Sunday, July 27, 2014

Sepia Saturday 238 : 26 July 2014


Alan from Sepia Saturday says:  

If you would like a sign as to what to do for Sepia Saturday 238 ...then look no further than this 1935 picture of Broome Street in Manhattan which comes from the Flickr Commons stream of the New York Public Library. If you want to be on theme, you can choose any type of sign you want, or any other visual clue you can find in the photograph. If you prefer to be off-theme, then that is entirely your choice.

Several photos spring to mind with this theme.  My father,  having trained as an architect,  could write a mean Garage Sale sign when required - and birthday cards - and notes from the tooth fairy - and signage for children's birthday parties - my Witches Party stands out the most in memory - boy we had fun that day.  But here is the first sign I remember at one of my birthday parties.  I think this may have been my 6th Birthday party.  If you zoom into the sign there are six candles on the picture of the birthday cake.  If I rescanned this photo I might be able to make out what I think are the names of the guests written underneath the greeting.



I think this may have been the rather famous birthday party where I opened the door to my guests, took the proffered gift and then firmly shut the door in their faces.  The wails of disappointment brought my mother to the door and I received a rather short sharp lesson in good manners that I think I may never forget !  Not quite sure who the children are except for dear friend Judith on the left in the tartan and I think that is Elizabeth Ann my neighbour who lived across the road  - the tall girl in the white pleated skirt on the right.  Note the Vulcan oil heater in cold old Canberra in May - my birthday month.  And the records lined up on the right hand side - I'm thinking A Hard Day's Night and James Last and the very scary Night on Bald Mountain would have been in that selection. (I hang on to those records like grim death).  

Those white bits in the photo are streamers hanging down.  I suspect the feast includes cocktail sausages or frankfurters as we called them and the ubiquitous fairy bread.  I suspect that's chocolate crackles (rice bubbles coated in cocoa) and butterfly cupcakes next to Judith and I think I can spot my mother's famous chocolate iced birthday cake sprinkled with silver cachous at the end of the table - mm mmmm.  See that black kettle on the shelf to the left of the fireplace there?  I've still got that.  I wonder what the story is behind that kettle?  Must ask my father.  And those Parker chairs that the children are sitting on and the dining table - we use them today.  No waste here in this family.  Recycle Reuse (subtext - thank goodness for parents).  The sofa on the right is long gone.



This is another lovely photo and either my maternal grandfather or my maternal grandmother very helpfully wrote this on the back



So do you think the date is 1940 or 1948?  I'm thinking 1940.  And I think this is a photo of Kit, my maternal grandmother.  I'm here to tell you that Leura is spelled LEURA not LEWRA.  Can you read the sign?  It says " Refreshments served at this window Iced Drinks Cordials Icecream Sodas Milkshakes and I think it says 6d on the end which means I think sixpence.  Once again I am happy to be corrected.

Leura Cascades are in the Blue Mountains here. 



To my knowledge there is no Kiosk there now more's the pity, but I am happy to stand corrected.  My mother would have been 5 or 13 depending on what you think the year is but I reckon it's earlier rather than later.  In Australia our dates are written backwards to an American way of thinking so this means 10 March rather than the 3 October.  It was a Sunday.  We'd really only been at war since December 1939.  Pearl Harbour and the Japanese subs in Sydney Harbour hadn't happened yet. 



Here's another photo that I haven't looked at closely before.  I think it might be Shirley but I have to check with her son Douglas.  Where is Normandy Lodge I wonder.  More questions to ask of relations.






























