Women and work

So often in family history, it is the women who are hard to trace.

  1. What types of occupations did your female ancestors and relatives have? Did they work in the same jobs before and after marriage?
  2. Were women in your family employed in the same occupation over several generations? What socio/economic factors contributed to this?
  3. Were any of the single/widowed females in your family the sole breadwinners? Did they own or operate a business?
  4. What resources have you found useful for researching women in the workforce? Have you found any women with interesting occupations?

Many of our answers covered more than one question this week, so I am just going to write under one heading

Working women in your family

There were no doubt some @BadBridget among the immigrants/emigrants but equally many worked hard to set themselves up in independence. Also they were often the leaders in Irish migration – unlike other countries!

Margaret: quite a few of mine signed the 1893 Suffrage Petition including my grandma and great grandma

Lots of nuns in our Catholic families most of whom became teachers, was a respectable alternative to marriage, one unmarried sister usually stayed at home to care for elderly parents until death

Nuns had occupations when married women had to stay home. I guess that was the choice.

Dara found ‘Histories’ about the convent that described a Nun’s character and life in great detail. Lovely find

Margaret R said you have just reminded me we have some great Nun’s records in our family. One died basically of working too hard caring for those suffering from influenza in 1918. @iwikiwichick and I found her grave.

Sharn’s great aunt test flew spitfires in Hampshire during WW2

Paula’s great grandmother worked in the jute mills in Dundee. Dundee and particularly Lochee at that time was very much dominated by females. As they could earn more it was sometimes the men who stayed at home.

  • Famberry’s great grandmother had to work farmland to look after 3 children and 2 adopted children, after her husband died. Survived by selling parts of the land. (An acre for £4).
  • Jane:  Eliza operated the lighthouse with her husband from 1884 to 1886 when he died unexpectedly and then on her own to 1887 when she died age 59. She had had a hard life – grew up in a Buckinghamshire workhouse after effectively being orphaned … Mother died a year after her father was transported to Australia
  • Frances: One of my 3x great-grandmothers has been referred to as a baby farmer! She has taken in an illegitimate child and was paid for her upkeep. But there’s no evidence of baby farming, just the one little girl rebelhand.wordpress.com/2015/01/18/a-c…
  • KLor: my grandmother had such beautiful skin she was hired as a model to sell soap. Pre-TV, this involved sitting on a chair on a conveyor belt as people looked at her through the shop window.
  • Lena: In Germany there was the female teacher celibacy from 1880 to 1919. Teachers were public officials. When they married they lost their entitlement for their pension.
  • Fran: most of the UK census data for my female ancestors have no roles before or after marriage so it is very had to say. For the generation before me, my mother and aunts kept working in sewing factories after marriage. I always had the latest bathers.
  • Sue A: Women’s work is under recorded on UK censuses before and after marriage. Earlier census more likely to record women’s occupation, later ones enumerators were instructed not to. Lots of female ag labs vanished as a result
  • Mr Cassmob’s ancestor was in the news and police gazettes for being drunk and disorderly. She was a Famine Orphan so perhaps a form of PTSD?
  • Sylvia: Textile weavers in 19thC Lancashire cotton mills. My mother was able to break away & became a teacher.
  • Pauleen: I have single cousins who were in the army or similar, but not married women. Mum worked as a volunteer aircraft spotter. cassmobfamilyhistory.com/2020/04/25/vol…
  • Sharn: My g g g grandmother a free Irish woman married to a convict ran a brothel in Phillip Street in Sydney. She was frequently arrested and in the news
  • Paula: In my family tree widows seemed to marry again fairly quickly. In some cases gaining a few extra children to look after in the process.
  • Sue: My great grandfather died in Nov 1914, one month after his son was born. His wife then worked the farm with her chn for many years, then moved between her three girls houses in Longford and Hobart
dghchocolatier / Pixabay

Carmel: a widowed gt gt grandmother migrated with 3 young sons and established a farm, the purchase of the land was in her name.

Karen: My great grandmother’s husband deserted her and left her to look after several children on her own. I don’t know how she survived. Bit of a mystery.

ANZ: Yes so many women had a hard time when their husbands disappeared – one of mine waited 20 years before declaring him dead and taking over the property

Pauleen: My 2xgreat grandmother Bridget McSharry nee Furlong worked as a boarding house keeper after her husband died or disappeared. Financially challenging times. My great grandmother Emily Melvin supported her husband after his bankruptcy and jail.

Helen: Running a ‘house of ill fame’ (a most interesting woman to research!)

Dara: Wow! One of my great-grandfather’s cousins – all the daughters were on the game. very sad, all due to poverty, left me with very many ‘DNA cousins’ who don’t know their paternal line.

