Crowdsourcing and NFHM2021

Fantastic topic for #ANZAncestryTime chat especially with National Family History Month in August.

Free-Photos / Pixabay

What do you think is crowd sourcing in relation to Family History?

Genealogists or family history type groups helping each other and working together for a common cause

Excellent definition Sue – succinct and yet comprehensive 🙂

For me it’s about asking for support for a collaborative project

I put a callout on the blog for guest bloggers to write about our shared family members. Maybe that’s crowdsourching? Btw I didn’t get anyone take up the offer

Some societies use guest bloggers to write posts weekly eg @gsq Yet another type of crowd sourcing.

Curious fox website

I’m a member of a number of FB groups, occasionally I will ask for help when I’m stuck but I usually ask for help on How I can find the info I’m looking for so I can find it rather than ask someone else to find the info for me

There’s nothing like making the discovery yourself, that to me is what #genealogy is about plus you learn on how or where to find what your looking for

help from Ireland Reaching Out is a type of crowdsourcing where locals who know the place help researchers from afar.

Morning! Not sure that I can contribute a lot to the topic today but you’ve just quoted the one example I could think of. #ANZAncestryTime Although @duchas_ie also uses crowdsourcing and this can also be a great assistance to 20thC #FamilyHistory research – just ask

Also digitisation has overtaken some earlier indexing. Of course correcting Trove texts and adding to lists fits this category as well.

In NZ there’s the 1893 suffrage petition database… you are able to contribute a short bio

this event (Twitterchat) is an example of crowd-sourcing n’est-ce-pas?

I would argue that the 2 ancestryhours we participate in are a type of crowdsourcing as well.

There is CSI: Crowd Sourced Indexing available to genealogy societies and special interest groups for indexing their records. It is a free, web-based program I saw at #RootsTech a number of years ago.

The new versions of Rootschat email groups that I m a member of are definitely crowdsourcing with lots helping find info for someone with a question – mainly Tasmanian groups

not used crowd sourcing that much. I have a few FB groups for each of my family groups, in asking questions but hit and miss. Used wikitree but find mistakes.

Perhaps something like… where you can not only claim a convict but also contribute information about them

A great result of crowdsourcing is FreeUK Genealogy @FreeUKGen with lots of volunteers

asking and receiving help on social media, platforms that provide input e.g text correction on Trove, transcription sites so many examples. i’ve had folks improve photos just by asking

I suppose that putting cousin bait out there on my blog could be crowdsourcing

I guess @BillionGraves would be another example of crowdsourcing yes?

using social media & message boards to assist both on and offline. Years ago a helpful person on Rootschat looked at some Welsh records for me, long before they were online.

Left a message on Rootschat 4 years after original post. Got a response and person was able to give me information about my Turnbulls Borders area of #Scotland going back to 1700s 😲 ❤️message boards / #Facebook groups / #Twitter threads opportunity to ask questions & #giveback

Another great example of crowdsourcing is @WikiTreers. From the growing well sourced trees to special challenges, the make use of the crowd to advance trees and familyhistory knowledge.

I had to google the definition “enlisting the services of a large number of people, either paid or unpaid, typically via the internet”…. So basically getting a group of genealogists together and seeing what unfolds! Hehehe.

Crowdsourcing is when a community helps to research such as on @WikiTreers

Indexing for @FamilySearch is one of the big uses for crowdsourcing in #familyhistory. At the other end of the spectrum is individuals asking for help on social media such as Facebook Groups.

I think it can be a number of things like when I go “Hive mind – what’s a good TV show to watch?” – it can be asking your peeps for help or advice or it can be transcribing a graveyard together.

Devanath / Pixabay

Discuss your crowd sourcing experiences from helping an individual’s research through to large indexing projects. (Or do you avoid crowdsourcing?)

Asking the crowd for help with getting material from paid for genealogical sites or free I think is wrong. There are copyright restrictions and these should be followed.

Yeah that irks me. Like, I’m paying this large sum money because I’m using their website for the research I am doing. And copyright copyright copyright. So many of them have free trials or a month payment if you don’t want to fork out more $$$

Or join a society, go to a library or @FamilySearch centre, etc. There are so many places you can source stuff than elect to break copyright.

