Friday, 31 October 2014

FGS - Connect. Explore. Refresh - Prompt One (Part Four)

The first prompt
"Tell us and your readers/followers what you think of when you here Connect. Explore. Refresh in relation to a genealogy conference"
For this final part of prompt one, I am going to bring together the strands in preparation for a genealogical conference. My opening statement in part one was

"There has never been a better time to Connect with others, Explore genealogical material, both on and off line and Refresh our thoughts on our research, our families and the historical context in which they lived."

Having made the decision to attend the conference you need to plan. Who do you want to connect with? Is that a fellow genealogist, a genealogical buddy, a speaker that you enjoy hearing present, someone who you want to hear present?

All of that can be achieved as long as you plan what your aims are. Do you plan on spending time at the Family History Centre? What records do you hope to connect with and explore? What do you plan to refresh? - research undertaken in the past, previous friendships and connections made or a wider historical context that might assist your understanding of the times your ancestors lived in?

There is so much to think about when you decide to attend a conference, and once you have made a plan it most certainly helps when you want to Connect. Explore. Refresh.

Here are the links to the earlier posts. Connect. Explore. Refresh
Twitter #FHS2015

FGS - Connect. Explore. Refresh - Prompt One (Part Three)

The first prompt
"Tell us and your readers/followers what you think of when you here Connect. Explore. Refresh in relation to a genealogy conference"
Earlier I posted about Connect. Explore. Now we are going to look at Refresh

I am a firm believer in reflecting and taking stock. To revisit those earlier discoveries to see if anything "pops". Perhaps data you missed or didn't know you had until you did subsequent research.

Just before a genealogical conference, where technically you have access to the best in the field, revisit those earlier discoveries, shake down those missing and problematic ancestors. Set your attendance at the lectures on offer to enable discussion, discovery of those question marks that reside over your family tree.

Don't forget to refresh your learning. What did you learn? What do you want to explore further? Use attending conferences such as FGS as a stepping stone to discovery. Not just of those missing ancestors, but also of what you can gain in terms of expanding your knowledge.

At the back of your mind ask the following - what do you need to know in terms of
  • personal growth and development
  • in order to establish a result to your genealogical puzzle
  • who can you catch up with who you can learn from, network with and share information and development
Genealogy is a two way street. It is about interaction with others. It is about refreshing those puzzles, friendships and enabling discussion and discovery.

What a wonderful way to Refresh. Stay tuned for the bonus posts Twitter #FGS2015

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Virtual Genealogy Fair 2014 from NARA - Day Three

Here is the full archive of the Genealogy Fair Day Three (30th October 2014)

Virtual Genealogy Fair homepage:

Access to the lecture handouts and schedules for day three: 

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Virtual Genealogy Fair 2014 from NARA - Day Two

Here is the full archive of the Genealogy Fair Day Two (29th October 2014)

Virtual Genealogy Fair homepage:

Access to the lecture handouts and schedules for day two: 

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Virtual Genealogy Fair 2014 from NARA - Day One

Here is the full archive of the Genealogy Fair Day One (28th October 2014)

Virtual Genealogy Fair homepage:

Access to the lecture handouts and schedules for day one: 

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Virtual Genealogy Fair 2014 from NARA

Announcement from the National Archives in the US.

"National Archives is hosting a Virtual Genealogy Fair!

Join for us three days genealogy! All of our lectures will be broadcast live via YouTube with captioning on StreamText.

On October 28, 29, and 30, genealogy experts from National Archives facilities around the nation and special guests from the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services,, and FamilySearch will discuss topics ranging from preserving your own personal records to American Indian records.

Best of all, you do not need to get out of bed! 

The lectures will broadcast live on our National Archives YouTube channel and the handouts and presentations will be available to download at our Virtual Genealogy Fair homepage:

Closed Captioning:

Closed Captioning:

Closed Captioning:

Have a question for our experts? No problem! Simply ask during the lectures using Twitter and the hashtag #GenFair2014 and we’ll have a dedicated question and answer time at the end of each lecture!

So gather your grandmother’s photos, pop some popcorn, and check out the Virtual Genealogy Fair schedule at and tune in starting at 10 a.m. EDT next week!"