  • Sharn: My great grandmother’s husband ran off with a bar maid. She took over their green grocery store in the Valley, Brisbane. She claimed to be the first female fruiterer in Brisbane.
  • Jennifer: I know of one single breadwinner. My gg gfather’s sister was school mistress in Scotland, following the tradition of position being filled by family members. First her grandfather, then her father, followed by 2 brothers. She took over when a brother died
  • Pauleen: My 3xgreat g’mother Catherine Happ inherited her family’s hundreds year old Bavarian inn. Of course her husband then became the official innkeeper.
  • Margaret R: When my grandmother was widowed with 6 children, some still preschool, it seemed mainly they survived by using the bit of land they had for a cow they milked, and growing lots of vegetables
  • Dara: On my Mam’s side, they continued with ‘the shop’ after their husband died. My grandfather, who knew he had a weak heart, reopened a shop with my Granny before he died, so she would have an income afterwards
  • Hilary: my gt grandfather’s brother died before his wife who I believe ran a fruit and vegetable shop looking at the records it was probably her business rather than his
  • Shauna: Sadly a number of my female ancestors were widowed and they usually fell on hard times or remarried quickly. Mostly my families were poor so no businesses to run.
  • Sharn: My 3rd great aunt was widowed when she had a 4 year old son. She worked first as a tailoress and later owned and operated a green grocery store in Ipswich Suffolk. Her sister my ancestor also widowed came to Australia
  • Sharn: My Scottish females all worked in the cotton industry in Glasgow because that was what was near the coal mines their husbands worked in
  • Dara: My great-grandmother was a musician, after her first husband died. She played piano and violin at the silent movies. Initially she probably had to take it up to pay for their keep, but there is certainly less pleasant work. Unusually, there is a census record that she worked outside the home after (2nd) marriage.
  • Famberry: Mainly nursing but one relative worked in a cake/tea shop, which explains my love of cakes.
klimkin / Pixabay

Shauna: My great grandmother was a deaconess in her church but she was only referred to as Mrs Thomas Price in the annual reports

Sue: One of my great great great grandmothers had a boarding lodge in Evandale and there was mention of a murder there in 1861 nla.gov.au/nla.news-artic…

Shauna: When I joined the Queensland Public Service in March 1974 men were still moaning about how women were now getting equal pay. Somehow they thought I should have been in the typing pool.

Helen: Australian women in the Commonwealth Public Service had to give up their jobs once they married until 1966! Outrageous!

  • Margaret B: It was my generation! My cousin retired from teaching at 55. Then she went back as a relief teacher. But she had plenty to occupy herself. I retired at 50 and have never been busier. Just don’t get paid for my work.
  • Paula: My ancestors took whatever jobs they could find. Sometimes that might involve leaving home. It’s only recent generations who have had choices I think
  • Shauna: My mother worked at Freer’s Chips (not far from where we lived) Fridays were wonderful when she came home with a mega big bag of chips that somehow never made it into packets
  • Jill: My mother worked in the Post Office in the country as a telephonist. When she moved to Sydney she worked in the GPO.
  • Pauleen: Working as dressmakers was common between female siblings. Occupations were frequently determined by the family’s circumstances eg if they had a farm or a business. With large families extra income was helpful. Education beyond primary school a luxury.
  • Shauna: Coming from a long line of miners, jobs were mostly to do with the mines, tin in Cornwall and coal in the Midlands. It is easy to see why Australia was attractive to emigrants
  • Carmel: Once my grandmother’s husband died in the 1919 flu she had to give up the farm and work in casual jobs to support her 6 children, milking a cow and had the young boys sell the milk, later in life always worked a housekeeper for Catholic priests
  • Daniel: I’d say Farmer’s Wife is all I had seen… I had a few domestic servants, some kept it on after they married but farmer’s wife is primarily what I’d seen.
  • Jane: Mainly ‘unpaid domestic duties’ or equivalent after marriage … otherwise, lace makers, servants …
  • Shauna: I think farmer’s wives probably did everything – worked the farm, looked after the kids, did the housework and everything else – a hard life then as now – my farmer went insolvent after his wife died and the kids were split up
  • Margaret: My cousins worked as nurses, teachers and dental nurses. One served in WWII. Those that had children gave up working, those who didn’t worked until they retired.
  • Dara: A significant number of my mother’s female ancestors had a grocery shop. Of course, they were always labeled the ‘wife of a XX’ in official records

Sue: One of my Irish convict ancestors said she was a nursemaid on her convict records but naturally didn’t follow that once she was here in Tasmania

Pauleen: I’ve seen some early Irish immigrants get jobs as nursemaids, presumably because of being older children in big families – don’t imagine all had been employed in the “big houses” before they left.

Margaret R: Have just remembered a very sad tale about a 2X great-aunt who was ‘licensed out’ from a children’s home when her father deserted, and she was horribly abused. Court case was in Trove. As a child she would have been doing domestic work.

Jennifer: My grandmother worked in a factory until she was 70. They gave her a retirement send off when she reached retirement age. She went back to work next day saying she had no intention of retiring.

