Monday, 23 July 2018

#52Ancestors - Week 28 - Travel

As I pack my suitcase to travel to England at the end of the week for five weeks, there is time to reflect on what it must have been like make a similar journey in the nineteenth century. I have written a to-do list, started packing the suitcase but I have the luxury of knowing that if I forget anything I will be able to buy it in England in a few days. The trip will take me less than 24 hours. By contrast it was not so easy for my great, great grandmother who travelled between England and Australia or England and India, by ship, many times.

In week 22 of this challenge - So Far Away - I wrote a post about how members of two branches of my family, the Mackillops and the Huttons, regularly travelled to India or to Australia. Another travel related post was written for one of my assignments for the Diploma of Family History where I wrote about George Hutton's voyage to Australia aboard the SS Somersetshire in 1869. George travelled to Australia on his own but what would it have been like to travel with a family aboard a ship on a voyage that could take months?

Eleanora Mackillop was born in Edinburgh in 1830. In 1832 her father, George Mackillop, and mother, Jean Eleonora Hutton, decided to take the family to India. George was a merchant in India and the decision was made to relocate to that country for a time to keep an eye on his business interests there. Both George and Jean had travelled between England and India previously. They had married in Calcutta in 1820 and their first three sons were born in India.They then returned with the boys to Edinburgh.

Five children accompanied their parents on the voyage in 1832. Eleonora was around two while her brother George was eleven, Charles was eight, John was six and James was a month or two old.
Example of a trunk used to transport clothes etc on ship voyages
As the whole family travelled to India, this was not planned as a short stay in that country. The family would therefore have packed trunks full of clothes and other possessions required for when they arrived. The Mackillop family was well off and staff would have accompanied them to assist on the journey, however it would still be quite an undertaking.

The family settled down to life in Calcutta. The British had been trading in India for more than eighty years and accommodation for British merchants in Calcutta could be described as comfortable with many staff.  However in July1833 James, now ten months old, died. This would have been devastating for the family and several months later they were once again on the move. This time the destination was Hobart Town in Van Diemens Land.

Of course, maybe the long term plan had always been to travel to and settle in Van Diemens Land where many families with ties to India had already settled. We will never know. However George obviously decided that this was the time to move again.

While the British had been in India since the mid 1750s, Hobart Town had been established as a penal colony only since 1804. However by early 1834 there were many opportunities for merchants, especially with ties to India, so George and his family moved into a large house in Davey Street.

In July 1834, a second daughter, Mary Rose, was born in Hobart Town followed by her sister, Georgina in April 1837. However tragedy had struck again in November 1836 when George and Jean's eldest son, also George died, aged 15.
St David's Cemetery
It was shortly after this that George first put the Davey Street house on the market with the intention of returning to Edinburgh. However this trip did not take place until about 1840. Once again George, Jean and their family boarded the ship for the long voyage back to Scotland.

While in Australia, George boarded a ship to Sydney in January 1835 before travelling to Monaro in southern New South Wales. From there he led a party of men to look for good land for pasture over the Victorian border. During the next few years he made a number of trips across Bass Strait and was one of the pioneers of the new settlement of Melbourne, though his home base remained Hobart.

Back in Scotland the family remained in Edinburgh for a number of years before moving to Bath in southern England.

In June 1849, Eleonora Mackillop married William Forbes Hutton, an officer in the British Army in India so the travelling began again.Their first son was born in England then Eleonora travelled to India with William. A daughter was born in India and when Eleanora returned to England in 1853 a second daughter was born. These three children remained in Bath with Jean and George when Eleonora returned, once more, to India. Another daughter and then a son were born in India before Eleonora and William returned to Bath. Two daughters and another four sons were born in England between 1859 and 1869.

In 1869, Eleonora's's eldest son travelled to Australia, followed by his father in May 1871. Eleonora made her final long distance voyage arriving in Melbourne with her younger children in May 1874.

There were many dangers travelling by sea in the nineteenth century as Eleonora knew. In November 1808 her grandfather, William Charles Hutton, a ship's captain, died at sea. Then, shortly after Eleonora and William settled in Victoria, a ship carrying their furniture was shipwrecked off the Victorian coast.

