Blogging challenge

Accentuate the Positive

Now is the perfect time to reflect on our achievements in family history. Drafting my response to Jill Ball’s blogging challenge, Accentuate the Positive, made me realise that a lot of good things did happen for me in 2021.

Jill has provided the prompts, which I and others are using for their posts.

Family tree in the Collier diary held in the archives of the Society of Australian Genealogists

I got the most joy from – working in the archives of the Society of Australian Genealogists as a supervising volunteer. Archives volunteers find amazing items in the collection, while helping to make the collection available to researchers.

The Covid situation gave me the opportunity to – finally enjoy my own garden. To ensure I would not go stir crazy during the lockdowns, I set up multiple places within my home where I can do my genealogy and my favourite place is on my back verandah with the garden view.

I managed to attend a face to face event at – um, nope, nothing. But I did enjoy a lot of genealogy conferences and events online that I would never have been able to attend face to face, such as Roots Tech and the UK Genealogy Show.

Diagram of the research cycle used in family history, showing Goals, Scoping, Tasks, Research and Review

My main focus this year was – writing. I wrote a book about genealogy methodology, which will be published this year.

A new piece of technology or skill I mastered was – social media. I have been using it for a while, but 2021 gave me time to investigate techniques and develop my skills further.

List of blog posts about using sources in family history on

A geneasurprise I received was – helping clients research their family history. That is always a constant surprise, because everyone’s families are so unique and it is gratifying to get results on their behalf.

A Facebook group that helped me was – if judged by the overall value from all the groups I am a member of, I have to say the Society of Australian Genealogists Discussion Group. It helped me stay connected and sane in 2021.

Promotion for a blog post about how DNA was used to identify Edward Webb as the biological father of Christina Malchow

My 2021 social media post that I was particularly proud of wasHow I lost my Pomeranian, which I posted on 21 December. This was a story about how DNA proved that one of my relatives, who I was very fond of, was not a biological relation.

It is important to learn to accept new evidence and amend your family tree accordingly. The story also demonstrates the importance of incorporating DNA evidence into your research.

A new genealogy/history book I enjoyed was – too difficult to choose! I read mostly online books in 2021 and discovered some great ones in the Internet Archive for my London research and my Caribbean research. Michelle Patient is giving a lecture about the Internet Archive on 11 January (you can book here).

Logo from the Internet Archive

I was impressed by – another difficult choice, but I am going to choose all the people who participated in the Friday hangout sessions of the Society of Australian Genealogists.

I had expected, when I started the hangouts, that staff might end up doing a lot of the presenting but it has been great to see so many people gaining the confidence and skills to participate and it was something I looked forward to every week.

I got the most value from this subscription – tough choice between Ancestry and the Society of Australian Genealogists. I use both almost every day and both are indispensable.

I progressed my DNA research with – In 2020 I found out that my father was adopted and 2021 was the year when I explored his biological line, using a combination of DNA and documentary evidence.

DNA molecules

I taught a genimate how to – many things, I hope! I lecture for the Society of Australian Genealogists once or twice a month and present the Family History Fundamentals Course twice a year. Attendance at the course doubled in 2021, so it appears that a lot of people are using this time to upskill. I also hope that people are learning from my blog posts.

A blog post that taught me something new was – pretty much every blog post, so I cannot choose one. My goal for 2022 is to read more blogs!

A newly found family member shared – a DNA match on my father’s biological Irish line kindly sent me a photograph of the family house in Ireland which is still in the family. So special!

Unmarked grave of Catherine Agnes Flanagan in Rookwood Cemetery, Lidcombe, New South Wales Australia, died 1944

I finally found… six feet under – my father’s biological mother, Catherine Flanagan, who I visited in Rookwood Cemetery.

Sadly, an unmarked grave, which made it difficult to find but I persevered and eventually did find it. I have no photographs of her, so her grave is the only tangible connection.

I splashed out and purchased a subscription to – Findmypast. I normally use the subscriptions in the library, but did not make many library visits in 2021. Findmypast has been very useful for tracing my English family lines, as it contains sources that are not available on other websites.

Thank you Jill, for setting us this blogging challengeGeniAus blog