Sunday 20 November 2022

Writing quick Ancestor biographies

Here’s a quick tip to stop one revising and spending editing time on every sentence written. Get the draft written by voice.
  • Open your timeline of research on an ancestor, whether it is in your genealogy software, in a spreadsheet or an online database.
  • On your phone open a Google doc or any notes app or Office and tap the microphone.
  • Talk about each fact in the timeline adding as little or as much as you want.
  • Now you have a draft document you can return to, edit and enhance later.
This works for me, have you tried it? 

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Sunday 21 August 2022

Scanning tools and adding text to photos

#NFHM2022 Week 3 - Two tools

Recently I have been re-scanning some old family photos and paying greater attention to the correction details available within the scanner's software. So this post is about two tools I find very useful for family history.

1. The Scanner

My Canon LIDE300 flatbed scanner provides a range of tools for making colour correction to those old faded photos from the seventies and eighties. It is also simple enough for excellent correction to be made to old sepia and black and white photos.

I'm sure most scanners' software would have these functions, it is just a matter of taking time to find them. The temptation to just choose Photo for a simple scan does not reveal all the tools but simply saves the scanned photos to a designated folder.

Using the scanners' software gives me many of the correction tools I would otherwise need to use in a program such as Photoshop.

From the opening screen one selects ScanGear to reveal all the possibilities. 
Scanner menu

Place more than one photo on the platen and preview.
Choose individual settings for each photo before final scan.

In the screenshot of the Preview screen above the photo on the left is from the 1970s with fading correction set to medium and the one on the right from the mid 1980s with fading correction set to low.
Further adjustments can be made to each photo prior to the final scan using the saturation/colour correction, brightness/contrast, black/white points or tone curve tools.

2. Paint by Microsoft

This small utility program comes pre-installed with Windows. When I have a photo or newspaper clipping that I want to add text to, this is a simple method.
Find Paint by searching in the bottom bar on Windows. 
  1. File >Open to navigate to your image, or copy and paste an image in.
  2. Use the dot displayed at the centre bottom of your photo to pull down to extend the canvas
  3. Select the text tool and draw a text box in the white space now available
  4. Type in the box
  5. Save file as jpg or png
Paint is also a simple free way to add arrows and other shapes to screen clippings as in the Scanner images at the beginning of this post.

Here is a short demonstration of how to add text using Paint, to any image file

Monday 6 June 2022

Making an Impression

Is the information your genealogy or family history society distributes attractive?

A recent review alerted me to the inadequacy of some of our print materials.
Enter Canva for Non Profits. Through our free Pro account we now have access to a wide range of templates that make updating our image easy. Last week I made a new trifold brochure for our group, a simple process and our group members are pleased with the result. I have no design or artistic talent but thanks to Canva's wide range of professionally designed templates our signs and posters have received a refresh.

Trifold print brochure

Outside of trifold

Inside of brochure

Next time before printing I will revisit and add a qrcode for our website.

Update - 1 week

Received, great price, beautifully packaged and printed, a high quality product from an Australian based company. Thanks Canva.

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Friday 13 May 2022

Sailing, Steam, Masters and Mates

Early seamen in Australian ports

Port Adelaide, looking from the Company's Basin. 1867.

Masters and Mates

The job of a Clerk required he must be able to write clearly and such was the case in the Board of Trade Registers that kept track of seamen, as they qualified for their certificate as Mates or Masters. In this post, I am referring to the certificates that are found within the  Australian Colonial Joint Copying Project which can be found here online through Trove. These registers cover seamen from across the world who plied the seas in colonial times from 1874 until 1921. Some obtained their Board of Trade certificates across different colonies and States.

I decided to find all the South Australian-born men from each of the registers. The best procedure seemed to be to go ahead and transcribe those found which would then be useful for other genealogists searching for their South Australian seamen. 
I set up a spreadsheet with the following headings 
No. of certificate, Name, Date of Birth, Place of Birth, Certificate granted, Date of certificate, the Number of the image in the microfilm where it appeared and lastly, the Source with a link to that page of the microfilm.

The registers often gave one, two or three first names, very useful for identifying an individual and matching him up with other records. The date of birth as seen above is just the year. The place where they were born is under the headings of Born at and County but often these were filled with a city or suburb, county or indeed country, sometimes a combination of all of these.

The next area details the sort of certificate awarded with the date it was recorded. Certificates were awarded for Only Mate, Second Mate, First Mate and Masters, so a seaman can be followed through the years if he progressed up the ladder. There are also distinctions between Master of a sailing ship and Master of a steamship.
The Exchange Hotel on the corner of Commercial Road and McLaren Wharf, Port Adelaide.
The hotel was completed in 1881. Perhaps the seamen in the port liked to gather here.

