Why You Should Still Use Family History Bibliographies

13 February 2010

In the age of Google we sometimes think that everything is online but we really know that it isn’t. Some of the family history resources and tools of the past tend to be forgotten because it takes a little extra effort to use them and most times we can’t use them at home.

One example is the published bibliography of family histories and in Australia we have an excellent series published by Ralph Reid, with individual volumes for each state. I am currently looking at  the 2008 edition for Queensland.

Not surprisingly there are no references to published family histories on my families for two reasons. One, I think I am the only one doing those families plus all my family histories are in draft, unpublished format because I haven’t got around to publishing yet. But that’s a story for another blog.

As I have been researching in Queensland for over 30 years I can look through the Queensland Bibliography and recognise family histories I have read, helped people research or have been written by people I know. For example, just this morning I received an email from an old friend Kay Gassan from my Queensland days when I used to go to Maryborough and give family history talks. Kay is researching Behrendorff and in 1982 published a history of the family (40 pages). In 1991 she published a much larger history of the family A Patchwork of Memories: a History of the Behrendorff family in Australia (409 pages) and both these works are in Reid’s Bibliography for Queensland.

I have also used the Bibliography to find books written about areas where my ancestors lived. For example, the Sinnamon family is written up in The Gentleman Farmer’s Paradise: a Story of Pioneering Last Century by Hercules Sinnamon and it gave me lots of background information on the settlement of the  Brisbane suburbs of Jindalee, Oxley, Sherwood etc. Another similar example is The Carseldine Family of Bald Hills: a Survey of William Carseldine and his Family by Thom Blake. My ancestors were also in the Bald Hills, Strathpine area so background information in Blake’s history is also of interest for mine.

Family histories are also useful for anyone doing a local history as the Bibliography is an easy way to identify families that have already been well researched for any given area.

One of the things that strikes me flicking through the 2008 edition for Queensland is all the German names (I should say I assume German because I am guessing and also because the German borders changed so much over time). So if we accept that generalisation, there are names like Albinus, Berghofer, Diefenbach, Frohloff, Haberecht, Koehler, Raddatz and I could go on and on.

Again anyone doing a social history of a place would find the Bibliography of family histories useful by pinpointing specific nationalities in a given area. There are also a few Chinese family histories that have caught my eye flicking through Queensland.

I have also noted a few new books or ones that I haven’t seen before that I need to follow up through interlibrary loan I suspect. The local Wyndham library has an excellent family history collection but more Victorian focussed, not surprisingly. These new references are mostly books from the same areas as my families but also names that married into my families. Sometimes there can be useful family information included in family histories related by marriage so it is worthwhile to have a look just in case. I have picked up some group family photos that way.

If a family history covers more than one State then it is included in each relevant State in Reid’s Bibliography series which is good for mining families like mine because I have one family that started in NSW, moved to VIC, then QLD and ended up in WA – yes following the gold.

Reid’s bibliographies include the primary families in a family history and some entries from earlier issues include descendant generations.

There is a new edition coming out for 2010 (hopefully in the next few months) and it will be cumulative so you only need to check the latest edition which is most useful. Other changes will be that ACT is an addendum to NSW and NT to SA as there are too few listings for stand alone issues for ACT and NT.

In the meantime if you can have a look at the following:

New South Wales Family Histories ISSN 1835-5722

Queensland Family Histories ISSN 1835-5730

South Australian Family Histories ISSN 1835-5749

Tasmanian Family Histories ISSN 1835-5757

Victorian Family Histories ISSN 1835-5765

Western Australian Family Histories ISSN 1835-5773

There is also an earlier collaborative publication (2004) between Reid and Gould Genealogy and History entitled Australian Family Histories published in a variety of formats (hardcover, softcover, CD). It is still in print and listed in the 2009-2010 Family and Local History Catalogue for Gould. The online catalogue entry has more details.

If you have any success don’t forget to let me know. I love feedback and success stories – keeps me inspired.

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1 Comment

  1. Great post! I hadn’t heard of that series before. I must look for the Victorian issue, could be very useful.

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