pasja1000 / Pixabay
  • ANZ: I’m not sure what my ancestors did in the 18th and 19th centuries. Bur Elizabeth Phipps was a Cotton Spinner in London prior to transportation in 1813.
  • Helen: Unfortunately one of my female ancestors has all sorts of records associated with her that list dressmaker/laundress (police record, industrial school records), so I do know
  • Karen: Domestic servants and later homemakers, mostly. Some farmers’ wives. My great grandmother’s sister was a printmaker/artist’s model. I think their mother had a small shop but still trying to find out about that.
  • Sharn: My great great grandmother gave up nursing to accompany her wayward tenor singing husband on piano. I don’t imagine her parents were pleased
  • Carmel: several were farmers’ wives but would only have been ready for this 365 day a year role if they had grown up on a farm themselves. My mother worked in a small town shop before becoming a farmer’s wife.
  • ANZ: I’ve done a little research on a relative who was a nurse, did private nursing in Italy before the First World War, then came back to work in England. She’s a fascinating character. Involved in London theatre as well
  • Margaret R: My Aunty was a nurse, but I have found her very hard to research. In electoral rolls she is mostly listed as spinster, only occasionally as a nurse!
  • Pauleen: There’s similarity between my women ancestors and relatives: railway gatekeepers , station Mistresses, dressmakers or embroidery/lacemaking, farmer’s daughters and shop assistants in family business
  • Jennifer: Most of my female ancestors were domestic servants. My gg grandmother took in washing, even though I’m sure she had enough of her own. She had 11 children at the time! Her husband described her to his family as a “good hardworking wife”
  • Fran: Servants, factory workers, dressmaker, drapers apprentice, Ag lab. Nothing that exciting except for Mabel Dawson who worked on the stage in shows. Played instruments.
  • Sue: Know mum worked as a clerical assistant sending out Hydro accounts before marriage, then did lots of volunteer work with the Girl Guides
Skitterphoto / Pixabay

Resources to use

  • Wonderful to visit museums and see just how some occupations were carried out and the conditions they worked under.
  • Paula visited the Verdant Works museum and seeing the type of work her great granny would have done in the jute factories and the life she would have lead was really fascinating
  • I have found odd things in the @ArchivesNZ & @PapersPastNZ by just searching a name. Eg teachers, nurses and public servants.
  • When it comes to women and work in our families we have to be very lateral in our searching – there are opportunities out there, but they’re not just the routine paths necessarily.
  • Margaret has a book she won about NZ Colonial Businesswomen. Written by a NZer now elsewhere.
  • Maggie mentioned a fascinating insight into female businessowners is Catherine Bishop’s Women Mean Business: Colonial businesswomen in New Zealand otago.ac.nz/press/books/ot…
  • Sharn has only one book about female ancestors’ occupations and that is Margaret Ward’s book Female Occupations
  • Similar answers to last week: academic articles, published diaries & letters (both personal and to papers) often give an interesting insight into what life was like. Insights into more recent women’s lives from oral history collections. My ancestors were dull!
  • Karen recommends Trove, Ancestry.com, NSW State Archives, Local libraries, State libraries, National Trust properties. Most interesting is probably artist’s model and printmaker.
  • Sharn found this article written by The Social Historian to be interesting thesocialhistorian.com/womens-occupat…
  • Sue mentioned some convict employment records are now available online in the Tasmanian Names Index

  • Carmel mentioned there is an excellent collection of letters by female emigrants to Aust, NZ in the AJCP via Trove where many of them describe their working conditions. Letterbooks of the Female Middle Class Emigration Society, 1862 – 1882 nla.gov.au/nla.obj-77025
  • Tara mentioned one of the general resources I found on life in Dublin – you might have seen it before Dublin 1756-1847 logainm.ie/Eolas/Data/IHT…
  • Fran: Many roles talked about today have women doing jobs that “don’t count”. If you are interested in following this up a place to start is “If Women Counted” by Marilyn Warning. It’s regarded as the “founding document” of the discipline of feminist economics.
  • Another from Carmel: “If women counted” by Marilyn Waring available on Archive.org
  • Tara: the @BadBridget podcast (worth listening to) acknowledges that and the role of women’s remittances in assisting migration of other family members and maintaining/supporting remaining family noted.
  • Pauleen: Electoral rolls after franchise, news stories about their community activities, marriage certificates, parish registers, oral history, heirlooms (sewing machine), Post Office directories, books about type of work and conditions
  • Maggie: Margaret Ward’s book, Female Occupations: Women’s Employment 1850-1950, is a useful resource for understanding various jobs women undertook to earn a living
  • Shauna: government gazettes are a useful resources for tracing female teachers or anyone working in a government position. Each Australian state published their own and digitised copies can be found online
  • Helen: I downloaded a dataset of probate records from @PRO_Vic, extracted subset of records for occupation ‘farmer’, then analysed ratio of female to male (no surprises). I like seeing the big picture. Hence earlier question
  • Fran: Many mothers and grandmothers served in WW2 in both the army and the RAAF – many records can be found at the National Archives of Australia

  • Many people mentioned Visible Farmer website https://www.visiblefarmer.com/
  • Maggie: I’ve come across lots of advertisements in newspapers for women offering services, dressmaking, laundering, etc. Great way to find out how they earned a living
  • Sue: Maybe we need to look more carefully at marriage certificates and census/electoral roll to see if the women are more than spinster or full age or minor age and add to their profiles on Ancestry or our trees
  • Margaret B: When the family were in Scotland there were a few servants both domestic and agricultural according to the Census. Some were very young when they left home. And some were still working when quite old.
  • Helen: On my GGG grandmother’s probate record she is described as a farmer, I think because farm land was owned in her name. Whether she was involved with farming I don’t know. Her death cert said ‘spinster’ but the probate told another story.
  • Fran: I do have a few female head of households in UK & Wales census data however they do not seem to have different roles than before. Might be the husbands are just away.
  • Sue: University of Sydney have a research group about women and work sydney.edu.au/business/our-r…
  • Sue: Information from International Labour Organization about women and work, more what is happening now but looks at all countries ilo.org/infostories/en…
  • Sue: Some interesting reading about history of women and work in the US but would be similar to industrialised nations around the world brookings.edu/essay/the-hist…
  • Helen: For some nurses in the family I’ve found evidence of their having taken nursing exams in @TroveAustralia
Berzin / Pixabay

Some great comments and conversations

Helen: Recently did a family history project for a friend and I was DETERMINED to fill in the considerable blanks for the women (and I always search for evidence for babies born and died between censuses in UK research, which so many leave out in Ancestry trees).

