Get to know the new FindaGrave.com

This week we have further advice from Ted Bainbridge about finding cemetery records using FindaGrave.com. In Part 1 of this article, Ted deals with searching for a person’s grave – in Part 2, to follow, he explains how to find a cemetery. This site provides free searches but following up suggested records may require paid access to Ancestry.com. Remember access to Ancestry.com is free for GSV members at the GSV’s Research Centre. [Ed.].

***

Getting acquainted with the revised version of FindaGrave.com

Ted Bainbridge PhD

FindaGrave – https://www.findagrave.com – is a web site that collects individuals’ cemetery and other information, whether a grave marker is present or not. The site’s database includes over 165 million people’s memorials, and adds about 1 ½ million per month. It contains information from almost half a million cemeteries around the world. This free site can be searched in several ways, and its information is easy to download onto a home computer. The site is menu-driven and intuitively easy to use. Registration, which is optional and free, gives the visitor access to features that are not otherwise available. Everybody should explore the tutorials.

Think of the home page as being organized into four areas:

  • the main menu, near the top of the page and filling its entire width
  • the search panel for individuals’ graves, which dominates the background photograph
  • the link to findagrave tutorials, a blue oval button near the bottom right of the page
  • other less-frequently used items, occupying the rest of the screen below the background image

Hunting A Person

By far, the most common use of findagrave is hunting individuals. The simplest search is done as follows. Enter a first name in the box provided near the center of the background photo. (This is optional, but if you don’t do it you will get an enormous hit list for all but the most unusual surnames.) I recommend leaving the box for middle name blank, because grave markers usually don’t show middle names. Put a surname in the appropriate box. (This is required.) There is no option for “similar spelling” or “similar sound”, so do separate searches for each variant spelling of the first name and surname.) Click the search button. A hit list appears, showing records that match your request and headed with the count of how many records are on the list. Search the hit list for the person you want, then click that person’s name. You will see that person’s information page. (If a picture of the grave stone exists, look at it in detail. Sometimes this will show that the typed information on the page contains an error.) To save the information on that page, you can command a “print” from your computer’s operating system. Alternatively, you can scroll to the top of the page, click “save to”, click “copy to clipboard”, open the program you will use to save the information, paste the clipboard’s content into that program, and save within that program. To save the source citation scroll to the bottom of the person’s page, click “source citation”, copy the text of the cite, paste that text wherever you want it to be, and save that destination’s content within the appropriate program. The person’s page might include links to findagrave pages for relatives. Click those links to see their information.

Typing only the first and last name probably will produce a hit list that is too long to read. If that happens, search for that name again but narrow the search by using the pull-down menus next to the “year born” and “year died” boxes below the name boxes you used. In addition to or instead of those restrictions, you can use the location box next to those date boxes. As you type a place into that box, an auto-fill list appears. When you see the appropriate place, select it from the list. (Typing the name and clicking the “search” button instead won’t give good results.) If you use all three restrictions and the new search doesn’t find the person you want, remove one of those restrictions and search again. If that search fails, replace that restriction and remove another one. If you fail again, repeat. If all those searches fail, use only one restriction at a time and do all three restricted searches. Repeat this process until you are successful. (But remember that not everyone is in findagrave, so all your searches might fail. In that case, try again later, remembering that findagrave adds about 1 ½ million records per month.)

Next to the “search” button you can see “more search options”. Clicking that makes the following available:

“Famous” separates a famous person from others who have the same name. (Asking for Marilyn Monroe creates a hit list of 29 people. Going to the top of the list, clicking “refine search”, pulling down “more search options”, clicking “famous”, and then clicking “search” shows only the movie star we all know.

“Sponsored” shows only pages that have no advertisements because somebody paid to remove them.

“Nickname” must be checked if you ask for somebody by nickname instead of given name.

“Maiden name” must be checked if you ask for somebody by maiden name instead of married name.

“Partial last name search” lets you search by putting only the first letters of a first or last name in the appropriate boxes. (Requesting “wana” shows Wana, Wanamaker, Wanabaker, and other surnames that begin with those four letters; but it doesn’t list Wannamaker.

“No grave photo” gives only people who have no grave photo on their information page.

“Grave photo” gives only people who have a grave photo on their information page.

