52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy and History: Week 48: Thanksgiving for family history blessings

Having been following the 52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy and History series devised by Amy Coffin’s and Geneabloggers, I was initially disappointed to read that Week 48’s topic was Thanksgiving, with the questions of: What was on your family’s Thanksgiving table? Do you serve the same dishes now as your family served in the past?

As an Australian plainly I wasn’t going to be able to respond to the question in this way and I really wanted to finish the 52 weeks now I’ve come so far. I decided to draw on the tradition of gratitude by offering my own thanks for the many people who’ve contributed directly or indirectly to my family history…a genealogical Oscars Awards speech. I’d like to thank:

A page of Kunkel and O'Brien photos from Nora's family album.

*        All my pioneer families but especially my early Queensland ancestors, for their courage, hard work, tenacity, determination, and open-mindedness in emigrating so far from home and family.

*        Anne Kunkel, grandchild of George & Mary Kunkel for sharing an oral history of these ancestors and their family, and for linking me to Mary O’Brien’s sister’s families interstate (Widdup,Garvey and Hogan).

*        My 4th cousin Nora in Sydney for sharing her stories and connections with the O’Brien families in Australia and USA not to mention a host of wonderful old photos.

*        Cameron, local historian for Murphy’s Creek, Queensland and the nearby Fifteen Mile, for sharing his knowledge.

*        The church archivists who have helped me in my pursuit of family and “my” Germans –a huge thank-you to Gabrielle!

*        All those who’ve shared their knowledge and enthusiasm for the specialty areas over the years.

GSQ publication indexes: the 1988 Bicentennial Muster roll and the Q150 updated version on CD as well as the stories of Qld Pioneers.

*        Family members, and others, who’ve shared their family’s stories and photographs and brainstormed links.

*        Betty and Carmel, the first two researchers with whom I worked on family history (it transpired we had all attended the same school, despite our geographic dispersal and different ages).

*        All those valiant people who indexed and transcribed records long before the digitisation of (some) records and whose publications are still out there waiting for new researchers to discover them.

*        Those who have written theses about my places and topics of interest.

*        Georg Veh for his local histories of Dorfprozelten, Bavaria.

*        The parish priests in Tullamore, Gorey, Broadford and Dorfprozelten, for showing me the church registers with my families’ baptisms and marriages.

*        The acting parish priest for Kilseily, Broadford, Co Clare in 1992, for dropping us at the doorstep of the unsuspecting family who inherited the O’Brien family farm.

An array of published indexes by QFHS and one by Dr Perry McIntyre.

*        Paddy who walked us over the old farm at Ballykelly townland and exclaimed in astonishment at the Australian half of the story, and Nancy who fed us and dried muddy shoes on our return.

*        My parents for clarifying more recent family and answering myriad questions.

*        The archives, libraries and universities which are digitising records eg the TextQueensland collaboration between State Library of Queensland and The University of Queensland; the wonderful George Washington Wilson photo archives at the University of Aberdeen which includes some old photos of Australia; and my old favourite the Clare County Library.

*       The innovative local councils which have made it possible to search their cemeteries’ graves databases online.

*        The family history libraries where I’ve researched.

*        Family history bloggers who’ve become part of my community.

*        Mr Cassmob who has visited countless cemeteries, listened to countless ramblings and supported my genealogical flights of fancy.

You are all STARS in my family history galaxy.

Text Queensland: a gold mine of information

Text Queensland is a new and exciting innovation which provides a “collection of full-text, searchable, digitised sources on Queensland Colonial and state history”[i]. I learnt about this a few days ago when I read an update on the John Oxley Library blog.

This is a wonderful site which will be invaluable to historians of all ilks who are interested in Queensland’s history. It has a great deal to offer family historians in terms of the background information we all need to understand the factors which affected our ancestors lives in Queensland and how certain issues affected them in the broader context. Understanding these wide influences can make us realise that what was happening to our families was not necessarily unique to them or it might show the opposite, that they were different from prevailing trends.

The site has several tabs and I was most excited to see the one labelled Theses as these are sometimes difficult to access unless one is able to visit a particular university’s library or has academic access to their resources. I simply searched for “Irish” and turned up over 20 theses which refer to this topic. Immediately I found one thesis that I’ve wanted to read for quite a while but never have the time to sit and peruse it when in Brisbane. That thesis is by M R Macginley “A study of Irish migration to, and settlement in, Queensland 1885-1912”. Another one I’ll be reading is about Robert Dunne, one of Queensland’s early bishops and previously a parish priest in the Toowoomba area where my ancestors lived. I’ve read Neil Byrne’s excellent book, Robert Dunne, Archbishop of Brisbane and found great quotes in there as well as references to his difficulties with the German Catholics on the Downs. While family historians may be intimidated by the thought of reading an academic thesis, they can take heart from the fact they are mostly clearly written with comparatively little jargon. Any phrases requiring specific expertise can be easily followed up. Given them a go, I promise they will reward the effort you put into them.

Another tab which bears close inspection is called Journals and includes the Journal of the Royal Historical Society of Queensland. Again lots of topics of relevance to my family history.

The Books tab offers an array of books of relevance to Queensland’s history and I found quite a few from my own bookshelves on there.

The Queenslander tab takes you to Trove so you can limit your search to just that newspaper. However I could not find any reference to the 1909 images of early Queensland pioneers: something that will merit further investigation.

I didn’t find the Government Gazette tab as helpful I must admit and will probably stick to the digitised indexes provided by QFHS.

When you find something you would like to read it’s easy to read it on-screen page by page. If you want to download it you can but I did find that rather time-consuming as the files are quite large. I guess it depends on how much you want to keep a copy.

So many thanks to The University of Queensland, UQ Press and State Library of Queensland for this wonderful resource. I anticipate using it a lot.


[i] The description is provided on the website.