You can tell that we really loved Aix-en-Provence because I wanted it to have its own slideshow, so here it is. I would love to go back again.
This post is about total self-indulgence. We visited Provence for the first time in October 2010 and it remains one of our most memorable holidays….another visit is now on our bucket list. We loved everything about it -we even survived driving on the “wrong” side of the road. That is after we finally made it to our B&B late in the evening after rail strikes in Paris.
I hope you enjoy these photos taken around L’Isle sur La Sorgue, Les Baux, Gordes, Rousillon,, Loumarin etc. Aix-en-Provence might have to be another post.
And if you really want to indulge, have a look at one of my favourite non-genealogy sites, French Essence . The author, Vicki Archer, is Australian-born and lives quite near St Remy…I defy you not to feel a tiny bit jealous. I’m not into the beauty regimes or fashion, but I LOVE the scenery, the garden and the design. <Sigh>
It’s ironic that July is a Francophile’s delight with the Paris in July 2012 series hosted by Karen from BookBath and Tamara from Thyme for Tea. Entirely coincidentally I’ve been reading books with French themes this month. It all started with in-flight reading on the 3 ½ hour flight from Brisbane to Darwin in early July. I’d downloaded the new book by Joanne Harris, Peaches for Monsieur Le Curé as it caught my eye in a bookshop. I hadn’t read Chocolat (or seen the movie) which perhaps would have added to the back story in some of the book but nonetheless I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the challenges of life as a small French village comes to term with its immigrant Muslim neighbours.
Taken with the writing style I looked in the local library for Chocolat but it was already out on loan so I settled for two other Joanne Harris books: Five Quarters of the Orange and Coastliners. After devouring these I borrowed Holy Fools which hasn’t engaged me as yet.
The three books I’ve read had some commonalities:
While some of the story lines might stretch credibility the books were very readable and I enjoyed them a lot, though I was aghast at how Framboise, an elderly widow when we first meet her in Five Quarters, determinedly abused her mother’s illness and headaches for her own interests as a young girl in the same village.
Perhaps not the most profound books I’ve read, but enjoyable reading just the same, and nicely fitting this month’s emphasis on any/all things French.
This is Week 30 in my Beyond the Internet series in which I explore the sources of information beyond our computer screens and the topic is BOOKS. Please do join in and write comments or posts on special discoveries you’ve made with books.
After talking about specialised libraries like the government or university special collections, perhaps it seems self-evident to talk about books.
Books are not only an absolute joy to me, but a total necessity to my family history. Like most of us I started out with the “How to” books about family history. The first Xmas after I started my research my gifts included Nick Vine Hall’s then-benchmark book Tracing your family history in Australia and Australian Pioneer Women by Eve Pownall. Perhaps the most crucial how-to book I acquired, in 1992, was a little volume entitled the Irish Roots Guideby Tony McCarthy, with its tip-off regarding Griffith Valuation revisions/cancellations.
As our research progresses though, we need to learn more about the community, national or international contexts within which our ancestors lived. Where better to turn than the diverse collections in libraries? The rarer books may be tucked away in the special collections and increasingly the older books may be available online through Google Booksbut there’s a wealth of resources on the shelves as well, though you may need to read them in the library rather than borrow them. If you’re as addicted as I am, your own collection may keep growing invasively until your normal reading books have to give way to provide space.
At this point of your learning you’re not really looking for your family names (though finding them is always fun!). What you’re doing is building up your understanding of what was happening when and where they lived.
Your local reference library (or even just your local borrowing library) may have some great resources for this but don’t forget that within Australia you can order a book (or indeed a microfilm) into your local library on an inter-library loan from another library or the National Library of Australia. This really is a great opportunity and well worth taking advantage of …if only we could have a coffee while we read J You can also sign up for a library card with the National Library of Australia and gain access to the electronic collections –but more on that next week.
There are a number of ways to find books that might be useful to your research:
Books really are golden treasure for our research and family stories. Have you struck gold in your reading?
