Book review: ‘A Woman of Importance’ by Jean Uhl

Review by Mary Holmes, April 2017

A Woman of Importance: Emily Childers in Melbourne, 1850–1856

Author: Jean Uhl

Publisher: Jean Uhl, Blackburn, Vic. 1992.

ISBN 0 9596631 4 2. Hardback copy. 340 pages.

Purchased at the Royal Historical Society of Victoria.

Emily Childers became a woman of importance in the social life of the colony of Victoria and she knew many who impacted on Melbourne’s early history. This book gives an account of the six years Emily Childers spent as a young married woman in the rapidly growing Melbourne until she returned to England.

We read of her daily life, her motherhood joys and sorrows and also of a time when she acted as First Lady to Sir Edward Macarthur, the Acting-Governor. The reader will enjoy accompanying Emily to Hobart, Geelong, Queenscliff, Portland and The Heads and reading about the houses in which she lived in St Kilda, Jolimont, Collingwood, Hawthorn and St Heliers in Abbotsford; some of these houses are heritage-listed today. Uhl quotes extensively from Emily’s diaries and letters so we see Melbourne very much through Emily’s eyes. She provides excellent context and background information and the narrative and the diary entries flow comfortably. Uhl’s analysis and commentary enrich the original texts.

The structure of the book would be of particular interest to those who are writing a family history and are fortunate to have access to diaries, letters and journals. Uhl has organised the book into chronological chapters covering the years 1850 to 1856.

The comprehensive notes at the end of each chapter are interesting references and may give new directions to explore for a writer interested in Melbourne during this time. As well, the book has an extensive index of names and a general index. Biographical information of the people mentioned in the diaries is comprehensive and covers people well-known and not so well-known, including church leaders, squatters, medical practitioners, stockbrokers and friends of Hugh and Emily Childers. A few photos of the Childers family are also included.

Emily’s diaries provide a glimpse of life in Melbourne at this time – the everyday chores and trials as well as the sophisticated and stylish. This is a book that will appeal to researchers and historians as well as general readers.



Post expires at 4:14pm on Friday 21 July 2017

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Review of ‘Evernote for Genealogy’ guidebook

How to use Evernote for Genealogy: A step-by-step guide to organise your research and boost your genealogy productivity

Author: Kerry Scott

Publisher: Family Tree Books, Cincinnati, Ohio, 2015

Review by Penny Mercer, March 2017

This is a well-written and easy to follow book on how to use this note-taking and information-organising software. The author uses Evernote to organise and classify information found, information needed, research plans according to repository and even DNA data matching.

The twelve chapters cover a basic introduction, how to input data, how to find data, how to tag data, different types and formats of data, sharing and collaborating, syncing, backing up and troubleshooting. Throughout there are screenshots, clear explanations and family history relevant examples. The appendices include a series of suggested templates for use by family historians.

Even though I have not yet tried the software, I found this book to be easy to follow. While clearly a fan and heavy user of the software, the author explains a few limitations, and is fair in assessing the features. One criticism I have is that the author doesn’t mention how this might, or might not connect with the use of traditional family history software.

I was about to download the software when I discovered that the company has made some changes since this book was published, particularly to pricing of the premium version. So before you invest a lot of effort in one version, you need to check the relative costs and benefits of the program options for your needs.

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