Decisions for 2022

Yes, I’m still around. Yet 2022 is proving to be difficult, different, tiring.

As we enter our third year of COVID-19, I can feel the exhaustion seeping into my bones and I can see anger and frustration on the faces of complete strangers as they pass by me. From my point of view, I believe a majority of people wanted to do the right thing and did. But now, as the weeks turn into years, people are starting to get irritated by the rules and the separation from their family and friends.

Honestly, my husband and I have lived a quiet, isolated life during this time. We shop online, we walk in a reserve where there are few people, our family gatherings (if they can be called that) are done by video calls or, on the odd occasion, meeting in an isolated place for a quick walk and chat. I feel as if I’m withdrawing from life and as I grow older, that frustrates me and scares me at the same time.

During all these months of being at home, not seeing people, or going places, you would think I would be writing like crazy and reading every book in sight. But… that is NOT the case! I can’t explain why, except to say that I feel unmotivated to do most things right now.

There is no light at the end of the tunnel. And this is the main problem for me. I can’t tell myself it’s only for a few more months, it’s only to the end of this year, it’s only until…?

In the future, will I be writing a post stating “we are entering our tenth year of COVID-19”? I hope not. I truly do. But it’s a possibility.

Anyway, I’ve decided that for now I will not accept any more books for review. I still have a couple and I feel torrents of guilt over the length of time it has taken me to read them so far. To those authors, I am truly sorry, my lack of motivation has nothing to do with your words, your characters, your stories. It is simply the world has been turned upside down and I’m struggling to find my place in it. I will read the books and I will write the reviews as promised. I assure you.

Having said that, I will accept audiobooks for review. On week days, I spend at least 20 minutes on the treadmill each day, and listen to audiobooks while I exercise. So, if you have an audio version of your book, then you are welcome to contact me. I have discovered that I will listen to genres that I listed as not acceptable on my book review page, i.e. thrillers, suspense, crime. Books I can’t read, I enjoy listening to.

I will update the book review page shortly.

As for writing, I make no promises. My latest project swirls in my mind often. I want to return to that world and complete what I started. I know exactly what needs to happen, so my lack of motivation has nothing to do with writer’s block.

Same goes for working on my family tree. Here’s something else that I’ve invested many, many hours (three decades) into, and just turned away from altogether. I have leads that I have ignored. People send me documents that I cannot make myself investigate.

This has to stop! I must start living life again … and soon. I don’t want to write that post in 10 years time saying I’ve wasted a decade of my life due to COVID-19. No, that cannot happen and steps must be taken now.

From 1 March, I believe we (in Australia) will put masks and QR codes aside and return to the office, and start living life around COVID. It’s a scary thought, and I know we will not return to how it used to be. But what the new normal will be like is uncertain, and I guess that’s part of my issue.

Getting Past the Road Block in Genealogy

In 2009 I wrote a post entitled Genealogy: Taking Steps to Build a Family Tree. At the time I confessed that I had started my family tree and dove right in and added anyone who looked vaguely connected and didn’t bother with sources.

How stupid of me!

So with over 6,000 people in my tree, I started over. This time I did the research and sourced … every … single … detail. And if there was no source, it didn’t get added.

Now, in 2018, that same tree has just over 1,000 people. However, they are all sourced. And what I discovered is that some of those “sure things” that were added way back then, were not sure things at all. In fact, with the relevant research, I now KNOW that some of those people do NOT belong on my tree.

TIP: Do not, under any circumstances, believe the information you find on someone else’s family tree. Not until you have checked their sources (if they have them), and done the research yourself. I cannot tell you how many times I found information on another tree and when I’ve looked into the information I can prove that the information is incorrect.

For example, yesterday I noticed many family trees on Ancestry.com (and by many, I mean dozens) stated that my ancestor passed away in 1901. My records told me she passed away between 1901 and 1911. In effect, I could have agreed with the mass and added this information. But I didn’t do that. I checked their source, and they had sourced the burial for this person as 11 March 1901. Brilliant. I thought for a few moments I had discovered new information. However, the 1901 Census told me she was alive on 31 March 1901. She was with her husband and youngest child in the street they had lived in for many, many years.

My research then took me to the 1911 Census, where her husband was living with his grandson and his marital status was listed as “widower”. So, my person was alive on 31 March 1901 but had passed away by 2 April 1911. This proved to me that all those family trees on Ancestry are wrong! I continued my search. Using FreeBMD I did a search on deaths using my ancestors name and adjusting the date range from 1900 to 1912.

There were half a dozen possibilities. Two were in the area my family had lived all their life. But that doesn’t make the information conclusive. Luckily, the death details also provided the person’s age and as I had conclusive proof on when she was born, I could check the possibilities to see if any of them matched.