I particularly like this photo from my father's album.  Why waste money on timber or metal when you can get a mobile sign like a sheep?  What is Voco I ask myself? I think this is taken around Tamworth or Dubbo or Gilgandra - sorry to be so vague - I wasn't born then.  I think this was taken c 1948 or 1950.  My father was visiting his uncle Ossie Carrett.  Ossie was my grandmother's younger brother.  If you search Trove for Voco the most prolific entries are from 1920-1939 and then it drops right off.  So maybe this photo is earlier.  If you search for Laurel Kerosene as per the truck on the right hand side Trove produces results for 1930-1939.  Mind you, we all drive around vehicles long after we paint the signs on them so I think it could still be later.  Anyway, Voco, I think, stands for Vacuum Oil Company and if you believe the advertising, this is what it does...


courtesy of National Library of Australia Gilgandra Weekly and Castlereagh 2 October 1930

According to Trove, Ossie took over the business from Coleman in 1941.

courtesy of National Library of Australia Dubbo Liberal and Macquarie Advocate 9 August 1941

What else can I give you in terms of signs?  (Yes I know this post has gone on far too long.  You'll just have to suffer a bit more and then I'll shut up. ) When we went overseas and I was a young Gel (hard G not soft), I was fascinated with the clever advertising.  It seemed so much more sophisticated and advanced than that at home in Orstralia.  I took photos of it.  It doesn't look fabulous now of course - probably very ordinary - but I'd be grateful for translations.



These photos of billboards were taken in Europe in late 1979.  I particularly liked the drop coming off the orange.  We just didn't have that ...what would you call it?  Clarity?  in our advertising at the time.

Last but not least here is a photo of my dear mother, coming out of the local shop on the Leura Mall.  From memory it was more of an IGA (small supermarket) than a Delicatessen.  You could enter the shop from the back in the car-park and walk right through to the front.  I don't know if it still exists.  I think not.  When was this taken?  Hmmm....big fat guess maybe late 1980s or 1990???  So it really just scrapes by on the Sepia front doesn't it?



Who else remembers that marvelous film Delicatessen with the wonderful Dominique Pinon from 1991?



Happy days.  Head on over to see what other signs full of portent there may be here.


Sunday, July 20, 2014

Crowdsourcing and other fabulous initiatives




Crowdsourcing.  I love it.  I use it all the time.  Do you?  This morning I spent quite a bit of time on Ravelry looking up free knitting patterns for cowls using Ravelry's fabulous database - largely constructed by all the wonderfully generous knitters in the world who are on Ravelry.  

I thought I would give back some of the love but in another of my favourite areas - genealogy. And so today I signed up to become an indexer on the Family Search website in anticipation of the Worldwide Indexing event on July 20 and 21.  Yes that's today here in Australia but we're waiting for the rest of the world to catch up ;)

When I told my husband I was indexing, he made the remark "Whatever that is...." and so I felt the need to explain to him and anyone else who doesn't understand the concept.  When I signed up to index today, I was lucky enough to be given a batch of records from the Hobart Public Cemetery in Tasmania.  The batch was for September 1946.  A new batch I've just downloaded is for 1941.  

Why do we need to index?  Well, if you were looking for a burial record for an ancestor, it would be a bit disheartening to be presented with the registers for a particular cemetery and to have to go through them page by page looking for  your ancestor.  You might not know when they died or if they were even buried at this particular cemetery.  Indexing the records in the register gives researchers an access point for discovering more information about their forebears.  

It's really important to remember that the records we use as family history researchers were not designed with us in mind.  The undertaker completing the register is doing his or her work in a linear or chronological fashion e.g. Today I buried Mrs Smith in Plot 6724 and Miss Jones in Plot 6725 in the Catholic Section and then Baby Davis in Plot 5719 in the Anglican section. Frankly I don't know much about undertaking (and it's probably worth my while finding out a bit more) but I hope you see what I mean.  So, the indexer's task is to enter data into the pertinent fields - e.g. Surname, First Name - which creates a database for researchers to search.



Obviously the biggest challenge facing researchers is handwriting.  If you're employed to dig graves, elegant handwriting may not be your forte.  The records that I have been indexing are mostly typed though so this hasn't been such a bother.  There was one handwritten one though and I really tried hard to decipher it without much success.  That's where a knowledge of the local area comes in handy so you can recognize place names.  Thankfully I was in Tasmania a fortnight ago so it is a real joy to see the names of some of the places that we visited.  Family Search has also set up some really helpful Handwriting Resource Help Pages.