Pauleen: Isn’t it interesting how one person’s comments triggers off memories or thoughts of our own families.

Jennifer: Sure is. I’ve been thinking about all my frustrations with bank managers over the years.

Pauleen: You can readily see how women whose husbands weren’t as egalitarian would have potential problems especially if they were divorced or deserted, even today.

Jennifer: I experienced it up until recently as a business owner partnered with my husband. In the end I did all the bank negotiations. Had to convince the bank that, yes I may be female, but yes I do know what I’m talking about. as I’d done all financials for 3 decades

Tara: Very struck by today’s discussion that ANZ women seemed to have greater public knowledge/acknowledgement of their economic role than their European sisters.

Shauna: I’ve done a lot of reading on baby farmers and backyard abortionists – that reveals just how desperate some women were and how other women took advantage/helped them out

Fran: When I think about owning a business many of my male ancestors were watchmakers and lived above the shop. Perhaps the family (wives & daughters) did plenty of unpaid work serving in the shop. So hard to know unless someone wrote a journal or perhaps a letter.

Tara: really difficult to tell in Ireland, often marriage records removed any ref to woman’s occupation (respectability), knowledge after marriage often oral. English ancestors, only one had known occupation after marriage: Inn keeper.

Pauleen: Similar here Tara. I love that my Irish 2xgreat g’mother from Co Clare put “farmer” on the electoral roll here. Fair enough too – she’d helped to clear the land and establish the farm while he worked on the railways.

Tara: Some of the oral histories I collected for my thesis last year recorded the sheer amount of farm work their mother’s did. It would be more accurate to describe these women as farmers in their own right. Often father absent (cattle dealer, champion ploughman)

Sharn: When my great grandmother married Tara they lived on a banana farm. She always called herself a farmer

Tara: I wonder what the difference was Sharn – from the records I’ve seen, those oral histories, and my own family, that attitude wouldn’t have been common in Ireland. Perhaps more liberated from Victorian notions of “respectability”

Karen: One of my late grandfathers was proud that his wife did not have to work. He felt women going to work was a problem. Many women in the 1950s automatically lost their jobs when they became pregnant. Attitudes have changed.

Pauleen: Back in the day men sometimes saw it as a negative reflection on their earning capacity if their wives had to go out to work. Potential study and careers were sacrificed.

Pauleen: Married or single or widowed or deserted, paid employment or not, they were almost always involved in volunteer community or church activities as well as home dressmaking/knitting etc. Their hands were never idle. And the responsibility for large families

Paula: My female ancestors were in poorly paid work. Jute workers , bleachfield workers (I didn’t know what that was), pottery worker, farm labourer, domestic servant. After marriage it was all about having and looking after children. Some big families.

Pauleen: I imagine they’d have suffered some ill health after some of those jobs especially bleachfield workers.

Allie: Based on the Irish linen industry, I -think- a bleachfield worker laid cloth out to bleach in the sun. Some chemicals were involved, particularly later on, but I’m not sure if that was part of the same job. There’s a bleach green in our local folk park nmni.com/our-museums/Ul…

Fran: I think that some times it was the “place” they lived that meant they were employed in the same occupation. They may have moved to places with jobs in the industrial rev. period. Lack of transport meant you worked locations near to where you lived. I assume it depends how poor they are & opportunities available. Have found related families moved over time so having relatives at the new place would help get jobs, contacts for accommodations, etc. Though then the male role is usually dominant.

Readers: How do you find out about the lives of your female ancestors? What occupations have they had?

 

Researching online

Pexels / Pixabay

During 2020, COVID19 shut down many of the record offices, archives and libraries where genealogists around the world would have gone to do some research. But many of these repositories thought outside the box and made some resources available online. Others had already had a great online digitized presence.

These were the questions tonight:

  1. Which main genealogy sites do you use in your research? (subscription & free) What features do you find helpful? ie hints, help sections, records, shaky leaves
  2. Do you have a family tree on any genealogy websites? What are the pros and cons of putting your tree online?
  3. Have you tested your DNA? Is your DNA attached to an online tree and has this been helpful in your research
  4. What genealogy gems have you found on a genealogy website?