One did. And that one was in the area where they lived. I believe my ancestor passed away in 1909, not 1901 like all those other trees claim. I’ve added the information I found to my tree, but I will continue to research it as I want secondary proof so that I know without doubt that this entry is correct.

If you are stuck at a road block then it is okay to check what other people have included on their tree, but make sure you know it’s right before you add it to your own. Checking other people’s trees is a great way to get a clue that might set you off in the right direction, but don’t be lazy. Do the research.

Another tip is to actually look at the images you are using for your research. By this, I mean if you find your family in a Census record, check the neighbours on the same sheet as your family and on previous and following pages. The ancestor I previously discussed lived in the same street for three decades. When I checked the various Census records I had, I discovered that other family members did too! In fact, three households consisted of my family. I didn’t find them through normal searches, I discovered them by reading the images I was downloading and adding to my personal file. And from that information, I discovered all sorts of other information and family members.

And my final tips for today, is to search probate records. Often this source is overlooked, but it can give precious information. Or confirm information that you may already have. Remember how I said I’m going to research for secondary evidence for my ancestor? This is where I will start that research. Because often probate records will confirm the spouse’s name, the area they lived in and also provide a death date.

Some road blocks may never be resolved, as the information is unavailable at this time. However, as our world becomes more digital I believe the data will improve with time, so stay hopeful. In the meantime, keep searching and searching and build your tree. And then maybe one day, not too far into the future, that impossible road block will solve itself.

Genealogy: 1901 & 1911 Irish Census Online

I have a few Irish connections, but not many considering the number of people in my tree. G, on the other hand, has a direct ancestor who was Irish and moved to Scotland; one of his children (or maybe a few of them, I can’t clearly remember offhand) emigrated to Australia. This is a clear indication that genealogists can easily be looking in the wrong place for the information they seek.

Anyway, I was thrilled to discover that the Irish Census records for 1901 and 1911 have been made available online. From what I can see, the records are searchable and free. This is courtesy of The National Archives of Ireland.

About the 1901 and 1911 censuses

The 1901 and 1911 censuses are the only surviving full censuses of Ireland open to the public. Both censuses cover the island of Ireland. They were released to public inspection in 1961, because of the stream of requests for information about people’s ages, particularly those born before civil registration of births began in 1864.

The 1901 census was taken on 31st March 1901. The 1911 census was taken on 2 April 1911.

What information does the census contain?

Ireland is unusual among English-speaking census-taking countries in that our original household manuscript returns survive. These are the forms filled out and signed by the head of each household on census night. Most other countries only have Enumerators’ books, where family details were transcribed by the person charged with collecting the census information.

The basic topographical divisions for the census are: County; District Electoral Division; Townland or Street. This is a simple hierarchical structure which makes it easy to access any area in the country. The returns are arranged in clusters by townland/street within district electoral division within county. For each townland/street, there are a number of original household returns, filled in and signed by heads of households, and three statistical returns, dealing with religious denominations, classification of buildings, and out-offices and farm-steadings, filled out by the Enumerator for that townland/street.

– taken from The National Archives of Ireland website

Family Tree: Lilian Joyce Field

Lilian Joyce Field is my aunt on my father’s side. We knew her as “Joyce”. I’ve never met her and I know very little about her, except she grew up in Barnardos care as did my father. I don’t know if she married or if she has children.

But I want to know.

Joyce was about 16 years of age in the photo, which was taken around 1950. I know it’s a long time ago and she will have changed a lot in that time, but I’m hoping someone will come across this post at some time in the future and will recognise her. If that happens, please contact me. I would love to receive information on Joyce’s descendants as it would make my family tree complete.

You may leave a comment or, if you prefer some privacy, please use the contact form (in the navigation bar above) to reach me.

Update:

In January 2017, I made contact with Joyce’s family. Her children seem to know so little about their mother’s history. They said she never spoke about it much. I could fill in some of the blanks for them, but the mysteries still remain. Especially in regards to the child she had in about 1949. Dad told me about the child, but couldn’t tell me if it was a boy or a girl. Joyce’s family found paperwork after her death that suggested a child. They believe it was a girl, but are not 100% sure. Who was that child? If you know, I’d love to hear from you.

Legacy Family Tree Software

When building a family tree it’s important to chose software that isn’t restricting. I’ve used several family tree programs but most of them always had something missing. Some looked great, but were not user friendly. Others were user friendly, but didn’t give the reports I wanted. Others still had the tag of a family tree maker but left me feeling incredibly stupid as the program was so difficult to navigate and use.