My theme for the Family History through the Alphabet series is the Attributes we need as family historians: the skills, experience and talents we need to bring to our research. This week we’re nearing the half-way mark with the letter L.
L is for LEARNING, one of the most important attributes we need as family historians. At every step on our journey of discovery we need to acquire the knowledge of people, places and historic events as they relate to our families. Not to mention learning more about the changes to technology that supports our documentation of discoveries. It’s certainly a good way to keep our brains active! We also learn from all our geneamates in the blogosphere as each of us has our own writing style and expertise and our own family stories. Great fun and a great community!
L is for LISTENING: How many of us wish we’d listened more to our parents and grandparents and their stories? Most of us would have some regrets in this area. So listening is an important attribute we need to cultivate as we approach relatives for their own stories and that of their direct ancestors. As well as the oral histories, we learn from listening to informed speakers who can teach us a great deal of value about family history research.
L is for LOCAL INTEREST: Learning about the localities where our families lived is an important way to build up the background to their lives. We can do this by visiting local museums, reading local histories, or talking to the local historian or those with a long history in the area.
L is for LIVING: Some time ago, Geniaus reminded us how important it is to remember our living family members. Wise advice that it’s worth heeding lest we become so absorbed in chasing all those dead rellies and climbing brick walls that we forget to spend time with our nearest and dearest in real time. Nor should we forget to walk away from our mysteries and take our own adventures and enjoy our own lives so we can leave an inheritance of our own stories.
What have I forgotten? Are there other L attributes that we need as family historians?
“But the toll of missing is getting smaller. It is not quite the disaster which at first appeared. I would say we lost something between 4000 and 5000”. Such are the relatively dispassionate words entered in the diary of Australia’s military historian, Charles Bean, after the Battle of Fromelles on 19/20 July 1916.[i] However the personal reality for the men was quite different. Lt Col Walter Edmund Hutchinson Cass commanded the 54th Battalion during that battle and also had a role with the 53rd who’d lost their commanding officer. The 54th had come too close to being outflanked by the Germans and only a calm head and experience combined with the extreme bravery of the messengers Cass sent to HQ, got the survivors of the battalion away safely.
Only days later on 22 July 1916 Cass was admitted to the Officers’ Rest Home with shell shock and discharged 10 days later.[ii] The human devastation of the battle hit him hard and he reportedly accused his superior officer, General McCay, of slaughtering his men – an insubordination that might well have seen Cass court-martialled in another army.[iii] Fromelles was one of Australia’s most severe battles and regarded by soldiers who’d been there as worse than Gallipoli[iv]. Australia’s casualties totalled 5533.
To put Cass’s injury in perspective he had just spent over a year in the Dardenelles and was wounded twice before being evacuated. He had also served in the Boer War. This was a man who was experienced and familiar with the devastation and human costs of war. He had been mentioned in despatches by General Haig and been awarded the Cross of St Michael and St George (CMG) in January 1916. He was once again mentioned in despatches in 1917 and recommended for the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) for his role at Fromelles but he would never go back into battle. It seems to me that he must have been held in high regard to be exempt from being returned to the field on the Western Front. Charles Bean, official historian for the AIF in WWI, wrote of Cass: “the leaders of the AIF were mostly generous men, and marked for their sense of duty; but there were perhaps few in whom the recognition of duty was quite so strong, or sympathy with the rank and file so keen, as in Walter Cass”.[v] Cass relinquished command of the 54th and took over command of the 14thTraining Battalion at Larkhill. His experience in South Africa, and at Gallipoli and Fromelles would have been invaluable to those under his command.
Soon after arriving in England Cass married his long-time correspondent, a Canadian nurse and journalist, Helena Holmes. The silver tea tray given to the couple by his men, testifies to the regard in which the soldiers held their commanding officer. Extracts of his correspondence with Helena, kindly shared with us by his granddaughter, reveal a witty, clever, ambitious and romantic man. Interestingly he was very frank about the risks of war with this woman who he had been courting assiduously for a number of years: a tribute to her resilience, or perhaps even a test of her capacity to be a career officer’s wife.
