Thursday, November 24, 2016

Family History - Genealogy resources in reference

Are you researching your family history? The Wagga Wagga City Library has many different resources to help your search. Though a lot of resources are available online (we do have the library edition of Ancestry available to use in the library) we also have many books in the genealogy section that may be of use to you.

Here's a selection to get you started:

Tracing births, deaths and marriages at sea by Christopher T & Michael J Watts

This little book covers pretty comprehensively everything you would want to know about searching for these kinds of records. At first it may seem an obscure topic but as travelling by sea was so common in times past, it may be helpful for those trying to find missing ancestors where records stop or start at sea.

"In this book we will concentrate not so much on such myths, and legal niceties, but rather upon the more practical aspects of just what records of such events have survived, what they might reveal and where to find them."
 Tracing births, deaths and marriages at sea, p 1

Sydney Burial Ground (Elizabeth and Devonshire Streets) and history of Sydney's early cemeteries from 1788 by Keith A Johnson and Malcolm R Sainty

A detailed study with photographs and encyclopedic indexes and appendices and explanations of the records ( for example, Licences and Butt Books). There is a potted history of the earliest burial grounds 1788-1901. Interesting to note that the Sydney Burial Ground was removed to make way for the Sydney Central Station.

"In 1901 the New South Wales Government invited descendants and relatives of those interred at the Sydney at The Sydney Burial Ground to relocate the monuments and remains. The cemetery had been closed fro more than twelve years and presented a deserted and neglected appearance."
Sydney Burial Ground p. 35 

Researching Australian School Records: A Guide for Family Historians and Local History Enthusiasts, by Geoffrey Burkhardt

Maybe school records are not an immediately obvious avenue for genealogical research, but they may give a personal touch to a person's history where other records may be considered austere or unforthcoming. This book's Australian focus makes it super helpful.
"In seeking out the school record sources described above, particularly the manuscript sources, family historians need to be resourceful and not just rely on state archive repositories."
 Researching Australian School Records p. 55

The Genealogy reference section contains many more resources including shipping records, how-tos on finding records and people, and many other gems besides. Browse the shelves or ask the friendly staff for assistance :-)

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Imposter or not ? Arthur Orton, Tom Castro and the Tichborne story

The strange story of Roger Tichborne continues to fascinate people, prompting new research and new books on the subject.

The Claimant, by Paul Terry, adds to this body of work, and the bizarre circumstances surrounding the story of the imposter Tom Castro, the Baronet Roger Tichborne, and Arthur Orton the Butcher's son are set out clearly in this new work. As Paul Terry points out, the case put Wagga Wagga on the map and :
Wagga was now synonymous with it's most infamous resident
p 104, The Claimant, by Paul Terry

The man who lost himself: the unbelievable story of the Tichborne claimant, by Robyn Annear, is another very readable account of the Tichborne story. Ms Annear's account has a more humorous slant, with a focus on some of the weirder tales associated with  the case, but is still a proper piece of historical research. 

...between eight and ten thousand people gathered outside the court, morning and afternoon, to catch a glimpse of their champion, the Claimant.
p. 351, The man who lost himself, by Robyn Annear

For those of you who prefer their information with a more scholarly bent, we also have :

Rohan McWilliam is an English university professor and accordingly writes his account of the Tichborne tale with literary flair and historical accuracy. Particularly interesting are references to the street ballads of the time, songs about Tichborne and the surrounding controversy, lies and legend.

Up to the mid-Victorian period, the broadside ballad sung at a fair or street corner was a much loved form of popular culture. One of the most popular topics in the 1870s was the Tichborne Claimant.
p.213, The Tichborne Claimant: A Victorian Sensation, by Rohan McWilliam

The titles covered here are available for loan at Wagga Wagga City Library, but if you miss out there are copies in local studies you can read within the library. Brush up on your knowledge on Wagga's most famous infamous court case and suprise and amuse your friends with anecdotes from these three excellent histories :-)

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Tunnel vision : Railway Hotels of Victoria and New South Wales

Wagga Wagga City Library recently hosted a book launch for the second volume of Scott Whitaker's series on railway hotels in Australia and the library has purchased both volumes for the local studies collection. 

Both of these beautifully produced volumes contain factual information as well as stories, advertisements, maps, photographs, a bibliography, and a very welcome index. 