“Flowers” gives only people who have virtual flowers attached to their page. (Asking for Clarence Bainbridge without this option clicked gets five names, but clicking this option reduces the list to two.)

***

(next) Part 2 – Finding a cemetery.

Post expires at 12:43pm on Saturday 16 June 2018

Like this article? Please share:

Odd stories from an amateur family tree enthusiast

The following tale comes from GSV member Maurice Duke who reminds us not to throw away information that seems to be irrelevant to your research.

***

In 1983, not long after I had begun researching my family tree, I received a letter from a lady from Kurri Kurri, NSW, inquiring about a possible connection between her family and mine.

She said that her great grandfather had migrated to Australia from England in 1886, and mentioned his parents’ names.  Later, this was to prove definitive: her great grandfather in fact had the same surname as mine, but because of my ignorance at that time, I had no knowledge of the person to whom she was referring.

I therefore rang the number she had provided and informed her that I couldn’t help her. At that point, the matter ended and I didn’t think any more about her enquiry.

Early in 2017 I decided to do work on my family name with particular emphasis on my great grandfather who had come to Australia in 1856 from Ulverston, Lancashire (now Cumbria). With the aid of Bishops Transcripts and the Latter Day Saints, I was able to trace great grandfather’s antecedents to his great great grandfather who died in Dalton In Furness in 1790 after parenting seven children.

His eldest daughter turned out to be a strange lass who had two male children but no spouse; and who gave her children her surname. This of course makes me wonder what my real surname should have been. One of her sons was my great great great grandfather.

Out of curiosity, I decided to explore the descendants of her other son, my great great great granduncle. With access to Bishops’ Transcripts and LDS data, I found that the families were concentrated around Dalton in Furness, not around Ulverston on which I had previously concentrated. The two towns are in close proximity so, even with the travel limitations of the time, interchange between residents was probably not unusual. Together with the Census returns and the other sources, I was able to trace the family throughout the nineteenth century and as result, my database increased by about 250 names.

Then the miracle occurred.

Over time, I had carefully stored every piece of family history that relatives had provided me over the past 40+ years and I decided to do a massive clean-up of papers in my possession.

In the course of the clean-up, I came upon the 1983 letter – the letter I had filed and forgotten.

Names that meant nothing to me in 1983, particularly the names of the letter writer’s great grandparents, were now made familiar as a result of my recent research.

I rang the number on the original letter and the lady, now 34 years older, answered. She was amazed to hear from me but very pleased that she could make a connection with a very distant relative.

Maurie Duke

 

Post expires at 9:03am on Friday 9 March 2018

Like this article? Please share:

Explore the Victorian Births Deaths Marriages Historical Indexes

by Meg Bate

[This is an update of the article published in Ancestor 33:1 (March 2016) after the launch of the new web search service by Birth Deaths and Marriages Victoria. The author may be contacted at gsvlib2@gsv.org.au.]

 

This index covers Victorian births from 1853 to 1916, marriages from 1853 to 1942, deaths from 1853 to 1988, plus Church baptisms, marriages and burials in Victoria from 1836 to 1853. A separate index is available for Events at sea (marine) index with 6,200+ entries relating to births, marriages and deaths 1853-1920 that occurred on board international and coastal ships bound for port in Victoria

A remnant of a Victorian burial at Cemetery Reef Gull Cemetery, Chewton, Vic. (Photo: W Barlow, 2017)

A few hints on searching.

  1. When entering a family name and /or given name you can use the wildcard * to broaden your search.
    1. This can even be used to replace the first letter in a surname as *erryman to pick names Berryman or Merryman or Perryman
    2. Can be used as W* to pick up Wm or William or Will
    3. Can be used in the middle as Berr*man to pick up Berriman or Berryman
  2. In ‘Events’ select the event you require. It is possible to have two or all three boxes ticked.
  3. It is not necessary to fill in all the search boxes. If you are having trouble trying to locate the birth or death of a person you can just search using parents given names, leaving family name blank.
  4. Often given names and places are abbreviated, so if you search for a ‘William’ with no success then try ‘Wm’ as it may be abbreviated. Of course place names can have the strangest abbreviations so be careful here. Of course don’t forger to use the wildcard *
  5. Don’t use the browser back button; click on ‘Refine search’ for your next search or “Back” button.