Monday, 16 July 2018

Fifty years in Libraries - I remember when -1960s

I finished library school and began working in public libraries in Canberra in November 1967. Retiring this month after working 21 years at Whitehorse Manningham Libraies in Melbourne, it is time to reflect on changes in Australian libraries during the past fifty years.

In 2018 we cannot imagine running a library without computers and many of our patrons depend on the use of free library computers for communication and information. Patrons, at WML, can borrow up to 70 items including magazines, items in different languages and AV items. Patrons can also join multiple library systems anywhere in the state.

However when I first worked in a public library (CPLS in Canberra - now ACT Libraries) in the late 1960s, I remember when:

  • Categories of library staff were librarians, library officers or library assistants. 
  • Borrowers (not patrons) could borrow only two books at a time.
  • Magazines were for reading in the library. 
  • People could only join the library if they lived or worked or attended school locally (ballet class on a Saturday morning did not count). 
  • Card systems were used in the children’s collection for borrowing. This was a problem when we discovered that a new staff member was dyslexic. (She only worked on the adult loan’s desk after that.) 
  • Tokens were used for borrowing from the adult collection. Each adult was issued with two tokens when they joined the library. One token was exchanged for one book. (Yes, we did not know which books were out, who had borrowed them or when they should be returned) 
  • Card catalogues provided information about the adult collection.
  • All newly trained library staff spent three months cataloguing before they were released into the branches. Each book was catalogued from scratch using Dewey and L.C. subject headings. Correct punctuation was essential. After two weeks, it was decided that my time would be better spent cataloguing the children’s collection backlog. 
  • While working as a Junior Services Library Officer, the only catalogue for the children’s collection in the library system was at head office. Consequently knowledge of the Dewey decimal classification system was essential when you worked in the children’s libraries. 
  • Children’s Holiday Programs were a new feature in libraries –origami sessions, string games, picture book slide shows, native animals in the library. One year the library’s Thursday After-School Group put on a puppet show using puppets they had made. No computer booking system. The children just turned up. 
  • At that time, CPLS was part of the Commonwealth Public Service so staff members were able to travel in Commonwealth cars between libraries. 
  • As there were no computers to turn on, computer reserve lists to check, emails to answer or return chutes to empty, all staff members were responsible for shelf reading sections of the library in the morning before opening time. 
  • Each Friday afternoon staff, not working at the loans desk, covered and repaired books. 
  • Ulverscroft Large Print books were first available at this time. They were large, hard covered, heavy, volumes with white covers that had horizontal coloured stripes, top and bottom, representing genre – red for fiction, blue for romance, green for non-fiction, black for mystery. Not very exciting! 
  • Reference collections were a well-used part of the library, particularly encyclopaedias and dictionaries. 
  • People were generally quiet in libraries and no-one thought of bringing food or drink or large bags, scooters or even soccer balls to play with into the building. 
  • People could visit a library without needing to use a phone while they were there. 
  • The roster was a three week roster. Staff members worked two nights a week for two weeks – Monday and Thursday and Tuesday and Friday. On the third week they worked Wednesday night and either Saturday morning or all day Saturday depending on the branch.
  • When libraries were open at night, branches closed at 9 pm. Stand-alone children’s branches closed at 6 pm.
  • When Dickson District Library opened at the end of 1969, the library closed from 12-1 for lunch on a Saturday. 
  • We did not have a photocopier in the library. People wrote notes. (However I remember, when I was at school, Brighton Library had a photocopier in the staff area which would sometimes be used for photocopying pictures from books for school projects.)

I worked at the Canberra Public Library Service (CPLS) from November 1967 until end of January 1971. The libraries now operate as ACT Library Service

Kings Avenue Public Library was the library headquarters and administration technical services operated from the first and second floors. A library for adults operated on the ground floor. This building had been the first National Library. When closing the library at night staff were not keen on having to check the upstairs areas before leaving the building. When I first arrived in Canberra I spent three months working in this building as a cataloguer.