 - 10am Eastern US time is 3pm GMT. If you want to check the times visit WorldTimeBuddy

The timetable and handouts from the three day geneafest can be found at

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Book of Me, Written by You, Prompt 61

Today is week 61 of what is going to be a 15 month project. Each Saturday, at around 12.30 am UK time I will release the prompt for that week's Book of Me, Written by You.

If you are new here, welcome! The details, background flyer and Face Book link to the Book of Me can be found HERE.

This week's prompt is - How do you measure success?

  • Can success be measured?
  • Medals or Trophies
  • Money or reward
  • Status
  • Personal Knowledge
  • Achievements
  • How others view you?

    Wednesday, 22 October 2014

    Guest Post - Using vintage postcards to add to family and local history research by Kate Cole

    Today I would like to welcome Kate who write at Essex Voices Past and is a contributor at Worldwide Genealogy. Kate is celebrating the publication of her book with a book tour and I am therefore delighted to be included on the tour.

    Therefore, without further ado.....

    Firstly, I would like to thank Julie for allowing me to write a post on her blog during my week long blog-tour of history-related blogs.  
    My tour is to celebrate the publication of my first local history bookBishop’s Stortford Through Time, (a small market town in east Hertfordshire) and I’m touring the world, via the internet, writing about “all things family/local history”.
    Today’s post, on day 5 of my tour, is about using vintage postcards to help with family and local history.  Throughout my book, I used vintage postcards to show “then” photographs of areas of Bishop’s Stortford a hundred years ago, compared with modern day “now” photographs.  Comparing the “then” photograph to “now” can clearly show how a town has changed over the last 100 years or so.

    The old and the new seen through the photographs of Bishop’s Stortford

    Our ancestors were prolific senders and receivers of postcards: small rectangles of strong cardboard measuring precisely 5½ inches wide by 3½ inches tall.  There is a great deal of information on the internet about how these pieces of cardboard evolved into being one of the major forms of communication around the world, from the late 1890s right up to the modern age.  The period of time today’s blog post is about is known as the “Golden Age” of postcards - roughly the late 1890s to end of the Great War.  By the height of the “Golden Age”, there was (nearly) always a picture on the front, and the back of the card was divided into two sections.  One the left side, the sender would write a short message, and on the right side there was room for the recipient’s name and address.  The fronts of the postcards varied considerably: (nearly) anything went - from cute pictures of fluffy cats, to risqué pictures of half-dressed beautiful young ladies, to views of local towns and villages.
    Postcards were the twitter of their day. Millions upon millions of postcards were sent throughout the world every single year.  Everybody sent postcards - from soldiers in the trenches in Flanders writing home to their families during to the Great War, to people sending loved ones short but succinct messages demanding that they “meet me at the station, I’ll be on the 2pm train tomorrow”.  (In those days, postcards got to recipients much quicker than today’s post!)
    Collecting vintage postcards from this “Golden Age” can greatly add to your own family and local history research.  It’s probably obvious what benefits the use of vintage postcards with scenic street views or social history photographs can have to local and/or social historian: being able to see a town or village’s past through the lens of a contemporary photographer.  But what about other uses for vintage postcards for historians?

    Social history postcard of Great Dunmow’s 1913 Whit-Monday Horse and Cart parade. A vision of a rural community before it was changed for ever by the horrors of the Great War.
    Family History
    Hunting out your ancestors on the postcards of their local towns or villages as part of your genealogical research can be immensely rewarding.  If your ancestors were well-known in their own locality, or were tradesmen or publicans, then you may spot your own family on vintage postcards.  I have been incredibly lucky that my great-great aunt and uncle (my great-grandmother’s sister and her husband) were respected publicans and citizens of Great Dunmow, a small town in Essex.  My great-great uncle was also an outspoken amateur politician in the years prior to the Great War.  He and his family have turned up in many postcards of the town of Great Dunmow from the 1900s until just before 1914.  I would recommend searching auction sites such as eBay and entering in the (hopefully unusual) surnames of your ancestors and/or the town/village they lived in. 

    The Royal Oak public house in 1910 – covered in election posters.  Its owner, James Nelson Kemp (my great-great uncle), standing in the doorway.