For additional help the guide to use this index is available at https://assets.justice.vic.gov.au/bdm/transactions/family+history+help+guide
This covers getting started, search tips, how to download images and troubleshooting tips.

What else.

  1. Interestingly I have found birth entries for the years 1917 to 1945. It’s not complete for these years, as in 1921 there were 240 entries, 1922 – 188 entries, 1925 – 158 entries, 1930 – 167 entries, 1943 – 16 entries. I randomly checked a couple of these names for deaths and most of these people were there as well. For example, Birth Entry: Eric John BARTLETT, born 1924, no. 23970, father William, mother Rebecca Harper.
    Death Entry: Eric John BARTLETT death 1967 no. 306, father William Edwin, mother Rebecca (Harper). Age 77 yrs. 
  2. The death index entry can sometimes provide more information compared with the Digger index.                                                                                                    – For deaths between 1943 – 1964 plus a few in later years, the place of birth and place of death are mentioned and they are not abbreviated, so this is extra information. An entry from the new website for death registration number: 1964/1548; Family name: HALL ; Given names: Ellen Maude ; Sex: Female; Father’s name: BENNETT Samuel; Mother’s name: Hannah (Spittlehouse); Place of birth: Ballarat; Place of death: Parkville ; Age: 91.                                                        Compared with the entry from the Digger index 1921 – 1985. Hall, Ellen Maude; Father: Bennett Samuel; Mother: Hannah Spittlehouse. Death place: PARK; Age: 91; Yr: 1964; Reg no. 1548.                                                                – A spouse’s name appears in many death records, mostly between 1853 and 1888. 
  3. Sorting results by the headers only works for the current page. 
  4. To see more detail click on the subject’s entry. 
  5. The Events at sea (Marine) index includes the name of the ship and in some cases the exact death date.  For example: Edward BAGSHAW Ship name: Golden Era. Place of birth: UNKNOWN. Place of death: At Sea On Board  “Golden Era”, Age: 22. Date of death: 03/05/1854. Marine births, deaths and marriages Victoria 1853-1920 (CD). 
  6. The online death index has dropped off the additional age information such as “M” Months, “D” Days information from records for example:
    The Digger index records the death as follows:
    TEMPLETON, Louisa. Father: Richard. Mother: Mary Ann KENNAN. Age at Death: 14M (Months). Place of birth: MELBOURNE. Reference: 1853 no. 1758,
    while the online index has: 
    TEMPLETON, Louisa.  Father’s name: Richard. Mother’s name: Mary Ann (Kennan). Place of birth: MELBOURNE Age 14. 
  7. In the Digger index the many marriages in the Pioneer, Federation and Edwardian indexes can include the birthplace information. E.g.
    Marriage: 1891 no. 2482. Hardie, Arch (birth place: HTon) M McKeand Sarah (birth place: Heywood). Compared with online index which has Marriage Event registration number: Family name: HARDIE, Given names: Arch Spouse’s family name: MCKEAND, Spouse’s given names: Sarah.

I am finding new things all the time about this index and I believe that we can expect some further upgrades to this system in the future. Be aware that the GSV has the CDs of the Early church records and Marine births, deaths and marriages Victoria 1853-1920 and these discs include digital copies of the original certificates. So take advantage of your membership and either come into the GSV or email for a quick lookup.

***

This article was first published in Ancestor Journal.

Bate, Meg. ‘Exploring the new births deaths marriages Victoria historical indexes’. Ancestor 33(1) 2016, pp. 20-21

 

Post expires at 8:57pm on Sunday 25 March 2018

Like this article? Please share:

Changes to ‘Find-A-Grave’ website

 

This week Ted Bainbridge provides a helpful outline of the changes coming to the Find-A-Grave website, one of the family of Ancestry resources. You can preview the proposed new site, while access to the old is presently being maintained.

Find-a Grave will change

Findagrave.com has announced that the web site soon will change. Some changes are cosmetic, while others are functional. A map feature has been added.

The home page, formerly just a list of over thirty choices, will become a photograph with a few menu selections across the top. That page will be dominated by the search panel, which will function largely as it has in the past and with the same options for every search box except those related to location.