Reflections on transcriptions

Generally, the handwriting in these records is clear and easily read but occasionally I needed to search the internet for a place name previously unknown to me Karlshamn, Sweden could have been incorrectly transcribed as Karlshainn as an errant dot on the paper could change the first loop of the m into an i.

Viewing the records - some considerations

Each page of the microfilm has to be selected then enlarged to be able to read the text. This involves multiple clicks for each image not so great for potential RSI.  The back and forward buttons revert the images to the original size. An alternative method is to download a microfilm or part of it as a PDF file. This can be enlarged to a suitable viewing level just the one time before scrolling through all the pages in the file. 

From the second Victoria file, I could choose just the images that had been recorded in South Australia Victoria, Includes South Australia, 1916–21


Originally I commenced transcribing all the records listed, a huge job. I needed to think about where and how the records would eventually be stored. I decided this would be better limited to a narrower field of interest, South Australian records but that would still include those recorded in all the colonies including New Zealand.

Place names – shire, county or country? 

It was sometimes necessary to distinguish between place names adopted in Australia from the original places in England, Ireland and Scotland. e.g. Birkenhead in England or South Australia.
Sometimes place names such as Lerwick were listed as Shetland and other times as Scotland.


It would have been better had I separated the surname and first names into separate columns but having used a spreadsheet this is easily achieved by using the Text to Columns feature in Excel or Split text to columns in Google sheets.
Sometimes names were recorded differently for the same man so Douglas, Archibald Home of West Australia became Douglas, Archie when he qualified for 1st mate in 1916.

Additional details

Here is Thomas Hughes Owen of Holyhead. On Certificate 395 he is made First Mate then Certificate 436 in 1894 has him certified as Master with death details included. I did not add any of these extra details to the spreadsheet but the link to the images is recorded. As family historians we know to always look at the original image if possible.

Ellis Thomas Tree claimed that he was born in Adelaide (South Australia)  when he was awarded his Second Mate certificate in Auckland, NZ. There does not appear to be a record for his birth in the South Australian indexes but there are other members of a Tree family born in years just after 1851. Perhaps this is the only place that his birth and death details are recorded.

Access to the Data transcribed

In the future, the data will most likely be added to the databases at Genealogy SA but in the meantime, if you have a South Australian-born man who has disappeared from records you have searched, he may be listed here. If you are reading this blog in the middle of May 2022 I may be able to direct you to a record for him, ask me in the comments. 

Under consideration

There are Registers of certificates of competency. Engineers: colonial, 1877-1921 [microform]/ as filmed by the AJCP. It lends itself to transcription........ Have you considered transcribing some records for your genealogy society?

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Wednesday 26 January 2022

Geneary and eleven others

What shall I do?

Much has been written about establishing goals in whatever field of endeavour that interests one. If you are stuck for ideas here's a genealogy slant on the months of 2022. After all, one wants to have fun!


This month is nearly gone today being the 26th. I've done some web editing for the local society, attended planning meetings, prepared a display, updated an index, edited some entries in our library catalogue and purchased a new laptop for the local group. We are all weary of the ongoing Covid pandemic but a successful volunteers' morning for our group brought us together with hopes for a better year.


A blog post is planned with obituaries found in Trove relevant to my families' stories. 


Perhaps I'll look at the variety of charts available through the genealogy software packages. Keep these in mind for family gifts.


Time to revisit all those apps on my devices, tablet, phone and computer. Do I really need 4 notetaking programs, 5 genealogy programs and 3 cloud services? I'm sure there are more than those, it will take time to review their uses.


Oh, this is an easy one, there are so many things I may do! What about finishing digitising the photos or compiling those blog posts into some order for publication. I may do it.


What's in the bottom of that cupboard and those drawers? Is it time to discard rarely used resources purchased in the fresh flush of genealogy endeavours?


More than halfway through the year it will be time to celebrate all that has been achieved.


Time to get back to Wikitree and add ancestors' profiles, sources and biographies. Could be a month to improve the entries on FindaGrave as well.


Perhaps break up those stories into separate families for ease of reading


Extend the previous months' activities into this one, sure to get something done!


Not time to move over yet, but a rollover of tasks not previously done. Oh dear, this is getting repetitive.


Time to tell one and all about the wonderful achievements throughout the year. 
Cheers to a successful genealogy year.

Now what was it that I came to the computer to do?

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