Archive for May, 2012
Parliamentary Papers for the Colony of Victoria: An Index of the ‘Ordinary People’ they uncover. Volumes 1 and 2, 1852 - 1869.
Parliamentary Papers are very useful sources because they provide an overview of their subjects and contain valuable pointers for further research. They cover a remarkable range of subjects including reports of experts, delegations and committees investigating all types of matters of interest to the government.
This index of 40,000 names enables family historians to search the previously unindexed Parliamentary Papers for people who are not normally mentioned in other sources, in other words, the ordinary people in your family. The Parliamentary Papers are also a wonderful source for the broader social history of the early days of the Colony of Victoria covering land, mining, occupations, etc.
Reproduced by permission of the Honourable Speaker of the Legislative Assembly.
Getting Started In Family History
By Shauna Hicks
Shauna worked in government for over 35 years primarily in libraries and archives including the State Library of Queensland, the John Oxley Library in Brisbane, the Queensland State Archives, the National Archives of Australia in Canberra and Public Record Office Victoria in Melbourne. She is currently Director of her own research and consultancy business.
Shauna has been tracing her own family history since 1977 and is a Fellow of the Queensland Family History Society. In 2009 Shauna received the Australasian Federation of Family History Organisations (AFFHO) Services to Family History Award for her achievements in Queensland, Canberra and Victoria.
It’s fairly easy to start looking for your ancestors these days with many online resources to give you a head start. Your local genealogy society is also a great place to see resources that are not online and you will meet others happy to assist with your research.
First you need to gather as much family information as you can from within your own family working backwards from yourself. Once you have basic information you can then obtain birth, death and marriage certificates to help you confirm those family findings, and to progress your research further back with clues from the certificates.
Note all the information on the certificates – not just the names. Occupations and addresses are also important for placing families within their communities. For example, with an address you can then use records such as post office directories and electoral rolls to trace where your ancestors lived over time. Occupations may also be recorded. For example, in findmypast.com.au there is a wide range of these resources for every Australian State and Territory as well as New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and the Pacific Islands.
Another thing to note on death certificates is where a person was buried. There may be burial records or transcribed monumental inscriptions from tombstones with more information and there is an ever growing list of these records online. As most of my ancestors are buried in Brisbane I find using the Bulimba, Toowong and South Brisbane (Dutton Park) MIs on findmypast.com.au really handy, especially as I now live in Melbourne.
I try to document all aspects of my ancestors’ lives, and school records may be useful for those early years. School admission registers usually record a date of birth, a parent’s name and occupation, address and of course, the child’s progress at school. The Queensland Family History Society (QFHS) has been indexing school admission records in Queensland for many years and I really like being able to access the indexes now through findmypast.com.au. I recently did a search to see if I could find when my father first went to school and where. He started at Greenslopes State School in 1939 and moved to Buranda State School in 1940. I knew about Buranda but not Greenslopes.
What I wasn’t expecting was to find myself in an extensive database on findmypast.com.au! I shouldn’t have been surprised as school records are on open access after 30 years and it’s been more than that since I went to school. I hadn’t realised that my old primary school had published a 50th anniversary book but it has been indexed by QFHS and my name is listed. I must have a look next time I visit Brisbane and go to the QFHS Library.
What I am now wondering is if there are any school photos of my father out there somewhere. I have very few photos of him as a child and would love to see more. My parents, on the other hand, took many photos of me and this one of me all dressed up for my first day of school brings back memories!
While it is good to trace your ancestors further back, don’t forget to also document your own life and that of your parents for future generations. Capture those stories now!
How findmypast.com.au can help you
By Rosemary Kopittke
Rosemary has been tracing her family history since 1985 - her research interests lie primarily in Australia, England and Scotland. A statistician by training, she has worked in that field as an hydrologist, teacher and biometrician. Her tertiary qualifications include a BSc (Mathematics) and BA (Computer Science) both from the University of Queensland. She currently works as a consultant for Gould Genealogy & History and is a speaker with the Unlock the Past team.
She has published numerous indexes to cemeteries and government records though is probably best known for her work with her husband Eric on the Emigrants from Hamburg to Australasia 1850-1879 publication.
A current member of the Australasian Federation of Family History Organisations (AFFHO) Council and the Queensland FHS Management Committee, Rosemary is a Fellow of the Queensland Family History Society and in 2006 received the AFFHO Award for Meritorious Services to Family History.
Findmypast.com.au is just 18 months old and has made huge strides during that time with 50 million records available for searching already – and soon that will more than double, making it the place to visit for research into Australian and New Zealand families.
