My current “Top 5” favourite family history sites

It’s been a bit of a blogging drought here lately as I’ve prepared for two big Zoom presentations – one at the Genealogy Society of Queensland’s Irish Seminar Day and the other a presentation and practical display of blogging for genealogy at Queensland Family History Society. Then there’s been the launch of ANZ Ancestry Time and a weekly twitter fest at @ANZAncestryTime and using hashtag #ANZAncestryTime.

I thought I’d use Randy Seaver’s Saturday Night Fun this week to get back in the blogging groove.

Your Top 5 Paid Family History Sites

Yes, I know it’s not Saturday any more but I’ve finally got a little time so this was a quick one to do and I wanted to share my favourites.

  1. Scotland’s People

In my opinion, it’s essential for Scottish research and to see the original digitised records rather than just indexes. Yes, it costs money but not a lot especially if you search in other sites first to narrow down your option. You can also buy credits when the currency exchange rate is in your favour. Having said that, I’ve probably squandered my children’s inheritance with it over many years.

  1. FindMyPast

While I find the search clunkier than it was in earlier incarnations, you really can’t go without FindMyPast if you have Irish research. They have made it their niche market and they have so much data there, including the original Land Valuation maps.

John Grenham’s Irish Ancestors’ site provides an excellent complement for Irish research.

  1. Ancestry

My usage of Ancestry has grown over the years though I still feel it favours US record sets. Once upon a time I was dismissive of the trees on it and still treat them with caution. However, they do provide good clues to cousins…as usefully as DNA matches in many ways. Ancestry also lets me search for branches or twigs who emigrated elsewhere.

It’s impossible to ignore Ancestry because of its huge world-wide DNA dataset. Unfortunately it’s then necessary to move raw data to other sites to cluster map or paint your matched segments. If only…..

  1. DNAPainter

Yes, much of this can be used freely but the additional options of an inexpensive subscription are very useful in exploring your DNA connections.

  1. My Heritage

I don’t really like the search here but there are certainly more European matches in trees and so I’ve found links to my German line that I haven’t found elsewhere.

As with the other paid sites, it helps to search the catalogue to see what records they hold for your places of interest.

And there’s so much more as well on other sites.

My five favourite FREE sites for Family History

  1. Trove

Show me an Aussie who doesn’t have Trove in their top 5 and I’ll tell you they’re fibbing!

It offers us wonderful news, photos, stories etc that reveal our family’s stories in a way that was impossible before. We can tag stories, clip or download the image, put the story in a list (confidential or public), research communities….and it’s world class. I’d rate it easily the best quality and most user-friendly of any research news site anywhere. AND it archives Aussie genealogy blogs for posterity in its Pandora Archies.

  1. Queensland Birth, Deaths and Marriages

My favourite is Queensland’s which now offers so much information to give you confidence you can order the correct certificate…and do order certificates, they are “must have” documents for research. Most other states have similar search facilities.


    National Library of Ireland
    National Library of Ireland

Free searching for Irish civil records and some Irish church records. Includes not just an index but images except for deaths 1864-1869 which will come eventually. Cut off dates are the standard ones for privacy regulations.

  1. National Archives of Ireland

So many options for free searching including census, convicts, wills etc

  1. Australian Military Records

Australian War Memorial and the National Archives of Australia are tie-breakers because they include so much information on military service for Australia. The Australian Archives includes digitised images of attestation records for World War I.

Australia is so fortunate to have a wide range of free records to search and explore.

Thanks Randy for prompting me to think about which research sites I use regularly.

Which sites do you use and how do they compare with my current favourites?

Deck the Halls: 2017 Christmas geneameme

Baby Jesus in mangerBack in 2012 when I was blogging prolifically I created this geneameme. I was delighted that Randy Seaver from Geneamusings used it for this week’s Saturday Night Genealogy Fun. Thanks for reviving it, Randy.

