Facebook Privacy

KeysLast week I gave a workshop at the Society of Australian Genealogists Research Library for new Facebook users. There is a lot of interest in Facebook and how it can be used to connect with family and friends, but thereis also a lot of concern about privacy.

The biggest issue is the default privacy settings that new users are automatically given. Facebook was designed by college students for college students, and the fact is that this age group are not as concerned with privacy as most of us have learned to be. Facebook has been much in the news lately because users can be too trusting with people they meet on Facebook, and .

To address these concerns Facebook has recently simplified the presentation of the privacy settings. What you see when you go in to the privacy settings [under Account in the top right corner] looks like this if you haven’t changed any of the settings:

Facebook default privacy settingsThis is a summary. When you click on Customize settings you can change all of these settings, in much more detail thank you can see here.

This is what my own settings look like:

Updated privacy settingsThere is some information that Everyone can see, and that’s that. Your name, your photo, your gender and your networks (which are optional) is always visible so that people can find you. Everything else is customisable, from Everyone to Only Me:

  • Everyone
  • Friends of Friends
  • Just Friends
  • Customizable – allows you to choose individual people, lists of people, or Only Me

Of course, there is a balance between what you don’t want people to know about you and what people need to be able to see so they know it’s you. I suspect this balance is different for everyone, depending on what you want from Facebook. If you want to get in contact with people you went to school with all those years ago then it helps them to find you if you put your high school and year of graduation in and make it visible to Everyone. If the very thought fills you with horror, then don’t enter it, or make access more restricted. Professional networking needs employment details, connecting with classmates needs your current school or university, and so on.

I think the problem some of us have with Facebook is that we don’t know enough about how to control it. Once you learn how to make the changes you want it can become an indispensable part of how you communicate with friends and family. I’m pleased to say that some of the students in my class last week have gone on to become confident, active members of Facebook.

Don’t be afraid of Facebook, take control!


Burrowa CemeteryHave you tried searching Find-a-Grave? I thought it was an American site, with only American graves, but I was wrong. I had a look around to see for myself.

I searched the FAQ for ‘international’ to see if it covered countries other than USA, as I couldn’t easily find this information on the homepage, and found that some fixes had been done to clean up the list of countries, including Australia. Woohoo!

So I did a search for my usual test surname – Eason – and restricted the country to Australia. Eason is uncommon enough that I don’t get thousands of results, and not so uncommon that I don’t get any at all.

Much to my surprise the list of results included John Eason, buried in an unmarked grave in Condobolin. I was a bit surprised, as I have a copy of his NSW death registration and a photo of his headstone in Blayney.

Entry for John Eason, buried in Condobolin in 1933, from Find a Grave

Entry for John Eason, buried in Condobolin in 1933, from Find a Grave

Clicking on the link to Condobolin Lawn Cemetery gives this information:

There are approximately 1000 unmarked graves in the general cemetery.

“I visited the undertaker, the council, the ladies club, the local Anglican and Catholic churches, the local court house and the local historical association, asking what records they had. I tried the local newspaper; they have their back issues to about 1906 on film but they weren’t big on obituaries. They don’t have a monumental mason in Condo.”

In compiling the list, reference was made to the NSW indexes of births, deaths and marriages and to military records for further information. The images may be viewed and downloaded from the list of all inscriptions for this cemetery.

I’m impressed that someone has gone to the trouble of deducing that the reported approximately 1000 unmarked burials in Condobolin Lawn Cemetery must include John Eason, whose death was registered in Condobolin. Unfortunately it is dangerous to make these sorts of assumptions. John was in Condobolin with his daughter when he died, and was apparently transferred to Blayney to be buried with his wife Lily, who predeceased him by three years.

Lily and John Eason Headstone

Headstone of Lily and John Eason, Blayney Presbyterian Cemetery. Photo taken by the author, Dec 2008.

The website allows corrections to be sent to the contributor, and I have now done so.

Burrowa Cemetery

Lessons learned:

  1. Don’t dismiss a website just because you assume it is American. It may have gone international.
  2. Don’t assume that the contents of websites where information has been voluntarily entered is correct.