Railway Hotels of Australia volume one : Victoria, has all the famous (and infamous) railway hotels including Glenrowan, Castlemaine, and Ballarat, which boasted four or five hotels during the heyday of rail travel in the 1800s. 

From volume one, Railway Hotels of Australia : Victoria

Railway Hotels of Australia volume two : New South Wales includes 3 railway hotels for Wagga Wagga, the first being active from 1874 to 1922, the second being a hotel expressly set set for the use of railway labourers circa 1878. Another interesting fact is that Wagga Wagga had "...185 hotels in the electorate, and the statutory number was 76," (p 261 Railway Hotels of Australia volume 2 : New South Wales) so the Licenses Reduction Board had to get rid of 44 of those excess hotels. That's a lot of hotels :-) 

The Astor Hotel which currently stands on the corner of Station Place and Edward streets, replaced the original Kerr's Wagga Hotel, and you can read the story of why railway hotel names in Wagga Wagga were interchangeable at this time.

From volume two, Railway Hotels of Australia: New South Wales

These books are now available for you to look at within the library. 

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

New books in Local Studies

The Local Studies collection at Wagga Wagga City Library has three new books this week, two histories and a collection of mini personal histories of Wagga luminaries.

We are. Wagga Wagga, produced by Belinda Benson, Peita Vincent, Jaqueline Cooper, Elizabeth Robinson and Alexandra Chubb, is compilation of great stories about a wide range of Wagga Wagga people including comedian Dane Simpson and entrepreneur Simone Eyles.

Pomingalarna, by Geoff Burch

The history of the Pomingalarna Run, the homestead, the commons, and the mines in this area of Wagga Wagga. Contains meticulous research as ever by Geoff Burch, with maps and photographs showing the old Pomingalarna in current day context.

Early Hotels on the Mirrool Creek (west of Quandary), the establishment of Ardlethan, and the history of its two hotels, by Geoff Burch

Extensive research by local historian Geoff Burch again brings alive the history of a particular area, with information on early pastoral runs, with maps and photographs of the locations as they are today. 


 These books are now available for you to read within the library, with some for loan copies available soon. 

Friday, July 29, 2016

Fitz Noir: stories from Fitzmaurice Street 1920- 1925

the Daily Advertiser, Tuesday 18 August 1925

Many publications printed by groups of businessmen over the years, have presented Wagga Wagga as a stolid, staid and stuffy town. Despite this attempted gloss, the early history of Wagga Wagga turns up many gems, and the early 1920s was particularly rich in surprising events. 

Fitzmaurice Street in the early 1920s was a lively place, with the top four infringements people were charged with appearing to be as follows: Offensive behaviour, Riotous behaviour, Indecent language, and Loitering. Of these, riotous behaviour was the most popular, often involving drunken brawls, and other alcohol fuelled behaviours that were puzzling to hapless bystanders.

Indecent language was also popular in 1920s Wagga, with the actual language or words used described in very decorous and demure terms that gave no hint of the content, but the people of the time must have known what swear words of the day were most frequently used. Again it was mostly alcohol affected people loudly disclaiming near a convenient policeman on street patrol, with hopefully a group of suitably shocked persons witnessing the “crime”.
                                      the Daily Advertiser, Friday 22 April 1921                                            

Offensive behaviour was prevalent, though again, descriptions given were mild in comparison to today’s standards, and thumbing your nose at a policeman could get you arrested. 

the Daily Advertiser, Monday 9 February 1925

The other startling statistic from this time is the high number of traffic accidents, involving bolting horses, runaway horse and buggies, and car and motorbike accidents. Men of this time were used to performing great acts of derring do, leaping into runaway carts and pulling up the horse and saving the occupants of the cart or buggy. Men would do this at a moment’s notice so it must have been a fairly common occurrence to be that prepared and confident to stop a bolting horse. Mr Minty, of Minty’s garage fame, made it into the Daily Advertiser as one of many men who rescued people this way.

the Daily Advertiser, Tuesday 29 June 1920

Drink driving in cars was also common, and caused many fatalities and injuries ; people usually had excuses for their bad driving behaviours, as did this fellow ”it wasn’t the drink, it was the brakes Your Honour”

the Daily Advertiser, Monday 15 June 1925

Opium smoking was a social problem of the time, generally inhabitants of the town knew where the opium dens or smoking establishments were, and of course illegal gambling was huge at the time along with other less troubling entertainments. Unconscious people were often found lying in the street, sometimes outside opium dens, or pubs. The gaming house was shut down, as were the opium dens (eventually).

 the Daily Advertiser, Tuesday 24 February 1920

the Daily Advertiser, Tuesday 29 September 1925

But the best of all these stories are the oddities of Fitzmaurice Street. 