    Gordon Parnall Kemp (my grandfather’s cousin) in the family’s horse and cart outside his father’s pub, The Royal Oak.  His father, James Nelson Kemp, is standing in the doorway looking at his son.  A young man in this pre-1914 postcard, Gordon was killed in action amongst the blood, mud and horror of the Battle of Passchendaele in September 1917.
    Dates of Postcards
    If you look at the fronts of social history/street scene postcards and try to date the card’s view, you do need to be cautious when attempting to establish an accurate date.  If the postcard has a clear postmark, do not rely on it being the precise date of the postcard’s view. Postmarks can only be a rough estimate of the date of the postcard – sometimes people purchased postcards but used them many years later.  Or shops and photographers kept old stock for many years. Therefore, postmarks (or a dated message on the back) are only ever the last possible date of that postcard’s view.

    This postcard of Great Dunmow’s High Street originally caused me great problems identifying the year of the view.  Finally, after I’d managed to compare it with other postcards of the same street scene and looked at the photographer’s own serial numbers, I was able to establish that although the message had been written on in 1918, the image was in fact from the early 1900s.  Because of the serial number on the postcard, it is likely that the person who sent the postcard had had it in his possession for many years, before finally sending it home from France in 1918. 
    Reuniting postcards with their “rightful owner”
    Each year I sell about 100 vintage postcards on that well known internet auction site and I post them back to (who I think are) their rightful owners.  That is, people today living in the same streets, towns and localities as the address on the postcard they’ve just purchased from me.  Recently, I got a real thrill of excitement when I wrote on a modern-day envelope the exact same address as the address on a 110 year old postcard, and then posted the envelope with its precious contents back to its original house.  It really is well worth while keeping an eye out on the internet – you never know, one day your own house or photographs of your ancestors might turn up on an auction!
    I have a very large postcard collection but my all-time favourite postcard is the card below.  It was purchased on the internet by the husband of my 2nd cousin – the great-granddaughter of the addressee on the postcard, Mrs Kemp.  He sent it to me, the great-niece of the sender, my great-auntie Elsie.  The “G is pulling a tooth out” on the message was my 7 year old granddad – a man I never knew as he died when I was two years old. It is incredible to think that 100 years after it was first posted, the descendent of the original addressee returned it to the descendent of the original sender.  But not only has it had family value to me, but also local history because I have lived in Great Dunmow for the last 11 years –the home town of my ancestors.
    Elsie Parnall Cole’s postcard to her auntie, Alice Kemp (nee Parnall).  Where had it been between the years of 1907 when it was first sent, and the early 2000s when it turned up on the internet?
    Where to buy these beautiful postcards
    Hopefully I’ve now convinced you through my own research how much value vintage postcards can add to your family or local history research.  But, were do you buy them?  Well, of course there is that well known internet auction site.  Vintage postcards on the site is one of the most popular (modern-times) way of buying.  But, if you are looking for high quality excellent social history, then very often postcards on the site go for silly money – especially if there’s at least two of you bidding for a rare postcard.  For my book, Bishop’s Stortford Through Time, I must have averaged at least £30 per postcard bought on eBay.  One postcard in my book was being sold on eBay for £75 but I picked up my copy from a local postcard fair for £5 (not telling you which one!).  Another Bishop’s Stortford postcard was being sold for £99 but I bought mine at another fair for £40.  Prices vary greatly, with the better real photographic postcards exchanging hands for up to (and sometimes beyond) £100 per postcard on eBay.
    The other way of buying is the traditional postcard fair.  Fairs are held in sports halls, leisure centres and schools all across the world, with anything from 5 to 100 dealers all selling postcards.  I attended my first ever postcard fair in 1980 when I was 16 years old (in those days, good quality social history postcards were exchanging hands for £5 – a king’s ransom in those days – I so wish I’d had the money to buy them back then!).  
    In Britain, the best place to see where local postcard fairs are being held is on this website ( When I go to a postcard fair, I tend to take cash (dealers will often reduce their prices for high priced cards paid in cash), and I always always always stop buying when I run out cash.  My advice is to not take a cheque book!  Once my money has gone, then that is it – time to go home!  If I didn’t have that limitation, then I really would spend far too much money…
    In my 40 years of collecting postcards, I have collected a wide and diverse range of postcards – from social history postcards to postcards by well-known Art Nouveau artists.  The joy of collecting postcards is that your tastes and range of interests can change with time.  If you are a postcard collector, what is your specialist topic?
    Kate Cole’s blog tour
    You can catch Kate on the following dates and blogs discussing "all things history", along with explaining about her recent book, Bishop’s Stortford Through Time, on the following dates and sites
    §  Saturday 18 October - Worldwide Genealogy BlogThe process of writing a local history book.
    §  Sunday 19 October - Essex Voices PastQ&A session with Amberley Publishing on "how to get a publisher interested in your history book".
    §  Monday 20 October - Ross Mountney's NotebookHome education and teaching history to children.
    §  Tuesday 21 October - Family History Across The SeaCorrelation between local and family history.
    §  Wednesday 22 October - Anglers RestUsing vintage postcards to add to family and local history research.
    §  Thursday 23 October - Bishop's Stortford Museum's BlogOral history and Bishop’s Stortford.
    §  Friday 24 October - Essex Voices PastBishop's Stortford's postcards which got away.

