Saturday, 1 November 2014

Uncover the Details of Australia’s Criminal Past

The Prosecution Project: Get Involved

This is quite an exciting project that will be of interest to historians everywhere whether they are family historians local historians, crime historians, social historians or indeed anyone interested in history.

The project was launched in October and a lot of work has been done behind the scenes already. It is based at Griffith University in Queensland and  is funded by the university and an Australian Research Council grant.

The group of academics and the recruited citizen historians will be indexing the court trials in each Australian jurisdiction (source Supreme Court and State Archives) and also then linking to Trove and the newspaper reports providing a free online database of trials for research by anyone. 

You can do a keyword search now and below is the information returned on a search for Evans and another for Smith. The ability to do the keyword search will allow you to look for types of crime, places where crime occurred and more.

When a link to Trove exists you see the magnifying glass and you go to Trove to the article. 

The project is calling for volunteers and the indexing work is done in the comfort of your own home.

The information below is from the media release from Griffith:

Uncover the details of Australia’s criminal past

On 13 October 1941, Patrick Drew, a 49-year-old Brisbane painter, plead guilty to
fifty-one charges of theft and breaking and entering, which he had committed over a
period of thirteen years. Drew, who was liable for 600 years’ imprisonment, was
described as Queensland’s ‘most successful burglar’ by Justice Philp. However, out of
consideration for Drew’s war service, the judge sentenced him to only two years’

The story of Queensland’s best burglar is one of many that has been uncovered by a
team of researchers at Griffith University engaged in exploring the history of the
criminal trial in Australia, with support from the Australian Research Council. One of
the outcomes of The Prosecution Project, which is directed by ARC Laureate Fellow
Mark Finnane, will be the digitisation of registers of Supreme Court cases from across
Australia from the early nineteenth to the mid twentieth century. Details of over 25,
000 trials have already been entered into this database.

Some of these records are already available for searching by family and local
historians on The Prosecution Project’s website. To complete the digitisation of the
registers, volunteers are being sought to enter details of cases and link them with
newspaper reports on Trove. This will enable researchers to analyse long-term
patterns of crime, prosecution and punishment – and provide an invaluable index to
these records for public access.

Those who sign up to help in the transcription process will receive records
electronically, so volunteers will able to assist this worthy cause from home, their
local library or anywhere else with computer access. Volunteers are also able to
specify the jurisdiction or period they are interested in working on when signing up to
participate in the project.

To assist in the data entry of historical court records and uncover some of Australia’s
criminal past for yourself, click on the ‘Become Involved’ link on The Prosecution
Project’s site.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Justifiable Homicide?

I was recently reading a report of Inquests in Victoria 1852-1853 published in 1854.
This made very interesting reading and I came across a mention of "Justifiable Homicide" relating to the inquest into the death of Jeremiah Fahey.

It stated he was "Shot by some person unknown, whilst engaged in a murderous attack upon the inmates of a tent" and in the remarks section said " The verdict of the Coroner's Jury accurately describes the case which was one of Justifiable homicide"

The Coroner was J. McCrea and the inquest was held in Bendigo on the 15th August 1852.

This excited my curiosity and of course the first stop was Trove. Nothing was found in the Victorian papers on Trove but two entries relating to the event were found.

One was in the South Australian Register  11 September 1852 and the other was in the

The Perth Gazette and Independent Journal of Politics and News 1 October 1852.

They are pretty much the same text reproduced here for easy reading:

"A fatal affray occurred at Peg-leg Gully on Saturday last. A dispute between two men arose about a hole, and violence was resorted to. The man who got the worst of the struggle chanced to be an Irishman. He went away and returned with a number of his countrymen, who had armed themselves with pick-handles and other bludgeons. A regular fight ensued, and the Irishmen were beaten back. They returned to the attack, however, to the number of about 150, and on this occasion fire-arms were displaced. They scorched the tents of several parties for a man whom they wished to find, and among others, that of three brothers named Hood. One of the Hoods ordered them to leave the tent, and on their refusing, turned them out. An Irishman, named Jeremiah Fahey, then struck one of the Hoods on the head with a bludgeon, through the calico of the tent, when Hood fired, and Fahey fell dead. A general engagement now took place, and many individuals were wounded, some of them severely. A man named Casey suffered concussion of the brain, and is said to be since dead. Another received a severe wound with a pick on the back of the neck. Broken arms and legs and heads were numerous. The assailants bore away five very severely injured, to what part of the bush is not known. The three Hoods are in safety, which probably they would not be if following their usual avocations. The verdict in Fahey's case, "Justifiable Homicide," has irritated the Irishmen, and they promise to repeat the attack. It is to be regretted that the affray assumed a somewhat national aspect. Disputes, hitherto, having been usually confined to Gold claims, have been of short duration and trivial consequence; but the introduction of national prejudice is likely to aggravate and perpetuate the present feud, especially in the somewhat lawless locality in which it occurred."  

