Monday, 3 March 2014

Getting the Word Out!

The Unlock the Past Team at Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2014
It has been a very busy time since my last post for me as I went on the 4th Unlock the Past cruise (gave six presentations), flew to London and attended the Who Do You Think You Are? Live! conference, gave a presentation and was also on the Unlock the Past stand and then flew straight home again
(without spending any extra time as I am back in England again in July for the
 5th Unlock the Past cruise which goes around the British Isles) and then gave a presentation at the Queensland Family History Society seminar a few days after coming home!

Yes a bit tiring, but  I had a fantastic time!

As family historians we work hard researching our family history, researching forwards, backwards and sideways along family lines trying to crack/demolish the brick-walls that are thrown up in our paths.

An important way of doing this is broadcasting our interests far and wide. 

Going back a number of years we did this primarily through the Member's Interests area of Family History Society journals (and I would strongly suggest people should continue doing this as I have had responses from entries in journals published 10 years plus ago. Of course it helps that I still have the email address I started with so many years ago, not as my prime one but still there.  Having an email address that travels with you from ISP to ISP is a great boon in genealogical research. it would be a shame to have a cousin find you and then not be able to contact you!

We also put our entries each year into publications like the Genealogical Research Directory published by Keith Johnson and Malcolm Sainty.  I still remember the thrill each year when the book was delivered and then came the evenings looking at each surname hoping to find someone else researching your surnames in your areas. 

Then the RootsWeb email lists were used and are still used today. Remember it is always worth going back to them (now hosted by Ancestry but still free to use) as all the messages are still there and you can search them for places and names of interest. There are 30 000 mail-lists so I'd be very surprised if there was not something of interest! Google will return searches from the mail-lists but I am not sure what proportion of messages would be shown.

Then a number of forums on various websites opened up. Some messages from these are shown in Google searches but most are not. 

Busby cousins:Nigel Robinson and Helen Smith at WDYTYA? Live 
Then came the rise of the Blogs! Where we write about our ancestors, our brick-walls, throw out that cousin bait and wait for the nibble! I have had good success with my bait and my most recent success was meeting up with a cousin on my Busby from Coombe in Oxfordshire England line who knew of me from my blog. Then he did a Google search and found out I was going to Who Do You Think You Are? Live! and decided to come down and meet me (all without telling me!)

It was a lovely surprise to meet up with Nigel Robinson there. Another thing to note here is the round badge on my shirt, not terribly visible here but it says "Ask me about my One Name Study", an initiative of the Guild of One Name Studies, with whom my surname, Quested, that I am researching anywhere, anytime, anyplace is registered.

Members interests for events are still worth doing as ably demonstrated on the 4th Unlock the Past cruise. The registrants were asked to submit their interests online and then a hardcopy was provided on the cruise by putting it up on the wall.

The registrants then checked out the names and left notes on the notice-board to meet up.

A number of successful link-ups were made. One of the more interesting ones and sometimes you really do have to think the ancestors play a hand was between Jenny and Barbara. They realised from the members interests that they were both researching Nicholas Wingfield a gentleman who was executed for piracy! What was a bit spooky is that they were both single travelers who had been matched to share a cabin without knowing each other previously, so yes, I do believe the ancestors sometimes do want to be found!

The partial death certificate for John William Evans died 1909
Then when i returned to Brisbane I presented a talk on "Death Certificates: Fact or Fiction?" at the Queensland Family History Society seminar on Death and Burial. As usual I take advantage of being a speaker by using incidents where applicable from my family research and I also wanted to show an example of the digitised certificates you can download from the Queensland Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages (better than the previous certificate copies available that were transcribed, these are still one copy away from the original form but you have the advantage of seeing annotations and marks) in the different colours and handwriting. This was an interesting certificate as involved a coroner's inquest.

Then came a voice from the audience, "Is that a person in your tree?" My answer was yes and the reply was "because that is my husband's grandfather!"

So I had the pleasure of meeting up with Jennifer and her husband Don, my  second cousin twice removed.

Other places I broadcast my names of interest are Twitter and Facebook. 

What about you? What are you doing to get the word out? Have you come across other places or ways to act as cousin bait?