I’m a contributor to both @IrelandXO and @duchas_ie The former involves helping individuals with their research and the latter involves transcribing the Irish schools’ folklore project from 1930s. I’ve also assisted individuals on other sites

I was very excited to be able to help with this using my knowledge of the excellent resources of

I’m about to start a crowdsourcing project during the Christchurch Heritage Festival in October, which I can’t tell you the details of yet… But stay tuned…

so far, only recently starting using social media for crowd sourcing, which have pointed me in the direction of new resources, especially with overseas research. Only started blogging which might help others in the future

there are lots of ANZAC sites that crowd source data on specific soldiers and war memorials.

The Online Cenotaph – Auckland War Memorial Museum is an example of that

Years ago I went to the research room. Probably my first exploration into checking out archives. A bit more specialist than the local library. With so much online I am wondering if the research room still exists. Could not see about it with a quick online check.

Kia ora, Pou Maumahara Memorial Discovery Centre replaced the old Armoury on Level 2 in 2016. The public are welcome to use the published resources and contribute to #OnlineCenotaph… We are happy to answer any questions

Another crowdsourcing opportunity is Scottish Indexes which is getting support from indexers .

I have just this week begun to transcribe records for @scottishindexes This is my first time transcribing

I was transcribing Naval records for the TNA there for a second too last year.

Just started my first page @scottishindexes They’ve given me so much in past 18 months – 11 free 8 hour conferences. I felt the need to payback a little

Another site I’ve been able to contribute to collection of digitised glass plate negatives. Identified photos of gg-gparents

a bazillion years ago when I started I helped @GSQPresident with indexing deaths during JAn-June 1916. You can imagine given WWI. I suspect no one has ever looked at them

never underestimate how much you’ve helped dear Pauleen. I think that’s the tragedy is that much of the work is unseen/unrecognized and yet used all the time.

Like some software recognises the developers it would be nice to recognise the workers by adding to digital documents people that helped.

I suspect many people using #ancestry or #findmypast don’t realise the indexes have been created by societies as they don’t read the source info

I have made connections and found people who emigrated using @WikiTreers

I get family info requests on my Irish and Dorfprozelten blogs which helps others

I use FreeUKGen sites @FreeUKGen and have donated to them did start transcribing years ago but did not carry on

and I imagine to a degree that’s what @LostCousins might be all about too, yes?

I suppose a recent/continuing experience is being part of a Facebook group for my Gill ancestors and helping write up a document of all the descendants on my line from my 4x G Gparents down & assisting others with writing their line.

good result from crowdsourcing here 3 different versions of one photo enhanced by Rootschat folks after I asked for advice on FBook – see post below

Not a big crowdsourcing person. Really a lack of time as I work full time. I think it is a great idea although some of the questions I see on social media asking for help could be solve with a google search. Not sure they are lazy or what.

yes someone complained about that on my facebook knitting group today but I think it is just people want to hear from a human not a machine where they can find stuff or what they should be using.

I love transcribing Tassie convict records but usually get the person to type out what they can first, then I help with the unknown bits.

I reckon some of the best crowd sourcing that has happened has been during the UTAS course – by sharing assignments for everyone to read, I got some excellent advice/feedback from other students. (Only shared after assignment had been marked – Ed)

I am very busy on @WikiTreers but have previously transcribed for Family Search

Just today I have a comment on my latest post suggesting I have the age and time period out by a decade – love that input!

I agree I get all sorts of unexpected info and requests from my blog

I love it when people make contact through the blog when if they recognise their ancestor in my post

geralt / Pixabay

Have you any plans or suggestions for celebrating National Family History Month in Australia & NZ?

I attended the opening talk by Zoom with @HicksShauna and plan to attend the closing one with @fiona_memories. Our group is running a talk with Shauna via zoom also.

Where do you find out about all these talks, etc?

good point Brooke. I think we should have some kind of national calendar like the NFHM calendar AFFHO did but for all the time. There is… but I suspect a US focus.

Great idea – another thing we need a volunteer to upkeep? NZSG has an events calendar. Perhaps AFFHO could have n annual calendar.…

Sharn’s talk was so amazing. I really do wonder at the value of having bricks and mortar if we are safer using zoom. It was always so hard to get people to use the library anyway – I think our efforts now need to go into digitizing as much as we can.

Hoping to get to a family history day next Saturday. Wellington Region #FamilyHistory event (combined Wgtn branches of NZSG)

Might see you there, Jane. I’m selling raffle tickets in afternoon.

ah raffle tickets. The funding lynchpin of many a society 😉

Auckland and Christchurch Family History Expos. Launching a new Plan to Publish online course plus some new guides to help with publishing and sharing your research.

When I can get back on the computer, re start my blog!!! Dormant since 2018.