There was the shopkeeper’s parrot, who regularly drew an appreciative crowd: 

                                              the Daily Advertiser, Thursday 27 March 1924

The giant cod displayed in an oyster saloon window, and the story of the gruff fisherman who bagged the giant fish:

                                                the Daily Advertiser, Friday 14 March 1924

The Great Lobster Price Outrage of 1925:

the Daily Advertiser, Monday 10 August 1925

And finally,  the man who proudly displayed his arm length tattoo of a naked lady, was arrested but let off with a warning (after having the judge examine the tattoo closely) (and at length) to “keep your arm to yourself in future”

the Daily Advertiser, Tuesday 10 February 1920

You can uncover your own 1920s gems through Trove's newspaper search

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Reports,studies,plans: three reserves of Wagga Wagga

The Wagga Wagga local studies collection contains many different types of reports on local landmarks and areas – three examples here are Willans Hill, Pomigalarna, and Wiradjuri reserves.

These sorts of reports contain useful historical information as well as facts about flora and fauna, and other environmental data, along with maps and statistics.

Pomigalarna Reserve, 1987. Compiled by The Friends of Pomigalarna Committee 

Highlight: Pomigalarna bird list

Willans Hill management plan, 1990. Prepared by the City of Wagga Wagga Parks and Recreation department

Highlightmap of original land grants in Willans Hill area

Wiradjuri Reserve, compiled in 1999. Alexandra Dalgliesh, Landscape Architect, for Wagga Wagga City Council

Highlight: map of Tin Town circa 1940s

These reports and many more are available in the local studies collection, and you may find some copies for loan within the general library collection. Come in and ask the friendly staff for assistance ! 

Monday, May 23, 2016

It’s about the books: celebrating the 70th birthday of the Wagga Wagga City Library

From : The Daily Advertiser, 25 May 1946

2016 is a big year for anniversaries – William Shakespeare, Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, and now, The Wagga Wagga City Library celebrates its 70th birthday. 

The Wagga Wagga City Library started with the Free Library Movement, active before 1946, with a group of dedicated people in the community taking action to establish a library for Wagga Wagga. The Patriotic Hut was bought by the then council, in 1946, to house the library, perhaps a fitting beginning at the end of World War Two. The first Wagga Free Library was a source of fierce civic pride, also showing what a progressive town Wagga Wagga was, in providing such a service.

Libraries are now much more than books, newspapers and magazines – although the heart of the library, through the Free Library Movement in Australia, has always been books, reading, and equity of access to books, and all the benefits those things bring.

Book History

Books themselves, as objects, are often not paid much attention to, but they are interesting for all the little details they present as a physical object, not just the topic or type of writing they hold. Depending on when they were printed, the cover, the paper used, the card in the pocket in the front of the book, the stamp used, all record details of its history that can enrich appreciation and understanding of a book. 

Next time you borrow an older book from the local studies collection, have a closer look- you may find some tiny detail you find intriguing :-)

The Wagga Wagga Local Studies Collection

The Wagga Wagga City Library Local Studies Collection is housed in the Rose Novak room, established in November 2004, and named after the librarian who started the collection, during her 22 years of service to the library.
The collection holds a sometimes weird and wonderful, sometimes commonplace, array of items, and this is added to every year. Some items are very old and frail, falling apart but held safe in the local studies room.
Some of our more famous collections within the collection:

The Tichborne collection contains both papers and books, including illustrations and articles from magazines of the time. The Tichborne case was an international sensation in the Victorian era, with the claimant to the Tichborne fortune finally being proved an imposter in the English court, and serving a total of ten years jail. 

Poet Mary Gilmore, an icon of Australian literary tradition, is also well represented, with an extensive collection of books available, as well as some ephemera from her visit to Wagga Wagga in 1947 for Children’s Book Week.

The Wiradjuri, First Peoples of this area, are represented in the local history collection, containing a range of books about Wiradjuri language, heritage, and survival. 

Book lists

The Daily Advertiser regularly ran a book list, featuring new items from non fiction, fiction, and later, audio recordings in the form of long playing vinyl records (or LPs for short- for those of us that remember them) and after that, films on reel. 

