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Sunday, January 22, 2017

Delving in the past...

The Saturday before last I experienced the feeling of being a bit of a 'stickybeak' on a visit to the Queensland Archives at Runcorn. A friend had planned a visit to the Archives to look for some  documents pertaining to her family history, and suggested I might like to come along for the same reason.
I had been fascinated by the fact that documents relating to my dad's divorce could/would be available. I mean we are talking 1945-46 here! I had already read a newspaper report of the court case of that time, so was interested to see what perspective the 'official' documents would present.

I felt quite emotional when I found the relevant documents in the rather large brown paper parcel that had been brought up to the public research area for me. My friend had been so helpful in finding the details of the file we needed, as were the Archives staff.

And then I started going through the contents of the file.
Pages of ledger entries...

The fees and charges' statements were interesting. It became obvious that my father had paid out rather large sums of money, as was the norm for that time; divorces were notably an expensive process.


 There were a number of affidavits in the files...


In the photo above, you will notice a rectangular shape holding down the page. These little sandbags are used to hold down documents so they can be read and/or photographed. You must not flatten documents by pressing out the creases as this has the potential to damage old documents. 

I gradually worked my way through. Most of the files were from the solicitors but just near the end of the pile was a letter handwritten by my father. What a rush of emotions to see his handwriting...all 7 pages of it! The letter was to his estranged first wife. It was in English and was so eloquent for someone who had only had formal schooling to a Grade 3 equivalent and for whom English was a second language. I decided to pay for this file to be photocopied and then emailed to me. I then sent it to family members, many of whom had not met my father as he had died in 1967.
The letter may/must have been torn at some stage as the pages had been repaired with sticky tape, which had caused brown stains. The letter was dated 1940, but the rest of the documents were from 1945-46. What a find!
So that part of my visit to the Archives had been a bit of an emotional rollercoaster, but there were also some lighter moments. While waiting for my father's file to be brought up from the storage area on the floors below, I checked out old school registers of my primary school which have been digitised. I found the entries for myself and my classmates when our parents had enrolled us. But I felt like a voyeur when I saw something else in the same admission register for 1957...the full names of the teachers and their addresses no less! When I went to school, students often didn't know the first names of their teachers...unlike in my teaching career.  :-)


The headmaster of the school always was known as Mr T.V. Perry. We use to make jokes about the TV part of his name as television had finally come to my home city in 1959. Well all these years later, I know that the T.V. stood for Thomas Victor!! lol. He was one scary man by the way!!

My friend and I also ordered a ledger from the Court of Petty Sessions of 1917 to be brought up to the public research room that day, as I was also looking for records about DH's great aunt who had been a victim of crime that year. We didn't find anything about Auntie Josie, but we had fun reading through the traffic misdemeanours/crimes that had been written up...here are 2. Remember this is 1917 and cars would have been scarce!
Yep! Try enforcing the speed of less than 4 miles per hour while turning from Stanley St into Annerley Rd now!
Oh dear...a speeding ticket for driving faster than 12 miles an hour!


Spending time at the Archives has given me a taste for another form of family research...I've already got another topic that I think I would like to research in the records.

 

10 comments:

Dorothy said...

Maria .. you always come up with very interesting blog posts. I LOVED reading this one. xox

Weekend-Windup said...

Good one:)

Cynthia said...

I've never heard of a sticky beak before. I assume it means a reluctant person and not one with her lips stuck together! Such interesting finds, specially the letter from your father and the traffic citations.

Gail said...

Family history is often filled with digging through countless boring papers to find a little grain of information! It's always a happy feeling of connection when you do.

Vireya said...

Fascinating stuff, Maria. I will have to investigate visiting Victoria's records office, as there is a family mystery I would like to solve.

JeanN said...

It was a great day Maria, thanks for coming. And have you got the scanned copies already? That was quick.

And to Vireya, you should go to PROV in Melbourne if you are searching a family mystery. The staff there are really helpful too, and they have little rooms especially for you to photograph documents.

margaret said...

such an interesting day you had. My brother has gone back 14 generations on our familty tree on Dad`s side he is more interested in the departed than his siblings!

Vireya said...

Thank you JeanN for the advice! That's good to know.

Carolyn said...

What an interesting day. It's a big job, taking on family research. I am very grateful one of my four sisters has assumed the role of family historian!

Nanna Chel said...

Maria, I found a newspaper clipping of a court case my grandfather was in when he was speeding at something like 5 miles an hour. LOL! Apparently he was irate and told the judge he had been a taxi driver in Scotland..blah blah blah! I don't know if he got fined or not or got let off for being such a speedster.