One problem that has echoed through the ages has been the difficulty of keeping teenage boys out of mischief. In the time Whitehead was writing, boys would leave school at around the age of eight, and have a surplus of energy and nothing constructive to do with it after their day's work in the fields was over. In summer cricket was very popular (one chapter describes the big event of a match between Gawcott and "the small town of W____ about 7 miles off" - sadly this is not Wing, I suspect it may be Winslow as it does have a "Bell" pub as mentioned in this text) but in winter the boys were problematic. A Night Club was introduced whereby the boys could use the schoolroom for whatever they wanted, and it turns out what they wanted most, once they had been taught how, was to play chess!

Another fascinating snippet was the description of the boys attending astronomy lectures, followed by the use of a borrowed telescope to gaze up at the night sky. This is certainly not something I had envisaged our rural ancestors doing either.

Other chapters cover the children's lending library, the village tea party (just how did you manage hot water for cups of tea for 230 people?) and school "treat" day which was an outdoor picnic with games, a penny bank, friendly clubs, and the village school.

I must confess I took the liberty of skipping the sermons at the end of the book. However the remainder of this book was an illuminating look into a rural Buckinghamshire village in the mid-19th century and I was surprised by how much I learned from it.

There are plenty of wonderful out-of-copyright books freely available online that can give you insight into the lives of your ancestors - what treasures have you found lately? Please post a comment and let me know.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Off to NZ Family History Fair 2010

My ancestry chart is printed, my totebag is packed, my very-limited-edition geneacards are ready (click on the pic to see the larger version - I promise to devote the next twelve months to nurturing any graphic design skills I may have buried deep deep deep down, so next year's effort can do footnoteMaven proud - this year I will just pretend that a streamlined text-only look was what I was going for), my netbook and cellphone are fully charged - on Sunday I'll be at the first NZ Family History Fair for the day. Most of the time I'll be in seminars, hoping to pick up useful tidbits, but I'll also be meeting fellow blogger Photo-Sleuth Brett, and Seonaid the Auckland City Library genebrarian. Watch for my report on Monday!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

What was your grandmother's occupation?

Dick Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter had a wee gem in it this weekend that I hadn't seen before - check this out. I look forward to seeing what WDYTYA discovers about Alexander Armstrong's real family tree!

Friday, July 09, 2010

What I Do

Thomas at Geneabloggers has suggested that we post some info about the power under the hood, the technology that we use to support our genealogy activities. So, just this once, I'll play along with the rest of the meme-rs. I can't help it, it's the tech geek in me coming out, although I'll cut it short as I'm under orders to locate some dinner....

* Hardware: The desktop computer's pretty elderly now but it runs an AMD Athlon 64 X2 dual core processor at 3.02GHz, 4Gb RAM, with Vista Ultimate 64-bit. The baby computer is an Acer Aspire One netbook.

* External storage: Seagate 500Gb external desktop drive for backups (lives offsite, under my desk at work).

* Online storage: don't use. Those with NZ broadband costs/speeds/datacaps will understand why.

* Backup: GFI Backup 2009 Home Edition (freeware!)

* Virus protection: AVG (freeware!)

* Mobile media: iPod Nano (blue - if I'd bought it myself it would have been a (Product) Red - you did need to know the colour, right?) on which I can listen to the various genealogy podcasts

* eBook Reader: Kobo (I'll be blogging regularly about my genealogy/history finds for this)

* Browser: Firefox. There is no other.

* Blog: Blogger.

* RSS: I read blog feeds using the Blogger Dashboard, and other RSS feeds direct in Firefox

* FTP: FireFTP (extension for Firefox) gets my website updates where they need to be

* Accounting: you don't really want to go there with an accountant, do you?

* PDF generator: doPDF

* Genealogy database: PAF - yes, I know. The only full genealogy program I've seen that I liked is Family Historian, but it just doesn't work at all on a netbook screen so I haven't been able to justify the price (refer: Accounting).

* Genealogy tools: key tools off the top of my head are Transcript, Genopro, and Parloc

Outlook for genealogy

Recently I was chatting to @OutlookChick on Twitter about using Microsoft Outlook for genealogy. Long story short, I've just guest-blogged on her Arrow Tips Outlook blog about it - check it out and let us know what you think.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Neighbouring Stewkley

Did your Wing folk wander over to neighbouring Stewkley? If so, you might be interested in this wee book on Ebay.

History of Stewkley by Mayne and Capp - good local names, those!

I have no affiliation with the seller (that I know of - I see they live in Wing), and they also have a copy of the 1951 Guide to Ascott House listed if that takes your fancy.

(I'm on an Ebay budget, in case you were wondering - well, more of a fast than a budget, things mount up quickly when you have to factor in overseas postage so I'm trying to resist temptation)

Thursday, July 01, 2010

July update

Drumroll please......I have transcribed the 1911 census enumerator summary books for Wing and they are now on the website. These are NOT the detailed pages for each household. The summary books only have a single line of information for each household, showing the surname of the head-of-household and a breakdown of the males vs females in the household.

Given that some of the information from the 1911 census has been redacted (specifically the infirmity column), I'm not planning on transcribing the individual households until that last piece of information becomes available in 2012. My philosophy has always been that any transcription I make available on the website should represent a full and complete transcription of the underlying document, and obviously that couldn't be the case here yet.

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