I have to say that Family Search have gone out of their way to make the process as easy as possible with helpful video tutorials and lots of FAQ online so really, you could almost say it is a doddle.  

So please would you consider becoming an indexer on Family Search?  It doesn't take much time and it's always nice to do something for someone else isn't it ?  Even if they never know you did it for them.  Together we can all achieve so much just by doing a little bit.  And who knows, you may just find that "missing" ancestor or break down that brick-wall.

And if you want to have a sense of how many others are out there indexing over the next couple of days you can join DearMyrtle's GeneaSleepover Hangout on Air which promises to supply 24 hours non-stop Gene News, information, interviews and demos.  What a blast.  I love sleepovers don't you?


Saturday, July 19, 2014

Sepia Saturday 237: 19 July 2014


Alan from Sepia Saturday says "You might want to go to the ballet, or the dancehall, or the theatre or anywhere you find lots of chiffon and over-dramatic poses" for this week's Sepia Saturday prompt.

For some reason I can't locate any personal sepia photos to contribute to this week's theme so we will just have to make do with contributions from The Commons on Flickr.  



Dance in Queensland is going gangbusters at the moment.  Queensland Ballet recently staged MacMillan's production of Romeo and Juliet to sell out audiences.  My father was lucky enough to see it and said it was "Superb - no doubt the best ballet I have ever seen. The
costumes were simply gorgeous and the dancing, acting and music combined in
a way that made it almost like opera - but without the singing of course."  You can see some of the beautiful images from the production here.  You may remember Queensland Ballet's Artistic Director is Li Cunxin of Mao's Last Dancer fame.  How lucky are we?

And now this week we are being spoiled with a production of Red Shoes by Expressions Dance Company created by Artistic Director Natalie Weir.  I think I first came across Natalie's work when visiting Townsville for work and was introduced to the  magnificent Dance North company.  At the time I was working for the AFTRS and we were offering workshops in creating Dance for Video with a visiting BBC expert Bob Lockyer.

So in terms of professional dance companies, I think we are very well served.  

Mere mortals like myself love to dance too, of course, whether it be in the kitchen or the dance hall or at parties.  I learned ballroom dancing at school but have never really felt comfortable dancing with a partner.  I went to an all-girls school where boys were in very short supply - many of us were obliged to take on the role of "the bloke" and consequently I tend to take the lead when dancing with a partner!  

My kids learned to dance at school and did quite well in the hotly contested Dance Fever competitions with other schools. I particularly like this photo of learning to dance in Longreach in 1928.



I have been told often about my husband's aunt's wardrobe which was packed to the brim with dance frocks and matching shoes.  She and my in-laws frequented perhaps the most favoured place to dance in Brisbane during the 40s  - Cloudland at Bowen Hills  You can check out some photos of Cloudland here and here to get an idea of what it was like.  Unfortunately Cloudland was demolished in 1982 to make way for apartments and a piece of Queensland history was lost forever overnight.  


Many photos of couples were taken at Cloudland like the one below.



Of course in my mind's eye, I like to think that I look like this when I dance.




Sadly, I fear that reality is very different.  

When I was growing up my mother used to take me to the National Library on a Sunday afternoon I think to see Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers trip the light fantastic.  Other Dance movies I loved were in hindsight, the very cheesy, Flashdance.  Who could resist the funny Hot Stuff scene in the unemployment queue in The Full Monty.  I loved the dance scene in Frantic too but my all time favourite is the one in Pulp Fiction.




For more dance fun, quick step your way on over to see other Sepia Saturday contributions.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

In my Father's Footsteps - Port Arthur

Have I said how much I like blogging?  I love blogging.  It's hard to explain why and I know some people just don't get it.  That's okay but I just wish I understood it better so I knew why I like it so much.  It's something to do with reflection or the ability to stop and look at things more closely.  I really value that.  Anyway - enough philosophy.  Why do you like blogging?

So today I could blog forever about our holiday to Tassie but I'm not really sure which blog is the right forum for that so I may do a more extensive blog on my old blog Luvvies Musings.

