This is the final post in the 52 weeks Beyond the Internet series. Despite the rapidity of digitisation, there is still so much lurking offline: in people’s heads, in libraries, in museums.
While it’s fantastic to be able to flash our fingers across the keyboard and find information or even digitised original documents from the other side of the world, there’s still so much discover by getting out and getting our boots dirty as the local historians say.
I want to touch very briefly on a couple of sources that haven’t yet been covered before leaving you with a summary of all the topics.
The letters and documents of the Colonial Secretary (aka COL SEC) are invaluable but also tend to feel impenetrable at first, as well as time-consuming. As you pursue each document reference through its archival hierarchy, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by your search.
However if you think you have something very specific in your family that may have merited correspondence with the government’s senior bureaucracy it’s definitely worth your while to make the effort. Some have been indexed, but many have not, and try searching by topic or place as well as name. For example, Queensland State Archives has an index drawer with references to petitions regarding places. Give them a try and see if they prove useful to your own research.
Those with Irish ancestry might find it worthwhile to pursue the documents from the Devon Commission especially if their ancestors left some decades after the Famine. If you’re lucky enough to find your ancestor’s parish documented it will tell you a great deal about where they lived and their economic and physical condition. You can see an example of its value here (Donegal) or read it online via Google Books here.
FAREWELL AND THANKS
I’m going to leave it there and thank you for following along with this series. I hope that at least some of the topics have triggered useful research strategies and may even have produced some successes!
THE TOPICS THAT WENT BEFORE
Here are the topics that have been covered. I won’t hot-link them but you can readily find them by clicking on the Beyond the Internet Category in the right hand column. There’s mostly been a method in the sequence which I envisaged at the beginning of the year, with occasional deviations. I finally made it through to the end though those last weeks were a challenge!
THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT
Week 1: Church Interiors
Week 2: Ancestral homes and their history
Week 3: Houses wrapped in red tape: land titles, council rates, sewerage maps, survey maps
Week 4: Donations and Subscriptions (a “ring-in” under this topic)
Week 5: Off to school
Week 6: School Administration Records
Week 7: Days of the old school yard: school histories, albums and newsletters
Week 8: Certificates
Week 9: Baptisms, Banns and Burials
Week 10: Church Records (not BDMs)
Week 11: Church Archives
Week 12: Church Histories
Week 13: Lest We Forget: War Memorials
Week 14: War diaries, shipping and photographs
Week 15: Battle, Battalion and Military Histories
Week 16: War Service Records
HEALTH AND WELFARE
Week 17: Hospital Records
Week 18: Benevolent Asylums
Week 19: The poor are always with us: bankruptcy, workhouses, Board of Guardians, Kirk Sessions.
Week 20: Orphanages
Week 21: Pensions
LAW AND ORDER
Week 22: Wills and Intestacies
Week 23: Probate and Deceased Estate
Week 24: Court Records
Week 25: Gaol records
Week 26: Police and Other Gazettes
ARCHIVES AND LIBRARIES
Week 28: Place and Petitions
Week 29: Hallowed halls and reference libraries
Week 30: Books
Week 31: Maps & Gazetteers
Week 32: Journals
Week 33: Local history adds value to family history
Week 34: Family History Society Libraries
Week 35: Published Family Histories
Week 36: Photographic Archives
Week 37: Monumental Inscriptions and gravestones
Week 38: Burial Registers
Week 39: Funeral Director’s Records
Week 40: A long voyage of Immigration
Week 41: Emigration Records
Week 42: Naturalisation Records
Week 43: Griffith’s Valuations
Week 44: Offline Newspapers (another “ring-in”)
Week 45: Tithe Records and Maps
Week 46: Valuations and Council Rates
Week 47: Police and Railway Staff Records
Week 48: Teachers
Week 49: Merchant Seamen
Week 50: Licences
Week 51: Oral History (family and local)
Week 52: Colonial Secretary, Devon Commission and Finale
Thank you once again for supporting me along this rather long path!