In the intervening years we’ve relocated to my home state, far from some of our family, the grandchildren have grown up a little and we’ve acquired another one. I wondered what might have changed, and found that most of our traditions have continued with only minor tweaking. So here’s my modified response.


  1. Do you have any special Xmas traditions in your family? We always have a tree with many decorations – hearts and stars feature prominently. The Christmas angel we bought in Galway many years ago, sits right below the red star at the top of the tree. We usually have the tree up for about four weeks – between two family birthdays- but we’ve been a bit late this year.
  2. Is church attendance an important part of your Christmas celebrations and do you go the evening before or on Xmas Day? We used to be regular church-goers but we had a falling out with the church and haven’t been for decades. Midnight Mass was always our favourite, with the joyous enthusiasm of the youth band revving it up at the end of Mass. Thanks to the late night, the children always slept in. One tradition carried across the generations was my husband telling the kids to “roll over and go back to sleep” followed by “open the gift at the end of the bed” (a book!) I’m curious why the local Anglican church here has a service in German.
  3. Did/do you or your children/grandchildren believe in Santa? Yes, of course! Like most kids, belief was suspended one year when I snooped and found my major present. I can’t recall when our children stopped believing but must ask if all four of our grandkids are still believers. There’s the universal rule: even if you’re old enough to know the facts, you don’t spoil it for the littlies.
  4. Do you go carolling in your neighbourhood? I don’t think this is a general tradition in Australia, at least where we’ve lived. Instead, Carols by Candlelight is a celebration in many places. Our local town had one on what might be called the village green this year. We didn’t go…just disorganised.
  5. What’s your favourite Christmas music? A burst of the Messiah is hard to beat!
  6. What’s your favourite Christmas carol? Little Drummer Boy and Mary’s Boy Child remain firm favourites and I have fond memories of enjoying Oh Tannenbaum after I started to learn German. Boney M’s Christmas Carols is one of my favourites (joyous and exhuberant), followed by Christmas Carols from Oxford (serious but gloriously sung).
  7. Do you have a special Xmas movie/book you like to watch/read? Not really.
  8. Does your family do individual gifts, gifts for littlies only, Secret Santa (aka Kris Kringle)? The adults do not-so-secret Santa per family, and the little ones get gifts from each of us. We were shocked and rather aghast one year when we saw the massed presents under the tree and resolved to make it more balanced. In the mania of the mall I’ve been pleased to see that books remain popular, and at the garden centre, that plants are another favourite.
  9. Is your main Christmas meal indoors or outdoors, at home or away? It is usually indoors as it lets us have the table set formally, using family heirlooms. If it’s really hot, we’ll add the aircon. Afterwards, and before, we’re likely to be outdoors for a while.
  10. What do you eat as your main course for the Christmas meal? Never, ever turkey. Roast pork (cold or hot), ham always, seafood, and whatever fancy salads the collective gourmands put together. Christmas pudding has gone off the menu in recent years, replaced by one daughter’s tiramisu and a special pavlova-like dessert I make. Our meal is a collaboration of chefs even if the kitchen gets a bit crowded!
  11. Do you have a special recipe you use for Xmas? Always my Scottish grandmother’s shortbread recipe. The Christmas cake has also gone off the menu recently and after many years I swapped from my mother’s recipe to one I found in the Women’s Weekly: green peppercorn cake -delicious!
  12. Does Christmas pudding feature on the Xmas menu? Is it your recipe or one you inherited? For decades I used my grandmother’s pudding recipe but see 10, now we have a lighter dessert. I suppose my dietary restriction re dried fruit has influenced both this and the cake, since others aren’t die-hard fans. I’ve been intrigued, reading responses from the US in particular, that pudding seems to be a very British inheritance.
  13. Do you have any other special Christmas foods? What are they? Sometimes gingerbread. When the grandkids are nearby I like to involve them in the making of small cakes and the shortbread. It’s become a family tradition to find special salads for the day – some stand the test of time and reappear each year.