Today I just wanted to share some old and new photos.  While I was in Tassie I received an email from my father saying the following:

See you are at Port Arthur today-hope you enjoy it - its a grizzly part of our convict history but now a lovely site I think. I was there years ago with the RAN. We anchored in the bay for a coupe of days. Left it in a pretty foul state too I seem to recall - in those days war ships did not contain their own waste systems!

So when I got home I checked out his old photo album again.  Now I've said this a thousand times but it is so bizarre to me that we can look at the same photos over and over again and then suddenly see them with new eyes.  Because I hadn't been to Port Arthur before when I looked at the album previously I didn't recognize the photos in the album as being of Port Arthur.  They aren't labelled as such and whilst my father probably told me a thousand times "That's Port Arthur"  those words went in one ear and straight out the other.  So to open the album on my return was a delight.  How things have changed or haven't as it were....

So I just thought I'd share some then and now photos.


Now I'm imagining this photo was taken off the Tasmanian coast...maybe the Tasman Peninsula.This was taken on board the HMAS Vengeance in I think about 1953 or 1954.  My father was completing his National Service.  This from the National Archives website regarding National Service:

In the context of the intensification of the Cold War in Europe, Communist insurgency and success in South-East Asia, and the declaration of war in Korea, the Menzies government sponsored the National Service Act 1951. The legislation provided for the compulsory call-up of males turning 18 on or after 1 November 1950, for service training of 176 days. Trainees were required to remain on the Reserve of the Commonwealth Military Forces (CMF) for five years from initial call up. Men could nominate the service in which they wished to be trained. Those nominating the Navy or the Air Force were considered only if they volunteered for service outside Australia. The first call-up notice was issued on 12 April 1951.

Between 1951 and 1959 over 500,000 men registered, 52 intakes were organised and some 227,000 men were trained.

In 1957 National Service with the Navy and the Air Force was discontinued. Registration remained compulsory but the intake to the Army was cut to almost a third (12,000 trainees) by instituting a ballot for selection. On 24 November 1959 Cabinet decided that National Service call-ups should be terminated and that arrangements for the January 1960 intake would be cancelled.

You can see some great footage of the HMAS Vengeance here on the AWM website.  

Back to Port Arthur.  I loved visiting Port Arthur.  I was so impressed with it as a tourist destination.  I know the Opera House is hard to beat but I completely think this ranks a close 2nd in terms of places you have to see.  The history is absolutely palpable.  

Caspar and I took the cheapest tour available at $35 a head I think (though he did get a student discount).  That included a 30 minute harbour cruise and a 40 minute walking tour.  Such good value! Yes I wish we could have done more but to do so I think would involve staying a night down there which I would highly recommend if you have the time.  The pass is valid for two days so it's really excellent value.

To get a sense of the size of the site check out the map here.

After our guided walk, we ate our packed lunch in the little courtyard off the Coffee Shop at The Asylum. (first used 1868)


This is my father's photo of it back in the day.  It's been restored a bit now to include a Museum, a Convict Study Centre and the Museum Coffee Shop.

Being a librarian I couldn't resist taking a photo of the Library Subscription register from 1864.



My father was obviously impressed with the Soldiers' Memorial Avenue dedicated to soldiers from WW1.  I was too but didn't take a photo unfortunately.  Now I wish I had so we could compare photos.  Here's his photo.


I'm not sure if the sign is still there.  The site is enormous and takes a bit of walking around. Cas and I barely scratched the surface.

After lunch we raced down the hill and went to the ferry dock.  Here is the view from Mason Cove of The Isle of the Dead (first used 1833) on the left and Point Puer Boys' Prison on the right (first used 1834).  Can you believe that the youngest boy here was just 9 years old????



The ferry ride was great - once again we had a talk throughout to highlight points of interest.  Some people got off at The Isle of the Dead for a special tour.

Here's a view of the ocean just past Point Puer.