(There was no mention of an inquest for Casey listed in the Inquests)

So remember to expand your search to other geographic locations that may report on your event and it is also important to allow enough time as often it will be reported much later in those newspapers ie 11 September in South Australia and 1st October in Perth  for an event that occurred in August in Bendigo.

Victorian inquest reports are held at the Public Record Office of Victoria, at this stage not available on their website as digital images. It looks as though they have been digitised as Family Search have a page saying it is a coming collection but only from 1865-1925 so maybe they will also become available at PROV online  sometime in the future.

Monday, 13 October 2014

Angling for Ancestors: Gold Coast FHS Conference

Have had a great day at the "Angling for Ancestors" conference run by the Gold Coast Family History Society. I was invited to be the Mistress of Ceremonies for the day  which is always fun.
Helen and Tanya Honey

More than a 120 people came today to listen to Jan Gow from New Zealand and Graham Jaunay from South Australia give three presentations each.

I was very happy to finally be able to meet Tanya Honey in person for the first time. We have been online friends for quite a while.
Jan Gow

Jan Gow:
Ten Ways to Research Your Family History - with and without a computer
Delving Deep into FamilySearch -learn how to find your treasure in the treasure that is
Saint Serendipity on Duty: a case study using UK records doing in 30 minutes what used to take 30 years

Jan gave ways of researching with or without a computer. Many of the ways we do things may have changed but the underlying idea of what we do has remained constant. 

We still need to contact relatives, whether we do this by writing a letter, putting it into an envelope and posting it or by writing an email we still need to contact our relatives, near and far.

We still need to be organised in our research and with our results, whether this is with a filing cabinet, Jan's favourite computer program TreePad or some other way with our computer, the computer is just a tool we use as researchers.

We are the important item as researchers, our determination, drive, analysis.

Jan's talk on the many facets of FamilySearch reminded everyone that FamilySearch is not just a place to type a name to see a return from an index. The Learning Centre, the Wiki, the mapping, the digitised books and so much more including the family tree. There is so much going on behind the scenes. 

There are many, many non-indexed images on the site with all the teams using digital cameras around the world. There is a large community around the world who are working to index these images so they are searchable for all. The indexers have achieved one million indexed entries in a day but new indexers are always welcome. It is very easy and the images are divided into levels of difficulty. There are also a range of images from other countries so if you know another language there are sure to be some for you too. I have been indexing for a few years and enjoy giving back.

Graham Jaunay
Graham Jaunay:
Research in England Prior to Civil Registration in 1837
Researching the Maternal Line - researching women is uniquely challenging and has its roots in the social position of women in society
Identifying and Dating 19th Century Family Photos

Graham showed some of the treasures contained within the parish chest as well as the documents that can help so much with our research including wills and deeds.

His talk on researching women covered the range of records in which we can find women remembering that due to the limited legal status a married women had, prior to the Married Woman's Act in 1872 where they had no legal authority, were not allowed to sign a contract or leave a will can make it difficult. They literally became their husband's property on marriage including all possessions and even the clothes in which they stood. You need to branch out to find mention of them. Wills are particularly useful and not just direct relative wills but wills of sideways relatives. Once they became a widow they gained legal status again (and can be a reason why some women "lived in sin" once they became a widow rather than lose those rights.)

Convict Connections and those bonnets!
Graham's last talk was on identifying and dating old photographs. This talk involved a lot of detail and I was pleased I had his book from Unlock the Past (also available as an ebook) as it saved me taking notes.