Walter Cass had some amazing experiences, serving in the Army both before and after World War I. He attended the 1912 Delhi Durbarwhich was held to celebrate the coronation of King George V as Emperor of India. After returning to Australia in 1917, Cass held a number of roles which gave him remarkable social opportunities. He was State Marshal for the 1927 Melbourne visit of the Duke of York (later King George VI); was involved in the organisation of the celebrated arrival in Melbourne of Ross and Keith Smith after the great London-Australia air race 1920 and in his official capacity met many interesting people from Japanese naval officers to the Governor. The man who had survived war and battles, died at home after an operation for appendicitis on 6 November 1931, shortly before penicillin became widely available.
Our trip to Melbourne last month was primarily to visit an exhibition on Brigadier General WEH Cass and his wife Helena Holmes, and to meet some newly-found rellies. This exhibition is being held at the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne and has been extended until September. You might recall that I used “J is for Jealousy” in the Family History Alphabet series. If you are at all interested do go and visit this exhibition and you will see why I might use “jealousy”. The exhibition is primarily an amazing family collection of memorabilia which illustrates Walter Cass’s diverse career. There are invitation cards and souvenirs from the Durbar; formal gifts from Japanese naval officers who visited Australia officially pre-World War II; the cigarette case given to him by the Duke of York; some of his personal letters to Helena as well as his uniform and accoutrements. Cass was a keen and very good amateur photographer. The exhibition included his photos taken during the Boer War, Gallipoli and on the Western Front. Helena’s nurse’s uniform is featured as is her typewriter which she used to write her news stories, many published under her own by-line. It really is a fascinating display at a number of levels and while we might all wish for such a family inheritance of memorabilia, imagine the responsibility of caring for and preserving it all.
If you plan to visit I suggest you ring in advance to ensure the room in which the exhibition is held is not being used for a public meeting. We had to wait around on both occasions we visited but it didn’t matter too much as it meant we were able to have a good look at the Kokoda exhibition which also featured Milne Bay during WW II.
[i] http://www.awm.gov.au/collection/records/awm38/3drl606/awm38-3drl606-52-1.pdf Page 18. First read at the Australian War Memorial 1994.
[ii] Another page of his personnel file also indicates he was wounded.
[iii] Don’t Forget Me Cobber, the Battle of Fromelles, 19/20 July 1916. R S Corfield. Corfield and Company, Rosanna, Australia, page 146.
[iv] Quote by HR Williams of the 56th Battalion from his book, The Gallant Company 1933, referenced in Don’t Forget Me Cobber, page 127.
[v] C. E. W. Bean, The Story of Anzac (Syd, 1921, 1924), and The Australian Imperial Force in France, 1916 (Syd, 1929). Extract from Australian Dictionary of Biography
This is Week 29 in my Beyond the Internet series in which I explore the sources of information beyond our computer screens and the topic is University and Reference Library Special Collections.
While not technically archives, university libraries and other reference libraries hold a wealth of collections of primary documents which can be of great use to family historians. Many will visit their local state or national reference library or perhaps one in the location of their interest. However university libraries also hold fascinating collections beyond their usual book stacks. In some cases they will be among the oldest organisations for the region and being the venue for the hallowed halls of academia and academic research, they have accumulated all sorts of wonders. Perhaps it’s a bit intimidating to approach such august places as a lay person but in my experience you will usually be allowed to access the collections. Sometimes you surrender your driver’s licence or equivalent temporarily while there but that’s hardly a problem.
Well, to some extent that’s up to you and also to just what’s held in the collection. While the collections are increasingly catalogued online, it’s still worth checking any card indexes which may be held on site as sometimes earlier documents will not yet be listed online.