Find the book you need on WorldCat

This post was originally posted as part of the 52 Weeks to Better Genealogy Challenge in 2010.

dreamstimefree_6456266WorldCat is a catalogue of many, many libraries in the world. I’ve used it before and usually it has told me that the book I am looking for is in the State Library of NSW or the National Library of Australia, which is where I would have looked anyway. Unfortunately my genealogy society isn’t part of WorldCat, but one day that will change.

For the sake of this exercise I decided not to look for a book that I know of, but to find books that I didn’t know about. As Amy suggested, I’ve put in one of my unusual surnames – Whippy. David Whippy, born in Nantucket, Massachusetts, arrived in Fiji in about 1822 and stayed there.

So I put “Whippy” in the WorldCat search, and waited. 70 results, including a dissertation about job satisfaction in Guam University. I narrowed it down by adding ‘Fiji’, and came up with 5 results, 2 of which were the same.

The most relevant item I found was a microfilm of a play written by Isobel Whippy:

The play concerns the first British Consul in Fiji, William Thomas Pritchard, who arrived in Levuka in September 1858 and was dismissed from his post in January 1863. It is based on a theory that the Consul lost his job because of a love affair with a young woman – possibly a part-European – who gave birth to two children by Pritchard, before he married her in the British Consulate in Levuka a few days afte his dismissal. The play is in two acts – the first covering the period from September 1858 to June 1859; the second from November 1859 to July 1862. There is an epilogue concerning the year 1864.

The microfilm was published by the Pacific Manuscripts Bureau in Canberra, which I happen to know is part of the Australian National University and who microfilm manuscripts related to Pacific history. The films are available in the State Library NSW, and I have accessed them there in the past.

WorldCat, however, told me that my nearest copy was at Yale University Library, New Haven, CT 06520 United States, at a distance of 10000 miles. If I selected the other, identical title, I could find it at the State Library of NSW, the National Library of Australia, and the State Library of Victoria.

There is however, a link to Related Identities, one of which was the Australian National University Pacific Manuscripts Bureau. There’s a timeline for the Bureau that goes back to 1830, which was rather startling until I realised that most of the works listed are about American whalers in the Pacific and such, and filmed by the PMB.

So the end result of my investigation is that I can almost always find what I need in the State Library of NSW, in Sydney where I live. Anything that this library doesn’t have will probably be in Canberra and probably available on inter-library loan, although I haven’t hit this situation yet.

David Whippy didn’t arrive on a whaler but the principle is the same, so I now have a list of resources I can check to find out more about the way of life and the history of Americans in the Pacific, if not about David Whippy directly. Most, if not all, available at the State Library of NSW.

Libraries Australia has  a combined catalogue of many libraries in Australia. I don’t know if all the same libraries are in both catalogues. The free version of this catalogue is within Trove.


I put Whippy in the Search field and got a whole heap of results:

Trove - Whippy search

As you can see, there’s a vast array of stuff which will take me some time to work through. Not all of it is relevant, but some of it is. For example, the third entry under Australian newspapers (1803-1954) is a page from the Sydney Morning Herald in January 1856 containing transcripts of correspondence about American activities in Fiji. In one of the letters, written by James Calvert, the Wesleyan missionary, Mr Whippy, my David Whippy, is mentioned a number of times as arbitrating with Mr. Calvert in a dispute between the natives and an American ship’s captain. I was then able to correct the transcription of the notoriously difficult newspaper print, and download a PDF of the page or the whole newspaper.

Further down the screen there are sections for Maps, Diaries and Letters, and Archived Websites. All sections can be opened and closed on this summary screen, or clicked on to give the full list of results.

Trove is relatively new, and having now played with it I can see it is vastly superior to WorldCat for my purposes. Australian catalogues are more likely to be useful to me in general to find a book I can borrow in an Australian library. Trove gives so much more than any library catalog that I would be unlikely to go anywhere else.