Exhibitors were Gold Coast Family History Society Inc., Unlock the Past Cruises, Gould Genealogy, Queensland Family History Society, Guild of One Name Studies, Convict Connections group of the Genealogical Society of Queensland, Queensland State Archives, National Archives of Australia, Tales from the Past and the Ryerson Index. 

Convict Connections was there and you can always find them as the lovely ladies wear the convict bonnets!

In between MC duties I was on the Guild stall
The QFHS Display board of their CD indexes available

My haul


I love books as you all know and it was great to see some pre-loved books for sale. I even managed to find some I did not have which was nice to add to my library.

After the conference around 40-50 of us went out to dinner where we continued to talk family history and a great time was had by all before Eric, Rosemary and I headed back to Brisbane as we had commitments there on the Sunday. Many of the others stayed on to participate in the visit to the Light Horse museum.

The Gold Coast Family History Society are to be congratulated on a well run conference. The organisation was superb as was the catering! I hope this will continue as an annual event.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Lovely Blog Awards Times Three!

It has been a very hectic time recently, work has been very busy, had a nasty cold and have been preparing for the trip to Canada to speak at the Kelowna and District Genealogical Society "Harvest Your Family Tree"conference.

I have come up for air and was surprised to find that I had been nominated, not once but three times, for a One Lovely Blog Award!

Thank you to Alona for the nomination: Helen is a good friend of mine, and she is a great genealogist and blogger as well. Very enthusiastic and passionate (not to mention knowledgable) on all things genealogy. I learn a lot from her and her posts.   

For anyone that doesn't know Alona (is there anyone that doesn't know Alona?) she has a number of blogs including the fantastic Memorabilia House which is a wonderful way of sharing family ephemera an their stories. She is the Social Media Queen for Gould Genealogy where she keeps us all updated with family history news and also writes the LoneTester HQ Blog. I really don't know where she manages to find the time to maintain them all but I am very pleased she does.

The second nomination was from Sharon Fritz from Victoria of Strong Foundations blog

From Helen V Smith's keyboard.  Helen is very well known but I include her here as I find her very inspirational.  Helen works full time but somehow manages to be very active in the genealogical community.  She has assisted me several times with research and inspired me to commence doing studies in genealogy, which I am enjoying immensely. Thank you for your support and assistance Helen.

The third nomination was from Sharn White of Family History 4 U who scored very well in the recent Genealogy RockStars  in the Australian category. Sharn writes a number of blogs. You can find out more about Sharn and her other blogs from this Geneablogger interview. She said "Helen's blog posts are always well researched and brimming with fascinating information. A must read."

From Helen V Smith's keyboard.  Helen is very well known but I include her here as I find her very inspirational.  Helen works full time but somehow manages to be very active in the genealogical community.  She has assisted me several times with research and inspired me to commence doing studies in genealogy, which I am enjoying immensely. Thank you for your support and assistance Helen. - See more at:

I was thrilled and honoured to get one nomination let alone three. I blog to share my thoughts  and sometimes you are not sure anyone reads or cares about what you write so it is humbling and yet glorious also to know that people read and enjoy your writings.

Here are the rules for the One Lovely Blog Award:
• Thank the person that nominated you and link back to that blog.
• Share seven things about yourself – see below.
• Nominate 15 bloggers you admire – also listed below (or as many as you can think of!).
• Contact your bloggers to let them know you’ve tagged them for the One Lovely Blog Award.

So seven things about me: 

I was born in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, a 5th generation Queenslander on my Mum's side and first generation on my Dad's. He was born in England and emigrated in 1949. I am 4 foot ten and a quarter inches (hey that quarter is important!) and would be dinosaur bait without my glasses. I have been researching my family history since 1986 and am totally addicted.

Me in Salt Lake City at RootsTech 2013
I am a professional researcher, author, speaker and do a fair bit of lecturing on  wide variety of topics. I have lectured in every Australian State and Territory, New Zealand, England and will be speaking in Canada in September and at Rootstech in the USA in February. I have also spoken on five Unlock the Past cruises and have been part of the organising team for the cruises. A family history conference while you are being pampered and looked after on a cruise and touristing works for me!

My partner died in 1995 and I have only fur-children, namely a long line of German Shepherds. Shannon at nearly ten is the current ruler of the house.