Sites used

  • Judy: Links to some of my favourite online resources are in ‘40 of my favourite #genealogy indexes/sources’  Others are about using FindMyPast
  • Jill: I subscribe to the 3 big subscription databases and the Free Familysearch. Love to have the convenience of anywhere, anytime availability. Other than those my staples are Trove, the NAA, NSW State Records.  I forgot to mention the Ryerson index in my list of staples. It is always open in a tab when doing Australian research. I also love the Australian Cemeteries Index and any other online cemetery index.
  • Fran: I use @Ancestry and @MyHeritage as both have loads of records and useful DNA functionality including matches to review.
  • Maggie P: Papers Past here in NZ is free and has helped me find some really informative bits of family history, and has sorted out more than a few queries
  • Pauleen: which online sites I use depends on what type of research and which country I’m focused on. I also use them to complement and crosscheck each other
  • Sandra: The most helpful for me is Ancestry and FamilySearch websites and the church record images (German research)
  • Margaret: WikiTree, FamilySearch, Ancestry, Google, Internet Archive, Find my Past, Find a Grave, BDM Online, Archway, Papers Past, Scotlands People, FreeCen, FreeReg, FreeBMD, Irishgenealogy, GRO, Canadian records, USA records, Trove, etc. I forgot about Online Cenotaph for war records. Always look there for people of the right age group.
  • Pauleen: I find Council cemetery sites invaluable for tracing deceased relatives. You can search by Council /place + cemetery. So many are online now but Toowoomba led the field.
Skitterphoto / Pixabay
  • Jennifer: I Mainly use @Ancestry @findmypast @FamilySearch plus the Ancestry app. There are others I use from time to time depending on my area of research at the time
  • Shauna: Trove is my must go to website for Australian digitised newspapers. You can find some really great stories for your relatives. SA Genealogy is real value for money, have been a member for years
  • Fran: PapersPast is one of my favourites, probably 1st. I think it is because my GGF and GF were always there submitting articles and adverts. My favourites are papers past from NZ and the index search for Births, Deaths and Marriage in NZ. It covers the vital records and filling in the gaps between with Papers Past in just two sites. Always have a browser open for these 2
  • Brooke: I subscribe to Ancestry, FindMyPast, & British Newspaper Archives. My tree(s) are on Ancestry & my favourite feature is the record sets catalogue. I don’t use FamilySearch very much. I don’t know how to get the best out of it (& I don’t like the idea of the global tree). Tasmanian Names Index is brilliant for researching my husband’s family…& random convicts just for the fun of it
  • Maggie P: When I started researching it was hard to find much Irish info- but now a whole lot is available online eg civil registration, censuses, Griffiths land valuations
  • Maggie: I use mostly FamilySearch, FindmyPast and Ancestry, plus also ScotlandsPeople and irishgenealogy.ie. I love that they all have different strengths (and records!)  how could I forget about FreeBMD, and also GRO! Not to mention our very own bdmhistoricalrecords.dia.govt.nz
  • Pauleen: The thing I love most about Trove (and Papers Past for NZers) is that you can find stories you’d never have been able to find any other way -unless scrolling through decades of papers is your thing.
  • Pauleen: Favourite sites include FindMyPast (Irish), Ancestry (DNA and general), ScotlandsPeople (Scotland), ScotlandsPlaces, Nat Lib Scotland, TROVE, FamilySearch, DNAPainter, MyHeritage etc. I’d place Trove & ScotlandsPeople ahead of all the rest except for DNA
  • Margaret: For DNA matching I use Ancestry, MyHeritage, FTDNA and Gedmatch. I belong to various Facebook groups. I research on my Legacy tree building my matches’ pedigrees to find our MRCA
  • Carmel: The familysearch wiki familysearch.org/wiki/en/Main_P… is always a good place to start but Trove has been my favourite for quite a while
  • Jane: Ancestry, FindMyPast etc. for records, DNAPainter for useful tools, Papers Past and Trove for newspapers etc. … lots of other places e.g., Lancashire Online Parish Clerk … depends what I am focused on.
  • Soc OPS: FMP has scans of Shropshire, Staffordshire & Cheshire PRs, invaluable to my #OnePlaceStudy research and otherwise only accessible at archives (currently closed), so in practical terms that’s as close to those sources as I can get. Ditto other PRs on Ancestry.
  • Pauleen: I much prefer to go direct to source when searching rather than through the “genealogy giants”. I use Qld BDM extensively and NSW as required
  • Dara: Main sites are Ancestry for trees & Findmypast for records, and where ever else the research goes. For DNA it’s Ancestry & MyHeritage. Tested at FTDNA but it’s sooo slow. May delete GEDmatch kits -concerned as users say deleted kits have reappeared. Watching!
  • Maggie ~scans: have had some great success with Ireland Reaching Out website- found a second cousin who was able to identify who was in a photo. And remain in contact.
  • Fiona: Beyond the main paid sites, I use a number of websites for my research. I have the main NZ ones listed on my website and others I have pinned on Pinterest.
  • Soc OPS: For my #OnePlaceStudy research I typically use Ancestry, FMP, FreeBMD, Shropshire BMD, GRO birth/death indexes, FamilySearch, British Newspaper Archive, GENUKI, National Library of Scotland Maps, Streetmap, Google / Google Books and others. From these sources I use records, newspaper notices and articles, parish / locality info, old and current maps, old books and whatever Google searches can bring me! And yes, Ancestry Hints and member trees too, evaluated before being accepted / rejected

