Monday, 16 April 2012

Genealogy notes 14-16 April 2012 - Researching in Sydney

It's a very wet start to the day in Sydney so I'm catching up with the Diary while I hope the rain stops soon. The Australian Society of Archivists meeting on Saturday didn't quite go to schedule and I ended up missing my visit to Richmond Villa the home of the Society of Australian Genealogists. However it was good to catch up with many long time archival colleagues at the meeting and during the lunch break, there was an opportunity to dash out and see some of The Rocks famous weekend market.

Afterwards quite a few of us went to the Fortune of War hotel  which was established in 1828 and is reputedly Sydney's oldest pub. It's also where a former NSW State Archivist gave me my first ever glass of Guinness and I've never looked back! Sydney has some fantastic old pubs and on a former visit we did an historic pub crawl which was fascinating and we've also done the ghost tour!

Then I had dinner at Circular Quay with my bridesmaid from 1983 and amazingly we both recognised each other and had a great night catching up with all the news as we haven't seen each other in over ten years. It was so much fun we will be having dinner again tonight.

Sunday was a slow day, a leisurely walk around the city streets near my hotel, reading the Sunday newspaper in Hyde Park and then I spent the afternoon doing some TROVE digitised newspaper searching and preparing myself for the big research trip to the Mitchell Library and the genealogy section of the State Library NSW. When I walked out of the hotel Monday morning I couldn't believe the traffic noise and I thought Melbourne was bad but then I don't go into the city often these days. Perhaps after the quiet of the weekend it just seemed louder!

Anyway to get to the Library I had to walk through both sections of Hyde Park and it was unbelievable how the trees manage to cut down on the traffic noise. Also explains why so many people walk through there on their way to work plus you don't have the car fumes so full on. The tricky bit for me was that this space is also shared with cyclists who do ring their bells but for people who don't hear to well and aren't watching out for cyclists on footpaths, it makes for an interesting time at intersections.

I haven't been to the Mitchell Library (the Australiana section of the State Library NSW) since the early 1990s when I was doing my Society of Australian Genealogists Diploma. It has to be one of Australia's most beautiful libraries and the atmosphere almost makes you feel scholarly. The catalogue is online but only for items since 1992 so there are lots of card drawers with interesting indexes and these were what I mainly wanted to look through for my early research on Sydney. I was pleased to see old genealogy friend Aileen there and in the cafeteria at lunch time with Perry, I ran into my old archival colleague Paul.

I also spent time in the genealogy section of the State Library NSW finally looking at some microfilms I've been wanting to look at. It's not that they aren't in Melbourne, it's more the fact that I never seemed to find time to do it in Melbourne (or perhaps I don't stay there often enough?). I hadn't realised they had an online guide to convicts which is another reason why we should look closely at websites before we do our genealogy research trips. One of my other joys is browsing the shelf as you never know what you will find and I had some success just pulling out books and looking up the indexes. That's something we miss when we only do research online.

The walk back through Hyde Park was equally good and as I had been sitting for most of the day, I kept walking up Oxford Street for a while before returning to the hotel for the evening. The evening weather was all about how wet Sydney was going to be for the next few days and sure enough, I woke up this morning to the sound of heavy rain on the skylights. Walking over to the Kent Street library of the Society of Australian Genealogists is going to be interesting but I have an umbrella and perhaps later this morning the rain won't be quite so heavy. I haven't been to the 'new' library and it should be good. Stay tuned.


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