After our cruise we visited the Memorial Garden which was very sobering.  Then we walked over to The Commandant's cottage.  I must mention at this point that The Penitentiary which is possibly the most iconic part of Port Arthur was being fortified and so was entirely surrounded by scaffolding.  This may have disappointed some people but I wasn't too worried.  There was so much else to see.  They gave us very nice free postcards of The Penitentiary (first used 1857) at the ticket office I think as some sort of compensation for the work that was being done at the time.  

Near The Commandant's cottage (first used 1833 and which was possessed of some very find coffin chairs - why didn't I take a photo???) is the Guard Tower (first used 1835).  It obviously impressed my father when he was there.


Here are my photos of it today.  The first photo is the walk down from the Commandant's House and you can see the Guard Tower just peeking out on the left of the photo.



View from inside tower looking back across to ferry terminal


Rear view of the Tower

View of Tower from Officer's Quarters

From the Tower we hiked up to the Church (first used 1837) which really captured my imagination.  It captured my father's imagination too.  Here are his photos.




Here are our photos on the day.

Caspar wondering why his mother lugs around so much stuff
According to the Vistor Guide we were given, up to 1100 people attended church services here on a Sunday.  Convicts were curtained off from the view of the free.





So you can see that not much has changed from 60  years ago.  We arrived at Port Arthur at about 11:30.  It takes about an hour and a half from Hobart to get there.  A beautiful drive - roads that weave and wind their way around the Peninsula.  A bit of road work going on too in what is I guess the "off season".  My heart went out to those who had to travel that road nearly 20 years ago - emergency vehicles, media vehicles and the like.  It must have been very challenging in so many ways.  

We stayed there til about 2:30pm.  You can only take so much history in one go and you get a bit knackered walking around - especially in the cold.

Cas and I were so impressed with all the people who worked on the site.  The grounds are huge and it must take a veritable army to maintain them.  The guides were knowledgeable, enthusiastic and welcoming.  They had some neat ideas in terms of making history accessible for everyone including kids.  On our arrival we were each given a playing card which linked us to one of the convicts who had been sentenced there so we could discover their story - it was called the Lottery of Life.  When I went to the loo shortly after our arrival I overheard one little girl saying excitedly to another "I can't wait to find out which convict I am."   A simple idea but it worked well.  I was given the Ace of Hearts but am ashamed to say I can't remember who I was. 



On our way home we stopped to check out the Tasman Arch and the Devil's Kitchen.  Well worth the views.




I can't recommend Port Arthur highly enough.  It's a must see as far as I'm concerned if you ever get the chance.  Definitely worthy of its World Heritage Status and an international tourist attraction of which we should be justly proud although as my father says, the subject matter is rather grim.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Sepia Saturday: 12 July 2014


Alan at Sepia Saturday says:

Back in the Good Old Days/Bad Old Days (*) when you went to the Barbers/Hairdressers (*) you would have a short back and sides/full perm and manicure (*) in a dirty little back street shop/smart beauty salon (*). Our theme image for Sepia Saturday 236 - post your posts on or around the 12th July 2014 - shows a lady enjoying a manicure whilst her hair is under the dryer at a salon on Eighth Street, New York in 1942. The photograph is by Marjory Collins and is part of the Flickr Commons stream of the Library of Congress. As far as possible themes are concerned, there is hair/beauty/nails/hair dryers/strange headgear.

Oh doesn't this week's theme bring back lots of memories?  My mother's idea of heaven was to go to the hairdresser's.  She did this every week from memory on a Friday afternoon.  I was probably picked up from school and then we would go to Madame Dupal's upstairs in the arcade at Garema Place in Canberra for her blow dry and set.  You can see some photos of Garema Place back in the day here and here.  I would sit quietly and scour my favourite magazine Seventeen from cover to cover.

I managed to find an old issue of Seventeen on eBay a few years ago and treasure it. There is lots about makeup and hair in here to giggle at.



My friend Judith and I experimented with Mary Quant makeup quite a bit and my mother took these photos of us.  They're not sepia but I'm sure you'll forgive me.


Alex and Judith c1973



Alex and Judith c 1973

Mary Quant makeup kits were very special and had stick on jewels that glistened in the sun.  We thought we were the bees knees.