    DariuszSankowski / Pixabay
  • Hilary: I mainly use @MyHeritage for DNA matches and doing more on updating my connection to global tree @WikiTreers and @FamilySearch
  • Maggie: great to double check the same record sets across the various sites. I get free access via our National Library when I need it.
  • Maggie: Quite a few digitised records now available from here too (including WW1 service records, some land indexes): archway.archives.govt.nz
  • Jane: The New Zealand Electronic Text Collection can be useful … nzetc.victoria.ac.nz I have found one or two gems there
  • Hilary: I am using more free to access sites now and my National library of Wales access to some subscription sites
  • Sue: For DNA stuff, definitely Ancestry, FTDNA, MyHeritage, LivingDNA – but as most of my research was Tasmanian based, then Libraries Tasmania Tasmanian Names Index
  • Pauleen: I am not happy with some Family Search databases now which comply with legal requirements but IMO don’t with ethics since they include full details of a person’s Birth and parents’ marriage, not to mention adoptions.
  • Pauleen: Do you use the catalogue to search what’s available for your area, irrespective of the site you’re using? It helps you to understand what one site offers compared to another.
  • Shauna: Archway is the NZ Archives online catalogue – similar to RecordSearch in NAA or any of the state archives catalogues. Names have been indexed and some digitisation too
  • Maggie: I’ve used The Genealogist for English tithe records – great resource – but I don’t find the search facility very intuitive. Need to spend more time on the site!
  • Pauleen: MyHeritage is a bit of an acquired skill to use I’ve found and I think it’s become more challenging rather than less. Conversely they have good German family trees that match mine.
  • Sandra G: top 5 are Trove, Ancestry, SA Genealogy (member), NSW State Archives, National Archives for War service records
  • Pauleen: Records are my main reason I use all the online sites. Hints and shaky leaves intermittently – Having researched for so long I can usually recognise a valid hint immediately. Other’s trees as clues to more recent info and cousin contact info.
  • Hilary: I use Ancestry and FMP mainly Family Search sometimes also The Genealogist I rarely use My Heritage as don’t like results
  • Pauleen: Do you know you can see the British (and Irish) newspapers online if you have a Nat Library of Australia card? Also JSTOR articles…was very excited when that was done!
  • Sharn: My most used sites are Familysearch, FindmyPast, Ancestry.com, The Genealogist, Roots Ireland, Emerald Ancestors, Scotlands People, Trove, British Newspaper Archives, DNA painter
  • Pauleen: And FindMyPast is the go to for Irish records as well as irishgenealogy.ie and registers.nli.ie Fingers crossed the GV will eventually be digitised online
fumingli / Pixabay

 

Trees: Where? Pros/Cons

  • Sharn: I have both public and private trees on Ancestry too. Trees I research for others are always private. My own extensive tree is public but if I’m researching actively and putting out feelers I set it to private. I have made contacts via my blog too but my best contacts have come from my Ancestry tree. A few from my My Heritage tree also. I uploaded my Ancestry Gedcom to FamilySearch specifically so I could participate in relatives around me at Rootstech. Someone changed something in my tree but it was easily fixed.
  • Sue: My main family tree online is with Ancestry but I have a basic one on MyHeritage and Family Search – find them difficult to make changes but I also have a much larger tree on home computer. In the profiles of people on my Ancestry tree, I include links to online records other than those from Ancestry databases – eg Trove, Tasmanian Names Index etc. Proves to readers you have done more research.
  • Sharn: I’ve been using the web links and the DNA tags but my tree is large so I’ll keep plodding away.
  • Maggie: I have a number of family trees online, but all are private except for skeleton ones connected to DNA accounts I manage. I think I need to flesh the latter ones out to make the most of the matching functionality.
  • Margaret: My Legacy tree on my computer is about 10,000 people. It goes everywhere including hypothetical people. I use that to get my GEDCOM but I limit that. I have lots of experimental trees too for DNA matches. I need to add more sources. I have put GEDCOMS of my Legacy tree on Ancestry, Gedmatch and FTDNA. I used to have a large MyHeritage tree, but I have deleted it back to the minimum size as I do not want to have to spend time updating that
  • Fiona: I have my main tree offline (great for creating reports for book skeletons) and only use my online trees for generating hints and DNA connections.
  • Gen X Alogy: I have a tree on Ancestry. Downside is keeping track of bits I may not wish to have uploaded, but that’s about it… so many upsides, particularly using it/having it used to connect with distant cousins. I’ve met so many great people!!
  • Shauna: Blaine Bettinger stressed complete trees when he was out here and I have been finding it really useful to trace all descendants of an ancestor couple where possible
  • Hilary: I have been updating my connections @WikiTreers with better citations and connected to @FamilySearch tree my Ancestry tree has always been private and needs updating get more connections on free sites. I like that I can write a biography for an individual @WikiTreers
  • Sandra G: I have my own website but I have not updated in a while. have public trees and some private trees on ancestry. Con for ancestry is people just copying without contacting or responding to messages.
  • Carmel: In my online tree at MyHeritage I include links to blog posts I have written about folks
  • Sandra G: So in saying that for messages on ancestry I did today receive a reply From a message I sent 13 years ago.
  • Sharn: I find having a tree online is an excellent way to find relatives providing their tree is correct. People copying my tree and popping it on to the wrong family is a downside. But the good outweighs the bad
  • Pauleen: Not to mention using photos that have a clear copyright symbol and name on them where I’ve taken them overseas. I’ve written to a few people who’ve used people photos that are incorrect – some reply and correct. I do find it frustrating when I get in touch with someone because of linked trees (& maybe DNA) and where I offer new info, only to find the next time they’ve made the tree private.
  • Brooke: But how do you decide what to leave out? Knock on wood, but I haven’t seen any negatives yet from having my full tree online.
  • Margaret: I have worked on my and many other families on FamilySearch, removing duplicates and confirming information from other records like BDM Online. I have put about 600 profiles on @WikiTreers which includes my pedigree line. I am checking these again to add any further information which will take some months. That is my best tree
  • Shauna: I have my tree online in a few places plus I have blogged about families too. It is definitely cousin bait as I have made connections I would not necessarily found. Sharing online seems to be one of the ways to make sure your research is findable in future
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  • Pauleen: I agree that blogging brings all sorts of information to the fore, much completely unexpected. Similarly having a network of people who know your research interests can make a big difference
  • Maggie ~scans: I was able to put some of my Dad’s WW2 photos online there- he had named the people in them. They let me know one day that someone had found their father in one of my Dad’s photos
  • Jane: My main trees are on Ancestry and backed up to my computer using FamilyTreeMaker. Having trees online helps with connections and collaboration
  • Carmel: online @ MyHeritage and limited trees on Ancestry and FMP All good for finding rellies. My ancestors don’t belong to just me. Gradually adding some to FamilySearch and Wikitree
  • Jill: The biggest pro is making connections. I wouldn’t put everything online just enough to be effective cousin bait.
  • Pauleen: PROS: Online trees can help you identify cousins even if they only have basic trees. They may know how many living family members of a branch. You can use them to connect for DNA. They can also see your line for DNA and research.   CONS: The inevitable potential for errors to be made, the unreliability of the data recorded, the dead-ends in many US trees when they reach immigrants, the one or three person “trees” for DNA matches
  • Fran: Keeping multiple trees is time consuming so they do get out of date easily. Sometimes I just use branches. I like the hints however can turn them off to stay focused.
  • Brooke: Ancestry is where my online tree lives. I recently ‘upgraded’ it to contain all my family tree branches & I’ve been getting great cousin participation. I sync my Ancestry trees to Family Tree Maker.
  • Fran: One of my goals with the Ancestry Tree is to improve others trees. I always attached good sources so that others might review these and fix their trees. Mine is not perfect however I do use disclaimers, eg not verified
  • Jill: I believe that, if you want to make connections you must put your research out there in cyberspace. My main database is on my PC but I have my own website, and scaled down trees on the Big 4.

