E is for EDUCATION
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?
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
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
Electoral 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.