I also found these photos.  They are the kind that I remember my mother shrieking at my father saying "No don't !" as in "Don't take a photo of me looking like this!" but I'm glad he did.  We have very few photos of people "au naturel" - mostly we get all dressed up or make sure we have make up on before we let someone take a photo.


Alex and Barbara c1969

Here I am with my mother in our bathroom at 3 Nungara Street Aranda.  We thought that bathroom was so swish.  A great big mirror which helped make a small room look big.  The mirror cleverly concealed all the shelving you could want in a bathroom if you look at this next photo.




My mother went grey quite early in her life.  She had lots of fine hair but with not much body and so it had to be teased and curled on rollers or with bobby-pin curls within an inch of it's life to get her the required volume.  She used an eyebrow pencil and mascara because she said she didn't have much in that department whereas I inherited my father's long luscious eyelashes and "generous" eyebrows.

So that's the best you're going to get for hair and makeup photos from us.  Although here are a couple more that fit the theme/are dear to my heart.



This one is of my great-Uncle Ossie.  That's my paternal grandmother's handwriting at the bottom of the picture there.  It says "Ossie on trip with Ted going North".  Ted would have been her husband.  I often wonder what this was all about.  This would be Ossie Carrett - my grandmother's brother.  Ossie was born in 1910.  This photo reminds us that we don't always have access to the latest plumbing facilities when we're on the road and sometimes a dish will just have to do the job.  I'm guessing this was taken in the 1940s sometime but maybe it's later.

A bit like this photo from Picture Queensland of a woman washing her hair in the 1920s.


Hulett, L. E.John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland :ca. 1924


And then finally this one.  It's not sepia either but a favourite of mine.  It's my father-in-law who we lost too soon.  He's waiting to have his hair cut in the backyard of Charlton Street by my lovely sister-in-law Kath.

Bert Daw 1980s
What about you?  What memories/photos do you have of hair/makeup?  Check out Sepia Saturday for more...



Monday, June 30, 2014

Forfars in Tasmania




I've been thrashing around trying to make sense of my Forfar line - as usual.

With my impending trip to Tassie, I wanted to make sure of my facts and drew up a timeline.  

So far, this is what I have....

On Tuesday 21 November 1899 a Wanted Ad appeared in the Mercury for "small furnished cottage for married couple, convenient to town.Full particulars and rental to W W Forfar 19 Albert Road, Albert Park, Melbourne"






And then....




On Friday 8 December 1899 Mrs and Miss Forfar (I think this is meant to be Mr and Mrs Forfar) arrive in Hobart on SS Monowai.  Walter would have been 21. Kate would have been 27 years old and 7 months pregnant.


Mercury 9 December 1899 courtesy of National Library of Australia
Shipping List SS. Monowai


In the brush with fame stakes, the SS Monowai also transported Phar Lap to the States I think judging from this photo...






This was probably the view that greeted them when they arrived....




And maybe this is what it looked like when they were disembarking.....



Check out the last Wanted ad below for good plain general cooking Mrs Forfar, next Melrose.


Mercury 13 December 1899 courtesy of the National Library of Australia


On Monday 12 February 1900 Ernest Henry was born in Hobart.  Father listed as Walter William retired surveyor Mother Kate Amelia Sinclair (actually her mother's maiden name.  Kate's maiden name was Ellis) - Marriage was listed as 1897 Perth, Western Australia.  The birth was not registered until 23 March.  Ernest was named after Walter's older brother Ernest who went to Canada.


1900 - Walter W. is listed in Post Office Directory living in Queen Street left hand side from High Street (which is now Sandy Bay Road)  before Wells Street - 6th house down from High Street.- about half way I suppose as twelve houses in street before Wells Street which is now Balmoral Street.  This map gives you a sense of the area at the time.

On Tuesday 24 April 1900 Mr and Mrs Forfar and infant "clear out" from Hobart to Perth, Western Australia on RMS Australia.






This ship foundered on rocks four years later at Point Nepean.