In later years, towards the mid to late fifties, book lists started becoming more detailed and recommended books for different kinds of reading - though providing the right book in any circumstance has, again, from the start of the Free Library movement, been a major concern for all library workers. 

Libraries in general, but Wagga Wagga City Library in particular, also saw themselves as providers of information- places where you could get information on just about anything. 


So...happy birthday, Wagga Wagga City Library ! When you come in and borrow, have a thought for the progressive people in 1946 who worked to bring this library service into existence, and celebrate the continuing legacy we have today :-)

Friday, April 29, 2016

The marriage of true minds: Wagga Wagga Shakespeare Club

As this year is the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death – and as Wagga Wagga has always had a strong interest in Shakespeare (and things literary in general) I thought I’d look at the stronghold of Shakespeare in Wagga Wagga – The Shakespeare Club.
The Wagga Shakespeare Club started out as the Calliope Club, in 1904, and over the years there have been some changes to the name, and rules for the club, but overall the point of the club was to read, learn about and appreciate Shakespeare. The Shakespeare Ladies: A history of the Wagga Wagga Shakespeare Club by Jen Thompson, has one of the most evocative descriptions of early Wagga as an introduction to the story of the club’s formation. If you have ever tried to imagine early Wagga (and I have on many occasions) the book is worth reading for that description alone.
The club continued to meet during both world wars, adding tasks dedicated to help the war effort as well as reading Shakespeare to each other, meeting in members’ homes, bringing food to share along with the plays.
“…I am afraid Wagga is a very dull town, our people do not appreciate the works of Shakespeare nor the Players, for which I can’t forgive them.” Mrs Copland, circa 1920s, p. 30 of The Shakespeare Ladies by Jen Thompson 
Luckily things have changed since then J
Left: from The Daily Advertiser, 14 November 1914
Right: From The Daily Advertiser, 10 August 1920
In 2004 the Wagga Wagga City Library hosted a New South Wales State Library first folio edition of Shakespeare’s works, with John Bell, of Bell Shakespeare, opening the exhibition.
If you would like to look at a copy of the first folio, the State Library of New South Wales has a digitised copy on their website:
The Wagga Wagga Shakespeare Club continues to meet, in the Community Learning Space in the library.
Wagga Wagga City Library has a copy of The Shakespeare Ladies for loan, and extra copies in the local studies collection that can be read within the library. We also have an extensive Shakespeare collection you can borrow, including audio, so if you are inspired to re-read or maybe dip in for the first time, or listen to full dramatic productions of the plays, or watch the latest BBC production of Macbeth, come in and ask the friendly staff how you can access this amazing collection. The library also has some beautiful bookmarks to give away, from the New South Wales State Library, featuring the stained glass windows in their Shakespeare Room, which depict the seven ages of man from the “All the world’s a stage” speech from As you like it, so don’t forget to pick up your bookmark whilst stocking up on Shakespeare’s works.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

When Hats were a thing : Prosperous Wagga Wagga,1926

I recently rediscovered a valuable resource in the local studies collection – a promotional booklet published by the Wagga Wagga Express in 1926. It's title is suitably and unnecessarily long : "Wagga Wagga  Its Resources for Primary and Secondary Industries". In broadsheet form, it contains what we might now call advertorials; also stories, photographs, statistics about businesses, utilities, the early history of Wagga Wagga, industries in the town and region – in short an excellent reference on the place and time of 1926.

I found the history of utilities extremely interesting – water, gas and electricity all provided by the council of the time – information on kilowatts, price, machinery and processes used, all described in detail. If you are writing the ultimate Wagga Wagga historical novel, then every bit of background information you’ll ever need is here J

Farming, stock sales, education, flour milling, parks and gardens: nearly every aspect of (respectable) town life you could think of is written about.   A couple of my favourite stories include the Riverina Fruit and Confectionery Distributors Wallace & Co., illustrated with a delightful photograph of a stockroom filled with boxes and boxes of delicious sweets stacked to the ceiling. 
The other story is of Anstice and Mackay – “Noted for Hats” – which was a business situated, in 1926, on the School of Arts corner, in Fitzmaurice Street. My favourite photograph is of the Hat Department display. 

Left : from the Daily Advertiser, August 1926

As with all items in the local studies collection, you are very welcome to come into the library and look at the different resources and discover how they may help you in your research - ask at the information desk!