O is for Occupations and One Place Studies

My A2Z 2016 theme is how to pursue an interest in family history/genealogy – I’d love you to join me on the journey.


View of the Roma Street Railway Station in Brisbane 1931 SLQ
A view of Roma Street shunting yards 1931, John Oxley Library Image 63242. Copyright expired.

Where, how and what we work at can be an important part of our identity and certainly takes up a lot of our waking hours. How much more so for our ancestors who started working when they were only children, or if they were lucky, early teens and worked as long as they were physically able, given limited access to assistance.

It’s no surprise then that finding out as much as we can about our ancestors type of employment. This can be in two types: specific staff registers and more general information.

If your person worked for a large business perhaps that still exists, they may have their own archive and have retained staff records or even have photos as part of their history.

Military service and government service are usually well documented. Governments do tend to like to know where their money goes <smile>. In fact “follow the money” is probably a great tip to apply with all your research. Government archives, state or national, are your best bet for finding these records if they still exist.

Decades ago I got staff card copies of past generations of my railway workers, as well as further information from the archives. And yet, when I applied for my father’s records, those more recent ones had been destroyed…go figure. It’s a research lottery but you “have to be in it, to win it”.

teacher 2Government gazettes may also give clues to occupations associated with government employees as they list succinct information.

For professionals (nurses, doctors, teachers, clergy etc), look at the relevant registration agency as well as checking out what records the archives hold.

For labourers, consider whether they were part of a union. Is there oral history about it? Newspapers can be a source of great clues about Union work…I had no idea about some of my grandfathers’ union commitments until I found newspaper stories.

If you would like to read more about specific types of occupation records you can do read some in my Beyond the Internet posts.


Often people come to One Place Studies (or OPS) as an extension of their family research. Others start from a long-held interest in the place where they live, or where their ancestors lived.

Looking over Lough Doon from near Ballykelly townland, Broadford, Co Clare.

For more information about OPSs and where people are researching I can recommend the Society of One Place Studies website.

Some do it better and more extensively than others…you can explore the different studies through the link above. I have an interest in emigrants from the Bavarian village of Dorfprozelten, Irish Emigrants from East County Clare, Ireland and Murphys Creek in Queensland, Australia. It would be fair to say I’ve spread myself too thin. Perhaps a case of “do what I say, not what I do”?

Thank you for visiting me on this journey. I love comments <smile>  

There’s a plethora of reading choices on this year’s A to Z Challenge, so my challenge to you is to visit the sign-up page and select one (or more) blogs to read between the numbers 1600-1699.

15 thoughts on “O is for Occupations and One Place Studies

  1. My father and I visited NSW Archives Office this week to look at the staff card for his father who worked at the Electricity Commission for many years. It brought back a lot of memories and was a good memory prompter.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. A worthy task but like OPS, takes time to do it I guess. I could do Kunkel in Australia which would be easy as there were only two sets until mid 20thC and a widowed woman in Qld. My lit is by far the most “pervasive” and I’ve already done them.


  2. Occupations have helped me sort out ancestors with more common names, distinguishing them from same-name neighbors. One interesting occupation I found on a census was for a paternal ancestor who worked at a “piano board factory” in upstate New York — which I actually got to see on a family history road trip!
    Molly of Molly’s Canopy

    Liked by 1 person

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