    About Kate Cole
    Kate has a MSt in Local and Regional History (Cantab); a BA History (Open University) and an Advanced Diploma in Local History (Oxon) - all gained as a mature student. Having been a business technologist in the City of London for the last 30 years, she is currently taking time away from her City career to write. Her first history book, Bishop’s Stortford Through Time, was published by Amberley Publishing in September 2014. She has been commissioned to write a further three history books for them:-
    §  Sudbury, Lavenham and Long Melford Through Time (due to be published summer 2015);
    §  Saffron Walden Through Time (due to be published summer 2015); and
    §  Postcards from the Front: Britain 1914-1919 (due to be published summer 2016).

    She lives in Essex, England, and regularly write about the local history of Essex and East Anglia on her blog, Essex Voices Past

    Please do click on the image below to buy her book.

    Saturday, 18 October 2014

    Book of Me, Written by You, Prompt 60

    Today is week 60 of what is going to be a 15 month project. Each Saturday, at around 12.30 am UK time I will release the prompt for that week's Book of Me, Written by You.

    If you are new here, welcome! The details, background flyer and Face Book link to the Book of Me can be found HERE.

    This week's prompt is - Family Traits

    Do you exhibit any family traits?
    Do you even recognise them or simply accept them as face value?
    Do traits exist or are they simply a coincidence?

      Sunday, 12 October 2014

      FGS - Connect. Explore. Refresh - Prompt One (Part Two)

      The first prompt
      "Tell us and your readers/followers what you think of when you here Connect. Explore. Refresh in relation to a genealogy conference"
      Earlier we explored Connect. Now we are going to look at Explore.

      The internet has opened up the genealogical research arena far more than anyone probably thought possible. Pretty much every institution has some kind of web presence. Be that the largest libraries in the land - The British Library, the Library of Congress or the obscure and fascinating. Each one of those brings to the on-line world the ability for others to increase their knowledge, Explore the bowels of their facilities and tap into the depth of material, both on and off line.

      It doesn't just stop there, Individuals can and do set up website, blogs and share historical and genealogical data. The internet enables that exploration from the confines of our studies, offices, sofa's and alike. We can explore the website of archives in a controlled manner, knowing what we seek and where we can access the material from. We can also have not the vaguest clue of where or what we require, but can explore using a search of a single name, place or keyword.

      We get to encounter material known to us, to encounter new material, to explore new and different archives, connect with new friends and family who we stumble across whilst exploring. If we are very lucky we are the ones that are found whilst others are exploring.

      We should be brave, uninhibited and open to search suggestions as we explore the virtual halls of libraries, archives and museums. Serendipity will probably make an appearance too, and as many of us know that whilst searching for something, we sometimes locate other material relevant to our ancestry.

      The internet allows us to be a virtual explorer, a Dr Livingstone if you will, exploring the vast amounts of data that is there if only we can see it. We can search from the comfort of our homes, schools, libraries and perhaps workplaces! The costs and dangers of physical exploration removed, but the wealth of discovery from our explorations is and can be priceless.