The current search panel specifies location via pull-down lists for country, state, and county. The new search panel offers a single box for location, in which you are supposed to type the name of a place. As you begin to type a city, county, state, or country that box auto-fills with suggested place names which you can select with a mouse click. Use the American English equivalent of a country name; Germany works but Deutschland doesn’t.

The new home page’s menu bar goes across the top of the screen. Clicking CEMETERIES takes you to a page that lets you hunt cemeteries in either of two ways. Near the top left of the page is a search box where you can type a cemetery name. This auto-fill box works as above. When you select a name, you see a hit list of cemeteries with that name. Each entry on the hit list displays some facts about that cemetery, and a link to its information page. That page contains a search box that you can use to hunt for a person’s name.

Instead of using that cemetery-name search box, you can use the cemetery-place search box to its right. Clicking a place name produces a map of cemeteries near that place. You can zoom the map in or out, and can pan it in any direction. (If the map doesn’t display any marker pins, zoom in.) After a name is in that search box, clicking Search leads to a hit list of cemeteries near that place. Use this hit list the same way you use the other cemetery search box.

To see and experiment with all the planned changes, go to https://findagrave.com/and then click preview now near the top center of the screen.

Ted Bainbridge, PhD

***

 

 

Post expires at 9:05am on Sunday 18 February 2018

Like this article? Please share:

What did they do? Our ancestors’ occupations

By Clive Luckman

It is fun, and very satisfying to compile your family tree, showing names, dates and relationships. I think it is more fun to put some flesh on those bones.

One of the interesting things that can be done is to discover your ancestors’ occupations. In the pre-industrial revolution times (say before the very early 1800s) the vast majority of the population lived in the country. That changed during the century and today something like 5% of the population lives in the country, at least in Australia, Europe and north America. Those very significant demographic changes together with the industrial revolution meant lots of the occupations, some very specialised, died out.

One of the by products of the industrial revolution was a rebellion of sorts. The “Machine Breakers” (as the name implies) damaged new machinery by way of a protest and in fear of losing their income. Some of the Machine Breakers were convicted and transported to Australia.

So occupations such as button makers became extinct as machines began to make buttons. One occupation that persists today, though in relatively tiny numbers, is the shoe maker. The general name for a shoemaker, even up to the early 1900s in Melbourne, was a Cordwainer (the word probably derived from a leather worker in Cordova, Spain). An important occupation. The function of making (rather than repairing) shoes had occupational sub-divisions: a Clicker cut the leather taking care to have minimum waste and selecting the best parts for the stretch and so on; a bracer attached the upper to the sole using waxed thread.

As an aside, until roughly the 1850s the same last was used for left and right hand shoes – in other words the shape of the left and right hand shoes was the same. A horrifying thing today.

One of the sources of occupations in England and the US is the census. In both cases the occupation is recorded. The relatively recent English 1921 census include these occupations: Baubler, Lurer, Bear Breaker and Maiden Maker – I hesitate to search for the definitions of these.

Australian sources include birth, death and marriage certificates which include the occupations. But these details began on 1 July 1853 and before that we rely on Church records of Baptisms, Marriages and Funerals which lack a note of the occupations.

As with any research one needs to be critical of the evidence. One of my wife’s US ancestors was described as being engaged in “Mercantile and railroading” in a book written about the family in 1903. Sounds rather grand to me. In another document he claimed to have been be an engineer with the Brunswick and Albany Railroad. But the most credible evidence is that he was a ticket collector on the trains of that Railroad.

***

This article (June 2007) by Clive Luckman of GSV was previously published in Fifty-Plus News .

At the Genealogical Society of Victoria we have expert volunteers to help members find where details of occupations can be found, and help solve the many problems encountered by family historians. See www.gsv.org.au for more information, or email gsv@gsv.org.au, or phone (03) 9662 4455 for information about the Society.

Post expires at 9:11am on Thursday 4 January 2018

Like this article? Please share:

What to do with things

A new exhibition opens at Museum Victoria’s Immigration Museum on 25 November – British Migrants: Instant Australians? Leading up to this, as part of the Seniors Festival this month, the GSV in conjunction with the Museum is presenting Ten Pound Poms on Friday 20 Oct. You can find more about that event here: Ten Pound Poms

The Museum’s exhibition will draw on stories and material that have been donated by a number of British immigrant families. The background to the  collection of material by one of these British immigrant families was told in Ancestor journal 31:6 June 2013 and an abridged version is re-published below. 

