Wednesday 5 July 2023

Book Review: Wangalpong to Mount Tamborine

This amazing book focuses on the area around Mount Tamborine and the Logan, Albert, Coomera and Nerang River valleys in southeast Queensland. The review by Nola Fulwood (formerly an archivist and Manager of Public Access at Queensland State Archives) is published here with her permission.
Wangalpong to Mount Tamborine, volume 1: The Moreton Bay Story (by Karen Rosser)

This meticulously researched and beautifully written history is one we can enjoy as a good read and keep handy for reference. It is written from the point of view of The Mountain and its ancient people. They watched as the volcano rearranged the landscape, the ships sailed by, the explorers ventured north, and settlement began. The author has made extensive use of the eye-witness accounts of those explorers, administrators, surveyors, and settlers. Careful analysis has given an interesting new view of the history most of us learned at school. This is no dry as dust recitation of the bare dates and places but a fascinating story that carries the reader along and encourages us to explore further.

This book started as a family history but developed as the author's curiosity led to questioning our history as we have known it. As family historians, we should strive for meticulous research, accurate referencing, comprehensive indexing, and in-depth insights into what has made our own family unique.

We should all have this fascinating history of the beginnings of Queensland on our library shelves.

Available from the author or from InHouse Publishing.

To that I would add... be sure to read the book's foreword!

(This post first appeared on

Friday 23 July 2021

Missing Queensland birth, marriage and death index entries

(Image by Danilo Rizzuti,
If you were unable to find an index entry for a Queensland birth in 1921, marriage in 1946 or death in 1991, try again!

A relative sent me a certificate for which there wasn't an entry in the online index. Puzzled, I contacted the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, who responded promptly.

  • Me: 'A relative sent me the attached birth certificate (Isabel Mary RIENECKER, born 4 Aug 1921). I have been unable to find this registration in the online index. Any thoughts?'

  • Registry: 'Great news! The issue behind why this record wasn't appearing in the Family History Research Service has been found and resolved.'

  • Me: 'Thanks very much for your prompt and efficient service. May I ask whether the same issue (whatever it was) is likely to have caused other index entries to be 'invisible'? I'm wondering how much time I should spend on repeating searches that were previously negative (which at the time I thought must be because the event was registered in the following year)?"

  • Registry: 'As a result of your email, we did discover a number of other records exported on 01/01/2021 are missing and need to re-export them. So thank you VERY much!'

When I checked a few hours later, I found another 1921 birth, plus my aunt's 1946 marriage, neither of which had previously appeared in search results. Now I'm off to look for missing 1991 deaths!

(More research tips are on my main Website. This post first appeared on

Friday 7 May 2021

70,000 names: 'Series/Quote' service for Document Copies

Example of file cover (list of contents)
My Web site lists more than 70,000 names from original historical records that I've indexed. The Web pages include 'Insanity and Unsound Mind index' and 'Identifying a Child's Biological Father'.

The 'Record Series and Quote' services described on those pages are designed to help clients avoid wasting money on copies that will not be relevant. Let me give you an example.

I've changed the names here to preserve client confidentiality. In my first email ('Record Series and Quote' report), I told the client which record series was involved (files for mental asylum patients) and I gave an estimate of the cost.

Client's final email:

I would like a digital copy of the record for Mary BLOGGS.

My final reply:

I retrieved our correspondence from my computer's deleted files, and it showed:

On 5 May 2021, you wrote, '...born Mary JONES in 1909, married Joe BLOGGS 1928'.

My report said: 'Mary BLOGGS... admission date in or about 1908'.

So... this file, for Mary BLOGGS admitted in about 1908, cannot be for your Mary JONES, who wasn't even born then, and didn't marry BLOGGS until 1928.

My 'Record Series and Quote' service is designed to help clients avoid wasting money on copies that will not be relevant. A less ethical researcher would have simply taken your $40 and sent the file. I chose not to do that.

I hope this example will convince you that it's worthwhile (1) following the instructions on my Web pages, (2) using my 'Record Series and Quote' service when it's available, and (3) reading my reports carefully.

(This post first appeared on

Friday 26 March 2021

Beenleigh War Memorial Project (revised edition)

Society logo
Press release from Logan River and District Family History Society:

Sleep on! Australia's noble sons, we bow our heads to thee
Who fought and made the sacrifice to keep Australia free.

The dignitaries watched the cloudy skies on that afternoon of the 21st November 1925 as the good citizens of Beenleigh and environs gathered for the unveiling of the R.S.S.I.L.A. Beenleigh Sub-Branch Monument. In the crowd were the proud families and friends of those who had volunteered to serve, some of whom made the supreme sacrifice, in the Great War - the 'War to End All Wars'.

Who were these young people who had so bravely responded to the call to arms?

Many of their families live in our community today and some of their names are recorded on the monument in the heart of Beenleigh. This project was initiated prior to the centenary of WWI when several of our members, led by Kevin Egan, researched the 61 names on the Beenleigh War Memorial and published (in 2009) the first CD that contained information about the memorial and some general data about the soldiers and WW1.