I have joined in with @luvviealex #NFHM2021 Blogging Challenge to blog every week or more often in August

Am doing two talks at Rosny Library – will probably be half hour talk then hour and a half to do practical stuff from the talk

I’m going to a talk at my local Family History Society. This will be my first visit

The opening talk to Family History month in AUS & NZ discussed the future of #familyhistory societies. What role do you see societies playing in the future?

you can now have a speaker in London give a talk to a society in Cheshire watched by someone in America that’s the one good thing to come out of the last two years, but like archives, if we don’t use family history societies they will disappear

I really like locality chats eg run by #DevonFHS for a gp of Parishes, sharing real local knowledge, alongside FB for questions between chats. #RyedaleFHG have informal Zoom chat (how to peel a banana to detailed FH questions/sharing finds informally – is great too.

I have used #familyhistory societies in the past, and can be useful as they have inside knowledge of counties and towns, particular maps. They do need be more involved with social media.

#future very much depends on members/committees keeping up to date w/ #technology, making their resources available #Online / in #Digital format, changing mindset from pull to push ie as much if not more online teaching content & resources as #f2f engagement

Check out Part 1 of podcast from last week between Andy of @AFHpodcast & Margaret from @FHSofCheshire – who discuss the benefits of #FamilyHistory societies. Well worth a listen Link –…

Personally I think local Societies need to be more interactive with all members do combined meetings about local topics

Even still, a lot of online sessions are held during work hours. I usually sign up If it has a watch later option, but I always forget to watch it later.

And more flexible timing. I know I could only go at weekends or evenings when I worked and had a family at home.

very true. And if we got younger presenters that might suit them better anyway.

I (Alex) think more user-generated content is essential and I think that has been part of SAG’s success with Friday afternoon chats. I have been so impressed with members’ contributions.

The issue though is how many societies we can afford to be members of. How do you weigh up which to keep, which to join, which to leave?

I expect value for money especially when your already a subscriber to several other websites, plus other costs involved in buying Certs etc, #genealogy is not a cheap hobby and some people should not expect it to be freely given either

I’ve never been able to get myself into the society thing. Maybe because I’m younger? I’m not sure. Joining a society just hasn’t spoken to me. I love the online fam history groups – Maybe they could have a fb group if they don’t already.

My English ancestors come from 20 English counties but I’ve never really considered joining a Society mostly due to cost of joining so many, I would follow them on Twitter/Facebook so I could keep up to date with news from the Society’s

excellent point which I hadn’t considered before. You just can’t afford to join every society can you ? But Facebook is free 🙂

And don’t forget That is free too

At least with following Society’s on FB/Twitter if I see a post made by the relevant society I can comment or send a message and make enquiries

I would join societies for areas my ancestors are from if I knew joining would be useful. If it’s not going to be helpful, why bother?

Which means that #FamilyHistory societies need to MARKET themselves. What is the value proposition for joining a society? (My idea of becoming a marketing guru for FH societies keeps growing 🙂

Agree, I think the majority of members are retired or have a lot of time. Often only open few hours during the day while others working. They can be useful but again hit and miss

The successful societies will weigh up the costs of going online with the number of members they may attract subs will reflect this

Local Societies know the peculiarities of their area and history useful for researchers from afar they need to promote this

completely agree Hilary. The most successful posts for QFHS Facebook page are about the local projects we have indexed or digitized.

Societies need to adapt to changing social & economic conditions. Change takes time to implement and requires planning. Might be too hard for many organisations when they might not have the skills to succeed at adapting.

In order to survive Societies need to encourage younger people and involve themselves more with social media

Societies need to upgrade websites and start getting younger people into their ranks

Blog posts

Carmel – Using photo enhancement as crowd sourcing,

Alex –  Genealife in lockdown challenge intro, Sum up after the challenge,


Family history bloggers

As part of the Diploma of Family History course at the University of Tasmania (UTAS) I am again showing my video about using your blog to present your family history. This is in the unit called ‘Introduction to Family History.’ The original version had many clicking sounds whenever I turned my head and spoke, so I have now created version 3. (Version 2 had too many blank spaces)

I was also going to include lots of links to other bloggers but felt the students might think they had to visit and read every post on every blog. So instead I am going to mention the bloggers here in this post.

Visit some other blogs written by students from previous Introduction to Family History units. Some have been blogging for a while, others are very new to this way of presenting their research. Many are also mentioned on my sidebar as links.