Eventually, I discovered Legacy Family Tree and I honestly haven’t looked at any other genealogy software since. It’s easy to install and use. It allows me to print all different types of reports. I can perform a multitude of searches. There’s a bookmark facility and also a note taking function that I find helpful. I can add photos of all types to individuals and family groups. There are functions that will search from the program directly on a number of websites and display the results (I’ve found new ancestors through this function alone). This software will even generate a complete, functional website for me.

I’ve used the software for several years now – over five years. I have no complaints. And…at the moment Legacy family tree is offering the deluxe version of their software at a 10% discount until the end of this month. If you want to take advantage of this special you must use the word November as the coupon code in the checkout. Remember, this offer expires on 30 November 2009.

October 2009: General Update

There hasn’t been much of interest for me to post about lately. Life is moving forward quickly and before I know it the end of the year will be here. In a few weeks, we intend to go away for a couple of days, inland, which I’m looking forward to for various reasons.

The books in the trilogy I’m reading are thick – over 700 pages each (except the first one, which was a little over 500 pages) – so they are naturally taking me longer to read than usual. I’m enjoying them immensely and this set has gained a place on my favourites list. Not many books make it on to that list.

My new family tree is growing steadily. Each weekend I spend at least a couple of hours transferring information from the old tree and, this time, I’m sourcing everything that is entered into the tree. I have a lot of regrets with that old tree, but at least I learned from those mistakes. With the help of DaF Genealogy (see the link in the sidebar), I’ve even managed to climb over a brick wall that had been holding me back for some years.

On the writing front, I am pleased to announce that I’ve completed the first draft of a non-fiction children’s picture book. The facts are there and now I have to make them entertaining for the intended audience (and the person reading the words to the child). I feel I have that under control. Then I’ll have to work on the proposal, which I think is going to be very difficult to write. I’ve already started doing the research and have printed out some examples. From what I’ve read, for non-fiction it is customary to send the proposal prior to writing the manuscript. However, I decided to write one of the manuscripts as an example to include in the proposal. If it helps or not, I cannot know, but that’s how I’m going to approach my submissions in this genre.

England Census Dates

When sourcing my records, I find I am referring to the English Census records on a regular basis. Due to this I find that referring to a particular census year isn’t really good enough. I want to refer to the actual date of the census, because it can narrow down other date possibilities, for example birth dates.

So, I set about finding out what dates the census were carried out and you can find them below. I knew the census was carried out every ten years. What I didn’t know was that England started censuring the public in 1801, but only the records from 1841 onwards are available as the older records were not kept, which is a huge loss for all historians.

Anyway, here are the census dates. The archive for the 1911 census will be made available on 1 January 2012, although I have heard that the records may already be available through some online, paying services.

10th March 1801
27th May 1811
28th May 1821
30th May 1831
7th June 1841
30th March 1851
7th April 1861
2nd April 1871
3rd April 1881
5th April 1891
31st March 1901
2nd April 1911

Building a Family Tree: Where do I start?

I have over 6,000 names on my tree and that has taken over 20 years worth of research to build, but I still remember when I first started out. Even though I thought I came from the smallest family in existence, I was still dumbfounded as to where to start. And, really, where to start is the easiest question you have to face in genealogy.

You start with yourself!

Who knows more about you than…well, you? Maybe your parents, but generally speaking you know everything you need to know to get started.

But let’s back up a bit before you start jotting down information. At the beginning, drawing up little charts can be fun and exciting, but you’ll soon realise that those charts are not good enough. You’ll soon be looking for a better way to document the information you gather and I recommend you start out the way you will want to carry on – by using excellent genealogy software.

I use and recommend Legacy. I’ve used it for years and find it not only easy to use, but easy to carry around on a flash card so that it can be used on any computer, which I find handy. In the past, I have created a family tree website with it too and it also allows me to search resource websites from within the program. Everything you’ll need to accomplish with it, can be done.

Once you’ve settled on the software you are going to use, open it to a fresh, blank tree and enter the first person – you! From there, enter the details of your husband/wife/partner (if you have one) and then the details of your children and grand children (if any). See how quickly your tree is growing? I’m sure you’ll feel inspired by that alone. When you’ve finished with your descendants, it’s time to look at your ancestors. Add your parents and then your grandparents. From there you’ll be able to add your parent’s siblings and their children. And you’ll also be able to add your parents aunts and uncles.

In a couple of hours you could go from a blank family tree to one with a couple of dozen people on it, if not more.

It is that easy.

Of course, getting started is the simple part. You’ll soon realise that you don’t know all the details you need for your aunts and uncles, let alone your great aunts and uncles and all your cousins. But how to get around that is something to discuss in another post. *grin*