A blog about the frustrations, adventures, brickwalls and ultimately rewards of someone searching for their origins. Some Irish (Shamrocks), Scottish (Shortbread) and Shenanigans (English) all mixed into one!

Monday, 18 April 2011

Using the Local Library

So, I had been bitten by the Genie bug, thanks to my friend Lyn and the LDS volunteers.

Where to go from there, though?

I now had some idea of what I was doing, but still had no real idea of how to get there. I had birth and some death dates of my grandparents, but due to time constraints (and the feeling that my head was exploding with questions) I had left it at that when I left the LDS centre.

Lyn suggested that my next step should be the local library. I wasn't sure why - I had visited the library many times (I'm a bookworm) but had not seen much by way of genealogy books.

I discovered on my next visit that there had been a whole ROOM in the library dedicated to local family history, yet I had never even noticed it! It's interesting that when you see the same old surrounding with fresh eyes, resources jump out at you and slap you in the face. Since that time, I have found that most libraries have what I'd call a "base set" of resources (ie, resources that you will probably find in most libraries wherever you go), and then, depending on the size of the library, may also have a much larger collection of records.

Most local libraries seem to have a microfiche set of births, deaths, and marriages (BDM, or BMD) for at least the Australian State you are in. Many libraries also have other State's BDM's on microfiche.

Other resources that may be found (if your library is well stocked) are:

* Collections of Immigration registers for some or all Australian States. These may be in book form or on microfilm / microfiche.

* Postal directories on microfiche, ranging from the mid 1800's to the mid 1900's.

* Australian and/or State Electoral Rolls dating back to mid 1800's.

Electoral Roll with Arthur information

* Magistrate Court indexes.

* IGI databases on microfiche.

* Government and Police Gazette indexes.

* Cemetery and cremation records.

* Funeral Home indexes.

* Subscriptions to family history magazines.

* Internet access to web sites such as Ancestry.com

* Books pertaining to specific topics (convicts, immigration, ship deserters, local history, history and indexes of ancestors origin) and much, much more.

I am fortunate to have a local library that contain all the above resources. I will hone in and discuss some of these specifically in future posts (see my list of upcoming topics at the bottom of this page).

Some libraries also have genealogy volunteers, who are available to assist the public with enquiries. My library has volunteers that are in attendance between 9 - 12 noon during week days for this purpose. I must add though, that libraries have finite resources (especially when it comes to internet access and microfiche/microfilm readers), and my experience has been that these volunteers can sometimes be reluctant to share the resources they are using at the time (and continue to use for the 3 hours they are there). I have been treated quite rudely by volunteers when I have gone to access a set of microfiche they are using. Also, as they ARE volunteers and not professional genies, I have found I have been given incorrect information at times. So I tend to try to avoid visits to the genealogy room during the times I know they are present. Having said that, however, I do believe that they provide a wonderful service and I have seen them being very, very generous with their time to those requiring assistance. I just don't think that they are for me, based on my experience with them.

Using the library resources, I found information including:

* BDM and baptismal dates for my grandparent's siblings and some children. These records also gave me names of my grandparent's parents and their siblings, their marriages, children's birth, etc. How? Well, for each type of record, I went through each and every year, trawling for like names. For example, my Arthur grandfather was born in 1896, and the microfiche record listed his parent's names. Therefore, I searched through the microfiche births for 20 years before and after his birth date, using the Arthur surname, and then matched all birth records with the same parents. I repeated this with the deaths and marriages. It's very time consuming but very rewarding. Note: most but not all of Qld BDM info is now online as well, but I have found it preferable to look through microfiche to look for slight spelling variations.

* The names of the ship and dates of arrival of many of my ancestors. Be careful though, as if you have an ancestor with a common name they may be hard to find. Don't assume they arrived at the port closest to where you live either. I had no idea that my Burton line lived in Victoria until I purchased my great grandfather's death certificate and it showed he had lived in Victoria, and that's where I found he had arrived.

* Monumental inscription information (what was written on their headstone). Very useful to find death dates, birhtplaces, and names of other family members.

* The postal address of many of my ancestors. Electoral rolls may list the street, but Postal Directories often specify the house (ie, 'fifth house on the left off Smith street').

* Information about ancestors employed by Queensland Rail.

And much more.

It's important to note that their may be many more resources out of the public's eyesight that you may be able to access, too. I have found CD's on UK census data, AUS electoral rolls, and also many books that are kept behind the library desk that are available on request.

All you have to do is ask!

I hope you are enjoying reading about my journey! As next week incorporates Anzac Day, I'll dedicate my post to my relatives who fought in the two World Wars.

Till next time!


1 comment:

  1. Wow there is so much to it, I didn't even realise. It's very interesting and I am enjoying the read xxx