22 December 2014

Finding Ancestors in Uttar Pradesh

The tourism department in Uttar Pradesh India is working on helping people find their roots. They have launched a new section of their site for people of Indian origins to do genealogy. It's free to register with the site, but if you want them to help you find your ancestors, it'll cost US$150 (they'll refund half if they don't find anything).
I personally think it's great that they are specifically reaching out to the descendants of Girmityas to help people find their ancestral homes and villages. I know that it's mostly in relation to tourism for the area, but any genealogy/family history progress is good in my opinion. I hope that their site expands and they include searchable information for others to look through. Definitely a site to keep your eye on for the future.

27 October 2014

Family Tree Writing Conference

India has a genealogy society called Vanshavali Sanrakshan and Samvardhan Sansthan (Family Tree Preservation and Conservation Oganization). The national president of the organization says there are some 3,500 registered family tree writers in India.
Today they are having a one day conference in Jaipur, with about 400 writers from around the country in attendance.
It's very exciting to see more interest in genealogy and writing family trees happening all over the world. 

23 October 2014

Happy Diwali 2014

This time of year is festive in Fiji. On Oct 9th they celebrate their independence from British rule. This year they held their first election in years, returning to a democracy after a coup that overthrew the former government. And there is Diwali, the Festival of Lights. This year the main day for the festival is Oct 23rd.

While this is mainly a religious celebration, there is plenty of room for a more secular interpretation if you aren't Hindu. For Hindus, the festival celebrates the return of Rama with his wife Sita, after years of banishment and Sita being kidnapped. For other religions it has significance too. Mainly it is a celebration of the victory of good over evil, light over darkness.

The main festival day occurs on a night with a new moon (so it's dark and you can't see it). It is much like New Years for America. There are lights, fireworks, yummy sweets, rangoli decorations, visiting family and friends, and general merriment.

Here is a lovely article from the Fiji Times about the significance of light in the celebration of Diwali in Fiji, and how it can bring us together.

Happy Diwali!

12 September 2014

Hindu Pilgrimage Records Online

FamilySearch just added 256,816 more images of Hindu Pilgrimage records to it's online image collection. They aren't indexed, and are in Hindi (and possibly other languages, I haven't looked too deeply into it yet), so not usable by me yet. But, my husband might be able to translate some for me.
These records contain lots of family information for those who made these pilgrimages. The information can include names of ancestors, ancestral villages, dates of births marriages and deaths, and info about the family they marry into. They don't mention women much though. But, some of the records currently online date back to 1194! How cool is that!
I guess I have more Hindi learning to do (I can currently only read half the alphabet).

19 August 2014

Genealogy Conference

Last weekend I was able to attend a genealogy conference put on by the Washington State Genealogical Society and hosted by the Stillaguamish Valley Genealogical Society. It was my first time at such an event. Normal I probably wouldn't have gone. While I know they try to keep the cost down, it still does cost money. And they are usually far enough away from me that travel expenses make it difficult. But, this one was within driving distance of my house (only 40 minutes away). So, I convinced my husband that it was worth the $100 for two days and a banquet. And I convinced my mom to babysit all 4 of my kids for 7 hours each day.
The conference was good. I really enjoyed myself and learned a few things. Being fairly introverted, I didn't meet many new people, but the few I did talk with were very friendly and nice. I did notice that I was one of maybe 5 people under the age of 40 there. Not that there is anything wrong with that, just an observation. And I got to met and hear from D. Joshua Taylor, who is apparently a 'famous genealogist' and is on tv (which is probably why I've never heard of him, I don't have tv). He too is under 40 (yay, now there were 6 of us there).
I went to classes about national and state archives, US vital records, writing about family history, publishing your family history, internet research, citing sources, Evernote (and other non-genealogy software), and German immigrant research. Time constraints being what they are, and having to choose between different classes, I was unable to go to classes on using various evidences, DNA genealogy, census records, using timelines, digital scrapbooking (not that I need a class in that), masons and other fraternal organizations, and getting more from ancestry.com. The only thing I think was missing from the conference was more information about searching internationally. But I understand that such classes would be beyond the scope of the conference, and too difficult to include.
Would I do it again? Probably. In fact, they are having one next year in the same place.

