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Sunday, April 22, 2012

BillionGraves – a six-year-old could do it

Preparing to take a photo using the BillionGraves app

We’re half-way through the school holidays and this morning my six-year-old was bored and in a bad mood. Whatever I suggested, he didn’t like it. I decided to forget about pleasing him and do something I wanted to do instead. The weather was perfect for taking headstone photos so I took my reluctant, grumpy boy to a local cemetery.

I have both and iPhone and an android tablet, both with the BillionGraves app installed. Before we got to the cemetery, I checked that my devices were charged, the apps were up to date, and I could still log in to BillionGraves on either device. All was in good working order.

I also checked the settings on both devices. Most importantly, I checked the setting to prevent photos from uploading immediately. I wanted to let my boy try taking some pictures but I didn’t want the pictures to upload if the photos weren’t acceptable.

Once we got to the cemetery I picked a section where there would be no tidying of headstones or plaques required. I gave my boy the iPhone, which I have found is easier to handle for headstone photos, gave him some basic instructions about what the pictures needed to include and how to line them up, looked over his shoulder as he took the first few, then left him to it as we photographed alternate rows. That was his suggestion, but what I had intended we should do. Smart kid!

He did great! He seemed to enjoy the activity – wanted to stay longer and take more pictures but we were out of time. He’ll deny later that he enjoyed it or said any of that… but he did. It was only a short trip. It had taken us a while to leave the house (someone didn’t like any of his socks…) and I hadn’t planned to stay for long anyway, not knowing how the outing would turn out.

Later at home I reviewed the photos and culled the ones that didn’t have useful information. I cut out a few of mine where I had my finger on the lens (whoops! I did say the tablet was more awkward for photos), a few of his where he took an interest in a grave decoration or the scenery generally, and occasional duplicates where one or the other of us tried to get a better shot. Between us we had a total of about 70 usable photos. Only 20 of them were mine!

So there you have it, proof that BillionGraves is so easy to use, a six-year-old could do it.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

ANZAC Day 2012 – A mother’s perspective

ANZAC Day, observed on 25 April each year, is the national day of remembrance for Australians and New Zealanders who died at war.

Last year I co-hosted an ANZAC day blogging challenge with Central Auckland Research Centre, Auckland Libraries. This year I have bowed out of co-hosting, due to commitments of life in general. However, I didn’t want to miss out on participating. This is my contribution to the 2012 ANZAC Day Blog Challenge.

My great-uncle Charles George French was not yet 21 when he tried to enlist in the military. It was a little too soon for his mother’s liking:

“I have no objection to his enlistment for Home Service. I object to his enlistment for Active Service Abroad he is too young. Make any use you like of him for Home Service”

Elizabeth French, 3 June 1918

Digital copy of item

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© Commonwealth of Australia (National Archives of Australia) 2012.

Without consent for Active Service Abroad, Charles’ application to enlist was cancelled.

Charles must have talked his mother around, as just a week later he provided a consent form with her signature. With her consent, his application was accepted. He embarked for France on 31 August 1918 the same year. His elder brother Walter had already seen service and returned home to Australia, discharged from duty with deafness.

As I was reading Charles’ military service file, I already knew that he had returned home alive. Having come home in October 1919 he married in 1920 and went on to raise a family. His mother Elizabeth didn’t have the reassurance of this knowledge as he set sail for France. On 31 August 1918, Charles’ fate was unknown. How hard it must have been for Elizabeth to let her young son, just 19 years of age, go off to war.

© Shelley Crawford, 2012