Some of the more well known Australian bloggers

Links to international bloggers from the Rockstars created by John Reid in Canada

Canada, Gold superstars 2015, Silver/bronze superstars 2015,

Readers: Did you find an interesting post in one of the blogs? Whose blog and what was the post about?

Presenting William Smith

After completing the Uni course on Introduction to Family History, Ann Ricketts, one of the other students, invited me to give a presentation at the Sandy Bay Historical Society on my research person, William Smith. I created the presentation in Google Slides and then saved as a powerpoint to upload into slideshare. The notes for each slide are in the main body of the post.

Slide 1 Over the summer period, I enrolled in a University of Tasmania free online course entitled An Introduction to Family History. One of the aims of the course was to research someone in your family tree.  Ann, who was also on the course, invited me to talk about my main research person who was William Smith. What a troublesome name, so how do I start?

Slide 2  I had been following family history principles of researching by starting with myself and verifying data at each new generation. Of course, I didn’t need to verify my father, Bob or his mother Irene as they were still alive when I began this task over 30 years ago. Nan could tell me a bit about her father Robert and his father William.

So I began filling in a pedigree or ancestor chart, then family group sheets including siblings of my grandmother then another family group sheet with siblings of Robert Edward, her father. All the dates and places were found at the archives where I searched through microfilms and microfiche to fill in the data on the sheets. I have samples of pedigree and family group sheets in my folders.

But I wanted to know more than just birth, marriage and death dates and places. I noticed William Smith was a mariner on many of his children’s birth certificates. Did this mean he was a sailor, or maybe an important captain of a boat. I wanted to flesh out the story of William Smith.

Slide 3 After getting some basic information from my grandmother, and verifying the information I had found about her siblings and other relatives, I decided to head to the archives in Hobart.

At that stage, they were only just starting to create CDROMs with databases on them, but they did have a card catalogue of images they had in store. I found this one under Captain William Smith. There were quite a few William Smiths in Hobart during the 1850-1900 period so could this possibly be him? Could this smartly dressed individual be my relative?

Slide 4  Back to my grandmother, showed her the picture, she verified it was her grandfather. I had done some research looking through books about whaling and found a Black Billy the Samoan mentioned. Could this be William Smith from Recherche Bay?

I said to my grandmother that he was a very dark man but she said he was sunburnt because he had been on the whaling boats too long. She then showed me another picture of him on a boat. What a difference from well dressed in a shirt and tie, to clothing suited for sailing on a boat as a member of the crew.

Slide 5 I was now intrigued. I wanted to find more. Back again to the archives, talk with the archivists. Did they have any information about a Captain William Smith who was whaling during the 1850-1900 period around Tasmanian waters? They gave me lots of different sources to find more information including books written by locals, photos from the Crowther Collection, visit to the Maritime Museum and a folder they had out the back on the Smith family.

Slide 6 Inside the folder was one single typed page. Not much to go on I thought.

Slide 7 More questioning of the archivists. Where did this person find the information? What are those letters and numbers next to the information? Can I see the original of this information? Do you have a photo of the Marie Laure? Do you need to qualify to be a captain? As you can tell I was very inquisitive and wanted to know everything.

Slide 8 This application for a certificate of service enabling William to serve as master of a foreign going ship gave me so much more information to follow up. I now knew where he was born – Navigators Island – where was that? I knew his birthdate and age to follow up on once I knew where Navigators Island was.

He had been in the whaling trade continuously since 1852 – I knew the names of all the ships he had sailed on, even if I couldn’t read them all, I knew the positions he held on board. Maybe I could find out more about each of these voyages. More research needed.

Slide 9 At this stage I began the uni course. Most people were starting from the beginning of their research and using for a lot of information or online databases. I had 4 main questions.

  1. What is Captain William Smith’s Samoan name?
  2. What ships did he serve on before 1876 and what was his role onboard?
  3. What dates were these whaling voyages?
  4. What was life like on these whaling trips?

Why couldn’t my research have been online? So I headed back to the archives, showed them the certificate and asked where to next. Answer was crew agreements.

Working backwards from the Marie Laure in 1877 I could follow in reverse order his journey as a whaler from the time he first joined in 1852 as a cabin boy through to the time he received his captaincy on the Marie Laure.  Whenever he signed on to a new whaling ship he had to fill in the date he was discharged from his previous ship and give the name of that ship. This allowed me to work backwards one ship at a time as long as there was a crew agreement available for that voyage.

Slide 10 He crewed on these ships between 1852 and 1860, but as I have not found crew agreements yet none of these can be verified. Those listed in blue is a ship name that I can’t easily decipher on his certificate so will need to check out all three of them.

