Expert Q&A :: Getting the best from the State Records NSW collection

0 Posted by - 8 March 2013 - Ask our experts, Feature stories

For our Expert Q&A Thursday, February 21 we had Janette Pelosi, Rhonda Campbell & Emily Hanna from the State Records NSW to discuss how to get the best from the SRNSW collection. Thanks again to Janette, Rhonda and Emily for giving us all the benefit of their time and expertise.

At State Records NSW, Janette Pelosi is the Senior Archivist, Context and Documentation; Rhonda Campbell is the Acting Manager, Public Access; and Emily Hanna is Senior Archivist, Access and Information. For more information on their career history, expertise and current projects, see here.

Please find the transcript of the Q&A and links below.

Don’t forget our Expert Q&As happen every Thursday night on the Inside History Magazine facebook page

When: NSW – ACT – VIC – TAS: 8:30-9:30pm AEDT | QLD: 7:30-8:30pm | WA: 5:30-6:30pm | NT: 7:00-8:00pm | SA: 8:00-9:00pm | Weekly on Thursdays nights!

Top tips for using the State Records NSW collection:

  1. When searching indexes try using a broad search criteria. I often suggest people just put in a surname and then go through the list of results. Using a narrow search criteria, e.g. first name and surname, can often limit the results and prove unsuccessful. It may take more time to look through a list of surnames but researchers often discover that the first name was not recorded as they knew it and they have found the entry they were looking for just searching by the surname. – Rhonda
  2. Prepare for your visit to the reading room! Do your homework using our online indexes and put together a list of records to search when you come in. If you are planning to check probate packets pre-order your first four items as this will help you maximise your time in the reading room. – Emily
  3. Always check out the More Information page for the online indexes as they may answer some of your questions about what is included in the indexes. – Janette
  4. Our OpenGov website https://www.opengov.nsw.gov.au/ has publications including Annual Reports of many government departments. You can search for names, places and even phrases such as ‘acts of bravery’. Was your relative mentioned? – Janette

Summary of links from the Q&A:

Circular Quay and its trams, c. 1920s

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Transcript of Expert Q&A – State Records of NSW collection 

Our Expert Q&A with Janette Pelosi, Rhonda Campbell and Emily Hanna from the State Records NSW starts in 15 minutes at 8:30pm AEDT on this page. Tonight we’ll be discussing how to get the best from the State Records NSW [SRNSW] collection. Please ask your questions in a comment below and Janette, Rhonda or Emily will answer in a following comment.

Comment: IHM: Welcome everyone, thanks for joining us. Please welcome Janette, Rhonda and Emily from the State Records NSW to tonight’s Q&A.
A. IHM: Remember to keep refreshing your browser to see the answers as they appear.
A. SRNSW: Thank you for inviting us to participate – Rhonda
A. SRNSW: Hello everyone thank you for having us – Emily
A. SRNSW: Pleased to be here – Janette
A. Carmel: oops late again Hello Emily and Rhonda
A. SRNSW: Hello Carmel

Q. From Rochell: I am trying to find ancestors called William Struthers and James Struthers. James was a mayor of Warren NSW and William Struthers invented a new style of bucket for mining. Can’t find any more information about the bucket other than a small mention of a patent and can’t find out when they came here from Scotland. 
A. SRNSW: @Rochell we did find an entry for a James Struthers at Warren in our Bankruptcy Index and there was also an entry for a James Struthers in the Index to Assisted Immigrants. To look at the indexes see http://bit.ly/LDgx2G – Rhonda.