***

What to do with things

By Bill Barlow

I have never said ‘no’ to the paperwork, photos and bric-a-brac left homeless upon the death of family members. Objects recently inherited include carved figurines, non-working watches, badges, uniforms, lace, grandfather’s chisels, travel chests, and a six-foot, handmade, reflecting telescope! What should I do with this accumulating stuff?

Documents and photos can be reasonably managed. But objects, especially large ones, present more difficulty. Do they go ‘straight to the poolroom’, the op shop, the museum or the bin? What can they tell us and how do we record this? Often there is an undue haste to throw out objects after a family death. This urge should be resisted. Our inherited objects can give us insights into our ancestors as well as much pleasure.

Family objects should be catalogued. Documenting an object gives it meaning and may elicit oral history. The Small Museums Cataloguing Manual (Museums Australia Victoria 2009) is a useful guide. They should be listed, described and labelled much as would be done in a small museum. Their provenance and significance needs to be recorded. This should be done before any decision is made about their disposal. The register of family objects can be a simple spreadsheet (MS Excel) with columns for:

  • Item control number – a unique, sortable number.
  • Title: an identifying phrase. You can use the Australian Pictorial Thesaurus (www.picturethesaurus.gov.au).
  • Description: a physical description, shape, dimensions, materials, colours, inscriptions, damage.
  • Date: the (possible) creation date.
  • Provenance: previous owners and dates.
  • Date of accessioning: the date of recording.
  • Comments: related items, photographs, disposal history.

Having recorded your family objects, are you going to keep them? If so, where, and for how long? Are they valuable? Are they fragile and need protection or are they dangerous (a gun)? Would your children want them? Are the objects beautiful, useful or interesting? Should you sell them? Are they of wider community significance? Would family members be upset if you disposed of them? Have you got the space? Or the time! This calls for consideration of your collecting policy. Other than useful or beautiful items, my objective is to only keep items to record their family-related history, and then to arrange for their disposal, or donation to other suitable archives.


Items being sorted as part of Ward-Barlow collection as they became known. (Photo. W. Barlow)

With the death of my mother-in-law we inherited battered tin trunks, books on nursing, travel diaries, letters, luggage labels, ship menus, and other things from her family’s emigration to Australia under the Bring out a Briton scheme. This material seemed likely to be of interest for Museum Victoria’s immigration collection. Having catalogued and photographed the items, I wrote offering them to the Museum. The Museum was interested and upon delivery I was amused to see them instantly become items of cultural value, lifted carefully with gloves, wrapped in plastic, and put in a freezer to kill bugs. Later I became a volunteer at the Museum helping to catalogue ‘this important collection of 1960s material relating to the Bring Out a Briton campaign’


Delivery of items to the Museum. Marita Dyson, Asst. Collections Manager, Dr Moya McFadzean, Senior Curator Migration, MV and the donor, Jen Barlow (Ward), February 2012 (Photo: W. Barlow)

You might not realise the cultural value of those things your family has kept, so as well as collecting stories about your family you should give attention to the things they have treasured and passed down.

***

This abridged article was previously published in Fifty-Plus News, September 2013.

Post expires at 1:32pm on Friday 8 December 2017

Like this article? Please share:

How to access the Digital Records replacing Microfilm at ‘FamilySearch’

We posted notice on this blog on 30 June about the coming change from microfilm to digital records at FamilySearch. This has now happened. In this post John Blackwood from the GSV explains what this means and how to access the digital data.

***

FamilySearch, sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), is a source of genealogical information, being familiar to most of us long before the rise of the many commercial web sites.

With its commitment to make billions of the world’s historic records readily accessible digitally online, FamilySearch has discontinued its microfilm circulation service and replaced it with digital online access.

