Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Lesson Learned - Check the Image too!

In my post The Whittles Migrating to Australia - a Forrest Gump Genealogy Moment, I was so excited about finding the immigration record of Alexander and Rachel Whittle's in 1841 that I made an error of omission - I forgot to check the image (as kindly and helpfully pointed by reader bgwiehle) for information that might have been unindexed.

The image of the record on the FamilySearch Record Search Pilot, which I showed in the last post, indicated that there was an image - but the only indicator is out on the far right margin where it is easily overlooked. This time, just for convenience, I went to find the image on the FamilySearch Beta site, which provides a somewhat different record summary screen:

On this screen, the indexed data is the same as before, but there is a thumbnail image that will show the record image if you lcick on it (or on the "View Image" link below it). Here is the image for the Alexander Whittell family:

This is the index card from the original database, and it includes more information about the family, including:

* Alexander Whittell's religion - Prot.
* Alexander Whittell's R.W. - yes
* Alexander Whittell's occupation - a sawyer
* father Alexander Whittell's occupation - a sawyer, and status - he is living
* mother Margaret (Mansley) Whittell's status - she is living
* Rachael Whittell's religion - Prot.
* Rachael Whittle's R.W. - R
* Rachael Whittell's occupation - a house servant
* father Thomas Morley's occupation - a joiner, and status - dead
* mother Jessie Haslam?'s status - dead
* Children: Elizabeth 9 mos.

There is another category on this card on the Religion and Age line - "R.W." that I cannot figure out just now - Alexander was a "yes" and Rachael was an R. I'll bet it means "Read/Write" and that Alexander can do both, but Rachael can only Read, not Write.

There are links in the index for Rachael Whittell and for Elizabeth Whittell - Rachael's card looks like this:

So there must be a card for each family - the top one above, and a card for each additional person on the family card - in this case, Rachael and Elizabeth.

Reader bgwiehle made another good point in the comment -

"The card is a typed extract of the original passenger list, but still, one should always verify indexed information when possible."

I clicked on the "About this Collection" link on the Record page above, and saw the collection description page for the Australia, New South Wales, Sydney Index to Bounty Immigrants (FamilySearch Historical Records) on the FamilySearch Research Wiki. This page describes the database as:

"This index consists of two kinds of interfiled cards: brief handwritten cards and pre-printed typewritten cards. The cards are in alphabetical order by surname and then by given name. "

and the history of this collection is:

"This collection indexes about 60,000 records of immigrants arriving in Sydney. Beginning in 1828, the Australian Government organized a program to encourage people to migrate to Australia, particularly to the State of New South Wales, which had been founded in 1788. “Assisted Immigrants” were immigrants whose passage was paid for or partially paid for by the Government as an incentive to settle in New South Wales. Another program which ran from 1835 to 1841 was the bounty reward system. “Bounty immigrants” were selected by colonists and who paid for their passage. When the immigrant arrived the colonist would employ them and the colonist would then be reimbursed by the government for all or part of the cost of passage. The first immigrants to apply for this assisted immigration were the people from Ireland, England, Wales, and Scotland. Later, people from other European countries began immigrating to Australia."

The sources of information for this collection:

"Index to bounty immigrants arriving in N.S.W., Australia, 1828-1842”, database, FamilySearch; compiled by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Family History Department; from State Archive, Western Sydney Records Centre, Kingswood, N.S.W., Australia. "Index to bounty immigrants arriving in N.S.W., 1828-1842". FHL microfilm, 8 reels. Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah."

There are no links to the original source on the Wiki page to the 8 reels of microfilm - they are on 416,870 through 416,877. The film with the Whittells on it is 416,877, since the list is alphabetical. These films are probably the cards and not the specific handwritten volumes. The information on the FHL Catalog page says for the original records:

"Microfilm of original records at the State Archives, Sydney.
The index covers the following series: Persons on early migrant ships, 1828-1832 (4/4823) Persons on early migrant ships, May 1832 - Jan 1833 (4/4824); Entitlement certificates of persons on bounty ships, 1832-1842 (4/4825-4891)
Archives Office of New South Wales reel numbers: 30-37."

It appears that the State Archives microfilms (8 of them) are for these same index cards. Presumably, the original lists are also available at the State Archives in Sydney (probably the 4/4823 through 4/4891 reference numbers above). I knew that I should have visited the State Archives in Sydney when I was there in March! Ah, another road trip!

There is also a link to the Australian Emigration and Immigration page on the FamilySearch Research Wiki - which has more information about the subject and links to other available databases.

So there are many Lessons Learned here, including:

* Check the record image if it is available - there may be items on the image that are not in the FamilySearch indexed record
* The http://beta.FamilySearch.org site makes it easier to find the image than the Pilot site
* There is a FamilySearch Wiki page for many of the collections available on the FamilySearch Beta site.
* The FamilySearch Wiki site has much more information, including links to non-LDS websites, for many research subjects. Researchers should familiarize themselves with the history of the locality, the availability of all records, and obtain the original record if possible.

My thanks to reader bgwiehle for helping me out here - it's apparent that I need as much help as I can get.

I'm reminded of the adage that: "There is no such thing as a useless blog post - it can always be used as a bad example!" And learned from!


Carol said...

Another lesson, when we trudge into new territory/records, it takes a while to figure out how to harvest ALL the goodies! Learning curve, wahhoooo!

Fun stuff.

Martin said...

That record is the gift that just keeps on giving. Parents alive or dead? Are you kidding me? I'm moving to Australia and get me some of that there ancestry.

Rod Van Cooten said...

Hi Randy,

Most of my research involves non-Australian records, so its good to be able to explore some local stuff, and to discover what range of records are available.

I should have pointed out in my previous comment to look at the image. I'm not 100% sure where the information on these index cards comes form, as there is way more information on there than I have ever seen on Australian shipping records.

In fact, the Agent's Immigrant List for "Brothers" is available on-line, with your Whittle family at http://srwww.records.nsw.gov.au/ebook/list.asp?Page=NRS5316/4_4787/Brothers_11%20Mar%201841/4_478700186.jpg&No=8

As you can see, the information is a more limited. I'm not sure whether the agent's list is the same as the ships passenger list, as these have a different format again.

I'm guessing that the information on the card comes from the entitlement certificates - http://investigator.records.nsw.gov.au/Entity.aspx?Path=\Series\5314

In this case, consulting the microfilms may score you baptism certificates and character references!

The bounty scheme was a little controversial in the colony, as the Government invested considerable sums in sourcing the right sorts of immigrants, and often the agents in England tried to bend the rules, and the conditions on the ships left a lot to be desired.

Searching the NLA newspaper archives again will give reports of ship arrivals, and also reports of the voyages, such as the following for "Brothers" http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article2552759 - the voyage was obviously quite an experience!