Dianna Ottaway came across the CD in 2014 and decided that she would expand it to include men and women from the greater Beenleigh area who had served. Dianna, aided by Diane Schulz, has spent several years researching and recording these 236 stories. The stories tell of their daily lives rather than of battalions and battles, which have been well-covered elsewhere. This revised edition includes many more names than the original. The list of names is on the Society's Web site,

The project has been published as a collection of stories, plus other information, on a USB drive which can be purchased, for $30, from Logan River and District Family History Society. The vast collection of research behind the stories is a useful resource for anyone researching the families of these volunteers. This is being kept in digital form at our research rooms. Anyone wishing to access it should contact the society (non-members pay a research fee).
Enquiries: contact Logan River and District Family History Society, PO Box 601, Waterford QLD 4133, or email

(I don't usually publish press releases, but in this case I did so in response to a request from a very dear friend. This post first appeared on

Thursday 12 November 2020

It's Now or Never - save 75% on pension register copies

 Register of applicants for old age pension
Register of old age pension applicants
Until 15 Nov 2020 you have a once-only, never-to-be-repeated opportunity to save a massive 75% on the cost of digital images of entries in Old Age Pension registers 1908-1909. Most people listed in these registers were born in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany or Scandinavia. A few were born in other parts of the world, including Australia. All of them later lived (at least for a while) in Queensland.

These registers give information about people who received the pension, plus hundreds whose applications were rejected. Most rejections were on the basis of age, period of residence or annual income, but some of the other reasons provide a clue to the applicant's character. Although many applicants were under the required age, pensions were only granted to those aged at least 65 years (that is, born before about 1843-1844).

In 1908-1909, electoral enrolment was not compulsory in Queensland. Old age pension registers give the place of residence of many people who were not on electoral rolls. This includes some applicants who were not British subjects and not naturalised (and thus not eligible to vote) but who applied (though in vain) for a pension.

The vast majority of register entries give the claim date; surname; given name; country or Australian State of birth; alleged age; total number of years in Queensland; town or suburb of current residence; whether the application was approved or rejected; if approved, the amount of pension payable, date payment commenced and town where paid; if rejected, the reason for rejection; and sometimes other remarks such as 'sent to Dunwich Benevolent Asylum', 'intemperate', 'deserted his wife', etc. For many residents of Ravenswood and Townsville, a second register gives extra details (marital status, spouse's name, full address and exact birth date).

Names of over 9,200 pension applicants are on my Web site. There is also an explanation of the Old Age Pensions Act of 1908 and its implications for family history research, and advice about pension records and related sources before and after 1908-1909.

If you email your request (no later than 15 Nov 2020)... (snipped - this offer ended on 15th November 2020 AEST)

Step 1: Search the names (opens in a new window).

Step 2: Make a payment and email your request as explained above.

As I said, this is a one-time offer. I've started to wind down towards retirement, so my copying service (even at full price) will not be available forever.

You may also be interested in my indexes to other historical records.

(This post first appeared on

Sunday 12 January 2020

Have Your Family History Records Been Destoyed?

Image courtesy of 9comeback at
I know that some of my clients have digital backups of family history documents and files, either in the Cloud (for example, in a free account at Dropbox), or on external hard drives or USBs - but some don't.

After the 2003 Canberra bushfires, and after Hurricane Katrina in the USA, I was contacted by clients who had lost everything. I was able to send them a copy of my report with the results of the family history research that I'd done for them.

If you've lost your home in the current bushfires, don't be afraid to contact me (at the address on my main genealogy Web site) to ask whether I have a backup copy of the information I sent to you. If I do, I can email it (FREE) on request.

If a natural disaster occurred in your area today, would your family history records survive? Some simple and practical suggestions are in Natural Disasters and Family History.

(This post first appeared on and family history societies are welcome to share that link with their members.)

Sunday 8 September 2019

More Changes at Queensland State Archives

Image by farconville (
These changes at Queensland State Archives may suit some people, but personally I find them inconvenient and annoying.

  • UPDATE: After extensively renovating the Reader's Lounge, the Archives did not proceed with the cafe. The old Reader's Lounge is about to be replaced by a cafe, which will serve tea, coffee, cakes and light meals. Sadly, this means that researchers will no longer have access to a fridge, microwave and free tea/coffee making facilities. Archives staff warned me that (quote) "if you want to bring your own lunch, you will have to leave it in an esky in your car."

  • As part of the renovations to the Reading Room, Queensland State Archives have removed the desks that had individual lights, and they have replaced the old ceiling lights with much brighter LED lights. Unfortunately this has resulted in shadows that create problems when you take photographs of documents. I was told that (quote) "desk lamps will be available on request - just ask the archivist on the desk") - but apparently that's not always the case.

