One of the things I am seriously addicted to is libraries. This addiction started when I was only five years old with our regular family visit to the local library to choose our books. To me it was like entering a wonderland, all the books just waiting for me to browse and even better being able to take a new selection home every week. Where school failed to interest me, there were books to fill the gaps in my education, stories to entertain and a world of information just waiting to be explored.
If anything my addiction only increased over the years and when it came time for retirement, and a chance for a tree change, top of the list of must-haves in the location we moved to was a library. We hit the jackpot when we moved to Bowral as we have three and an interlibrary exchange program as well.
Family history research has increased my library time even though it often means “going to the library” through my computer. In this regard, the National Library of Australia would have to the best place to go. There are millions of online resources, books, images, newspapers etc., readily available at no cost. These resources have proved invaluable in shedding light on various members of my family. The digitised newspapers have led me back through time to what life was like in the 19th and 20th Century in Australia and solved many of the puzzles about my family heritage and the lives my ancestors lived.
An in-person visit is also a treat. The National Library of Australia is located alongside the scenic Lake Burley Griffin in Canberra. It is the largest reference library in Australia, concentrating on material relating to Australia and the Australian people. The first time I went there I expected to see bookshelves crammed with thousands of books, but with almost 17 million books, most of the books are not on display. A check of the index to place an order for just a few books (!) and before too long they are delivered. It is here that I found books written about my Shepherd family and the life experienced by the gold miners of the 19th century.
I would highly recommend a visit if you are in Canberra … I am sure it must be time for me to return again as well.
Week 2 and the word is “challenge”.
Researching any ancestor is challenging, and in nearly every one of their stories, there is that message of overcoming life’s challenges to succeed. I have to admit my own personal challenge when it comes to family history is much simpler, a cupboard full of photos and ephemera that need to be sorted, recorded and appropriately stored.
Instead of just thinking of them as just another job that needs to be done I need to remember how lucky I am to have these pictures and other pieces of family history that have been handed down over the years. The oldest pieces I have are a pair of Lithgow Pottery serving plates from the mid-1800s that belonged to my great grandmother. Now I think about it I can’t believe that not only have I not made a record of their history but I haven’t even photographed them!
My father and mother had many old family photos some that are deteriorating because of the glue and other storage methods that were used. I don’t even want to mention my own family photos that have just been bundled into shoe boxes without any thought. They all represent over a century of family memories, and they need to be treated with respect.
At least I can say I have started by looking up sites on how to store photos. The ones I found most useful are:
Time to face up to the challenge and get all the photos and memories safely stored and into a format that is easy to share and celebrate!
It looks as if this challenge is what I needed to start the ball rolling this year. The weekly prompts created by Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks is proving a useful trigger to getting me writing rather than just researching. As you can see from the list below I have done a post for Week 1 and I am now pondering options for Week 2, better come up with something by tonight or I will be running late…. and I have only just started!
The January Prompts
Week 1 (January 1-7): First
Week 2 (January 8-14): Challenge
Week 3 (January 15-21): Unusual Name
Week 4 (January 22-28): I’d Like to Meet
Week 5 (January 29-February 4): At the Library