DNA – matches, searching


  • Jill: I have tested with the 5 main companies. The best results have come from Ancestry. My aboriginal ethnicity been confirmed – the family stories were right. I have made new connections and reconnected with other cousins
  • Dara: Sadly, my matches are rarely interested in collaborating. What is wrong with my family?!!!
  • Maggie: I was lucky my parents were happy to do it – I gave them as Christmas gifts one year. Only took them nine months to actually do them!
  • Fiona: @patientgenie and I have done two Ancestry Facebook videos on DNA.
  • Sharn: I visited a third cousin in Chicago who found me on Ancestry. I arrived there in 2015 with DNA kits. We spat together in her kitchen the morning after I arrived and all I could think was – what if we aren’t related….. we were!
  • Sandra G: DNA on Ancestry. This has helped to confirm actual research. Also for my great great grandfather, I am sure I have worked from matches that he is not who he says he was. I need to write up my research to post it to my blog to
  • Maggie: Quite a few matches coming through on MyHeritage, but they seem to have less useful trees on there, sometimes difficult to identify where they fit in. I have a basic pedigree public for each of my parents, but it’s useful to go wide and include more than just direct ancestors – easier to identify where matches fit in. I tend to do that part offline at the moment.
  • Sue: tested with Ancestry and Living DNA but also uploaded to MyHeritage, FTDNA and Gedmatch. Attached to trees on each site where possible and been very helpful especially my dad’s DNA tests – I look after about 8 DNA tests for relatives. Many I asked to prove or disprove NPE with Dad’s DNA – found he now only has half relations except for my brother and I
  • Jennifer: I was planning on learning more about DNA at DNA Down Under but was sick and couldnt go. Still don’t know much. I have had my DNA tested by @Ancestry As yet I have only attached it to my basic outline tree on Ancestry My only excuse for this is slackness. I haven’t done anything useful to my research with my DNA results. They are just sitting there waiting for me to learn more about DNA.
  • Shauna: My grandmother always refused to talk to me about the family and told me not to trace back. I always thought it was about the skeletons in her family – little did I know she was hiding her own skeleton. Truth will out
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  • Soc OPS: Ancestry DNA (for myself, my father, my brothers and several cousins, linked to my Ancestry tree) which has helped confirm much of my paper trail research; no breakthroughs on my brickwall born-out-of-wedlock ancestors yet though. Plus yDNA.
  • Margaret: Parents and all 1st cousins on my father’s side dead. Two siblings have not tested. I’m the oldest, so my DNA is the best available. It seems to go back to early 1700s. I’ve done two and a third is on its way to me. Both attached to trees, one private one not. Without DNA matching I would have had no chance to find my father’s family which seems to have missed most records. I spend much time going through a list of kits. I have about 200,000 DNA matches within my close family and various cousins at various distances. I found my 2xgreat grandfather’s family by DNA matching combines with research. Now I am on the trail of the generation before,
  • Maggie ~scans: With a combo of IrelandReachingOUt website, my DNA matches, and FB- I had organised to meet a knowledgeable cousin in Ireland last year- but with COVid the trip never happened. Having my DNA attached to a tree has helped me clarify more about my Scettrini matches who emigrated to the US. Helpful as some in Oz have gone up the wrong tree!
  • Shauna: Testing my DNA revealed a very close family secret which was a shock. But then DNA helped me find my father’s biological family. No regrets because I prefer the truth.
  • Sharn: I have my DNA linked to trees on Ancestry and My Heritage. I love the moment when I click on a tree match and find the DNA also matches. The paper trail is confirmed
  • Brooke: my DNA test is connected to my Ancestry tree. So is Dad’s test. There’s some real potential there to break down the brick wall that is the mystery of Dad’s maternal grandfather
  • Jill: Haven’t found a close NPE yet but I think my large match with Mr Smith might be one. I can see that he has read my last message. Just wish he would answer!
  • Sandra C: I did an Ancestry DNA test and uploaded those results to MyHeritage and FTDNA. Two of those are attached to a tree. Very helpful. Trees are private though while I try to push back further in time and until I can find documents to further prove things.
  • Hilary: I tested with @myheritagedna but not had much success matches are distant and other trees non existent
  • Maggie: I’ve had mine and my parents’ DNA tested, and attached trees to theirs. It has been wonderful to use the results to help back up research I’ve done over the years and confirm hypotheses
  • Fran: DNA attached to my tree in @Ancestry and @MyHeritage. Does help you locate branches for DNA matches.
  • Jane: I have tested with 3 companies and have uploaded to a number of others … I always link my DNA to myself … it helps to make connections so that I can build in collateral lines
  • Pauleen: Yes I’ve tested with most of the big companies or uploaded. I’ve connected DNA to my online tree. It’s much more helpful now more people have tested and I can more readily assign them to my lines. None of the DNA companies have shown my German ethnicity, and Irish is haphazard. Cousins testing has been helpful in confirming paper trails and distant connections.