So they spent a total of just over 4 months in Tasmania.  I wonder what they were doing there.

Extra! Extra! Read all about it....



I won a prize this week and I didn't even know about it until it turned up in the mail!

A parcel arrived from Gould Genealogy & History.  "That's funny," I thought "I haven't ordered anything..."  I read the enclosed Tax Invoice and it said "Congratulations on being a winner of the Inside History Magazine promo"

Inside History Magazine has a fabulous Facebook page which I liked ages ago and just about every day they give away prizes. 

I had forgotten that in May I entered a competition to win a copy of Chris Paton's British and Irish newspapers.  The challenge was to tell the best story you've found in an old newspaper.    I was the first to enter saying: My grandmother always told a story about my 2nd great grandfather shooting himself and we were always a bit skeptical until I found this article.and shared a link to this post on my blog.

So I've won a book.  And being a reasonably freshly hatched librarian I feel duty bound to catalogue it and write a bit of an abstract and a review.  





This is my attempt at a catalogue record of sorts...


Title: British and Irish Newspapers
Author: Chris Paton (MBRC catalogue record included DOB 1970)
Edition: 1st
Place of Publication: St Agnes (MBRC catalogue entry included S.A. at this point)
Name of Publisher: Unlock the Past (MBRC holds 6 titles in their collection at the moment)
Date of Publication: 2014
Physical Description: 56 pages, illustrations, 21cm (phew - seem to have got that right)
Series: Unlock the Past Guides (hmm MBRC just said Unlock the Past which is fine)
Notes: based on talk given at Unlock the Past's 4th Genealogy cruise in Jan/Feb 2014 and associated land-based talks in Australia (perhaps this is extraneous but I found it personally interesting having attended the land-based talk in Brisbane as per blog post here  - MBRC just said it includes an index - which it does)
Numbers: ISBN 978 1 921956 45 4 $23.00 (Aust)

Subjects: (I completely stole these from the MBRC catalogue entry - once again my Library of Congress Subject Heading skills need improving - I did choose Newspapers but then forgot to use Country Great Britain rather than Adjective e.g. British
Newspapers - Great Britain - Archival Resources, 
Newspapers - Ireland - Archival Resources, 
Great Britain - Genealogy - Archival Resources, 
Great Britain - Genealogy - Handbooks, manuals etc, 
Ireland - Genealogy - Archival Resources.

Just as a discussion point World Cat subject headings for this are: 
British Newspapers - History - Handbooks, manuals etc 
British Isles - Genealogy - Sources - Handbooks, manuals, etc.  

Being completely biased I think MBRC's subject headings are more accurate.  National Library of Australia seems to follow World Cat's subject headings.  Discuss.

John Dewey, "Father of American Education", 1859 -1952

To be honest, I don't do cataloguing at work so I'm very rusty here.  We have an entire Technical Services Division who do that for us.  The most we might do in my job is add items to existing catalogue records.  We classify using the Dewey Decimal Classification Scheme.  I guessed that the Call Number would be 929.072.  According to MBRC Tech Services Team It is in fact 929.1072.   State Library of NSW has it at 929.10941.  State Library of South Australia has call number 929.341 with the cutter P312.  Discuss.  

The book is not on the Brisbane City Council database - tsk tsk - although they do have 4 titles in the series as per here.

I should mention that Queensland Family History Society Library has it in their catalogue under call number M9 62 1.  You can read about the QFHS Library classification system here, suffice it to know that it is modeled on the system used at the Society of Australian Genealogists. The classification tiers are Geographic area first, then subject area. So you can see that M = Great Britain - 9 is Generalities and 62 is Newspapers-General.  

Here's my attempt at an Abstract.



Abstract: Provides guide to locating newspaper content (hard copy and digital) in Britain and Ireland.  How to access material for free through  libraries in Australia, New Zealand and Britain as well as paid online subscription services in order to advance genealogical research.

And so to my review.