Some relevant points are as follows:

  • All of the long-term microfilms rented in the past 5 years have now been digitized
  • All of the long-term rented microfilms at the GSV will remain at the GSV, at least for the immediate future
  • The remaining microfilms at FamilySearch are being digitized at a rate of 1,000 films per day, and are projected to be complete by 2020
  • If researchers need access to a particular film yet to be digitized, they can express an interest to have it added to the priority digitization list by contacting FamilySearchSupport at https://integration.familysearch.org/ask/help
  • Affiliate libraries (including the GSV) now have access to nearly all of the restricted image collections

The digital image collections can be accessed in 3 places on www.familysearch.org all under “Search”

  • Catalog. Includes a description of all of the microfilms and digital images in the FamilySearch collection. This is where all of FamilySearch’s digitized microfilm and new digital images from its global camera operations are being published. A camera icon appears in the Catalog adjacent to a microfilm listing when it is available digitally
  • Records. Includes collections that have been indexed by name or published with additional waypoints to help browse the unindexed images
  • Books. Includes digital copies of books from the Family History Library and other libraries, including many books that were previously copied to microfilm

Before searching the digital image collection from home, it is strongly advised that you register with FamilySearch to establish a username and password. Simply click on “Free Account” at the top of the page at www.familysearch.org and follow the prompts.

This enables you to view some additional records and access “My Source Box” to sort and mark records for later use.

The following is an example from the parish of Findon, Sussex.

From the FamilySearch main page, first of all, sign in with your username and password.

Click on “Search”, then on “Catalog”. In the “Place” box, enter “Findon Sussex’ and click on “Search’. From the search results, click on “Church Records (6)”. Click on the title “Parish registers for Findon, 1557-1901”.

The magnifying class icon allows you to search the indexes. However, the camera icon may bring up three options for you to look at the images, viz

  • Sign in as an individual with your user name and password (if you have not already done so). If you are already signed in, the images come up immediately
  • Access the site at a family history centre
  • Access the site at a FamilySearch affiliate library (such as the GSV)

If an image appears, just as with a microfilm, you will need to scroll through the images to get to where you think you might want to be.

However, sadly for Scottish researchers, it would appear that digitized Scottish films can only be viewed at either a family history centre or an affiliate library.

*With acknowledgment to the FamilySearch News email dated 31 August 2017.

John Blackwood

***

Example from FamilySearch catalog:

 

Post expires at 8:35am on Saturday 23 December 2017

Like this article? Please share:

Over 170 family-history talks available from GSV

Have you listened to any of the GSV webcasts?

Membership of the GSV brings with it several benefits, many of which can be accessed in the comfort of your own home. The GSV webcasts, for example, can be downloaded and listened to at your convenience. In addition, many of these are accompanied by a downloadable PDF document outlining the content of the webcast.

At present there are over 170 webcasts available, covering topics ranging from the subject-specific (e.g. The history of Maldon and its gold discoveries; Women at work in Victoria: in public service and during war times) to research advice, covering Australia, New Zealand, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Poland, India, Sweden, France, South Africa, China, the Netherlands and more; to general genealogical advice (Methodology, research techniques and citations; Preservation of books, photographs and paper based items).

Have a look at the range of talks available in the GSV CATALOGUE : search by putting “webcast” (without quote marks) in the Call No box.

Listen to a sample webcast: Research in Tasmania, presented by Meg Bate from the Catalogue – CLICK HERE

Apart from these webcast talks, there’s lots more help for you at home as a GSV Member, on your family history journey.

 

Post expires at 12:52pm on Saturday 2 December 2017

Like this article? Please share:

Tales of research from beyond the web

Kath McKay

Much as I love my computer and the internet, some of my most precious family history knowledge has come from being able to seek out original documents.

In spite of searching for decades, previous family historians had not been able to find the marriage certificate of our great grandparents: an Irish coach maker and a young maidservant from Wiltshire. We knew they had about ten children in the 1860s and 1870s in Ballarat, but didn’t have a clear record of the children’s names, births or even number. Online indexes didn’t help a lot.

Then I had a little brain-wave. I knew that branch of the family were all Catholic so I contacted St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Ballarat to enquire about records. They eventually replied saying they had all their original records but none were digitised or indexed. However, I was most welcome to come and look for myself.

So one freezing July day I took the train from Melbourne to Ballarat. In the cheery Parish office, warmed by a fire in the hearth, I pored over the huge leather bound tomes brought out of the archives by the Parish Secretary. These are daunting books indeed, nearly a metre by half a metre and several inches thick. They record the births, marriages and deaths of the parishioners, documented in careful copperplate with pen and ink on parchment. I had a fair knowledge that the first child was born about 1860 and the last, my long-dead grandmother, in 1877. So I started with 1860 but it revealed nothing, nor 1861, 1862 and on through the whole decade. The Secretary cheerily brought volume after volume and the piles grew around me. She also kindly made me several cups of tea.