When searching you may need to be lateral in your approach. Sure, you can put a specific name into the catalogue search but it’s relatively unlikely you’ll get lucky unless your ancestor is the author or a book, document, or diary. However do try searching by ship’s name, the property where your ancestor worked, and the region or topic of interest. For example I might search by “Germans Darling Downs” or “Irish migration”.
Fryer Library of The University of Queensland was a source for the statistical accounts of Scotland in the days long before they were digitised. Other primary documents await me on my “to do” list for a future visit. Fryer also has many old Queensland newspapers on microfilm, not always the same ones available through SLQ: it’s definitely worth checking what’s available there in case they have different papers from those available at SLQ or on Trove.
The Mitchell Library at the State Library of New South Wales is also a treasure trove of documents and resources. What you find will depend on your specific interests. For example you may find a diary of your ancestor’s migration voyage.
It can be a bit daunting to think about reading a thesis written for someone’s PhD or Masters. However there’s so much information contained in a thesis where the topic is relevant to your research that it’s well worth the effort. History theses in particular are usually well written and digestible by determined family historians. But don’t assume that it will only be a history thesis that’s of interest as economics or geography theses may hold nuggets of information you will find useful.
One of the most useful theses I’ve read was that by Richard Reid on Irish immigration to Australia 1848-1870. Luckily much of this has been incorporated in his recent book Farewell my Children but if you have Irish ancestry and find yourself in Canberra it might still be worth a visit to the ANU library.
Theses will also give you clues to further research opportunities as they will have a focus on primary documents and significant academic references.
This comparatively recent collaboration between The University of Queensland and the State Library of Queensland is a wonder. It includes a diverse array of information digitised for ready access including old theses (including some I’ve wanting to read for some time), directories, gazettes, books, journals and Hansard. If you have any Qld ancestry it’s definitely a resource to keep in mind.
International university libraries or city libraries may hold similarly valuable documents. During our 2010 visit to Glasgow I visited the University of Glasgow Archives which held the records of a shipping company I was interested in. While it didn’t turn up the specific information I’d been hoping for it was definitely worth checking it off my list. Sadly there were other repositories like the Mitchell Library in Glasgow that I’d hoped to visit but time disappears when you’re travelling and frustratingly I didn’t get there on that trip –maybe “next time”.
At the University of Limerick I was able to read the MA thesis by Pat O’Brien on Crime in Broadford, County Clare in the 19th century. Thanks to the generous approval of the author I was also able to obtain a copy so I could digest the contents in a more leisurely read.
Limerick City Archives is another wonderful resource though when I visited to read the Board of Guardian minutes, on-site access was restricted. This is when online digitisation programs come to the fore. My parish of Kilseily in County Clare is part of the Limerick Union so the workhouse records are held in Limerick. These are now available online through the Limerick City Archives along with other great resources. Do you have Limerick or south-east Clare ancestry? If so definitely make a virtual visit and see what’s available.
My other top-ranking recommendation is the Clare County Library which has so many fantastic resources in the local history area but also available online. They have truly been leaders in the field of Irish research. It’s just a shame that more libraries haven’t followed their lead.
There are so many treasures just waiting to be discovered in these libraries. I hope that this topic will encourage you to broaden your research if you haven’t already visited the relevant university or local reference library. All you need is time, time and more time; persistence and more persistence.
Please do share your experiences using any of these resources, either in the comments or on your blog.
Alona Tester from Gould Genealogy has proposed a Family History through the Alphabet series over the coming 26 weeks. I decided that my theme would be the Attributes we need as family historians: the skills, experience and talents you bring to your research.
K may not bring to mind many attributes but the one it does is important!
K is for Kudos: As family historians we owe it to others to recognise their hard work, whether it’s building a tree, family photos or stories. We also owe it to those whose books etc we source for our stories. So our own research should be honest and include the references for all these works so that we acknowledge the contribution of others.
Can you think of any other K attributes?
