05 January 2017

Genealogy in 2016: Accentuate the Positive

With the 'Accentuate the Positive' geneameme, Jill Ball encourages us to focus on our recent genealogical achievements, not the things that are still on our 'to do' list at the end of 2016.

  • An elusive ancestor I found was my gr-gr-gr-great-grandfather William WEBSTER (occupation: dyer), whose burial was among 79,000 new records added to the Greater London Burial Index on FindMyPast. I subsequently found an image of the original burial register in the London Metropolitan Archives collection on Ancestry.

  • A precious family photo I found (courtesy of a distant cousin) was Helen Rebecca CAMPBELL (born Tiree, Argyllshire, Scotland) who married William Tasman WOOLDRIDGE in Tasmania, Australia. There is a strong resemblance between Helen and her brother John CAMPBELL, whose portrait (painted by Alfred Bock) was in the historical museum at Sale in Gippsland, Victoria.

  • An ancestor whose grave I found was Carl Ludwig RIENECKER. I somehow missed it when I tramped through Forest Hill cemetery (Queensland), which has several sections separated by bushland. Luckily there is a grave location map linked to the Billion Graves Cemetery Index.

  • An important vital record I found was the marriage of James WEBSTER and Mary GIBLETT in Bath, Somerset, in 1817. FindMyPast has an index (Somerset marriages post-1754) but the image of the original register is in Somerset, England, Marriage Registers, Bonds and Allegations on Ancestry.

  • A newly found family member shared information about descendants of Annie Louisa WEBSTER (1848-1916) who married William SMITH, a builder in Camberwell, Surrey, England. Some members of that family use the hyphenated surname WEBSTER-SMITH.

  • A geneasurprise I received was (1) Dick Eastman, in his famous online genealogy newsletter, recommended my Web site (Recommended Reading: Using and Compiling Indexes by Judy Webster); (2) some of my English relatives were born or married in China (Ethel Winifred HUDSON, Edgar Murray HYND and their children) or died in Africa (Geoffrey Aubie TURNER). The sources I used included Andrews Newspaper Index Cards 1790-1976 and the National Probate Calendar on Ancestry, and British Nationals born overseas and British Nationals married overseas on FindMyPast.

  • A 2016 blog post that I was proud of (because I think it will help a lot of people) was '40 of My Favourite Genealogy Indexes and Sources'.

  • A new piece of software I mastered was IrfanView (see 'How to save source information so that it appears on an image' and 'Using IrfanView to Label Digital Photos').

  • A social media tool I enjoyed using for genealogy was Tweetdeck. I make separate columns for selected people and topics (such as hashtags #genealogy and #AncestryHour) so that I can easily see those tweets. With Tweetdeck I can also schedule my own tweets to be posted when I'm away or asleep.

  • A genealogy webinar from which I learnt something new was Publishing a Genealogy E-Book, by Thomas MacEntee.

  • I was pleased with the presentation I gave to Toowoomba and Darling Downs Family History Society ('Not Just the Patient: how hospital and asylum records tell the story of a family' and 'Ancestors who moved or vanished'). Just before I left home, I broke my toe, so driving to Toowoomba and giving a long presentation was quite a challenge.

  • I taught a friend how to use the full list of all record sets on FindMyPast to gain access to some that (inexplicably) can't be found via their A to Z Search.

  • A genealogy book that taught me something new was Ancestral Trails: The Complete Guide to British Genealogy and Family History, by Mark Herber.

  • A great repository I visited was the Borthwick Institute for Archives (Yorkshire, England) - but it was a 'virtual' visit, not an overseas trip! Many of the Borthwick's original records are now online as digital images. This year I downloaded several wills and hundreds of parish records via the magnificent Yorkshire Collection and Prerogative and Exchequer Courts Of York Probate Index on FindMyPast.

  • A new history book I enjoyed was Shadows of the Workhouse: The Drama of Life in Postwar London (the beautifully written memoirs of Jennifer Worth).

  • A geneadventure I enjoyed was a genealogy conference on a 7-night Barrier Reef cruise organised by Unlock the Past.

  • Another positive I would like to share is... In 2016 I made a lot of progress because I took a close look at what I'd previously found (or failed to find). I studied certificates again, and suddenly realised the significance of witnesses' names. Taking one ancestor at a time (and then their siblings), I listed the records that were missing from my collection. I obtained certificates, wills, school records and other items that were unavailable (because of access restrictions) when I started family history 40 years ago. I checked what sources I'd previously used, and I looked for new indexes (and digital images of original records) on the Internet and in libraries and Archives.

    I'm sure that you, too, will enjoy success in 2017 if you follow Pauleen Cass's superb advice in My 3 Rs of Genealogy Research.

My previous posts in the 'Accentuate the Positive' series were in 2012 and 2013. If you'd like to join in, see Jill's blog.


  1. Thanks for such a comprehensive and informative post, Judy. All those links certainly add value for the reader.

    1. Thanks Jill. Even when I'm writing about my own family history, the 'educator' side of me refuses to be suppressed. :-)

  2. Great to read about your year, Judy. Looks like it was a good one except for your toe.

    1. Thanks Sandra. Yes, it felt great to take a few weeks off from clients' research to work full-time on my own family history. I'd won a free subscription to Ancestry, so I wanted to make the most of that. I have a 'permanent' subscription to FindMyPast because it is superb for Yorkshire genealogy, but Ancestry made it easier to work on my London families.

  3. Great finds in 2016 Judy, and great tips for others. Thanks for mentioning my 3Rs blog post....much appreciated.

    1. My pleasure, Pauleen. Your 3Rs blog post is one of my favourites.

  4. I have included your blog in INTERESTING BLOGS on Friday Fossicking at


    Thank you, Chris

  5. Hi, i read your blog occasionally and i own a similar one and i was
    just curious if you get a lot of spam feedback?
    If so how do you prevent it, any plugin or anything you can suggest?

    I get so much lately it's driving me mad so any help is very much appreciated.

    1. In Blogger, select your blog and go to 'Settings'. In 'Posts, comments and sharing', you will see the options 'Comment moderation' and 'Show word verification'. Click the question mark beside them to see explanations. If you set 'Show word verification' to YES, it may reduce the spam but it won't stop it completely, and it may annoy some 'genuine' people who want to comment. The most important thing is to set 'Comment moderation' to ALWAYS and enter your email address. When someone comments, you will receive an email allowing you to either publish the comment, or delete it before it can appear on your blog. If there is a particular post that keeps getting lots of spam (and if you can live without getting genuine comments on it), go to 'Post settings' then 'Options', and select 'Don't allow, show existing'.

  6. Anonymous10 May, 2018

    Superb blog! Do yoou have any recommendations for aspiring writers?
    I'm planning to start my own ite soon but I'm a little lost on everything.
    Would youu suggest starting with a free platform like Wordpress
    or go for a paid option? There are so many options out there thawt I'm completely confused ..
    Any tips? Kudos!

    1. Hello Anonymous. If you Google "genealogy blogging tips" (or "travel blogging tips", or whatever you want), you'll find links to lots of advice. As you can see, I use Blogger (blogspot.com), so that's what I recommend. It's free.

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