J is for Journals


JMy A2Z 2016 theme is how to pursue an interest in family history/genealogy – I’d love you to join me on the journey.

J is for Journals

Journals, letters, diaries…how we wish for such genealogical gold! Sadly most of us aren’t lucky in that regard.

Having said that all is not lost. Once again, ask family members if they hold any of these treasures. Even old address books can be helpful in pinning down extended kin at a particular point in time.

Let’s make a likely assumption that our often illiterate ancestors left nothing of this nature behind. What do we do now?

J06286 Port Sydney Crossing the line

THE CROSSING-THE-LINE CEREMONY ON BOARD THE TROOPSHIP “PORT SYDNEY”, WHICH LEFT MELBOURNE ON 1917-11-09. (DONATED BY MR C.W.L. MUECKE.) This image (out of copyright) from the Australian War Memorial, gives me an insight to my grandfather’s voyage to France during World War I.

.Check your national or state library’s catalogue to see if anyone else on the voyage took photos or wrote a journal about the voyage they were on. Oftentimes you will have to visit the library to read the journals but increasingly out-of-copyright images are being digitised…but not all of them. Remember the ethics and cite your sources.

Academic journals can also have information which puts your family’s life in their historical context – look not for their personal name, but the place name or a topic eg illegitimacies in Scotland in the 19th century. These will all help to inform you about your family’s circumstances, tell you whether they were typical or atypical, and add richness to your story. The JSTOR facility, available through reference libraries, is another fantastic resource and you may be able to read the journal articles from the comfort of home if you have a membership card to the library (note, not your local library, if such a thing hasn’t been done away with, thanks to government cuts).

Thank you for visiting me on this journey. I love comments <smile>
There’s a plethora of reading choices on this year’s A to Z Challenge, so my challenge to you is to visit the sign-up page and select one (or more) blogs to read between the numbers 1100-1199.

13 thoughts on “J is for Journals

  1. My husband has an ancestor who wrote a journal on his voyage to Australia in the 1850s. It is very matter of fact with cost of food etc. I must find it and reread it. A kind relation even typed it out so it was more readable. I wish my ancestors had done likewise.

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  2. Nothing makes me more envious than reading a blog where someone has transcribed an ancestor’s journal or diary. I have a few letters which are mostly simple chit chat, nothing interesting or mind-blowing by any means. In fact, I usually wonder why these particular ones were even saved. I do like your suggestion that someone else might have kept a diary or journal that might mention our ancestors or at least shed light on the moment.

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    • I wish I had something written in my ancestors’ own words but if they exist I suspect they were burnt (aaagh!!!) long, long ago. Meanwhile I settle for second best and the stories of others.

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  3. I have started my own journal on my computer (in Word). One page per month and about 3 lines per day. Small enough to records important details and to ensure that I complete each day.
    My daughter also bought me “A Sentence a Day” book, where I record a small amount of information each day over 3 years. Hopefully someone appreciates it in future 🙂

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  4. Pingback: A to Z 2016 Summary | Family history across the seas

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