Sunday 7 November 2021

Photos, photos and more photos

A brief, limited post about many photos!

A lively Twitter chat #ANZAncestryTime about photo digitization and storage provided some ideas and prompted me to find a couple of previous posts I had written on this topic, this one back in 2014 on Organising photos and another on sharing photos via Flickr and Trove.

Time and software move on but some simple methods for preserving photos and the information about them are worth revisiting.

Adding data to scanned photos

I regularly use a simple Paint program on my Windows computer to add extra white canvas to a photo and then type in as much detail as known about the photo. This is in addition to adding the metadata in the details fields of the photos.

1. Copy the photo, open Paint and paste
2. Drag the bottom corner either sideways or down to create extra canvas. You may need to zoom out in order to see the bottom of your photo. Here I have zoomed out to 12.5%.
3. Select the Text button to type in the details
Adding white space in Paint
Most photo editing software packages have this function to add extra canvas for typing but as Paint is part of Windows and extremely simple to use this is a very quick method for adding text.

In the free Irfanview the option is under Image > Change canvas size.
Two free online options that do not need a login are Lunapic and Pixlr.

File naming

Early in my photo digitization process, I realized the need for a consistent file naming pattern. A simple spreadsheet helps me name files consistently. The clip below shows the details to be added, then the final column, in this case, column H puts the data together generating the file name to copy. The simple formula used here is CONCATENATE to join all the columns that have data in them. 
This works for a wide variety of photos as one need only fill in the details available such as the street scene photo listed in row 5. Empty cells are ignored with this formula. Column D has an underscore which separates the name of the photo or the Who from the rest of the more descriptive elements of the file name.

My photos are then stored in surname folders where applicable with the rest filed either by year or place. All photos and data are backed up to external hard drives and cloud storage.


Physical photos once scanned are added to Albox archival albums which I purchased from Gould Genealogy The photo pages have convenient slip-in labels for adding detail about the photos.


I initially used a Dropbox folder for sharing with immediate family but now I have paid storage elsewhere I add photos and documents to Google Drive and share folders from there. Stories using photos in blog posts over on Earlier Years are designed to reach a wider audience.

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Wednesday 8 September 2021

Saving Trove lists

Do you have a variety of Trove lists made as you research your family history? 

It is likely that you compiled these over time as new resources became available through Trove. Any newly found item added to a Trove list is always added at the end, so over time, the lists become unwieldy. There is a filter by date option, but what if you have forgotten the year in which that article appeared or you would prefer to have more control over the data in the list?

Here's a handy guide for saving and adding lists to your computer so that you can manipulate the data in a spreadsheet.

Log in to Trove and select the list to download. Decide whether to filter by date or type. Here I have chosen the whole list as it has only 51 items.

Open in Excel or equivalent spreadsheet. There are several columns that can be deleted before you begin to sort the data. The only columns to retain are:
  1. itemSequence - that is what number it is in the list
  2. itemNote - any notes made about why the item was added to the list
  3. itemThumbnailImage - more about this column later
  4. workTitle - the title of that section of the page
  5. workDate - this one will be split for sorting
  6. workPage - page number
  7. workFormat - whether it is a Family Notice, article etc

The next step

Insert three columns to the right of workDate.
Choose the Data tab, highlight the workDate column then Text to Columns

Follow the wizard, choose Delimited

choose delimited

On the next screen choose space.

choose space

This displays how the data will be distributed in the blank columns you previously added. On the final wizard screen, leave the choice as General then words will remain as text and numerals will be formatted as number data.

Change the column headers to match the newly created columns. Day, Date, Month Year.
Save, then highlight the whole spreadsheet. From the Data tab choose Sort.

Add the Month column next and choose Custom list to see the built-in Custom lists.

Add another level for Date so the final sort screen shows as below.

The data now displays in date order as it was published.

One final step to make this spreadsheet useful. 
The links in the column titled itemThumbnailImage only display a thumbnail of the page. 
  1. Highlight the column
  2. CTRL-F to Find -t then leave the Replace field blank. 
This will remove the thumbnail so that the link will redirect to the full page where the article is located.

Now one has a useable timeline of all the articles saved for that family complete with the notes made about the article at the time.