Q. From Cindy: I am trying to find information on Edward Whittle, he was born in the colony in NSW in 1801. He married Annie Redden in 1844 and they had 7 children. Edward died in 1894 in the young jail. I have been trying to find his parents and also why he went to jail, any information would be great. Thank you.
A. SRNSW: You could try the TD Mutch Index to Births Deaths and Marriages for a reference to the birth. This is believed to cover all relevant extant records relating to New South Wales from 1787-1828, except for the Newcastle Register and the Methodist Church records, and selected records to 1957. See State Records Reel 2125 for 1787-1814. Perhaps some of the muster and census records of the period could provide some details. State Records holds records of Young Gaol including entrance and description books which could show the offence for which he was convicted. For more details of records from Young Gaol: http://bit.ly/13kCaxP. – Emily
A. Cindy: Thank you
A. SRNSW: @Cindy: I found two Edward Whittle’s in the NSW BDM indexes. One died in 1858 and one in 1894. For the 1894 death there is a Probate index entry. Series 4-13981. He died at Wombat on 4 July 1894. Probate packets are available through our Western Sydney reading room  – Janette
A. SRNSW: You’re welcome – Emily
Q (b): Cindy: Is there a way to see the state record reels on line?
A. Irish Wattle: Hi Cindy Massey, here is some extra info on Edward Whittle born 1801. Sgt Thomas Whittle and wife Elizabeth and son Thomas Jnr had arrived on Royal Admiral 1792. The 1800 muster records the couple now with one son and two daughters. Thomas jnr became a soldier too and in 1808 was stationed in Port Dalrymple. The father returned to the UK in May 1810 and gave evidence there in Colonel George Johnston’s court martial, but it looks from the 1811 muster that wife Elizabeth remained here. He may have returned later, I have no information about that. The son Thomas jnr was discharged in 1810. Possibly the Edward Whittle that Cindy is looking for was a son of the original arrivals and a brother to Thomas jnr – Barbara
A. Cindy: Thank you for all the information.

Q. From Antoinette: I am looking for information about Henry William Johnson who was a government contractor working out of Barkers Mill in Sussex Street, he was Provisional Chairman, Fitzroy Iron Works in 1859, leased and lived in Oran House, Oran park until he went bankrupt in 1860. I’ve found all this in the digitised newspapers on Trove. I also believe he was at some point church warden of St Andrews in Sydney. For someone whose name is mentioned so prolifically in the newspapers I know little about him. Thank you.

A. SRNSW: @Antoinette: If you haven’t already done so you should check our online index to Insolvency records http://www.records.nsw.gov.au/state-archives/indexes-online/bankruptcy-insolvency-records/index-to-insolvency-records for Henry William Johnson. Barker’s Mill was a steam mill at Darling Harbour owned by Thomas Barker and is mentioned in Len Fox’s Old Sydney Windmills (1978). There are a number of published works about the Fitz Roy Iron Works which you may like to consult. There is a Thematic History of the Fitz Roy Iron Works which lists them. The Fitz Roy Iron Works were located at Mittagong at a site now occupied by the Highlands Marketplace. Also the Fitz Roy Iron Works Company’s Act of 1865 is available on the NSW Legislation website (Search as Made). Click for historical information on the Oran Park Homestead. – Rhonda and Janette

Q. From Carmel: Maybe you can help me finding my cousins mother’s records, she was born c 1913 and was then handed over to neighbours who gave her thier name, when the adopted mother died a few years later she was handed into an orphanage with nuns.
A. SRNSW: @Carmel – while we have Dependent Childrens Registers for children who were placed into State care between 1883-1923, it sounds like your cousin’s mother may not have gone through that system. You could try the Find and Connect website, http://bit.ly/13kEJjq which is a resource for Forgotten Australians, Former Child Migrants and anyone with an interest in out of home care. Also too, if you know the order of nuns who ran the orphanage, you could contact the order for assistance. – Emily

Q. From Tracey: I was trying to find a passenger list etc for William Whalley (Eliza Whalley his wife) and children John, Jane, Elizabeth and George arriving sometime after 1851 English Census (Barnsley, Yorkshire) and Christmas 1853 (when the children were baptised at Newcastle Christchurch Cathedral (I have the record). There are a few surname mispellings (which I have checked on State Records but not found information for shipping list there) – i.e. Whallay, Whalley, Waller. Could you suggest where I might be able to find this information.
A. Tracey: @Tracey: You’ve tried our Immigration online indexes. If they were unassisted passengers they may not all be listed with full names. You might find mention of them on the Mariners and Ships in Australian Waters linked from the Immigration indexes http://bit.ly/ly6jtc. Another possibility is that they went direct to Newcastle and some of these arrival records are held by the National Archives of Australia. Also try the National Archives of Australia, http://www.naa.gov.au/collection/fact-sheets/fs64.aspx (C667) – Janette

Q. From Andrew: Hey Janette, Rhonda and Emily! Does State Records NSW have plans to make more of its collection digitally available online anytime soon?
A. SRNSW: @ Andrew We have entered into agreements with Third Party Providers Ancestry.com and Find My Past to make more of our records which are copied on to microfilm available online – Rhonda