16 August 2014

FamilySearch Photo Duplication

A couple months ago I found out about a service that would have been helpful to know about earlier. I'm not sure why the 'help' people at FamilySearch and the Family History Library didn't just recommend this. They apparently don't know about it. Someone ought to tell them. Anyway...
FamilySearch has a FREE photo duplication service. If you have something specific you want a (digital) copy of, there is a simple form you can fill out and they will e-mail you an image of your document.
Now, you have to be specific, they won't do research for you, but isn't it nice to know they can copy stuff for you. Like, for instance, an emigration pass you know the exact name and record number for on a microfilm they can't/won't lend out.

11 July 2014

Uttar Pradesh to Help in Ancestor Search

While speaking on the radio in New Zealand, Uttar Pradesh State Minister Madhukar Jetley said their state government will soon be launching a website that could help Indians abroad gather information about their ancestors from India. Many Indians that came to Fiji in the Girmit era are believed to come from UP (my husband's family included). It seems they will be making NRI cards available to Fiji-Indians for the purpose of genealogy work.
Jetley said “Everybody will be having an opportunity to get a card, printed in their own home, through the computer, through the website in which they will be able to connect and re-connect and they will be able to join in the movement where they can go back to their roots and discover where they came from.”

- See more at: http://www.fbc.com.fj/fiji/21295/nri-card-to-track-ancestors

16 June 2014

Family History Scrapbook

Along with researching my husband's Fiji/India roots, I am also working on stuff from my own family history. I won't bore you with all those details on this blog, but I was so excited about this one project I had to share.
My father is also a genealogist, and has been doing it for at least 25 years. He is the reason I got into it. So, for Father's Day, I made him a digital scrapbook of his genealogy. I only did 5 generations, because after that, information is a little sparse. I had the 10x10 inch book printed at Shutterfly (with an amazing 50% off deal). We don't have a lot of family photos, so I filled it with the actual records, including translations of everything not in English.
In the book I included what few family photos we have, identifying the people in the photos, family group sheets for his grandparents, immigration and naturalization information and papers, family trees that include siblings, census records, a timeline from 1800-1960, and a large 9 generation fan chart at the back.

04 February 2014

Another Immigration Pass

In December I posted about getting a scan/photo of Parbhu's immigration pass. His wife, Ramdai had come to Fiji with him on the same boat. Our cousin had one immigration pass, but not the other. So, we set about trying to get a copy of it. We already knew the name of the boat, the date, the name of the passenger and even the passenger number (thanks to death and birth certificates that listed the info). You'd think it would be an easy thing to find.
First, we looked online. We knew the LDS church family history library has the microfilm that contains these records. But, it turns out, for no known reason, they don't allow you to 'check them out' from the main library. So, unless I take a trip to Salt Lake City, I'm not gonna see them.
So, we called Salt Lake. The people at the family history library were very friendly, but not helpful in the least. At first they didn't seem to understand the problem. They thought we needed help to order the film. Then they thought we needed help to find the film number. Then they thought maybe they could transfer us to some other department for help. The second department couldn't figure out our problem either and wondered why we were transferred there in the first place. An hour on the phone, remote computer support, and still no one could just take ten minutes, find the film, take a photo of it and e-mail it to us.
As a last resort, we e-mailed Fiji. The Fiji Archives were very helpful and nice. They found the info and returned our e-mail in less than a day. All we needed was a family member to pay the 60 cent finding fee and they'd e-mail us a copy. So, an uncle visited the archives and paid the fee for us.
Long story short, we now have the immigration pass for Ramdai, Parbhu's wife!

16 January 2014

Mata Din's marriage record

After having been 'backordered' for months, I finally got the Indian marriage records for 1952. It took going through the entire roll of microfilm to get to the one I wanted. I didn't know the exact date of marriage, so I had to look at every record. Most were in English, but some were in Urdu, some in Hindi, and a few in what I think was Tamil. But, finally, the 7th record from the end of the roll, I found the one I was looking for.
This is the marriage record of Mata Din and Suruj Pati. They were married on the 1st of November 1952 in Nasinu, Suva, Fiji.
One interesting thing I noticed about this certificate was that splotch at the bottom. Apparently Suruj didn't know how to write, so she gave her thumb print instead of a signature. Probably pretty typical for a poor daughter of a sugar cane farmer.

04 January 2014

Know India

India has a program called Know India Programme, that invites youth diaspora to come to India and learn about it. It is a 3 weeks program that teaches the kids (mostly college students) about Indian culture, economics, politics, science and technology and other industries. It's a great program for people of Indian origin to connect with their roots as well as other diaspora from all over the world.

This year Fiji is sending 19 youths. They will spend time visiting major historical and tourist sites, as well as meeting with political and business leaders.