Have you downloaded any of your Trove lists since the upgrade last June?

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Sunday 22 August 2021

Simplify your view

Genealogy life in Covid19 times

Your travel plans have been curbed, the restaurants, museums and art galleries are closed during the lockdown. It is National Family History Month so what better time could there be to review and upgrade the tools you use for family history?

Simple Software enhancements

Do you ever lose track of where that cursor (cursed thing) is? Do you sometimes give presentations to other family historians? Do yourself and other viewers a favour by making your mouse cursor visible.

In the search bar type Mouse pointer > Select from this display

If you do not have Search turned on head to Settings and type in mouse.

Simply drag the bar to enlarge your pointer, this also enlarges the cursor.
If presenting to an audience consider changing to a larger size so that viewers can easily see the pointer.Use the color wheel on the right to choose a colour to contrast with your slides or presentation.

If you do not have the search bar turned on in your bottom toolbar, right click on the up arrow on the far right hand side and select Search then choose either the icon or the search box.


Have you saved some hard-earned money by staying at home? Perhaps a treat for your eyes may help with your family history.

Yes, a second screen for your family history.

Are you working on digitizing your photos and would benefit by viewing them on a larger screen?

Perhaps you have some faded shipping lists or documents that are hard to read.

For far too long I worked only on a laptop or iPad screen. Imagine my delight at having acquired a larger monitor for editing those photos and viewing those faded documents. 

Ways to use a second monitor for family history tasks

  • Comparing data on two browser tabs, simply drag one tab to the second screen to view them side by side.
  • Family history software open on one screen, data source e.g. Ancestry, MyHeritage or any other program open on the second monitor,
  • Data in the family history program open on one screen and a spreadsheet open for filtering and sorting on the second monitor.
  • Copy from one screen and paste to the other.
  • Watch webinars and see the detail in a presenter's slides on a larger screen, while taking notes on your smaller screen.
  • File naming protocol document always open on one screen while saving files on the other
  • Photo digitizing on one screen and spreadsheet for recording them on the other.
My 21" monitor is certainly not a high-end, high-priced product, but more than satisfactory for my needs. If you have saved on expenses during the lockdown, you may like to consider doing your family history a favour with a second monitor.

After plugging the second monitor in either by HDMI or VGA cable do visit Settings to extend the display. 

For those who already have a second monitor, what other genealogy-related tasks are easier with two screens?

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Sunday 15 August 2021

Three simple ways to make Family Photo collages

made in Canva

It's August 2021 and many in Australia are in lockdown to prevent the spread of the Delta variant of coronavirus. It is also National Family History Month here, an excellent time to work on some of those unfinished projects.

Shauna Hicks on Diary of an Australian Genealogist mentioned a photo collage she recently made and this sparked the idea for this blog post, an activity to undertake during NFHM. 

Whether you have endless family photos or just a few, a collage is a quick visual method to generate some extra family interest. Here are three simple methods to assemble a collage whether they be all photos, a combination of photos and document images, or photos of heirlooms. Many of the mobile photo collage apps add a watermark or branding unless you pay or subscribe. These are 3 free options.


There are several online options on sites such as BeFunky and PicMonkey but Canva with an excellent range of free Photo Collage templates tops the list of those available.

From the Canva home page  simply search for photo collage. I prefer to choose from the more menu so that the free ones in each category appear as shown below.

Canva photo collage

Select a Free template then use the Uploads button on the left to upload your photos. Each uploaded photo can then just be dropped onto the template where it will replace the existing photo. Edit any text or click on any photo to adjust or remove it.

These collages are set at 25 x 20 cm. If you wish to make a larger or smaller size, choose Custom Size from the home page and add the desired dimensions. 

Add and resize the photos until the desired effect is achieved. Add some text and decorative elements by choosing these features from the left side panel.

Download choices include png, jpg or pdf print for a high-quality document.


If you have PowerPoint already on your computer it is simple enough to assemble a photo collage. If not, use the free online version.
In a new blank document choose the Design tab>Slide size

Slide size ppt

On a blank slide, insert photos, and crop to shape to add some interest.
Add appropriate icons and text boxes.
Format the background with another image, colour or pattern.
Export as pdf or image - png or jpg

Trip to central Australia - A4 collage created in PowerPoint

Google Drive

There are two options within Google Drive to use.
Slides is the Google alternative to PowerPoint.
Choose Slides>New
From the File menu scroll down to choose Page Setup
Set your desired dimensions and proceed as above.
Individual pages can be downloaded as either jpg or png.

