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.

Beyond the Internet: Week 48 Teachers

Beyond the Internet

Beyond the Internet

This week I’m belatedly writing Week 48 in my Beyond the Internet series in which I explore the sources of information beyond our computer screens and this week’s topic is Occupations – Teachers.

I wrote a few posts early in the year about school admissions and other school records, which will obviously be of relevance if you have teaching ancestors.

However you’re probably looking for more personal information about their careers.

I have no teachers in my family tree but Mr Cassmob’s is fairly littered with them so much of the information I’ve acquired has come from them. Some are his immediate ancestors, one is our daughter, and others go back to the early-mid 19th century.

Where to look

The first port of call will be the relevant archive for the area where they taught.

If they were in a religious school, you may have to approach the school or religious order they worked for (not so easy, sometimes).

I’d also look at reference libraries to see if there’s more general information about their records.

 teacherSo what might you find about your teaching ancestors?

 Their inspection reports: Remember those school visits when we thought the inspector was only assessing us, but in reality was probably mainly interested in the teacher, and whether they’d taught the necessary curriculum to the right standard. They must have been intimidating for the teachers as 50 years later we met a lady in Alotau who remembered her mother being inspected by Mr Cassmob’s father (who could do intimidating quite well in his professional role).

teacher 2Their other roles in the community:  for example my mother-in-law was the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages in her rural Victorian community when she was only 20 or so. As a family historian you have to love information like that!

Their academic training: whether they had teachers’ college training, university, or were thrown in largely at the deep end to sink or swim.

Their history in schools: For example: my in-laws were both teachers and both were required to establish small bush schools in rural Victoria with absolutely minimal training. In their specific case this experience was no doubt invaluable as they launched and taught at new schools in Papua New Guinea.  Did your ancestors teach in large urban schools, small multi-class schools or even one-teacher schools? Who was in their class? Did their own children have to call them “Mrs Cass” in the classroom, for example.

Books: You may find some reference to your teaching ancestors in books relating to the areas where they taught, or specialised books on education.

 GazettesGovernment and Education Their postings may feature in the various gazettes –check them out. (I’m indebted to Rosemary Kopittke who alerted me to the education gazettes last year). Goulds have a range of the Queensland Education Gazettes which you can see here.

Apple on DeskIf you have teachers in your tree I hope these tips will help you learn a little more about them. If you have used other records please do share with us via the comments or your own blog so we can all learn.

Teachers really are pivotal to the development of a community’s children, a debt we all owe them, as they work so hard to educate and care for their students. In the past week we’ve also seen their heroism as they protected children, sometimes with their own lives.

So let’s all say a huge “thank you” to the teachers who’ve helped form us into who we are today. 

Did you have a pivotal teacher: if so who was it? 

The teaching images are from Microsoft clipart.