Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Branches everywhere

Given my migrant background, strong sense of nostalgia and lack of living relations  it was probably just a matter of time before I started drawing up the family tree!  It seems to be a middle aged woman thing any way, like wearing a lot of red and purple and going to musical theatre (I’ve got two shows this weekend). I remember once a librarian friend commenting bemusedly about how long the ‘genies’ sat poring over microfiches and Sands directories, thermos and sandwiches in  a carry bag at their side.  I  had to ask her to ‘ploise explain’. Now my own inner genie (genealogist)  is out of the bottle!

An ardent fan of ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’, it didn’t take long for me to interrogate myself similarly. I initially  had  a bit of a go at the tree  two years back when grounded with a broken ankle, but there was nothing like long service leave and a remote location to get the research juices well and truly flowing.  I now have 127 verified rellies on my tree, haven’t paid any subscriptions to the numerous genealogy sites (despite their constant invitations to ‘upgrade’), and have corrected more electronic transcripts of  birth, death and marriage notices on Trove (the National Library’s free archive) than this family has had hot dinners (or at least hot dinners cooked by me – my evenings are precious!)

True to the soap opera nature of family research, I find my focus of interest shifts from dismay and delight at my ancestors’ real estate holdings and business ventures, to ‘ah ha’ moments when the origin of my husband’s and daughter’s  musical talents is revealed, to deep sadness at the number of early, especially childhood, deaths I have discovered.

I am hampered by the common surnames of some of my relatives, you would be bowled over by the numbers of Gladys and Violet Williamses spawned in the UK in the late 19th and early 20th centuries! I am unaccountably enchanted by the sonorous names and made good–ness in the colonies of my husband’s Welsh coal mining antecedents and thrilled when I discover links between their Glebe, Newcastle and West Australian presences!

I know my obsessiveness in uncovering family connections leaves many cold but who hasn’t regretted never asking a now long gone relative to identify the people in an old photograph or to explain why there was  a bit of a cloud around a great aunt’s pregnancy and delivery of those apparently full term twins so early? Memories and family stories are so fleeting – I  am hoping to leave my kids as full a record as time and scanning technology permit.

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