Sunday, July 29, 2012

Australian Women’s Archive Project

Women assaulting Strike Breakers in Broken Hill

One of the things that I enjoy most when researching my family tree, is that nearly every day I discover a new resource, blog or web page that leads me to discover whole new dimension in understanding our past and identity.    I have recently started another blog, "The Other Half of My Family Tree: stories of my female ancestors" in which I plan to write stories about the women in my family tree. 
Dust Storms in Broken Hill

As most genealogical researchers  know, due to a number of factors, it is harder to find information on our grandmothers and great aunts than it is to research our male ancestors.  Yesterday, I was searching the Internet for a story on my maternal grandmother Edna Palin, (1910-1957) when I came across a new web site. 

 I was looking up “women’s history, Broken Hill” and  came across the Web Page Unbroken Spirit, Women in Broken Hill.  Imagine my delight! This site is dedicated to telling the story of the women from the mining city of Broken Hill, the city that I, my mother, my grandmother were born in.  The women of Broken Hill lived in one of the harshest environments imaginable.  They lived through dust storms, droughts, extreme temperatures and a volatile political environment that saw years of strikes and picket lines. Yet they managed to raise their families, support their husbands, establish health care, schools, and even theatre groups.    

Women's Memorial - Broken Hill

Along with a large collection of images from these times, the site provides a list of Women in Broken Hill.  This list includes the story and details of Dr Franziska Schlink (1910-1965 who not only was  my mother and grandmother’s doctor, but was the doctor present at my birth at the Broken Hill Base Hospital.  Dr Schlink’s story is fascinating, and I must write a story on her at a later stage.

As I found my way around the Unbroken Spirit, Women in Broken Hill web page I discovered that it was linked to the Australian Women’s Archive Project.  How had I not come across this before??

 For anyone who is looking to research and gain a better understanding of the legacy and history of Australian Women this is a wonderful resource.  The purpose of this Project is to preserve The History of Australian Women as outlined by the site.

Records about women provide the basis of all the work of the Australian Women's Archive Project. To ensure records are available in the future, AWAP promotes the keeping and care of personal records and encourages individuals and organisations to deposit records appropriately in available archives and libraries.”

I hope my new discovery is of help to other family tree researchers and perhaps you will consider contributing to the evergrowing resources of the Australian Women's Archive Project.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

TROVE continued - Updated List of Digitalised Australian Newspapers

Today, I would just like to make a short entry with some more information on the wonderful work that National Library of Australia has done with the their project to Digitalise Historical Australian Newspapers. As I have described in previous blogs, I find the TROVE web site an invaluable resource.

I was excited to read on the Genealogy and Historical News website that there was now a new updated list of all the newspapers that have been digitalised through the generosity and funding of a number of organisations.  If you are interested in seeing this updated list it is available on the Genealogy and Historical news at this link,

In my previous blogs on Angus Shepherd and the benefits of TROVE I remark on how this resource has helped me so much with researching my family tree.  It is also interesting to read some of the comments that readers have added to the bottom of the article which include

"I have found this the most valuable tool for me research and know all the obits, family notice etc. just add a whole dimension to my research…"


"For genealogists, it adds another medium from which we can piece together our family trees. So often more is gained from a newspaper account of BDM & funeral notices have led us to many a resting place of a long lost relative. Papers of long ago where full of personal information especially country happenings which has put a personal touch to my family tree. Thanks so much to all the great work."

Thank you to the Genealogy and Historical News for sharing this updated list with us.  Spread the word to all family tree researchers.  TROVE is a most valuable research tool.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Angus Shepherd - A Story from TROVE

Horse teams carting goods from  Nellingen to Braidwood, crossing Currajong Creek
 In my last blog I wrote about how I have found TROVE to be one of the most valuable research tools for Australian Family Tree Researchers. Today, I would like to share with you one of my most recent finds.  Angus John Shepherd  (1889-1971) was my Grandfather, Malcolm Michael Shepherd's (1892-1932)  brother.  Their family came from the Araluen, Braidwood district and had been carriers between this district and Nelligen for a couple of generations.

 This area has a long and colourful history, of life on the gold mines, bushrangers and rural settlement.  I was searching TROVE, using the names of towns to try and find more about the times and social conditions that my ancestors lived in when I came across this article.  You can only imagine my excitemen. I was actually reading an article written about my great uncle which so vividly describes he and his partner being caught in a very serious flood and being lucky to escape with their lives. The loss of his team and merchandise most probably had considerable effect on the lively hood of his family.



Reports from the district lying  between the top of Clyde Mountain and Nelligen show that much damaged was done by the rain. Roads have been washed out feet deep in a number pf places, while the bridges over Ryan's Creek, two culverts and a footbridge have been practically washed away. Fencing hasgone in all directions. In addition to which a number ot stock perished in tho flood. The rainfall was easily the heaviest in the memory of the oldest inhabitant. lt was estimated up to Friday that over 2C inches had fallen. There has been further rain since. 

Two carriers, John Rogers and Angus Shepherd, plying between Nelligen and Braidwood,had an exciting experience. They camped on their usual camping ground close to Ryan's Creek, with their teams. They occupied an old hut, and were awakened in the middle of the night by feeling water entering the bunks. The creek had completely overflowed its banks. The water was several feet deep in the house, and the men escaped through the window. The teams were also surrounded by water. To remove the horses was out of the question, and the men had to run for their lives. Three of Roger's horses were carried away by the flood waters and drowned; also one of Shepherd's. All the loading on the waggons was washed off, although it included some heavy articles of merchandise. It is estimated that over £300 worth of goods was on the waggons, including a lot of rum and other spirits for local publicans. The full extent of the loss is not yet known. The place is entirely cut off from communication.