    cattu / Pixabay

Genealogy gems

  • Pauleen: I think what you get with NLA is the same as the subscription sites. Keep planning to do a full comparison, but haven’t. I use my FMP subs for newspaper searching mostly. I was doing cartwheels when I learned about JSTOR via NLA.
  • Maggie: I did a lot of my NZ research from England while I was living there – plenty of online resources available, and easy to order certs/printouts. Enjoy!
  • Society for OPS: I’ve found gems for others too, including a friend & former work colleague who was adopted as a baby. Traditional research on her maternal side (one ancestor was a stage magician!), DNA eventually unravelled her paternal side and revealed half-siblings!
  • Maggie: The most significant gem would have to be John Burke’s baptism in Aughagower parish, Co Mayo – found on RootsIreland. Was the beginning of identifying extended family all in one townland.
  • Fiona: Everyday brings genealogy gems – some happy, some not. This week has included a young family of girls emigrating from Aust to NZ in 1883 and finding out what happened to them; and today it was a murder. Each adds to the wider family story.
  • Hilary: I find the GRO indexes have helped me find missing relatives and prove a family story regarding a child who died young. Premature birth found inquest in newspaper
  • Sharn: Thanks to a passenger record for a Pan Clipper I am trying to work out why my g uncle was flying between England and New York during WW2. Was he a spy?
  • SocOPS: So many, for my own tree, and for my #OnePlaceStudy and one-name study research, it’s difficult to know where to start! Photos, records, newspaper reports . . . online resources have been a treasure trove (just as well during a pandemic-induced lockdown!)
  • Sue: Researching my direct relatives wills, I found out who gave me my piano that I used to play as a child. Didn’t know it then though.  Then I found out my GGgrandmothers brother-in-law was a piano maker in Hobart – I now wonder if the piano had come down through the family from then in the 1860s
Tama66 / Pixabay
  • Sharn: Last year through a DNA match on Ancestry.com and building a tree I linked an adoptee to my family tree. He was adopted in the 1940’s and has now met his half siblings in the US. Quite a Gem
  • Hilary: my gems have got to be newspaper finds on @findmypast things such as obituaries, Marriages and inquests various court reports and even properly sale pointing to a Burial date
  • Margaret: I found by DNA matching and research that my great grandmother’s sister had emigrated to Invercargill and was buried in the local cemetery. She had my two forenames.
  • Sandra C: My genealogy gems are when looking through the German church records and being able to find the whole family. Sad though when you find a brother or sister only to find they died at age 2.
  • Shauna: A fantastic find was a sketch of my GG grandfather in a digitised newspaper. With no photos, this was really good
  • Carmel: on Trove wonderful description of my parents wedding and extensive reporting of gt-grandparents golden wedding celebrations, on FS will of gt grandfather giving his land to daughter, my grandmother
  • Pauleen: Trove discoveries include the extent of an ancestors confectionery skills, fires, floods & near-death experiences. Another great grandfather was a bandmaster in Longreach -lost to the family memory. Recently that a great aunt had briefly joined the convent.
  • Brooke: Can’t go past Aunty Joy who found me using Ancestry messaging. She really was a gem.
  • Pauleen: Finding a news story about my great-grandfather’s anti-vax stand and with wonderful assistance from a genimate, proving a family story & learning more about my ancestor’s experience
  • Pauleen: My genealogy gems have mainly been found offline in libraries and archives. Trove however is gold for revealing all sorts of real-life stories about my ancestors that would otherwise never be known.

Love this quote:

Carmel and Fran: Love that comment that your ancestors don’t just belong to you. Sometimes people seem to be a bit territorial with their research.

Readers: What are your three favourite places to research online? Why those three?