These great additions have been provided in the comments:
Kindness (Kristin and Kate): generosity with our fellow researchers in sharing information or discoveries. The Kiva Genealogists for Families group founded by Judy Webster also reflects this kindness beyond our specific interests.
Keen as Mustard (Alex), yes we’ve all got the enthusiam.
Kinky (Fiona): my ancestors are pretty mundane so not too many kinky stories that I’ve found.
Knowledge (Mr Cassmob): the store of knowledge we acquire as we research our ancestors.
In the summer of 1887, 125 years ago, a grassroots agrarian revolution was taking place in the otherwise quiet parish of Bodyke, County Clare. Colonel O’Callaghan , one of the local landowners, had significant rental arrears on his tenancies and planned to take action against those in default, evicting them with force. There is a tendency for family historians to assume that landowners simply evicted their tenants without fear of the law, yet this was not the case. The eviction would be preceded by a legal process before sending in a force of constabulary or emergency men to enforce the eviction.
Nevertheless the rents had been steadily increasing over the preceding years, in part because of O’Callaghan’s own personal expenses. Such was the increase that the judicially imposed rate might be nearly double the Griffith Valuation of the early 1850s, yet the rack rent would be a further 50% or more higher. Despite these rents, at least some families were not farming quality land. Rather the land they rented was often poor quality mountain land with limited productivity. Often the tenants were truly poor and utterly unable to fund the exorbitant rack rents. To put these expenses in context, a housemaid on the O’Callaghan/Westropp estate in the 1830s would earn only £3 a year, nearly the same amount (£3/4/7 ½) that tenant John Garvey had to find on each gale day in March and September of the 1830s. This clearly shows how each family member would need to earn and contribute to the rental payments.[i]
John Garvey, rented poor mountain land in the townland of Ballydonaghan, valued at £7/10/- by Griffith with a judicial rent of £8 and rack rent of £12. His land was among the poorest on the estate which perhaps reflects the close correlation between the judicial rate and Griffith’s valuation. Over the years his rentals were often paid late and the payment was a mix of cash and labour, including gamekeeping or his wife’s needlework. It’s no surprise then to find that he was listed among the 57 to face eviction in June 1887.
The local Catholic parish priest, Fr Peter Murphy and his curate Fr J Hannon, were both strong supporters of the Land League and ownership of the land by the people. Throughout this struggle, they were naturally on the side of the tenants, virtually all of whom would have been their parishioners. Fr Murphy attempted to negotiate a compromise agreement with Colonel O’Callaghan which might satisfy the landowner yet be possible for the tenants to pay. The 57 tenants joined the Plan of Campaign to challenge the evictions, supported by their clergy. However the negotiations faltered and these 57 tenant farmers on the O’Callaghan estate received eviction notices.
The evictions went ahead amidst much public outcry and significant press attention. The tenants put up a feisty defence, barricading houses and passing belongings to their neighbours. Of the 57 families, 30 were evicted[ii] before the process ground to a halt. The name of John Garvey is number 32 on the list so it seems the family narrowly avoided being turned out of their home and the roof knocked in.
Are you wondering why tenant John Garvey is the person I’ve chosen to highlight? He became my 3xgreat uncle when he married Honorah O’Brien from the nearby parish of Kilseily (Broadford), itself a venue for huge Land Rights meetings in the 19th century. Honorah was sister to my Mary O’Brien and they had grown up on the hilly townland of Ballykelly not far from Broadford village.
Although the Garveys escaped eviction, the fight presumably took its toll and John died in March 1888. On some of the eviction lists his name has been replaced by that of his widow, Honorah Garvey. Life didn’t become much easier for Honorah as when their home was “visited” by the landlord’s agent on 22 April 1892, she is recorded as being in rent arrears of £60, a huge amount of money. The same page is also noted showing rent of £8 yearly, arrears £15 and £75 wiped off. The reason for the difference appears to be the reduction in rent from the rack rate of £12 to the judicial rate of £8 but this does not explain it all. The Garvey land of 260 acres and 12 perches is described as “mountain with patches of tillage”. A faint annotation on the bottom of the page says (smashed) (going away) yet we know she never left Bodyke and other records, including the 1901 and 1911 censuses, indicate she remained on the property.[iii]
The annotations also note her husband is dead and she has sons Patrick and Cornelius.[iv] The latter is interesting because at different times both sons went to America to earn a living, as did some of their siblings. Five of Honora’s children emigrated permanently to Australia showing the significance of chain migration in Irish research.
