This is the final post in the 52 weeks Beyond the Internet series. Despite the rapidity of digitisation, there is still so much lurking offline: in people’s heads, in libraries, in museums.
While it’s fantastic to be able to flash our fingers across the keyboard and find information or even digitised original documents from the other side of the world, there’s still so much discover by getting out and getting our boots dirty as the local historians say.
I want to touch very briefly on a couple of sources that haven’t yet been covered before leaving you with a summary of all the topics.
The letters and documents of the Colonial Secretary (aka COL SEC) are invaluable but also tend to feel impenetrable at first, as well as time-consuming. As you pursue each document reference through its archival hierarchy, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by your search.
However if you think you have something very specific in your family that may have merited correspondence with the government’s senior bureaucracy it’s definitely worth your while to make the effort. Some have been indexed, but many have not, and try searching by topic or place as well as name. For example, Queensland State Archives has an index drawer with references to petitions regarding places. Give them a try and see if they prove useful to your own research.
Those with Irish ancestry might find it worthwhile to pursue the documents from the Devon Commission especially if their ancestors left some decades after the Famine. If you’re lucky enough to find your ancestor’s parish documented it will tell you a great deal about where they lived and their economic and physical condition. You can see an example of its value here (Donegal) or read it online via Google Books here.
FAREWELL AND THANKS
I’m going to leave it there and thank you for following along with this series. I hope that at least some of the topics have triggered useful research strategies and may even have produced some successes!
THE TOPICS THAT WENT BEFORE
Here are the topics that have been covered. I won’t hot-link them but you can readily find them by clicking on the Beyond the Internet Category in the right hand column. There’s mostly been a method in the sequence which I envisaged at the beginning of the year, with occasional deviations. I finally made it through to the end though those last weeks were a challenge!
THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT
HEALTH AND WELFARE
LAW AND ORDER
ARCHIVES AND LIBRARIES
Week 44: Offline Newspapers (another “ring-in”)
Week 51: Oral History (family and local)
Thank you once again for supporting me along this rather long path!