The other alternative in Google Drive is to use Drawings with a blank canvas. In a similar manner use Page Setup to determine the size of your finished collage. Add pictures, shapes text boxes and more. Similar download options are provided or the completed canvas can be published to the web and then easily embedded in a website or blog.

Here's a collage of four generations of family weddings.

Compiled in Google Drawings

Why not compile some family photo collages this family history month?

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Sunday 8 August 2021

Take time to try tech tools during lockdown

Trying a new tech tool is like trying a new recipe. Sometimes it's great from the start, or it needs tweaks and flavouring to be worth using again. Here's a tool I've mentioned before but I'm adding the Family History flavour to emphasise why I have kept this one in my genealogy recipe book of apps.

The free Office app for your Android or iPhone or tablet is useful in so many ways for family historians. If you have not tried it, let me try to convince you with this range of options. 

If you do not have a OneDrive account with Microsoft, now is the time to sign up and get your free 5GB of storage.

Download Office from your app store and log in to your free Microsoft account. 
Ensure that you also have the free Office app downloaded to your computer from the Microsoft Store.

The Home Screen on my Android phone

The Plus Button Reveal

Will you make a quick note and give it its own background colour, add an image to it, or use a note for a list?

Perhaps you just want to remember something while you are out walking. The voice option is the way to go. I find walking alone without the ubiquitous earphones is a good way to distil my thoughts. I need to record them or that brilliant sentence I thought of has been forgotten by the time I return home!!

Maybe there's a document you need to scan but the flatbed scanner is attached to your partner's computer and he/she is currently busy using it. What about those photocopies someone sent you in the post? Less clutter lying around if you scan them. One can crop, rotate, add text, add more pages then save as images, PDF or Word.

None of that suits your needs? Then let's start with Word.
Ooh, there's that Scan text option on the far left, but I just can't line up my scans nicely! Lucky me, I just drag the corners in until the selected lines of text are contained in whatever weird shape and the app will straighten the page for me.

Speak instead of type, I find the keyboard on my phone very small so the speech option is a better choice. Here's a compilation of the next two screens in Word where I have chosen to dictate my text. Notice the keyboard in the top right-hand corner in case I want to change back to typing, or need to correct my spoken text.


Not convinced? Let's try the Actions menu accessed from the Home page.
Here's the first page of Actions with some comments for you to ponder.

But wait, there's more (no not steak knives!) The second screen of Actions with some suggestions for family history users.

Choose where to save your files. OneDrive is the default location but other choices such as the local device, Google Drive, Dropbox etc. are available. 

Open the Office app on your computer to see your files and download them. Here's a link to a PDF I created in the mobile app, the covers of three books currently in my reading pile. I chose Scan to PDF.
These options are available after scanning.

No, I do not have or pay for an Office 365 account but use the free tools provided. Even with a free account, files can be shared. 

Perhaps you too will find the free Office app useful for family history.

As an aside:
I do have Office Pro 2019 on my computer purchased at a very reasonable price from MrKeyshop as a one-time payment. This was the last "on your own computer" Office software before Microsoft migrated to the every year subscription payment for its 365 product. Given that I was using Office 2010 until 4 months ago, I feel confident that the 2019 version will serve my needs for many more years. 

I purchased the 2019 edition for its many updated features and to have access to the video recording capabilities of PowerPoint, a simple but effective method for presenting and narrating family stories.

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Sunday 1 August 2021

Use your voice for Family Stories

It's August 2021 and many of us in Australia are in lockdown to prevent the spread of the delta variant of coronavirus. It is also National Family History Month here, an excellent time to work on some of those unfinished projects.

Why not use the extra time at home to get ahead with family stories? Are your typing skills rather slow or are you limited by the technology you are using? Why not use voice to text? There are many easy options.


a) WINDOWS - Speech to text

On your Windows PC, press the Windows key + H. This will reveal the microphone  Simply speak to write.
If you do not have speech recognition turned on, head to Settings > Speech, to turn it on.