Q. From Anne: How can I find out who took the photographs of the Cootamundra Rail Disaster on 25 Jan 1885? I have seen a print with Nicholas written on the front and a stamp C H Nicholas on the back. Is this the photographer or the person who ordered the print? Any info greatly appreciated.
A. IHM: Hi Anne, think we’d need to see the photo – are you able to add the photo onto our wall or you can send it to cass@insidehistory.com.au. The Powerhouse Museum has some good information on the Cootamundra Railway Accident :: http://ow.ly/hUy55 |http://ow.ly/hUypG and here’s a link to Trove :: http://ow.ly/hUyvV
A. Anne: Thanks for the info about the Cootamundra Rail Smash. I haven’t got the photo here at the moment, but I’ll be in touch with Cass tomorrow.
A. SRNSW: The photographs were gathered from private sources on a regional tour by the State Library so appears they received their copy back in 1988/89. The Cootamundra image is http://acms.sl.nsw.gov.au/item/itemDetailPaged.aspx?itemID=388585. I tried to find a ‘C.H. Nicholas’ without success. Alan Davies & Peter Stanbury, The Mechanical Eye in Australia: Photography 1841-1900, Melb., OUP, 1985, p.206 has no ‘C.H. Nicholas’ but does have George H. Nicholas at Cootamundra, New South Wales in 1855 [sic], 1887-98. Also Sandy Barrie, Australians Behind the Camera: Directory of Early Australian Photographers, 1841 to 1945, The Author, 2002, p.139 has no ‘C.H. Nicholas’ but includes George H. Nicholas at Cootamundra, NSW (trav) in 1885 as well as 1887-98. (Copies of both these books are held in the State Records NSW Library.) According to the Powerhouse Museum blog posted on the night, the original image was from the Tyrell Collection and mentions it being a photographer from the Henry King studio who took it. See the Powerhouse’s catalogue information. I had a look at NRS 17421, Index to State Rail Authority Archives Photographic Reference Print Collection and the photograph is also in our collection as NRS 17420, 191 Salt Pan Creek/Cootamundra in the listing for Accidents. Most of the State Rail Archives series we hold relating to accidents are too late as they relate to the twentieth rather than the nineteenth century. From the above it would appear the actual photographer was from the Henry King Studio whose glass plates ended up in the Tyrell Collection held by the Powerhouse Museum. A copy was taken in 1988/89 by the State Library of NSW and included in its At Work and Play collection. Another copy is included in the State Records collection. It is still unclear who the C. H. Nicholas may be who is stamped on the back of the copy. It is probably not possible to work out why her friend’s grandmother had a copy of the print. Perhaps she or one of her family just lived in the area? Only a few names are mentioned in the article posted on Facebook in the Brisbane Courier, Thursday January 29, 1885, p.5 http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/3438609. State Records NSW holds entries in NRS 344, Register of inquests and magisterial inquiries, 1883-1886 [4/6618] 1885/139-140 on the deaths of Alfred Wilson, Joseph Campy, John O’Dwyer, John Hade, William Bergin, Harry Holmes and Mrs Hodson but there are no inquest case papers surviving from this period. I also checked Trove http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article13591710 and there was a case brought before the Supreme Court in Banco (ie full court with several justices presiding) on 25 June 1885, Adams v The Commissioner for Railways in which George Adams sued the Commissioners for damages for injuries he sustained. State Records NSW holds NRS 7847, Notebooks: Banco [Justice W.C. Windeyer], 1879-1895 which cover the date of this case. State Records also holds NRS 13686, Newspaper reports of Banco Court judgments, 1875-1906 [7/3754-3785A] which may refer to that case – Janette

Q. From Linda: Do you happen to know if there is much held in the State records for Victoria (especially Gippsland!) for the period prior to Victorian statehood in 1851? I think the shipping records are pretty well known, but wondered if you had any other suggestions. I haven’t really chased up, for example, if there are any pre 1851 inquest files up there. (Really a fishing expedition – any titbits for Victoria appreciated)
A. Linda: Should have added for Gippsland – anything may be under Port Albert, which is the port of entry.
A. SRNSW: @ Linda Unfortunately the inquest papers for 1851 have not survived. We do hold the Inquest indexes and registers for that time period however the register rarely gives anymore information other that what is recorded on a death certificate. Newspapers are always a good source for inquest details. Colonial Secretary’s correspondence pre 1851 would have references to Port Phillip – Rhonda
A. Linda: Thank You Rhonda
A. SRNSW: @ Linda – this is a little off the topic but you might be interested to know that we have a Letter to the Governor from the Commander of the S.S. Corsair enclosing sailing directions for Port Albert NRS 8450. There is also a map (SR Map 161) which is a chart of the entrance to Port Albert and the passage to the settlement. See http://bit.ly/13kKc9Y. Emily
A. Linda: That Corsair one is very interesting – and early for Port Albert. The Corsair basically arrived on July 25 with one of the first loads of settlers. Thank you!