      What a wonderful way to Explore. Stay tuned for the posts looking at Refresh and a bonus post. Twitter #FGS2015

      Saturday, 11 October 2014

      Book of Me, Written by You, Prompt 59

      Today is week 59 of what is going to be a 15 month project. Each Saturday, at around 12.30 am UK time I will release the prompt for that week's Book of Me, Written by You.

      If you are new here, welcome! The details, background flyer and Face Book link to the Book of Me can be found HERE.

      This week's prompt is - Task Reflections
      • Write a list of each task you undertake for any given day. 
        • Include the fine details of the tasks
          • taking milk out of the fridge to add to a drink - what was the milk in? a jug, quart container?
      • Compare those tasks to an ancestor - someone born in the late 19th Century or early 20th Century and preferably someone that you knew or remember. 
      • Record and discuss the differences
      • What of those discoveries has impacted on you?

      Friday, 10 October 2014

      FGS - Connect. Explore. Refresh - Prompt One (Part One)

      The first prompt
      "Tell us and your readers/followers what you think of when you hear Connect. Explore. Refresh in relation to a genealogy conference."
      There has never been a better time to Connect with others, Explore genealogical material, both on and off line and Refresh our thoughts on our research, our families and the historical context in which they lived.

      Lets delve a little deeper. For those who have started their genealogical research in the last fifteen years will barely remember a time when the internet was in not existence in its current form.

      The internet has revolutionised they way we live, shop, research and interact with other people, strangers and family alike. Who would have thought that following a group of potential strangers would be considered okay before the concept and delivery of Twitter?

      The internet has enabled us as researchers, both those new to the passion and those who have researched for a long time to access material within a few clicks of a button. The reality is the super highway has bought research material to us, rather that us going to them. Of course not all material is on-line, and you still can not beat touching a document that has the penmanship of an ancestor. To touch very gently the pages of a document that they touched. That feeling is so magical and yet hard to achieve if you live many thousands of miles away.

      The internet has enabled us to Connect with others in a variety of way. The archive institutions who have placed their catalogues on line for all to benefit from. The mailing lists frequented by researchers, those who choose to share their family tree on line be that by a facility offered by Ancestry or FindMyPast or alike, or whether sharing by writing a website or blog. Those that frequent aspects of Social Media like Face Book, those of us that can see a website for a genealogical Society on-line and decide there and then to join and take advantage of what it means to be a member of something. Those researchers who attend on-line meetings using Google Hangouts, Google communities and webinars. Those researchers who use on-line methods to collaborate and work together on a genealogical task.

      The internet has enabled us to make new friends, find lost family members and connect with friends, family and strangers in a reasonably safe and controlled way.

      It has enabled us to be part of something in the present, whilst seeking the past in order to preserve for the future.

      What a wonderful way to Connect. Stay tuned for the posts looking at Explore and Refresh and a bonus post. Twitter #FGS2015

      FGS - Connect. Explore. Refresh

      I heard earlier this week that I had been added to the list of genealogy bloggers as an Ambassador for the FGS Conference 2015

      There is a full list of FGS conference Ambassadors HERE.

      Over the coming weeks and months there will be periodic posts about the conference based upon my responses to a series of prompts.

      It is a fine way to get the excitement building in advance of attending a large genealogical conference, so stay tuned!

      Thursday, 9 October 2014

      Book of Me, Prompt 49 - What do I sound like?

      The Book of Me prompt 49 can be found here and asked the question what do I sound like?

      Actually I hate listening back to myself in recordings or video's. Over the years I have been recorded many times, whilst giving professional presentations, holiday video's, Google hangouts and even on a television program.

      Of course, we very easily leave messages on voice mail services and answer phones - I hate doing that too!

      This morning I was reading back through some of the recent posts from participants on the Book of Me Face Book Group and was suitably inspired (and not for the first time) by +Kristin Cleage.

      Kristin who blogs at Finding Eliza shared a recording of her being interviewed by her sister. It was a great recording and I enjoyed listening to it and was as I said, inspired to share my response to the prompt.