This tool will work in any program that has text fields e.g. Word, Blogger, Wordpress or wherever you are writing your family stories.

b) On a MAC

On your Mac, choose the Apple menu  > System Preferences, click Keyboard, then click Dictation.
Click On. If a prompt appears, click Enable Dictation.


Just type in the browser search bar to get started. You will of course need to be logged in to your Google account. From Tools > select Voice typing. The microphone will now appear on the left side of your document. 

The piece below was generated using voice typing in Google docs. I only had to make one correction. The story of course needs refining, but at least it is started.

Oh dear, No microphone on your older desktop computer!
Never mind, use a mobile.



Install the free Office app.
Choose Create Word
Tap the microphone on the keyboard to get started
Choose where to save the document your personal OneDrive, Google Drive or other cloud storage location.

Google Docs

Download from your app store
Login to your account.
Tap microphone on the keyboard
Tell the story.
Add photos from your phone, from camera or from the web.
The doc will be automatically saved in your Google Drive
Save as also provides a wide range of other formats including Word, PDF and epub.


Download from your app store
Login to your account.
Choose  your blog, tap microphone on the keyboard
Tell the story.
Add photos from your phone, Google Drive or Google photos
Publish to Draft 
If you need to refine before publishing, open the draft post on your computer. 


Download from your app store
Login to your account
Choose blog, tap microphone on the keyboard
Tell the story
Use + to add other features such as images
Publish to draft.
If you need to refine before publishing, open the draft post on your computer.

Inject a conversational tone by telling your stories with one of the many free options provided using voice typing. Now is an excellent time to get on with the task, sit in the sun, record your thoughts, edit later.

Wherever you are writing and saving your family stories, using voice recognition will help those typing woes. 

Have you tried voice typing?

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Tuesday 1 June 2021

Apps for Family History tasks

Most Tuesdays at 7 pm AEST I join this twitter chat, tonight's version as you see above is about Apps for Family History Tasks. Now this topic is so wide that a 60 minute chat may barely scratch the surface, so let us look at some terminology.


When mobile devices first appeared on the scene the word app was used to describe a small program that could be installed on your device whether that was a smart phone or a tablet. In more common usage nowadays an app can be any small computer program usually on a mobile device but now used on computers too, often described as web apps. Has the word app reverted to its origin - application, in the sense of meaning any computer program, or do you still think of it in terms of mobile devices?

Family History Tasks

These are many and varied but may come under these general headings
  • Searching for information
  • Evaluating information
  • Recording the information
  • Communicating
  • Preserving information

General notes

Some apps can be used to achieve all of the above tasks to various degrees. These include the large online genealogy companies  - Ancestry MyHeritage, FindmyPast and FamilySearch all of which have web and mobile apps. One can search for relatives, evaluate the information found, record it and share it with others. So I'll leave those aside for now. 

If you are using a family history database on your computer check the app stores to see if it has a mobile app. 

Next the Google suite of products - Chrome for using and tracking Google web searches, Keep for notetaking and OCR from images, Sheets for evaluating and filtering information, Docs for writing up family stories and extracting OCR from PDFs, Slides for presenting stories, Gmail and Meet for communication, Photos for storing and sharing, Calendar to keep track of upcoming events, Blogger for publishing findings and stories, Maps for viewing ancestors' locations, Earth for creating story maps. YouTube private channel for sharing video.  All mobile and web.

Microsoft has an equal array of products and mobile apps, some with a higher price tag. 

A Limited List of Apps for Family Historians (m = mobile d = desktop w = web)

  • Evernote  m,d,w
  • OneNote - m, w
  • Voice recorder
  • Billion Graves - searching and recording m, w
  • FindaGrave - searching and recording m,w
Photos and presentation
  • Pixlr  - editing, family collages m, w
  • PhotoMapo iOS only, place family photos and text on maps
  • Canva - blog and twitter
Made in Photo Mapo

  • Microsoft Office Lens m
  • Adobe Scan m
  • CamScanner m
  • Feedly - keeping up to date with genealogy world via blogs and sites
  • LibraryThing - for keeping track of  relevant titles m,w
  • Adobe Digital Editions - reading epubs m, d
  • Facebook m, w
  • Twitter m, w
  • Instagram m, w,
  • Pinterest m, w
  • Viber - free phone, text and media to family m, d
  • WhatsApp - free phone, text and media to family m, d
Preserving and Sharing Information
  • Dropbox m, w
  • Box m, w
  • PixStori - add voice to a photo, share/send as mp4  mobile iOS or  web  these can be downloaded.  
  • The same effect without the branding can be created with PowerPoint or Keynote (recent versions) record with just one or two photos and export as video. Here's one created with a single photo using Keynote on iPad.