The records cover a wide range of material, and I will mention some key areas here:
Directories & Almanacs
There are almost 160 data sets totalling 10 million records in this category – covering all Australian States and New Zealand. Family history relies on us knowing where our family was living and we can learn where they lived and moved from these records – their address, occupation and perhaps even find an advertisement for their business.
Electoral Rolls & Censuses
Electoral rolls are, for the most part, the nearest thing Australians and New Zealanders have to census records and hence are an extremely important resource for both local and family historians. On findmypast.com.au you will find records for all Australian states and for New Zealand as well – many millions of records with many more coming.
Mostly researchers consider the government, police and education gazettes to be irrelevant and uninteresting but that is definitely not the case; they contain information about people we would never find in other records. It is here that we can learn extremely interesting facts about all our ancestors – land transactions, intestacies, insolvencies, brands, stolen fortunes, intriguing descriptions and much, much more. With over 20 million entries, this is the largest set of records in the collection.
As we approach some significant military celebrations many researchers are seeking information on their family who served in various wars for both Australia and New Zealand. Apart from lists of names, the records available here often include short biographies and photographs – perhaps ones we have never seen before.
Among the 665 data sets currently available, other important records include Rookwood Cemetery (233,160 entries), Victoria Funeral Notices (119,048 entries), Cemetery Burials and Memorial Inscriptions for Victoria 1835-1997 (182,600 entries), Queensland School Pupils Indexes (almost 1.3 million entries), Queensland Railway Employees (367,651 entries) and the Emigrants from Hamburg to Australasia 1850-1879 database. There is room too for many small data sets which you may not otherwise find – one interesting set is that for the marriages on the Pitcairn Islands 1824-1854 with just 50 entries!
Together, large and small, they make a hugely valuable, unique resource for those researching down under.
Police and Government Gazettes
By Carole Riley
Carole grew up in Dubbo in the Central West of New South Wales. Her mother’s family are farmers and graziers from the Blayney area, descended from Irish and English immigrants; and professionals from Albury and New Zealand, descended from Scots. Her father is descended from part-European Fijians. This combination of nationalities and cultures has provided a varied and interesting genealogical background, and almost unlimited research opportunities!
Carole is a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists to whose standards and code of ethics she aspires. She currently serves on the Council of the Society of Australian Genealogists and is the Convenor of their IT Committee. She is also the founder of the Sydney User Group of The Master Genealogist (TMG).
Here Carole, professional genealogist from Heritage Genealogy, explains how Police and Government Gazettes can enrich your research.
You may not have thought to use Government and Police Gazettes to help with your family research, and I want to convince you otherwise. There is an enormous amount of information in them, and they deserve to be more widely used. They can add that detail that brings our ancestors to life, and they can help solve many family mysteries. If your ancestor worked for the government; leased or purchased land from the Crown; went bankrupt or insolvent; dissolved a business partnership; had a license to run a pub, sell liquor, cut timber or run an auction; was a convict or was assigned one; signed a petition; had unclaimed mail; registered a livestock brand; or died, there is a very good chance there will be a mention in a government gazette. You can find the laws and regulations that ruled your ancestor’s life, whether a landholder, a convict, or a government contractor, and how the censuses were performed.
I have used government gazettes to answer family mysteries, or at least to point me in the right direction; particularly in rural areas whose newspapers have not been digitised by Trove. Lists of livestock brands can act as a directory in places where directories do not exist, or have not been digitised. Family stories about rural properties can be resolved by finding forfeited conditional purchases. Convict assignment records have mostly been destroyed, but they are listed in the government gazettes. Police gazettes were issued to police stations to keep the police up to date, and were never intended for public access. They contain warrants for arrest; persons wanted for questioning; suspicious characters to look out for, and so on. If there was a warrant for your ancestors’ arrest; or they were recently released from gaol; or wanted for questioning; or a known associate of someone wanted for questioning, then they will be mentioned and described in enviable detail.
Police gazettes do not only contain criminals. Victims of a wide variety of crimes such as thieves, embezzlers and wife deserters; missing persons, including children; inquests; and people reported dead for whom no relative could be found are also listed. I have often found the answer to a mystery involving a missing husband or father in a police gazette, usually because the wife has reported him missing and there is a warrant for his arrest. If the person is eventually found a subsequent gazette will report it and so the mystery is solved. Sometimes they turn up in another town with a tattooed woman, sometimes in another colony, and sometimes dead in a river.
The gazettes for the colonies of New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria and New Zealand for varying date ranges are available in findmypast.com.au, with more to come. If the years you need aren’t available yet, keep trying. Make sure you use the keyword search to find names rather than putting the name in the name field for all gazettes, and make sure you search other States, as the person may have been headed there when they disappeared.