      In this recording I share that I have several recordings taken from voice mails left by my late Mum. In the early days after Mum passed away I took to playing these and whilst the professional in me thinks it is a little unhealthy, it has passed and I spent hours recovering those messages. I downloaded the messages as MP3 and now they reside in both OneNote and Evernote, both of which I have talked about on this blog previously.

      In complete contrast I have a video of my Grandmother that my husband and I did, the last Christmas before she passed away (Dec 1994). It is a lengthy video and my Grandmother was completely unaware that it was being recorded. Twenty years on and I still can not watch the video and my husband's next technical task is to archive that as a DVD and as a YouTube video that will be private.

      Do you have any recordings from your family?

      Saturday, 4 October 2014

      Book of Me, Written by You, Prompt 58

      Today is week 58 of what is going to be a 15 month project. Each Saturday, at around 12.30 am UK time I will release the prompt for that week's Book of Me, Written by You.

      If you are new here, welcome! The details, background flyer and Face Book link to the Book of Me can be found HERE.

      This week's prompt is - What do you See?

      Public Use Allowed

      • Having seen the image what is the thing you thought? Write that down.
      • Does what you have written have any resemblance to how you view life?
        • Half full or half empty
      • Describe how you feel after you have reflected. Does that differ from your immediate thoughts?

      Thursday, 2 October 2014

      Happy Birthday Granny - Annie Prudence Butcher (1879 - 1972)

      Today would have been my Great Grandmother's, Annie Prudence Butcher (nee Harris) 116th birthday. I knew her as Granny, and later as I began my research I affectionately called her APH. My cousins knew her as Big Gran, because their Grandma looked after APH in her elderly years and I guess to a child having two Grandma's in the same house was confusing!

      This picture is taken from the Christmas card Granny sent to family and friends in 1955. I have inherited the one she sent to my Grandfather, Grandmother and Mum.

      The first official document I saw when I began researching my family history in earnest was the 1881 Census, which in 1988 was the last official Census available to those of us in the United Kingdom.
      Image courtesy of Ancestry - RG11/780/6 Puttenham Surrey
      Crown Copyright
      The Census shows, Annie aged one year old.  I recall the moment I spotted that entry line as I muttered the words wow! complete with that tingly feeling of excitement.

      That very same Great Grandmother who cuddled up to me as an elderly lady. Smelling of talcum powder and lavender. Who had the firmest, yet gentlest cuddle of all. She would wrap me in her arms and tickle me and I would wriggle with excitement. I can almost feel that cuddle as I write this and all of a sudden I miss this elderly lady, who loved her family passionately and yet despite her frailness, always gave me one of those lovely safe and reassuring cuddles.

      Here is a picture of how I remember her, surrounded by flowers and the love of her family.
      Annie Prudence Butcher nee Harris
      1879 - 1972
      Happy Birthday Granny!

      Wednesday, 1 October 2014

      Tax Disc - The End of an Era

      Image courtesy of The Independent
      Today marks the end of an era for those of us in the UK.

      Back in 1921 motorists in the UK were required to pay a fee, known as Road Tax to the Government in order to drive their car on the road.

      Each year, those brown envelops would arrive in the post and would be followed at some point by the end of the month with a trip to the post office.

      There we would hand over the insurance certificate, the MOT (Ministry of Transport) certificate, which confirms that the car was safe on the road and the road tax request document. In exchange for cash or a card payment, motorists would receive a disc such as pictured here. 

      The disc would need to be displayed in the car, otherwise there was a hefty fine of £1,000 for failing to do so. In recent years the trip to the post office was removed as the enabling of the Ministry of Transport to accept card payments and track electronically that you were insured and the owner of a valid MOT. A few days later a paper disc would arrive in the post. It's arrival would mean spending a few moments carefully removing the disc from the paper using the perforation. For those of us that are somewhat clumsy that proved quite a challenge!

      From today, it will no longer be required to display a tax disc. You still have to respond to the brown envelop containing the reminder and pay the fee, but you will no longer receive the disc in the post. Therefore this marks the end of an era.

      Will we, I wonder see an increase in the hobby of Velologists, or tax disc collectors?


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