A couple of late additions
  • UMark Photo Lite - for adding Watermarks to photos m,w
  • Wolfram Alpha - computational search e.g. dates and times m,w
Do you use any other interesting apps for family history tasks?

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Friday 30 April 2021

Zeroing in - AJCP

Zephyr and Zenith

Reference to the murder of the crew of the Zephyr  is found in the Colonial Office records.
Offices: Admiralty, 1875 (File 7. AJCP Reel No: 2207  
Subjects include: Blackbirding; kidnapping; labour traffic; measles; HMS Dido; Reservation of site for Naval service; attack on HMS Pearl; Plantations visited by and attacks on HMS Sandfly; theft by crew of Jessie Kelly (ship); murder of crews of Zephyr and Lalia; HMS Rosario; criminal acts of William Henry 'Bully' Hayes of the Leonora (brig).

Zenith appears in a report written to the Royal Astronomical Society.

Zeroing in on Rowland Childers

The papers of the Childers family leave me wondering if Rowland Childers was sent away as a son needing to make his own way in the world. He arrived in South Australia on the Garonne in September 1878 and his extensive letters home to his father start a day after his arrival.
However, after a trip to Melbourne there is a 1879 claim for a bill he had not paid sent to his father, even though in the letters he mentions the 200 pounds per year allowance his father has provided.
Dec 2nd 1879
For: Rt Hon H Childers
Agent Generals Office
I have taken the liberty of sending you the 
enclosed a/c and ask you to hand it to the gentleman who
obtained the goods from me if he is in London.
He was staying at the Melbourne Club and I was given
to understand that he was your son. He left Melbourne
shortly after getting the articles charged to him and I
have not been able to trace him since.
........D Carson
In 1878 his father writes to give his son one more chance and refers to some profligacy at Oxford presumably before his departure. His father threatens to warn his friends in the colonies about his son's irresponsible behaviour and says he will not honour his bills if the irresponsible behaviour continues.

One hopes Rowland reformed his ways, there are plenty of letters to read about his life in Australia. In this 1880 one below to his cousin Emily, he expresses regret.

"As I have told you in the multiplicity of my indebtedness
I overlooked some when I left home
which is much to be regretted. God 
knows I am trying to live cheaply now
and I shudder to think of
the money that was not mine which
I chucked in the gutter"

If you research family history I hope this series has helped you to zoom in or zero in to some of your families' ancestors. 
Why did your ancestors arrive in the lands downunder?

Wishing you research success within the AJCP. Thanks to all those who have visited and commented along the way. 

Download the document - includes all 26 posts  Discover the AJCP 2021 

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Thursday 29 April 2021

Yesteryears felons in York - AJCP

York City Archives

Those who have been following this series will know that Calendars of Prisoners regularly appear in many of the English County Archives and York City Archives is no exception.

Calendar of prisoners in the House of Correction 1828 -1843 - 300 pages
Calendar of prisoners in the House of Correction 1843 -1853 - 272 pages
Details of felons, some sentences written in, details of transportees

If you had family names of Garbett or Thomson and an ancestor was an archbishop you may find interesting records in the York Minster Library.

Yes, a York search does reveal gems like this cover of Timetable of the tour of the Duke of Cornwall and York for their train trip in NSW in May1901

Then there's 
  • New York
  • Archbishop of York
  • York Products Pty. Ltd.
  • 35 York Place
  • Cape York Peninsula, Queensland
  • York Agricultural Society
  • Solicitors of York
  • York Castle Yorkshire
All these will be found with a simple York search from the AJCP portal page.  
Other Ys Young, youth, Yonge

Yes, your turn now. Y not try!

