Jan 15, 2010

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52 Weeks to Better Genealogy – My Progress So Far!

I have accepted a challenge from Genea-Bloggers to participate in a 52 Weeks to Better Genealogy workshop. We are at the end of Week 2 and I honestly don’t know where the last two weeks went. I have done both challenges and as they are related I thought I would combine them into a single blog report.

One of the nice things about the workshop is that it is supposed to be fun and you don’t have to do it every week. I am going to try and keep up the weekly pace as I am sure that I will learn new things along the way. It will also provide me with blog ideas if I have nothing else to ramble about.

The first challenge was to visit my local library and to check out the genealogy section and see what is there. Week 2 was another visit this time looking at the local history collection or archives/special collections if relevant.

Visiting my local library (Heaths Road branch of the Wyndham City Council Library) is not a hardship as it is a pleasant walk of 20 minutes across parkland to Werribee Plaza. The Library has a website with an online catalogue so I can do some searching before visiting if I want. I can also extend my loans online if I can’t get them back by the due date which is also handy.

The Heaths Road Library has a dedicated Family History and Local Studies Room and a Genealogy Librarian and they also provide training courses from time to time. The Genealogy Collection has over 280 genealogy books, plus 7 genealogy magazines, microfiche and microfilm and not just for Victoria. There is also interstate and overseas material.

They even hire out Victorian and New South Wales BDMs, Victorian Directories pre 1900, Victorian Electoral Rolls and if you don’t have a microfiche reader, you can borrow one of them too! I wonder how many local libraries offer that type of assistance? Bookings are necessary and the loans are charged on a 24 hour basis with varying costs depending on what you want to borrow. For example if I want the Victorian BDMs and the microfiche reader then it costs $8.75 for a 24 hour period and this is cheaper than a train ticket to Melbourne CBD to visit the State Library of Victoria or the Genealogical Society of Victoria. Also saves me 2 hours of travelling time. How good is that?

They also have a range of CD ROMs, newspapers on microfilm, shipping records, cemetery records and a whole range of miscellaneous records for Victoria. More details can be found in the Genealogy Collection section of the website and also what is held for interstate and overseas. Pity that someone can’t spell ‘genealogy’ and the mistake has been cut and pasted many times over!

Also handy is A Guide to Family History Sources at the Wyndham Library Service and on the day I visited there were copies available to take home. It is a 24 page guide listing microform records and giving basic information on the Library’s genealogy services.

The Family History and Local Studies Room has a wide range of books, some of which cannot be borrowed and must be used there. Others can be borrowed for the usual 4 week loan. There are a number of tables, chairs and a computer for using CD ROMs and the microform reader. The Room could accommodate perhaps 8-10 people researching at any one time although I have never seen more than 4 people there at the times I have visited. Still better than travelling into Melbourne.

The Library is also home to the district’s local history collection. The actual museum is in the Werribee CBD (about 15 minutes by car down the road). The library catalogue allows a separate search of just the local history collection and putting in a key word ‘photographs’ brings up 12 titles. Clicking on The Boer War Volunteers title brings up 11 digitised images of men from the area who enlisted.

Not all the digitised photographs are listed under the category ‘photographs’ which is a bit misleading. I found more when looking for my suburb name of Hoppers Crossing and more when I looked for Werribee South. So always think laterally when using online databases and come at your topic from a number of different angles.

The Library is also a member of Picture Victoria and Picture Australia so photographs can be found there too.

The Local History Database also has information on agriculture, businesses and shops, pioneer families, sports, schools,churches, transport, historic buildings and sites. It is an ongoing project and more information is added from time to time and at present it has maps, posters and photographs included.

I don’t have any family interests in Wyndham so I mainly use the Genealogy section of the Family History and Local Studies Room. I also make use of the Library’s wider collection including Australian history, biographies, reference works and what ever other area of interest pops up in my family history.

Your local library is definitely worth visiting and if you haven’t been there recently, then it’s time to have another look and make use of those handy resources. Good luck!

  1. I combined my two challenges as well because I made a special trip to the library the first week and just naturally included what I thought was a “special” find!
    I’m going to try to do as many as possible too – although I know I’ll skip some too.
    I think it’s a great idea to reflect on our practice.
    Have fun,
    Evelyn in Montreal

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