J. E. Anderson and family had a narrow escape. Anderson has a sawmill at Currowan. The flood water rose with such rapidity that in a short space of time there was over two feet of water in their house, running strongly. Meanwhile the rain was pouring down in torrents. Anderson took his wife on his back and waded waist high to the side of the hill. A man named Backhouse, who happened to be in the house, carried Anderson's little daughter to some high ground. Where they had to remain until daylight.

In the Braidwood district comparatively little damage was done, beyond the destruction of fencing and roads. The latter were cut up in a frightful manner; also many culverts damaged. The shire council has decided to approach tho Government for a Special grant to assist in repairing the damage, the work being altogether beyond its financial capacity.

The flood at Araluen was the highest on record. 130 more points fell on Friday night, and close on an inch on Saturday morning. 

1914 'FLOODS.', The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), 30 March, p. 10, viewed 17 June, 2012, 

Angus not only survived this incident, two years later he enlisted into the 33 Battalion (Service No. 2898) which fought in Belgium in WWI.  On his return he married and lived and worked in the Nelligen - Bateman Bay district for the rest of his life.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


In my last blog I spoke about the joys of assisting a friend into making the first steps towards researching her family history and how we used TROVE to search for some more details on her great great grandfather. Over the past few years I think I would have to rate TROVE as one of my most valuable research tools.

The National Library of Australia has developed TROVE as a free search engine that gives us access to a variety of collections in Australia and some overseas collections that relate to Australia.  These collections include Australian Newspapers, photos, articles, maps and books. No matter what your are researching, whether it be your family history, social conditions of a certain era, history of occupations, CWA recipies or sporting history as a few examples,  with just one click on you are able to find the most amazing collection of related material. The huge bonus to all researchers is that this information is free and accessible to all.

You can easily register as a user by going to this site  As you delve into the records you are able to tag articles of interest under you membership for later reference. Much of the TROVE content is digital and comes from libraries, cultural and educational institutions all around Australia.
When a researcher searches the site they are taken straight to the source, giving them immediate access to the information they are looking for.
As I look on family tree research as not only the collecting of the dates of birth deaths and marriages but also the collecting of family stories I find Trove to be one of the most valuable tools in my family research. There have been many occasions when I have used it to check a story that has been passed down in the family.  Often the discovery of a birth or death notice will provide that long searched for link to other members of the family or a place of birth.  However, what I find most exciting is that you are able to access stories about the towns and the times that your ancestors lived in, and some of the historical events that they lived through. 

Try your luck with TROVE.  The possibilities are endless.  Some of the areas I would suggest looking in are advertisements for sales of properties, family events, probate notices, court cases, obituaries, WWI and WWII notices or the names of towns that your families lived in. Small snippets from these types of searches have provided me with a rich source of information on where my ancestors came from, their occupations, life styles and important events in their lives.

TROVE also provides family tree researchers with the opportunity to share their discoveries and look for other researchers with similar interests on their forum.  If you are interested in using this resource it is very easy to register at this site

I hope you find this resource as rich and rewarding as I have and please share your TROVING stories.

Happy Troving

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Excitment of Starting a New Family Tree

Jospeh Kaye,
Last night it was my pleasure to introduce one of my friends to the delights of family research!!! 

She has been interested in her family background for a long time, but her busy life style had meant putting it on hold.  Having recently been to a short introductory course on starting a family tree she was keen to put what she had learnt into practice.  Knowing that I had been a family tree tragic for many years she sought my advice on some basic hints to get her on track.  

Where does one start??  I felt it was important to just provide enough information to get started, so that she could have the experience of putting all the pieces together herself.  Over a glass of red wine, we settled into starting the initial stages of her family story.   Firstly, using the birth dates of her parents and grandparents, I showed her how to set up an online tree in Ancestry.

Then, as most of her immediate family were born in New South Wales (Australia), we looked at how to look up the births, deaths and marriages of her family  on in the NSW Historical Indexes for Births Deaths and Marriages. Using the indexes we discovered details of quite a few of her fathers family, including great aunts, great and great, great grandfathers and grandmothers, some of whom she could remember.  I could see the excitement glinting in her eyes as we started to unravel her family story.  Oh yes,  another family tree digger is hooked!!!!

Then, my friend jumped up and said  "I have so show you something!!"  After a quick rustle in her cupboard she carefully brought out a beautiful old family bible that had belonged to her great great grandfather, Joseph Kaye who had settled in the Queanbeyan district in  the late 1830's.  The inside covers were filled with faded ink inscriptions of family birth, death and marriage details.  This was a treasure that all family historians dream of discovering! 

 As we poured over the inscriptions inside the diary, I decided that we had enough information to check out one of my favorite family research sites.  TROVE!    Trove is a free online resource provided by the National Library of Australia, which provides anyone with access to digital copies of newspapers, images, maps, books and many more items.  After showing her how to set up her own account, we typed into the search box "Joseph Kaye" Queanbeyan and then selected the "sort by earliest" button.  We were immediately rewarded with a number of articles about her great great grandfather.  One article from 1844, not only gave details of his marriage, but also details of where his wife's family came from and the name of his company and business partner.

At Queanbeyan, on Tuesday, the 5th November, by the Rev. E. Smith, by special  license, Joseph Kaye, Esq., of the firm of Hunt  and Kaye, to Eliza, fifth daughter of the late  Mr. John Hunt, of Fishlake, near Doncaster, England.  
Hours had ticked by and our bottle of wine was all but gone, and it was time to pack up for the night. However we both agreed it had been a very productive evening. As I wandered off to bed I grinned to myself,  "Another one has been hooked".