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Wednesday 28 April 2021

Extra tips - AJCP

X -  ?

I thought there may be a ship's name starting with X but did not find one. Lots of files X and Series X  but I've chosen to go with some eXtra tips.

Add to a list

If you are finding resources that you wish to revisit at a later date, it is a good idea to add them to a Trove list. To do this you need to sign up for a free account from the Trove home page.

The help page provides instructions on how to create your own lists in Trove.

The method of adding AJCP records to Lists requires a different approach to adding a newspaper or article within Trove to a list.

First method 

What to do if you are already viewing a record  you want to add to a list

  • Copy the individual URL for the image from the Cite option 
  • In a second tab in your browser select Lists under your profile name
  • Choose the list where you want the item to appear
  • Choose Add a web page and paste in the URL for the image
  • It  is a good idea to write a reason for adding it to your list, one may not remember!

Adding the link to an image

The item now appears at the end of the list. The words that were added as the title in the previous step now become the direct link to the image.

Second method

1. Search for your required item.

Here I have selected the first result from my search "Frederick G. Mann" AND nuc:"ANL:AJCP"
Portion of selected item page

2. BEFORE you Get the item, scroll right down to the bottom of this page well past the Get and Cite this buttons
3. Once you are below the subject headings added by the librarians you will see these options

find these options at the bottom of the selected link page, 
before you Get the record

Once you have chosen +Add to list this screen appears

Lists can be public or private, and if made Public they can be searched. 

Have you kept a list of the links in the AJCP that you would like to explore further? Here's my fledgling Trove list of links to remind me where to look.

Here's an extra tip from Tim

Just a reminder that if you’re frustrated by the size of the images you can download from the AJCP in Trove (only 1000px wide), you can use Dezoomify to get high-res versions:

— Tim Sherratt (@wragge) April 3, 2021

I hope these tips will help you make best use of all the family finds you have made in the AJCP.

Tuesday 27 April 2021

Wandering through West Yorkshire - AJCP

1. Archaeological Society

Yorkshire Archaeological Society has a collection of deeds, wills and family trees.

From the Hebdens in Australia file one can view thirty pages of notes and diagrams of the various branches of the family tree from 1794 - 1971
Branch 1 of family

2. Bradford 

West Yorkshire Archive Service, Bradford 

In the series Woolcombers' Aid Society, July 1856 - October 1857 there is a list with the signatures of the woolcombers who were about to emigrate to Australia.
The three notebooks contain details of the purchases made to outfit the families for their journeys.  There are also the addresses in Australia of some of the emigrants.

Perhaps one of your forebears or a relation went on one of these Young Australia League tours to Bradford in the 1950s. These files include all the names, addresses and itineraries for both the male and female tours.

Partial list from girls tour 1958

Among the many other series there are also the papers of Harry Eaddie, 1942 - 1947 - imprisonment at Changi.

3. Wakefield

Family papers, deeds letters and more 

As with many of these county archives this one has Calendars of prisoners with more than 1500 images covering the years 1823 -1849. These are very detailed documents with an index of names at the front of each session. The trial records the name, age, event and sentence.

4 Calderdale

As I near the end of the alphabet I delight in small finds.

A woolly image -

5. Kirklees

Some family papers of Joseph Dyson, a Hampshire family and a John Tyson.
Business Records: Rowland Mitchell and Co. Ltd, 1918 - 1931 -  a woollen and worsted manufacturing firm, Lepton, their dealings with Australian and New Zealand firms.
Miscellaneous wills, family and estate papers.

6. Leeds District Archives

George Briggs married Louisa Spencer (d. 1883) at Bishops Stortford, Hertfordshire, in 1853. They migrated to New South Wales and lived in Armidale, before settling in the Allora district of Queensland in 1878. This record is in George's handwriting.

Collections held by Leeds District Archives relating to Australia and New Zealand (as filmed by the AJCP) [microform] : [M1898-M1900] 1821-1935./Fonds. Briggs Papers/File Acc. 2223/Photocopies of papers of George and Louisa Briggs of Allora, Queensland

W - Who, What, Where, When and Why?  Perhaps some of these files may have the answers. Explore more of the many W collections from the M series list.

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