  1. One of the talks I do ('Who Else is Researching Your Family?') gives lots of other examples, such as: (1) Visitor's books in churches, record offices etc. I've had incredible success with this. In the visitor's book I write my name, email address (a Gmail address because it is free and should be valid long-term), postal address (PO Box, not street address) and names of ancestors in that area. (2) Postems on FreeBMD. (3) LostCousins. (4) CuriousFox. Helen, you have reminded me that (as my email address has changed) I need to go back and re-post some of the 'cousin bait' messages I put on Rootsweb mailing lists.

  2. Thanks Judy. Excellent ideas! Yes I should have mentioned re-posting Rootsweb messages with an updated email address. I have also had success with CuriousFox, not so far with lostCousins but that is my own fault as I have not put up too many names as yet.

    1. Some people forget that with LostCousins you need to periodically log in and click the 'Search' button on your 'My Ancestors' page. It would be worthwhile doing it now, because many new people joined and entered their names during the recent free period.

  3. If you've got it (ancestry) flaunt it.

  4. Definitely! Anywhere you can! Apart from the fact we want cousins to contact us, we also want to share our information, stories and ancestors lives so they will live even if something happens to us, or our possessions.

  5. Helen, I don't know where you get the energy from! It was a pleasure to meet you (and Rosemary and Alan) at WDYTYA Live.

    Great post, and very useful tips/reminders, as are Judy's. I agree with your comment about sharing our information with our cousins - and if we're lucky, they'll share theirs with us.

    I've had no luck with Lost Cousins either, but that's probably partly because quite a few of my Aussie ancestors left before 1841. But I live in hope.

    The Lost Cousins newsletter is always a useful read, even if cousins remain not-yet-found. Here's the link for the latest one, in case anyone's not signed up yet:

    1. It was lovely to meet you too! Yes the Lost Cousins newsletter is wonderful and I believe anyone not reading it is really missing out.

  6. Wow - you are such a busy lady with your family history activities and I admire your energy! I had not heard of FH cruises around the British Isles and they certainly seem an attractive prospect. How do you find out about them? I liked the idea of posting interests on board in case a concoction results. I agree with what you say - I think it is using all the opportunities now open to us and being patient on what might turn up. I am still a member of a family history society and eagerly search each magazine for members interests, though it is ages since I found a link - but I live in hope! Ditto messages on Rootsweb. I am on Lost Cousins, though I really need to add more ancestors - thank you for the reminder, Genes Reunited has been very quiet for me for same time. I have had most success recently with my blog and try to follow search optimization principles with my title and initial paragraph so I can come high up on anyone doing a Google search.

    1. Sue, I also try to use Search Engine Optimisation principles in my blogs (having had a lot of practice with my Web site!) However I need to go back and fix some of my early posts. The cruise/conferences Helen mentioned are organised by Unlock the Past.

    2. Sue, it might be worth looking at the link Judy's given as there are a few cruises coming up which leave from the UK.

      In terms of ancestors I think we all live in hope, and blogging is a big help, despite what one presenter at the cruise conference could almost hear the geneabloggers growling, but then he's entitled to his opinion, but perhaps more politely expressed ;-)

  7. Hi Sue, yes I must admit that moment when I open a FHS magazine and look for the names is still a moment of anticipation! Each and every opportunity as you just never know when something will connect.

    The cruising is fun and like this blog etc for me the "genealogy fix" I get by being among other genealogists is really wonderful. They actually care about new resources, something you found or commiserate with you about something you didn't find and being able to bounce ideas for new places to look or new resources is great!

  8. You put me to shame Helen! I'm behind with everything and all I did was go from the cruise to do Sydney research then on to Brisbane and home to Darwin. Your cousin success has to be your reward! How excellent about the quirky coincidence of sharing cabin mates with a shared ancestor....I hadn't heard that! You are a woman with great energy, enthusiasm and knowledge.

  9. Yes Pauleen I am very happy about my cousin finds.Just need to find some more time to catch up on my blogging. I have all the ideas but don't always find the time to write as much as I want!

  10. I'm exhausted just reading this. I've been very fortunate finding cousins. One of my cousins lives in New Zealand and has written a book about our shared Scottish Semple ancestors, another's uncle wrote a book about traveling west in a covered wagon. Both have become research collaborators but more importantly friends. You've reminded me to hang out more "cousin bait."


Hello, thanks for leaving a comment on the World Wide Genealogy Blog. All comments are moderated because of pesky spammers!

Best wishes
World Wide Genealogy Team