By the time I got to the 1870s with nothing, I was beginning to doubt all I had believed about this branch of our extended family.

Then I found them! In the late summer of 1875, two little girls were baptised, one aged two, the other six. At last! I had found something! Then I turned the page and found the death record for the little six-year-old who had just been baptised days before. Most of the rest of the page and many after that, were taken up with deaths of little children – all from measles in an epidemic that must have swept Ballarat in those early days before immunisation.

Another few turns of the giant pages and there were the rest of them! Five children baptised together, boys and girls aged from 1 to 14 in one job lot! Another page turn and there was the death of the first baptised little girl, the two-year-old. This was followed quite quickly by the baptism of a new baby. Our poor great-grandmother was pregnant when she was nursing, then burying, two of her little daughters. Sad times indeed.

But I still had not found the object of my original search, the marriage of my great-grandparents. More volumes, more page turning. And, finally, in January 1877, after they have had ten children and lost three, this pioneer couple marry. We had been looking in the wrong decade!

A few months later, in April 1877, their new, and last, baby was baptised: a daughter, my grandmother.

Just another family story that was not handed down.

***

At the Genealogical Society of Victoria we help members plan their family history search. This post’s author Kath McKay is a member of the GSV Writer’s Discussion Circle. See www.gsv.org.au for more information, or email gsv@gsv.org.au or phone (03) 9662 4455 for information about the Society.

 

 

Post expires at 6:04pm on Wednesday 11 October 2017

Like this article? Please share:

GSV publishes database of 87,000 historical hospital patient records from 1855

Since 2000 a team of GSV volunteers has been compiling a searchable database of the names and details of patients who were in the Melbourne Hospital (now The Royal Melbourne Hospital) from 1855 to 1909.

These patient ‘case histories’ were recorded in Ward Books, which have been held in the archives of the hospital. There are estimated to be over 2,000 Ward Books held in the archives but, sadly, many more have disappeared.

The Ward Books are leather-bound books measuring 32 cm by 15 cm, with the name of the doctor for that ward, the ward number and the gender of the patients embossed in gold on the cover. Each book contains about 100 numbered pages, interleaved with pages of pink blotting paper. By arrangement with the Royal Melbourne hospital, the GSV team has so far indexed 824 Ward Books from the period 1855–1909 and extracted the faded, water-stained and often badly written details of 87,298 patients. These books have then been transferred to Public Record Office Victoria (PROV). Not all the books from this period have been indexed yet, but the GSV intends to continue indexing the remainder of those 2,000 books.

The results of this work have now been published by the GSV in a database searchable by name, as Patients in Melbourne Hospital 18551909 (GSV, 2016). This edition includes books indexed in the earlier edition.

Every indexed name is hyperlinked to a set of details extracted from that patient’s medical record in the Ward Book. These details contain the patient’s name, age, and admission date together with some or all of the following: the patient’s biography; birth place; the ship on which the person travelled to Australia and its arrival date; whether married, widowed or single; occupation; religion; residence and the result of treatment. The patient’s disease or complaint has been omitted by agreement with The Royal Melbourne Hospital but this can be ascertained by personally viewing the Ward Book at PROV, or by using a Search Agent—See PROV Guide 15 at https://www.prov.vic.gov.au/private-search-agents. Each set of details includes the full reference to the relevant Ward Book’s location at PROV.

The patient discharge date is given with often interesting descriptors, which, apart from ‘Cured’ or sadly, ‘Died’, may include ‘Went out on a Pass and did not return’ or ‘Absconded’ or ‘Bolted’. Some returned late from a Pass but were ‘Refused Admission” and left to their own devices – judged too well to get back in!

This extensive searchable database is now available, only from GSV, on a memory stick that can be ordered online on the GSV bookshop website http://www.familyhistorybookshop.org.au/ or by going to the GSV at 6/85 Queen Street, Melbourne.

 

Post expires at 11:24am on Thursday 16 November 2017

Like this article? Please share: