1: Identifying and dating old photographs 10:50–11:45am Unlock the Past (Adelaide)
5: Where did I come from? 10:00–12 noon WEA Centre Adelaide
12: Where did I come from? 1:00–3:00 Hub Library
19: Interpreting records for family trees 10:00–12 noon WEA Centre Adelaide
22: Researching the maternal line 9:00–10:00am Fleurieu Pen FHG
25: Family history on the Web 10:30–12:30pm Noarlunga Library
26: Centenary of WW1 - military ancestors 8:00–10pm WEA Centre Adelaide
6: Hindmarsh Heritage Walk: A town on the Torrens 2:00–4:00pm WEA Centre Adelaide
9: Heritage properties in Lower North Adelaide, 10:00–11:00am Glen Osmond Ladies Probus
20: Adelaide SE Corner Heritage Walk: Village within a city 2:00–4:00pm WEA Centre Adelaide
All bookings must be made with the hosting organisation.
See the seminar program
for more details and bookings.
Irish Catholic Parish records
The National Library of Ireland has undertaken to place these records online and the 1000 parishes represented in the collection were made available in early July. The records have not been indexed and so you will need to know which parishes are of interest to you. The site is very easy to use.
For quite some time I have been a fan of FreeReg and its sister sites. These sites are maintained free of charge with volunteers posting the material. The sites are far from complete as the work is ongoing but they are well worth a check before accessing pay-to-use sites. FreeReg has announced a new site which is far easier to navigate than the old one. For those not familiar with the site, it is a very ambitious project to place English, Scottish and Welsh parish register records into a searchable database. Check out the companion sites—FreeBMD and FreeCen for civil registration and censuses.
A regular reader has pointed out:
In No. 112, you include some standard abbreviations for genealogists. One section includes abbreviations for Land Terms. These land terms are uniquely South Australian (the only other places that I know that use Hundreds, is in a few counties in England). Perhaps when you come to repeat it, you could use the terms in use interstate where shire and county are used, at least in NSW and VIC. I don't know what terms are used in the other states, but it would be interesting to explore and may make for an article in its own right.
I must admit that I was just thinking of South Australia at the time and ignored the fact that many readers live beyond this state.
In South Australia land titles still record in which hundred a parcel of land is located and as my correspondent pointed out the term hundred is also used elsewhere. The term gets its name as traditionally the area was about a hundred acres.
The hundred as an administrative division has been used in England, Wales, South Australia, and some parts of the United States. Similar divisions were made in Denmark, Southern Schleswig, Sweden, Finland, Estonia and Norway. Other terms for the hundred in English and other languages include wapentake, herred (Danish, Norwegian Bokmål), herad (Norwegian Nynorsk), hérað (Icelandic), härad or hundare (Swedish), Harde (German), Satakunta or kihlakunta (Finnish) and kihelkond (Estonian). In Ireland a similar subdivision of counties is referred to as a barony, and a hundred is a subdivision of a particularly large townland (most townlands are not divided into hundreds).
There is a particularly good account of this subject on Wikipedia.
Irish Catholic Parish records
A forensic approach to FH
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| A forensic approach to family history
Delving deeper into the material located than just a surface skim can provide the essential clue to open up new avenues of research. This may sound like an obvious statement but long experience in family history research suggests that many are not aware and certainly do not employ the technique. Of course for the most part this strategy only works with original material. Unfortunately many family historians remain satisfied with secondary transcribed material. Often transcriptions are very shallow and only reveal what the transcriber thinks is the genealogical data. As a case in point my local genealogy society has transcribed birth, marriage and death civil registration records for South Australia and they are now online via FindMyPast.
Much of the material is omitted and yet this can be the very information that opens up the research! Recently a client provided me with one such death transcription. The following data on the death certificate was omitted: place of death, place of burial, home address, place of birth, age at marriage or remarriage, number of children and undertaker's name—much crucial information missing but readily available. A better transcription that attempted to show all the data and the layout revealed the missing data.
As a simple consequence the client is now not only able to visit her grandmother's grave but contact with the undertaker revealed that the death was subject to a police report to the coroner that in turn revealed much about this woman's latter life previously unknown to the client!
Sometimes even a detailed transcript will not suffice and the only useful record is the original document. A client suspected that her quarry had changed her name and remarried. But what was her new name? On a hunch that she retained her given names, a search of all marriage certificates was made and her signature was matched against a known sample from an earlier marriage. Her distinctive given names and her handwriting style revealed her new assumed name and her newer married name.
In previous articles I have mentioned old photographs and the techniques to date them as an aid to identifying the subjects. But what about searching the background.
