I have the pleasure of introducing you to Alex Daw and her blog Family Tree Frog which she describes as “A record of a Queensland family historian’s research in Australia and overseas. As a Librarian, life-long learner and member of the Queensland Family History Society, there will also be commentary on publications, resources and workshops.”
A Little About Alex
“I was born in Sydney, Australia at the King George Hospital for Mothers and Babies in Camperdown. We spent a couple of years in Edinburgh, Scotland when I was very little whilst my father completed his PhD. When we returned to Australia we spent a little while in Sydney and Melbourne before settling in Canberra. I still think of Canberra as home really, as I was there from the age of 4 until 15 – the formative years. It was a beautiful place to grow up in – like a small country town but with the best of everything in terms of culture, being the nation’s capital. We were very spoiled with the National Library, the War Memorial, Archives and so on. Currently I live in Brisbane, Queensland and have lived here for over 30 years so I must like it!”
How Alex Got Started in Genealogy
“I’ve probably been doing family history for at least 30 years. My parents were very interested in it and I remember looking at microfilms of newspapers with them at the Mitchell Library in Sydney and going to other repositories and libraries regularly. When we went overseas in my late teens, my mother tried to make connections with possible relatives in Sussex, so I was always very aware of being on the trail for ancestors.
“My grandfather and parents fostered my interest in history as a child and we all loved libraries and felt at home there. I enjoyed history at school and Uni and when my studies were completed, family history just seemed a natural way to continue my interest. When I moved to Queensland, my husband’s family were also interested in having some research done on their side and I was keen to help. They had a few mysteries that they wanted investigating and it was fun looking for different names rather than coming up against the same brick-walls in my family.
“I joined the Queensland Family History Society for a bit of moral support and direction and the rest is history. I had fun ‘playing shop’ looking after the Society’s bookshop for a while. We stored stacks of Toowong Monumental Inscriptions at the foot of the matrimonial bed, until the children came along. Then someone else kindly took over the running of the bookshop so we could make room for a cot. The Society has provided me with so much inspiration and help over the years. I’ve been a library assistant. I’ve had a go at indexing. I was on the Research Team until recently and I love going to talks/seminars/special interest group meetings. There’s always something going on and other lovely batty people like me who are passionate about this absorbing hobby.”
Alex’s Thoughts About Blogging
“I did have another blog (Luvvies Musings) but it didn’t have a focus. Sometimes I would blog about my family history. Sometimes I would blog about what books I was reading. Sometimes I would blog about my holidays. Sometimes I would blog about what I was eating! It was all over the shop. I decided I needed a focus and so I settled on family history.
“I started ‘Family Tree Frog’ on 1 January 2012 as a bit of a New Year’s Resolution. I was really inspired by GeneaBloggers too and saw all the marvelous resources and prompts which made writing so much easier for me. I also wanted to make some kind of move towards building material for a book and keeping a record of my research. This seemed to be a smart way to go about it and what’s more, get some feedback while I was at it.”
Alex’s Advice for New Bloggers
“Give it a go! Don’t worry about what other people think of you having a blog. Don’t think of it as a Dear Diary exercise (unless that’s what you want it to be). I think blogging is actually so much more than that and a lot of people misunderstand what it is about. Don’t worry about being perfect. I’m sure I haven’t quite got the hang of it yet and indeed we are all still in the business of discovering all the benefits/hazards of social media but I believe the benefits far outweigh the disadvantages. If it’s a grind, don’t do it. Only do it if you enjoy it and feel compelled to write. It’s not for everyone. Oh and pictures. Don’t forget to include pictures.”
Alex’s Favorite Blog Post
Wealth for Toil – it’s about my great-grand-aunt Harriet Rowland (nee Conner)
Alex’s Time With Ancestors
“There is NEVER enough time. I work full-time so only get weekends to do research really. I am not house-proud by any stretch of the imagination and my poor husband is at his wits end, I’m sure. He is so very tolerant and has been for many years. He is, in fact, a saint. Thank you, dear Robert, for all your patience.”
Alex’s Favorite Ancestor
“That’s like asking which one is your favourite child. But if I had to choose a favourite ancestor it would probably be Harriet. I think she had such pluck as a young woman coming all the way out to Queensland from Portsmouth. Although she came out with her sister and brother-in-law originally, she spent much of her teaching life in isolated areas such as the Bustard Head Lighthouse and Readville Provisional School – places that we would call Beyond the Black Stump or Woop Woop in Australia i.e. far from civilisation. She had to put up with the heat, lack of refrigeration, no air-conditioning, wearing long sleeves, long skirts, silly hats AND put up with a, no doubt, patronising and chronically patriarchal education system. Now that’s perseverance in the face of adversity. Makes family history look like a doddle really.”
How Genealogy Has Improved Alex’s Life
“Where do I begin? I have met the most wonderful generous people through my Society and they are SO smart. I mean REALLY smart and clever. And such hard workers – and it’s all voluntary. They are truly an inspiration. Now that I have a blog, going to conferences and talks is such a buzz to meet the lovely supportive folk I’ve met in cyberspace, face-to-face. Of course I have collected some cousins along the way too, which for an only child like myself, is a bit of a treat. But I think it has just really made me a more compassionate person or more understanding of the vicissitudes of life and how very fortunate I am to be living the life I lead today.”
What Alex Loves Most About Genealogy
“Those heart-stopping moments when you find your ancestor’s handwriting or a photo you haven’t seen before and you can almost hear them or feel them reaching out to you down the generations. That whole ‘There but for the grace of God go I’ feeling of admiration for all they endured or witnessed or struggled to overcome.”
Alex’s Genealogy Bucket List
“I dream of going on a Genealogy cruise. Tragic, I know, but I think I would just love it. I would also dearly love to go back to the UK for a decent stretch and have the time to clomp around the places of my ancestors and get a feel for where they lived.”
Alex’s Time Capsule Message
“Hi there! (Friendly wave) Can you read my writing? Sorry I wasn’t tidier with my filing. Sorry I didn’t scan those photos at a higher resolution. Sorry I didn’t backup my data every month. Oh. Are you there? Can you hear me? Hello? PS I’m sorry that you have to look at that photo of me all the time … I can’t believe that is the one that survived the flood. There were much nicer ones of me – honest. PPS Daw can be spelled Dore Daws Dawe Door etc. Hope that helps ;)”
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Please take a moment to visit Alex at Family Tree Frog and leave her a comment letting her know you stopped by. Thank-you, Alex, for letting us inside your blogging world.
© 2014, copyright Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.
Wendy Mathias is a retired teacher who divides her time between her home in Chesapeake, Virginia and Smith Mountain Lake. She enjoys researching her family and digging for the story behind old family photos for her blog Jollett Etc. Are you a genealogy blogger who would like to be interviewed for the “May I Introduce To You . . .” series? If so, contact Wendy via email firstname.lastname@example.org.