I am a scientist, Public Health microbiologist and Molecular Epidemiologist by day and the skills learnt doing this has stood me well in researching family history. After all 28 years of reading doctors' handwriting gives great training! As a result of my day job I have a strong interest in health history, DNA, the diseases of our ancestors and environment in which they lived. 

I am also obsessed with books, of all types. I read everything except horror. I have even been known to read tomato sauce bottles if nothing else was around. I have a library of over 10, 000 books and probably 1500 ebooks now. I have a good genealogy collection of resources as I studied part-time and the only time to research was midnight or later and pre-internet days you either had the resources at home or you didn't research at that time of night. For some strange reason libraries and archives don't consider opening then.

I was born in the Year of the Dragon and have a large dragon collection. I like the idea of the protective Chinese dragon (or the Anne MacCaffrey type) rather than the St George and Dragon type.

I run the Quested One Name study which is registered with the Guild of One name Studies and am the Queensland regional Representative. I have lots of projects on the go and plan to live to at least 150 so I can finish as least some of them.

There are many wonderful blogs around and I am pleased to share some of the ones I enjoy with you (they are limiting me but I did sneak in the three lovely blogs above!). I don't expect any of the bloggers to do anything further unless they wish to do so.

Judy Webster's blog Queensland Genealogy and her website are places that any person researching Queensland should have bookmarked. Judy has been willing to share her vast knowledge with us all and she shares wonderful new resources she finds in the Archives. There are over 135 pages of indexes on her website.

Shauna Hicks, another very well known genealogist. She has done fantastic work as the Family History Month cordinator and Ambassador. She writes a couple of blogs 
SHHE Genie Rambles with the excellent 52 weeks in records series as well as her Diary of an Australian Genealogist.

Judy Russell The Legal Genealogist blog is another wonderful resource. Judy has a wonderful informative writing style and talks about many topics particularly the law and how it affects our ancestors (The USA (except for those parts based under the French system) was mainly based under the same law system as England as are many of the Commonwealth countries so much is also applicable in Australia, New Zealand, parts of Canada etc. Judy is also a fantastic speaker so definitely hear her if you have a chance. She will be the lead presenter on the Unlock the Past New Zealand cruise in 2016. She was also the Gold Medal Rock Star Genealogist!

CeCe Moore the Genetic Genealogist is another person who can take a subject that is perceived as difficult and make it readable. 

Elizabeth Shown Mills who I am sure needs no introduction. The author of Evidence Explained and now is also writing a regular blog also named Evidence Explained which should also be bookmarked. This gives clear examples and explanations of how citations are done.

Lee Jackson and the blog the Cat's Meat Shop which gives wonderful context for the past. I am eagerly awaiting the release of his new book Dirty Old London: The Victorian Fight against Filth

Pauleen Cass who also writes a number of blogs one of which is Family History Across the Seas.  Pauleen wrote an excellent series on Beyond the Internet back in 2012 which is just as relevant today.

Kerry Scott of Cluewagon fame who writes thought provoking items with knowledge and humour.

James Tanner of Genealogy's Star blog is another person who was a lawyer in another life and who writes thought provoking items.

Roberta Estes of DNA eXplained blog who writes as one would expect from that title about DNA, the tests, the results and much more.

The Quack Doctor Historical Remedies for all your Ills. It is always amazing when you read this and about other "health treatments" done in the past that any of our ancestors survived long enough to have us!

Julie Goucher of Anglers Rest blog and also the instigator of Worldwide Genealogy: a Collaboration I find this an interesting blog with the wide range of guest bloggers from around the world that write regularly for this. Disclaimer: I am one of those writers but as there are thirty or so other writers I see no reason why I should not tell you about it.  

Liz Pidgeon of the Yarra Plenty Library and the blog she writes is another you should be reading regularly, Her Twitter handle is @infolass and this is reflected in teh content of the blog.

Lorine McGinnis Schulze and her Olive Tree Genealogy Blog. This is a Canadian blog that also covers a wide area and range of topics.

I hope you will have a look at these. There are so many wonderful blogs around now and more are coming online every day. We are very lucky to be researching in a world where we have such a wonderful way of sharing our stories.