  14. Do you give home-made food/craft for gifts at Christmas? Rarely these days though I once used to. One of our Christmas activities is doing craft with the grandchildren so they give something to their parents – teaches them it’s not all about their own presents, and it’s fun!
  15. Do you return to your family for Xmas or vice versa? Over the years this has chopped and changed depending on where we’ve been geographically. Some years we’ve all been together, other times it’s different combinations. This year there will be four generations including two branches of our Cass mob. Now that we live far away from some of our daughters and their families, they are usually here with us so it involves lots of preparation for the influx. When our daughters worked in the hospitality industry, rostered on public holidays, we started celebrating Christmas on Christmas Eve, in the European way.
  16. Is your Christmas celebrated differently from your childhood ones? If yes, how does it differ? Yes, primarily around church-going. We also have more people involved.
  17. How do you celebrate Xmas with your friends? Lunch? Pre-Xmas outings? Drop-ins? Phone calls for those who are far away, and locally it varies depending on mututal availability. This year I enjoyed my first Christmas lunch with other members of the Caloundra Family History society – far more fun than work functions.
  18. Do you decorate your house with lights? A little or a lot? For a long time, we’ve had some lights around the garden but when we moved here, the strong hint we were given is that this neighbourhood “does” lights, so each year we’ve added a few more. Now some families have moved away and there’s fewer lights…sad.
  19. Is your neighbourhood a “Xmas lights” tour venue? No.
  20. Does your family attend Carols by Candlelight singalongs/concerts? Where? Not any more, especially if we’re not organised. I guess when we had small children, we made sure we were organised and went.
  21. Have any of your Christmases been spent camping (unlikely for our northern-hemisphere friends)? Not that I recall.
  22. Is Christmas spent at your home, with family or at a holiday venue? “Always” at home or with family though one year we arrived home from overseas days before Christmas, and one year three of us spent Christmas in Lucerne…very pretty with snow, church bells etc – but we missed everyone else.
  23. Do you have snow for Christmas where you live? I wish – but it would be rather a shock in the sub-tropics.
  24. Do you have a Christmas tree every year? Absolutely!
  25. Is your Christmas tree a live tree (potted/harvested) or an imitation? As a child we had a small gum (eucalyptus) tree or a branch. Since we’ve been married it’s always been an artificial one. We were mesmerised to see real trees being bundled up in their onion-bag wraps when overseas at/near Christmas.
  26. Do you have special Xmas tree decorations? Do we ever! We collect them from our travels so we have all sorts – no themed decorations for us! There are also a few that go back years: kids’ craft, and one from our very first Christmas a couple. More recently there are some that were made by the grandchildren, including a handprint from each.
  27. Which is more important to your family, Christmas or Thanksgiving? Christmas for sure. Aussies don’t do Thanksgiving. I rather like the idea of it but it would have to be mid-year. After all, this is the end of the school year, time for annual holidays and in some businesses, end of financial year. The thought of adding anything else to the mania of the end of the year would send people right round the bend.

SNGF: Christmas Tree Family and Places

Randy at Genea-Musings has a weekly challenge: Saturday Night Genealogy Fun. This week he was inspired by Leslie Ann at Ancestors Live Here blog and her Wordless Wednesday Surname Tree.

This is my offering, created in Tagxedo and edited and decorated in Photoshop. I also did one for my Dorfprozelten to Australia blog, with the names of all those who left the village for Australia in the 1850s and 1860s. You’ll find it here.

I have done some of my family names here, including the names from different marriages but accidentally forgetting Dalziel. And since one thing inevitably leads to another, I thought I’d put my family places into a tree as well. So here are my creations for this week’s SNGF. Thanks Randy and especially Leslie Ann for the inspiration.

Created using Tagxedo in combination with Photoshop.
Created using Tagxedo in combination with Photoshop.
Created using Tagxedo and Photoshop.
Created using Tagxedo and Photoshop.

Happy Christmas One and All