E is for Education, Ethics & Electoral Rolls


Yes, we can and should see what we can learn about our ancestors’ education, using school records, old school annuals, school administrative books and enrolment registers. Once again you can learn unexpected these about ancestral families such as their participation in school committees, their involvement in establishing a school or how the women helped cater to school functions.

We can also trace our families’ education standards over time and compare them to their peers. For example we can look at census statistical data, published by the relevant country, and see if our ancestors were educated to a typical standard, or perhaps had educational advantages. How long did it take for your family members to be able to access higher education? What was the typical age when they left school to take up employment?

You can read some of my Education notes from Beyond the Internet here, here and here.

apple for the teacherLife-long education

From my point of view this is one of the wonders of family history. As we discover we need to know more about life in Germany in the 19th century, flax weavers in Scotland, the Famine in Ireland, or the American Civil War, we are tempted along further paths to learning more and more about the specific areas of relevance to our families. Family history challenges our own learning in all sorts of ways and takes us on a journey of life-long education.

E is for ETHICS

all the Rs
Concept by P Cass

What’s ethics got to do with family history you ask? A lot as it happens. From family secrets long buried (or perhaps worse, in the recent past), adoptions, illegitimacies, crime etc to recognising the hard research work of others on blogs, online trees or conference presentations, there’s much we should be considering while we pursue our research.

I wrote extensively about this some time ago so I think it’s just easier to refer you to that post. Please do look at it, as ethics is something we should keep front and centre in our minds all the time. Not only is it a case of “do unto others”, it can be a case of legality as well when the person owns the content of their writing or photograph.

E is for Electoral Rolls

keep-calm-and-get-on-the-electoral-roll.jpgElectoral rolls are essentially a census substitute for Aussies. With early franchise for both men and women, combined with compulsory voting, it’s a great way to track ancestors around the state and the country – you get two bites of the cherry if you’re lucky as you can check both state and national rolls. Different commercial companies offer different access to indexed Australian electoral records so it’s worth scanning each company, either with your own subscription or at a local genealogical library. Archives should also hold the originals, and the benefit of looking at them there, is that they often show annotations which may enlighten you as to where your relatives moved next, or when they died.

If so inclined you can also use the data you discover to analyse population movement or occupations in a particular location. I also talked about the usefulness of Irish rolls here, and how they might be used for One Place Studies (of which more anon).

Early British poll books can also be helpful but the franchise was not universally applicable for many years.

18 thoughts on “E is for Education, Ethics & Electoral Rolls

  1. We don’t have electoral rolls available here except for right after the Civil War in the south. I have found it quite touching to find my ancestors and their neighbors registered to vote and knowing that it will not be too many years before they were again denied that vote.

    You have such good suggestions!

    Finding Eliza

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Kristin. How sad that they gained franchise then lost it so soon after. We may sometimes complain here about compulsory voting (usually because the choices are equally bad) but there’s quickly be a riot if we were deprived for any length of time.

      I always appreciate the different perspective I gain by learning about your alive ancestors.


  2. I indexed a bunch of voter registration books for Greene County in Virginia. There is amazing information – you can trace an ancestor who moved because voting transfers were dated and locations identified; some registrars gave some genealogical information for people with similar names like “James son of Ben”; sometimes really good addresses were mentioned like 2 miles south of X.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Regarding the Australian Electoral Rolls. I suspect that the indexing was done by computer OCR, as some of the transcriptions are diabolical. I suspect searching can be done by Electoral Division, so using that and a last name could be useful. I searched and copied all of the last name combined with a State and transferred them to spreadsheet. Manipulating that was useful and highlighted the errors. “Josejdi Kdipir” is Joseph Leslie, “Ktlut” is Ethel, not sure what “T’auiue” is. To find the image for these, the search name needs to be written as Ktlut, etc.

    Hope this helps

    Liked by 1 person

  4. ethics is a point I get very irate about – maybe in modern parlance the word is often ‘respect’ we delve and dig into real people – they may well be dead but they had their own lives. While it is interesting from a long view back perspective to discover they had skeletons – it should never be ‘fun’ or something to laugh about – also every generation must be judged in context so it behoves us all to reseach the norms of that time. a disgrace could kill a person or a family depending on circumstance – we are recorders of fact not fiction writers, no judges and jury.

    We should not ‘mess’ with the dead because we can – a point that ruins most historical fiction for me as authors will tinker with events. On family history though we must record what is provable – speculate if we must within context not by modern standards and remain true to our ancestors.

    i do like this theme of yours

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Alberta, I couldn’t agree more! I dislike the salaciousness that some people bring to unearthing family secrets. For me “do unto others” also applies to our ancestors who may have made poor decisions or done things they later regretted within the context of the era. Thanks for your comment on this topic and for joining me on the journey.

      Liked by 1 person

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