One client had a photograph that was thought to date between the two World Wars and comprised of a group standing outside a cottage. He had a number of candidate families and could not recognise any of the individuals. Finally we were able to work out which family it was when a number was discovered on the house wall using a magnifying glass. Searching directories for residential locations of known family names and address with a corresponding street number was found. This in turn lead to a search of marriage indexes and a missing married daughter was eventually revealed. A good idea of her pictured children was determined by searching birth indexes. Invest in a good handheld magnifying glass and start looking into the background of all those unknown photographs in your collection. While you are about it, try and determine why the photograph was taken. Use the earlier newsletter articles to date the photograph before asking the question. Another useful technique is to determine what the photograph is about. It is possible to make wrong assumptions. A photograph of a deceased person, particularly young children, propped up to look as lifelike as possible were once popular. Is that baby depicted in the photograph alive?
Modern technology is a great aid in this work. Scanning images at a very high resolution can reveal a multitude of previously hidden clues. Consider checking directories against a photographer's address on the rear of an old photograph to date it and thus
determine who the subjects might be. Likewise checking other entries in census returns or similar to reveal neighbours and others living in close proximity to your ancestors can start new lines of enquiry. We all talk about pursuing our distant cousins in the hope that they may have been the beneficiaries of information passed down their family line but not yours, but the astute genealogist may find themselves applying the same strategy to business partners, neighbours and fellow members of clubs and congregations to achieve a similar outcome!
One powerful strategy in family history is to prepare a time line and enter every event for all your ancestors on to the continuum. Not only may you discover obvious errors in your data with events out of logical sequence but the relationship between events may provide you with useful background and open up new lines of research. Here is an example using a database but it works equally well with spreadsheets. Good family history programs will also generate timelines. Unfortunately these usually lack the required detail as can be seen from the following example by Reunion.
You need to include the family events as demonstrated in the following spreadsheet. I find it helpful to include ages:
To supplement timelines, the use of databases can be a powerful tool for the forensic genealogist. In fact family tree programs are nothing more than databases with the added facility to draw family trees! Does the family tree program you use allow you to extract datasets? For example having the ability to just peruse records of directory entries and match them against census returns can be a very useful way of not only placing your family in a particular place at a particular time, but also project into those blank spaces in their lives thus giving an indication on where to concentrate the search for material.
Examine the adjacent image taken from one of my older photo albums. What do we see? A boy and a girl dressed in costumes that pre-date the advent of photography and little else. No captions, nothing written on the back and no label in the album. Who are they? Clearly the period has to occur before 1841 when even an expensive daguerreotype was cheaper than engaging an artist. This statement could be seen as little more than an assumption because the advent of new technology does not mean the old is immediately dispensed with for a whole range of reasons. However, in this case the clothes seem to suggest that the painting does predate photography. The girl's dress is a style seen in France in 1830 and later in England while the boy has a loosely tied cravat rather than the tie we know today and this style of tying a cravat was certainly evident in England in 1835. The task then is to determine if any family had a boy and a girl in the range of about 6 to 10 years of age at this time. It would seem likely they had no other children because surely they would have been included as well—or would they? It rather depends on what the event was. There is just one family in my ancestry that fits this pattern and it is aided by the fact that the same album contains many later photographs of this family. John Henry Puttick b. 12 October 1830 and Mary Jane Puttick b. 21 March 1833 were the eldest two children of John and Mary Puttick of Kirdford Sussex. The next child was born November 1837 and so we can expect that if these are the children depicted then the work was undertaken before November 1837. The father, a mercer and later an auctioneer in St Helier on Jersey could certainly afford to commission such a work. Without more work the research is at a stage where the subjects have not been confirmed but we have a strong likelihood we have identified the subjects.
Can you see any similarities in this photograph of an older
Mary Jane Puttick with her sister, Ellen b. 11 November 1837? This photograph in itself presents a conundrum resolved by close inspection. The mount is 1890 but the girls are clearly in 1840s style costume and hair. The studio in the background lacks features expected and the pose adopted suggests the need to remain quite still for a relatively lengthy period. It is a photograph of an older photo. In the 1840s the daguerreotype was a one-off photo and later families wanted multiple copies to share around and this problem was resolved by having a professional take a photograph of the daguerreotype. Family historians need to watch out for this in their collections.
A final word—I used to call individuals that employed these research techniques, forensic genealogists—I now avoid this term because in the USA it is now associated with professional heir searchers and others addressing matters that are often the basis of litigious actions rather than astute family historians trying to uncover their roots!
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