Let me first of all say how much I like the Unlock the Past guides.  I think they are a great idea because family historians like me tend to do research in spits and spats and using different types of resources.  To have, as it were, bite size chunks of information about a particular topic is very useful.  I have purchased three titles in this series already: Your Family History Archives by Shauna Hicks, London and Middlesex family history resources online by Alan Stewart and Solving riddles in 19th century photo albums by Graham Jaunay. Prices I paid for these booklets were anywhere from $11-$18.  The books ranged from 40-60 pages.  I'm not sure what factors influence the pricing but I was a bit surprised to see the latest one by Chris Paton as being priced at $23.  That struck me as a bit steep given that the book is only really a booklet at 56 pages and also given that I suspect the information being to a large extent about online resources may become out of date very quickly. Family historians are notoriously tight-fisted (particularly those of Scottish descent) so I'll be interested to see if it sells well or whether it is priced for libraries to purchase rather than individuals.

That's the negatives out of the way.  In terms of authority, well you can't really go past Chris Paton.  I have been fortunate enough to see him speak in person and he is enormously knowledgeable as well as affable and accessible.  He has his own blog.  He teaches at another of my favourite institutions Pharos Tutors.  He speaks regularly at conferences/cruises and he has written heaps of great guides and articles for genealogists.  What's not to like?

The book is divided into six sections.  The first is really an introduction as to why genealogists should consider using newspapers as a source for furthering their research.  For me this was a bit of a no-brainer but I suppose there might be some people out there who needed convincing or who needed reminding that if you can't find a particular record e.g. death certificate, then assertions could be corroborated by other means e.g. a death notice or In Memoriam.  The one remarkable thing about this section is Chris' use of the word "intimation".  I had never heard of this before.  I must have been living under a rock.  Apparently this is a synonym for Announcement or Notice.  Odd.  It must be a common term in the UK but not in Orstralia me thinks.  Have you ever heard of the word used in connection with Birth, Death and Marriage notices? 


Anyway the other sections are divvied up as follows:



Finding British and Irish Newspapers - which covers NEWSPLAN, The British Library, The British Newspaper Archives and E-resources/Licensed digital collections

British Gazettes


Online Collections


Additional British sources and


Additional Irish sources.


Let's be honest here.  This is essentially a reference book.  So whilst I have read it from beginning to end, one's eyes do tend to glaze over unless you are actually using the book and checking links etc.  

Having said that, Chris provides useful information about each link e.g. for the London and South Eastern Region of NEWSPLAN he advises - "search options by keyword and date range only, and not by a specific repository."  Chris also reminds us that often newspapers had several editions e.g. the morning edition or the evening edition.  Stories or articles were often sacrificed for sporting results or some such.  So if Great Uncle Fred says he remembers his prize chicken featuring in a particular edition of a paper, maybe only the evening edition has been microfilmed or digitised and you might need to find a bound copy of the morning edition.


Even more importantly, Chris reminds us of the vast scale of the digitisation process.  With regards to The British Newspaper Archive he says "even when complete the project will still have only digitised less than ten per cent of the British Library's vast newspaper holdings." (my bolding there folks)  So just because you can't find it, doesn't mean it doesn't exist.  You've just got to resort to the old fashioned way of doing research.  The hard grind in other words.




As a member of QFHS and through my work at MBRC,  I already knew that you can get free access to British and Irish newspaper collections by registering with your local State library and also the National Library.  If you haven't done so already - DO IT!  It's free and well worth it.

The "new to me" information was the section about British Gazettes.  I haven't used the "official newspaper of state" yet and fully intend to do so even though Chris warns us that "the new site unfortunately offers something of an information overload in terms of what is presented, and can be extremely awkward to navigate."

I have really only given credit for half of the book's contents here.  It was my intention to give you a taste of what was on offer and not deprive Chris and Gould Genealogy of sales.  Chris has invested an enormous amount of energy in discovering and testing sites for us.  He says that he learned heaps from this venture, as no doubt we will.  It is my earnest hope that the sites mentioned in this book will also take on board his feedback about the navigability and usefulness of their design to family historians.  Thanks Chris!  

And of course a very big thanks to Gould Genealogy and to Inside History magazine!