Q. From Rebel: Hi Janette, Rhonda and Emily! I’m looking for two people: Sarah Emma Henley (c1854 – 25.10.1910) and (Thomas) Robert Sandon Wilson. They married in St Bernard’s Church, Hartley, in 1877. Sarah’s death certificate gives her maiden name as Dicks, though all other papers have it as Henley. First puzzle. Robert Wilson is a bigger puzzle. We don’t know where he came from, or where he went when he disappeared after 1860. He was spotted once in Sydney in a carriage with a richly-dressed woman and may have been bigamously married. Have you got any tips?
A. SRNSW: @Rebel: For Robert Wilson I suggest checking the Divorce Index http://bit.ly/HlqxgL – perhaps he was a correspondent! You could also check the Police Gazettes on Ancestry.com as missing persons and deserted wives are mentioned. – Janette
A. SRNSW: @Rebel: I’ve found a marriage of a Sarah J. Pickett to William Henley at Waverley in 1886. Could this relate to your Sarah? – Janette
A. Rebel: Thanks, Janette, I’ll follow those tips up!
A. Rebel: The goldmining records look good (what a shame many haven’t survived). My Robert Wilson was at Meroo (near the Mudgee River) so that might help, too!

Q. From Lyn: Hi all, I am am trying to find a marriage. It was when Vic/NSW were one. Eldest son baptised 1843 in Vic but registered in NSW as were other children. The so called marriage was between Joseph Harrison and Margaret Barrett. (If they were married) Margaret was an assisted immigrant in 1839 from Cornwall, England. Joseph was born abt 1809 Yorkshire. He died 1854 Vic. Margaret went on to remarry (I think) James Langham. I don’t know whether she married either man or just called herself a wife when she lived with these men.
A. SRNSW: @Lyn Civil Registration for Births, Deaths & Marriages was not introduced until 1856, prior to this records which appear in the NSW Registry of Births, Deaths & Marriages are surviving church records. Rhonda
A. SRNSW: @Lyn Yes that is very possible. You could always check with relevant church archives to see if they have any records. Rhonda

Q. From IHM: State Records NSW, what would be your top tips for using the SRNSW collections?
A. SRNSW: When searching indexes try using a broad search criteria. I often suggest people just put in a surname and then go through the list of results. Using a narrow search criteria, e.g. first name and surname, can often limit the results and prove unsuccessful. It may take more time to look through a list of surnames but researchers often discover that the first name was not recorded as they knew it and they have found the entry they were looking for just searching by the surname. – Rhonda
A. SRNSW: Prepare for your visit to the reading room! Do your homework using our online indexes and put together a list of records to search when you come in. If you are planning to check probate packets pre-order your first 4 items as this will help you maximise your time in the reading room. – Emily
A. SRNSW: Always check out the More Information page for the online indexes as they may answer some of your questions about what is included in the indexes. – Janette
A. SRNSW: Our OpenGov website https://www.opengov.nsw.gov.au/ has publications including Annual Reports of many government departments. You can search for names, places and even phrases such as ‘acts of bravery’. Was your relative mentioned? – Janette

Q. From Liz: I am trying to find a record of Antonio Cuneo/Cunio arriving in Australia, possibly Melbourne at the age of 12. He was born in Genoa, Italy abt 1830. We think he travelled through the Gold Fields and married on 15 Apr 1858 in Yass, NSW to Catherine Bye. They lived in the area for a considerable time and had 10 children. Antonio died in Marrickville, NSW in his 100th year. His parents were John and Catherine.
A. SRNSW: @Liz: Co.As.It http://www.coasit.org.au/ has an Italian family History Group. They may be able to point you towards Italian sources – Janette
A. SRNSW: @Liz – if you haven’t already got them, the birth certificates of the children can be useful for showing where the family was living and occupations etc. You could also try the Society of Australian Genealogists AGCI Index to Government Gazettes, there are lots of references to people listed. The AGCI Index is available on CD at many libraries. Unfortunately records of miners rights have not survived for NSW and it can be difficult records relating to gold mining. For more information about gold mining see our Archives in Brief No 120: http://bit.ly/WTNlwD. Emily