It also gave me more books than WorldCat did. On its list of 96 books, journals and magazines, etc, it gives the title Gone Native in Polynesia by Ian Christopher Campbell, a book I’ve been trying to get hold of for some time. This book has a whole chapter on David Whippy in Fiji. There are tabs for each State, and under NSW I can see that it’s available at the State Library of NSW and the University of Wollongong Library. There is also a link to show where I can buy a copy – in this case from Blackwell Online for 70 pounds or Amazon from US$79.00 to US$235.00. I won’t be buying a copy for my library, but I have a search in eBay just in case.

Isobel’s play is there, with the same results – State Library of NSW, and the reference number is given.

Really, I can’t see why I would use WorldCat on a day-to-day basis. Contributers to Trove include Project Gutenberg, so I might be able to download the book I want then and there.

Resources for Fijian family history research

Naigani 101-0172_IMG_300x200A collection of resources and ideas for tracing your family tree and researching your family’s history in Fiji. Whether your ancestor was a temporary visitor who married or died in Fiji, or whether you are descended from a long line of settlers or native Fijians, you will find something here to help you.

My name is Carole Riley, and I am collecting websites, books, and repositories of records and microfilmed records to help you find what you are looking for, collected whilst researching my own family. I add to the website whenever I can, so please come back often. You can also subscribe to updates as they are added.

My genealogy library

IMG_7033_300x200My first thought whenever I need to learn something new is to buy a book, and there are many to choose from. I like to have them on my shelves at home so I buy them, but there is nothing wrong with using the resources of your local library.

I have to admit to being a bit of a book collector from way back. I learned to cook, to grow pot plants, to make curtains, to program a computer, and a great many other things, from books. (Yes, as my Mum will tell you, she was never interested in cooking and I had to learn elsewhere).

So when I wanted to know how to take my family history further I started buying books, and I haven’t stopped. I stay on the lookout for new books, and I update them when a new edition comes out. I now use LibraryThing to catalogue my books so that my catalogue is available to me anywhere, even on my mobile phone.

These days a library does not only contain books but also CDs and links to websites, among other things, but I think you really have to start with books. Here are some of my favourites.


For Australian genealogy I would suggest that you need these books:

  • A good beginner’s guide. Who Do You Think You Are? The Essential Guide to Tracing Your Family History (Australian Edition) is a good choice – informative and entertaining at the same time.
  • Tracing Your Family History in Australia by Nick Vine Hall is the most comprehensive guide to sources in every State. He started updating each state on CD, starting with Tracing Your Family History in New South Wales, before he passed away last year. The New South Wales version is now out in book form.
  • Any book by Cora Num: Convict Records in Australia; How to Find Shipping and Immigration Records in Australia, Occupational Records in Australia, Websites for Genealogists. She has an excellent website as well.
  • If you are really interested in convicts then you also need State Records New South Wales’ Guide to New South Wales State Archives relating to convicts and convict administration.

Britain and Ireland

  • An excellent general reference on British family history is Ancestral Trails by Mark Herber. Although it concentrates on English records the principles are the same for Welsh, Scottish and Irish records and where there are differences he spells them out. Now in it’s second edition.
  • The standard general reference for Ireland is Tracing Your Irish Ancestry by John Grenham. Now in its third edition, you can’t go past it.
  • An excellent series for the beginner is The Genealogist’s Guide to Discovering Your English/Irish/Scottish Ancestors. These books are American and give a great introduction, with pictures of the records, to records from these countries.

Genealogical standards

  • Evaluate and cite your sources correctly and you can’t go too far wrong. The essential reference is Evidence Explained by Elizabeth Shown Mills. Her examples are mostly from American sources but the principles are the same wherever you are.

There are many, many other books that a good library should have but they vary depending on your interests and the geographic situation of your ancestors. As you progress in your research you will probably move from introductory family history books to more detailed guides to specific subjects, such as convicts, immigration, land or schools. We will cover these more specific areas another time.

Sometimes there isn’t a book available in the subject you need to learn, or a book may have been published but it is no longer in print. Second-hand book stores are always worth searching, especially the online forms such as AbeBooks or SeekBooks or even eBay. I use eBay often because I can get it to alert me when a book or a subject I am interested in becomes available.

There is no substitute for a good library. Take advantage of all those people who have gone before, who have spent the time looking for what you need and know how to find it. Buy the books (and read them) and learn from them.