I will also use Trove, the online newspapers of Australia, website to find out the names of whaling boats coming in and out of Hobart in the early 1850’s to try to work out this ship’s name.

Slide 11 This was the first cruise of the Waterwitch as a whale boat.  It left Hobart Town March 1860 and returned in February 1861 with 30 tuns of oil worth 95 pound per tun in England. William’s lay was Black Oil  50 @12, Sperm Oil  70@40, Whale Bone  50@40  Wages advanced 4 pounds

Black oil was found in southern right whales blubber, sperm oil from the blubber of sperm whales and whalebone was the baleen from right whales The oil was used for lighting street lamps and the whalebone in corsets, umbrellas, back scratchers and collar stiffeners. Read poem.

Slide 12 William served continuously on the Maid of Erin from 1864 until 1873, gradually moving up in the hierarchy until he became the master. He is mentioned often in reports in Trove about being a kind captain who looked after his crew including giving half rest time so they were refreshed when cutting up the whale the next day.

One voyage in 1871 shows the rations in a logbook kept by William Thomas Morley. Rations consumed: 21 casks beef, 8 casks pork, 5 casks and 1 barrel of biscuits, 2 chests of tea, 3 barrels and 2 hogsheads of sugar, 6 casks of flour.

Slide 13 While doing the uni course, many students helped each other finding sources for their information. One student who worked at a Queensland University had found mention of Black Bill in a catalogue from the Pacific Manuscripts Bureau. I contacted them and they kindly sent a copy of the manuscript written by Alfred William Martin in 1862 while a seaman on the Southern Cross. In his diary he mentions my great great grandfather as a half caste Samoan, so this so far is the earliest mention I have verified of his birth in Samoa.

More reading of a book by Bruce Poulsen from the Huon Valley, mentions William Smith being given that name when he comes up the Derwent River in a small whale boat in the 1850’s. I would love to find his Samoan name. Now who could his father and mother be?  Maybe a white whaling captain and a Samoan princess as the family story has been passed down ….

Slide 14 Trove report 10 May 1875:The Othello left here on 2nd November 1874, and proceeded to the Middle Ground, cruising there for about five months. Five whales were captured, and they yielded 16 tuns. According to Trove report on November 1, 1875 the Othello had lost three whales. One of her hands was unfortunately lost. The Middle Ground is the area of the Tasman Sea where sperm whales were hunted often during summer months.

Slide 15 But further research finds him mentioned in the book ‘Harpoons ahoy!’ by Will Lawson, published 1938 on page 18.  “Dat’s notting,” Larsen broke in.  “I remember de Marie Laure, when Black Billy de Samoan had her. Something lak a sheep she vos.  Black Billy done no good in her.  She vos a hoodoo with him, lak de Maid of Erin vos too, when he had her.  De whales dey keep avay from her.”

Another part of family history research is interviewing relatives who might have more knowledge of the person. I had created a website which included the information I had about William and his family, when I noticed some comments left by my unknown cousin Kim McDermott from Rosebery, Tasmania.

Maryanne Smith, William’s first daughter, learned to walk aboard the rolling decks of  the Marie Laurie  and was eighteen months old when she first set foot on dry land!

The whales teeth are two of a set of four that were scrimshawed by a seaman aboard the Marie Laurie with the high fashion of the day depicting women in fur coats. They were also polished with resin, hence the dark amber colour of the teeth.

It is not known what became of the larger two teeth, but it is believed they were stolen during the time Maryanne was living at Recherche Bay, southern Tasmania. The whales teeth were given to Maryanne’s granddaughter, Phyllis McDermott, who lived with Maryanne, at Strahan until she was married in 1950. In August 2002, the whales teeth were handed over to Phyllis’  son, Kim McDermott, for safe keeping.

Slide 16 So we come to the end of my research as at May 14 2015. I know about William’s life after marriage to Sarah Ann Tedman in 1874. Also married on the same date and place was Domingo Jose Everall and Sarah Ann’s sister Rosetta Caroline. Domingo had been on many ships with William and was also a dark fellow but from the Cape Verde Islands in the Atlantic Ocean off Africa.

But I still don’t know William’s Samoan name nor his parents. If I follow the naming pattern used by most families back in the 19th century, then why was William’s oldest son named James Henry? In my reading I have found a Captain James Smith born 1819 Clarence plains taken by bushrangers when a youth, then by South sea savages later in life. Could these have been Samoans? Could this be where William Smith was conceived? Further research is necessary.