Q. From IHM: What do you have in the pipeline that we should be excited about?
A. SRNSW: On 30 August we will be holding an Open Day. The theme of the Open Day will be transport in its many forms. Talks and displays will included convict transportation, the expansion of roads and railways through the Blue Mountains, transport for leisure, and employment in transport e.g. railways. – Rhonda
A. SRNSW: For History Week this year (starting 7 September) we are launching a digital gallery ‘The changing landscape of Sydney) showing through images the development of Central Station, The Rocks and Circular Quay areas. – Emily
A. SRNSW: In March we will be adding a new digital gallery for Canberra’s centenary. – Janette

Q. From IHM: We love your new convict indents collection, what’s your favourite story from the records?
A. SRNSW: Inside History Magazine: Our major digitisation project Sentenced beyond the Seas http://bit.ly/VCOl6S includes many great stories. Search the Early Convict Index for Patrick Clarke or Patrick McKeon. Or search the ship name Anne and find who stowed away! – Janette

Q. From Susan: I am trying to find Robert Buck who sailed to Port Phillip abt 1853 – maybe in the ship “Harbinger” from port of Southhampton, which arrived in port of Melbourne Friday 23 Dec 1853. Then we have no record of him until He turns up in Sydney in 1858 as an outfitter in William Street. He may have gone to the goldfields and prospected or sold supplies of clothing, as his family were drapers and woollen mills in Lincolnshire. Any guidance on where to start looking would be appreciated.
A. SRNSW: @Susan – 1853 arrivals to Port Phillip are too late for immigration records held at State Records – this is after Victoria separated from NSW. We do have records of arrivals in Sydney and these include coastal ships. They are indexed in the Mariners and Ships in Australian Waters website: http://bit.ly/ly6jtc. Just remember that limited information was recorded for many of the immigrants listed in these records. Rhonda has been checking our online indexes for references to Robert Buck without success. You could try the Colonial Secretary’s correspondence which is indexed on microfiche (the fiche are available in our reading room). The surviving correspondence is held at our Western Sydney Records Centre: http://bit.ly/11WW9rb. Again for gold mining records see the Archives in Brief No 120, http://bit.ly/WTNlwD. Emily
A. Susan: Thank you for your help, yes I have the Vic records. And have searched the mariners and Ships in Aus Waters index with no luck. I was hoping there might be some record of him in goldfields records. Either Vic or NSW. Cheers I will keep searching.
A. IHM: I’ll take your question to the Public Record Office Victoria as well Susan and see if they can help. Thanks Michelle, we’ll have the transcript up soon! Where would family history be without weddings Carole, see you next week :)

Q. From Dorothy: I am trying to access a Primary Application for some land and the State Records website says it hasn’t come from Dept. Lands yet. Is there any way I can access the PA? It is from the 1930’s so am wondering why it isn’t at State Records yet. Could you explain the process please? Thank you.
A. SRNSW: @Dorothy: Details of what is in primary applications are in Archives in Brief 108. If you have the primary application number you can call us on (02) 9673 1788 and we can check if we hold the relevant packet. If you need to find the PA number you can try Land and Property Information www.lpi.nsw.gov.au -Janette
A. IHM: Here’s the link to all the State Records NSW Archives in Brief :: http://ow.ly/hDioi

Comment: IHM: Thanks again to Rhonda, Janette and Emily for joining us tonight! We’ll publish the questions, answers and links from tonight’s session in a blog post this coming week!
A. SRNSW: @Inside History Magazine – thank you for allowing us to participate. We really hope we have been able to answer everyones question and assist you with your research – Rhonda
A. Rebel: Thank you! I’ve learned a lot.
A. Michelle: Wasn’t able to participate live tonight Inside History Magazine and State Records NSW but have enjoyed reading the commentary. Keep up the good work :)
A. Carole: Sorry I missed the Q@A tonight but wedding anniversary took precedence!
A. IHM: I’ll take your question to the Public Record Office Victoria as well Susan and see if they can help. Thanks Michelle, we’ll have the transcript up soon! Where would family history be without weddings Carole, see you next week :)

State Records NSW Digital Galleries: 

Belmore North School children at Sydney Harbour Bridge celebrations, 1932

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