(This post first appeared on

Wednesday 21 November 2018

'Insanity and Unsound Mind' Index for Family Historians

A file from one of the 53 record series. The pencil shows how huge it is.
Does your family history have someone who 'vanished'? If you cannot find a death certificate, or if children were raised by someone other than a parent, check mental asylum records. Reasons for admission include epilepsy, head injury, alcoholism, congenital defects, depression (including post-natal depression), etc. Many patients (adults and children) spent only days or weeks in an asylum before being discharged, and descendants would be unaware of that. I've spent many years creating indexes that make the information more accessible.

In response to requests from users of my Web site, I've combined all of my separate 'insanity indexes' for various sources, and I've added thousands more names, to create a huge 'Insanity and Unsound Mind' index. In addition to asylum patients, it includes many people 'of unsound mind' who were *not* in an asylum. The new list (which will continue to grow as indexing progresses) already has 19,000 names extracted from 53 separate series of original records (yes, fifty-three). Those names include some interstate and overseas asylum patients, but most were in Queensland.

The steps involved were:
  1. Finish several 'indexes in progress'.
  2. Index an important source that I'd previously neglected. For about 1,000 people it refers to circumstances prior to their admission to a mental asylum (information that is often difficult to find).
  3. Change the layout (data fields) of each index, to enable merging.
  4. Merge all of the indexes into one.
  5. Check for formatting errors (eg, leading or trailing spaces that cause incorrect sorting).
  6. Check for formatting inconsistencies (eg, how to list names with no surname, such as 'Billy (Aboriginal)'.
  7. Check for obvious duplicate entries.
  8. Check the use of 'see' cross references.
  9. Write the HTML code for the combined list of names.
  10. Write the text and HTML code for the explanation on new Web pages with those names.
  11. Change the HTML code on Web pages that had previously listed some of the names (and make a link to the new combined index).
  12. Change the description on my 'Indexes' Web page.
  13. Decide upon a new fee structure for dealing with requests. (Genealogy is my business, not just a hobby, so I charge fees for my time.)
  14. Create a new request form for my research/copying service.
  15. Re-write my mini-guide Researching Mental Asylum Patients.
The decision to create a huge combined index was not taken lightly. I'm not convinced that it was worth the effort, but because so many people requested it, I finally agreed. The new arrangement has both pros and cons. Obviously it's easier for you to check a single list of names; but the new format cannot show (free of charge) a description of the source in which a particular name appears.

I know there will be a few complaints (there always are), but if you don't like the options available to you (see the link at the bottom of the Web pages with names), you can learn about all of those original records, then attempt to find the information yourself. But be warned... I've spent 35 years learning about the records! If you want to go it alone, you'll find it helpful to read my mini-guide 'Researching Mental Asylum Patients'.

To access the new list, start at the introductory page for Insanity and Unsound Mind.

(This post first appeared on

Friday 13 October 2017

New copying costs at Queensland State Archives

Photo of QSA search room (photo copyright Judy Webster)
Public Search Room at Queensland State Archives
(photo by Judy Webster)
Since 1 Sep 2017, copying fees charged by Queensland State Archives have increased as follows.

Up to A3, on paper
  • Black & white up to 10 pages: $1.75 per page
  • Colour up to 10 pages: $2.90 per page
  • Photos on photo quality paper: $3.35
  • Certified (per item up to 8 pages): $45

Bulk discount for scanning standard resolution
  • Per item 11-20 pages: $24.75
  • Per item 21-50 pages: $57.75
  • Per item 51-100 pages: $123.75
  • Per item 101-200 pages: $247.50

High resolution reproduction (over 300dpi), on paper, CD* or USB*
  • A4 and A3: $6.70
  • Larger than A3 CD/USB* only: $13.40 per metre
  • Photographs on photo quality paper: $6.70

  • Category 1 up to 100 pages: $3.35
  • Category 2 over 100 pages: $5.50
  • Overseas: Price on application
  • Registered mail: $6.70
  • CD / USB: $8

  • *CD: $0.55
  • *USB: $8

  • Category 1 Digital emailed: $6.90
  • Category 1 Paper posted: $10.65
  • Category 2 Digital emailed: $18.55
  • Category 2 Paper posted: $21.90

For some records, my fees for digital copies are lower than those charged by the Archives. My Web site has details of my services.

(This post first appeared on

Tuesday 10 October 2017

Mental Patients - One List or Separate Lists?

Advice re ancestors who 'vanished'
I've used 25 different series of historical records to create various indexes to mental asylum patients and people who were suspected of being of unsound mind. Names from some of the indexes are already on my Web site, but many more will be added soon.

QUESTION (it only applies to those series, not my other indexes):

Would you like me to put those names on my Web site in one alphabetical list, with separate Web pages for names beginning with each letter of the alphabet?

Or should I leave things as they are, with separate indexes for different 'mental' series, and (on my Web site) separate lists of names?

(Comments are now closed. This post first appeared on