A guide to the convict &
of tas., qld., s.a., vic., & w.a.
Introduction by James McClelland, O.A.M.
The purpose of my books are to show Australians what kind of historical records have survived the ravages of time; where they can be found and, if possible, the reference numbers under which they can be located.
Every State has a State Archives, or State Library, where historical records are kept. Some of these Archives have been very helpful to me.
To trace one's ancestors can be one of the most satisfying and rewarding experiences of one's life. It could involve writing dozens of letters away to various authorities for information, putting the pieces together, discarding the unwanted facts and persevering until a picture of the past emerges. Think of it as putting a crossword puzzle together.
Most districts now have Historical Societies or Genealogical Societies to which readers can belong and whenever possible, readers are strongly advised to join these, but as some people seem to want to do their own Genealogical Research in the privacy of their own home, my books are designed to assist them also.
Most Genealogical Societies put out rather inexpensive and very good booklets on how to go about tracing one's ancestors. A list of the addresses of some of these societies is available in this book.
Please remember that most Convicts, Pioneers and Immigrants to Australia are positively identified by the name of the ship that they cam on, so wherever possible you must try to establish the name of the ship and the year it arrived, and state this fact in any correspondence concerning the tracing of ancestors.
Always remember to include a stamped, self-addressed envelope when writing away for information, and if writing to a church, it is my personal opinion that it is nice to include a small donation, even if it is only one dollar. It also seems to ensure a prompt reply.
Now, every Australian has the democratic right to write to his State or National Archives for information, but, unfortunately, no Government in the world could afford the massive cost of adequately staffing our State Archives to ensure an immediate and prompt reply to the massive amount of correspondence that is received by them every day. Often there are letters that are unreadable, except to the writer of the letter, and written by people who haven't a clue what information they require.
So please try to limit inquiries to one per letter. Clearly state the information you require, all the facts that you know, and don't jump up and down if you don't get a reply for a few weeks.
Try making up your own Family Tree. Remember the old proverb that "one picture is worth a thousand words". There are many forms of family trees, but the one I like best is as per the sample in this book. Start with the name of your own children and work backwards. Don't worry about any name you don't know at the moment. You can always go back to these and fill them in later.
Now at the various State Archives, the dedicated staff will do all in their power to help, but access to actual records or information is usually limited to those who are in possession of a Reader's Ticket; unfortunately, in all societies there are people who want to steal, tear pages out and otherwise damage our priceless historical records. To protect the records, it is necessary to have some record of the people using them. To obtain a Reader's Ticket, you should write to your State Archives and ask for an application form.
Please remember that all State Archivists and State Librarians have the sole right to determine to whom, and the type of information, they will supply. Most records that are under 90 years of age are classified 'Restricted', and will not be made available. In some cases, various types of records may be restricted for periods of 50 years or more.
If writing away for information to private or professional genealogical researchers, I strongly advise readers to ask for a quote as to how much the information required is likely to cost, as sometimes overseas searches can become quite expensive.
Where Archive reference numbers are quote, please remember that these may be changed over the years but the old number should be able to lead you to the new number.
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