John and Hanorah Garvey are my family’s faces from the Battle of Bodyke, illustrating the precariousness of tenancy until land ownership became possible. They are honoured by their Australian family with a stained glass window in the Catholic parish church of St Peter’s Surry Hills, Sydney.
Clare Library’s Bodyke Evictions pages.
East Clare Heritage Commemoration of the 125th anniversary of the evictions 20th July 2012.
The Bodyke Evictions, J S Kelly
Further references are included in the footnotes.
[i] Manuscript MSS3250 Servants’ wages book of the O’Callaghan-Westropp family 1824-1863.
[ii] Bodkyke, Henry Norman. Held at the Clare Library, Ennis. Other reports say 28 households were evicted.
[iii] My notes include the comment on these records “fantastic information on some tenants including sons in America”.
[iv] Rent rolls of the O’Callaghan-Westropp estate County Clare, National Library of Ireland, manuscripts 866 (1853-1883) and MS 867 (1865-1882), page 103.
In essence the book aims to illustrate the life experiences of three female convicts who were sentenced to transportation to Van Dieman’s Land (Tasmania) for seven to ten years in the 1830s. Two were Scottish teenagers who’d been living on the streets for some time, Agnes McMillan and Janet Houston. The other was Ludlow Tedder, a literate housekeeper who’d been sentenced for pawning her employer’s silverware. Ludlow’s young daughter Arabella was also sent out with her.
All three were confined to the Cascades Female Factory for part of their sentence and were there for some overlapping periods.
I found the book interesting for what I learned about the horrors of Newgate Prison in London and the conditions at the Cascades. It is appalling to think how little clothing and food these women were given, the shockingly unsanitary conditions under which they lived, and the double standards of the time. The story of Elizabeth Fry’s work to improve their conditions at Newgate was also interesting. I’d liked to have had more information on life as a female convict towards the end of transportation era to see what conditions had changed: the nod to Irish convict Bridget Mulligan was to my mind cursory and subject to stereotyping.
From our family’s perspective, the references to Oatlands in central Tasmania were also informative as Mr Cassmob’s Irish convict, Denis Collins, was there for part of his sentence.
As a reader I found this book difficult and “stumbling” to read. The writing style was excessively florid with superfluous adjectives at every turn, and some phrases repeated ad infinitum, in a way which worked against the story as a whole. I didn’t need to be told more than once or twice that Agnes was a “grey-eyed girl” or that she came from Glasgow, nor did I need the words “convict maids” to be always conjoined. The hyperbole made me sceptical about the accuracy of the content and would have benefited from a severe editing. I also found it irritating to read Americanisms in a book written about Australia and the UK. It does highlight how important it is to have a local reader do at least one edit.
These convict women were strong and resilient, whatever their faults and convictions, and I’d have liked to have known even more detail about their lives after gaining their Tickets of Leave as this is when they contributed to the development of Australia. No doubt this was partly due to the lack of documentary evidence for this period of their lives, in marked contrast to the detail from their convict period.
Summary: Worth the read to learn about life as a female convict in the early-mid 19th century, and of special interest to anyone with ancestors who may have been at Newgate or the Cascades Female Factory in Hobart. A more balanced, edited writing style would have been more convincing rather than leaving me wondering about the validity of some of the statements.
You may also be interested in an article by the author in from The Huffington Post this week about Cascades and its female convicts.
[i] Swiss, Deborah J. The Tin Ticket: The Heroic Journey of Australia’s Convict Women. New York, Berkley, 2010.