Kings Avenue building when National Library (Great Southern Cards)
There were a number of branch libraries. Civic, in the centre of Canberra was the largest branch, plus branches at Downer, Hughes in the Woden area and at Belconnen. There were also small libraries just for children at Lyneham, Red Hill, Narrabundah, Curtin and O'Connor. 

The central children's service was located in rooms at St Mark's Library in Barton and that was where we organised activities (including holiday programs) visits to schools and arranged for requested books to be sent to those wanting them - a children's inter-library loan scheme. All the children's library staff also met there for book discussion sessions. This was where I worked after my stint as a cataloguer.
St Mark's Library building

I was in charge of Civic Branch Library for most of 1969. It was located in Civic Square and there was a large fountain outside the library. One night in winter it began to snow and the snowflakes falling on the fountain lit with floodlights was quite a scene.
Fountain in front of Civic Library today
When Dickson District Library opened at the end of 1969 I became the Junior Services Library Officer at Dickson and was responsible for activities in children's libraries in North Canberra. As it was a new library I spent time visiting the local schools talking to teachers about the library and also reading to children in some classes. Parent groups sometimes visited the library. This was, initially, a showcase building and we had visits from representatives of other libraries in Australia wanting to view the building. It was recommended as a place of heritage significance in Canberra for its design in 2008. Downer Library closed when Dickson Library opened.
Dickson District Library (SLV)
When I last visited the building the mezzanine in the centre of the library had been removed. Although this was one of the design features of the building it was not practical for a public library. Other alterations have been made to the building over the years.

1970s - Hargrave Library at Monash University

Fifty Years in Libraries - I remember when - 1970s

Returning to Melbourne, I worked at the Hargrave Engineering and Physical Sciences Library at Monash University in the 1970s. I started work at the beginning of February 1971 and left in December 1977. For the first two years I worked as inter-library loans officer until I completed my Arts degree. I was the reference and reader education librarian for the following five years.

I remember when:

  • Most of the engineering and physical sciences students and staff were male.
  • The only computers were in the Computer Centre. 
  • Loan records were processed overnight and made available next day as a computer printout. 
  • Card catalogues still provided information about the collection.
  • Filing new catalogue cards, or replacement cards, above the rod for a senior staff member to check was done before the library opened each morning.
  • If needing to contact interstate libraries for inter-library loans there was a telex machine at the Main Library that could be used. A form was filled in then taken across campus for transmission.
  • I ran classes for students, new post-grad students and new staff on using the library and information resources. On several occasions I had to tell students to learn the alphabet before they could learn to use a card catalogue.
  • At the reference desk, three years of my life was spent checking computer print-outs and writing correction forms ensuring all items in the collection were recorded for the new computer loans system. Fortunately I left Monash before the first of several loan systems was implemented.
  •  There was a liquid toner photocopier in the public area. Copies cost 2c each and were wet when they came out of the machine.
  • The photocopier frequently broke down and one of the attendants would have to fix it.

The Hargrave Library was officially opened in 1962 and was the first library on the Monash campus until the Main Library opened in 1964.

Needless to say there have been many changes to the Hargrave Library over the years. The library now also holds the medical and biological sciences collections and has been renamed the Hargrave-Andrew Library. An extension has been added and the ground floor is now part of the library complex making three floors instead of two. In the 1970s the ground floor of the building was a cafeteria which was open during the day. In the evening we had to go to the Student Union Building to use the main cafeteria if we wanted something to eat or drink.

A staircase in a glassed in area led to the first floor. An enclosed walkway also connected the engineering buildings and the library entrance. Before people entered the library there was the bag room on the right where bags were to be left.

On entering the library the reference desk was on the left near the door. The circulation desk and reserve collection were on the right. An attendant sat at the end of the circulation desk so that he could check that only library books on loan were removed from the library.

Walking into the library you could not miss the card catalogue. The cataolgue consisted of two rows of wooden cabinets containing drawers of catalogue cards on each side of the cabinet. Cards were arranged alphabetically by author, title or subject. There was also a shelf list - a numerical sequence by Dewey number.
Example of a card catalogue (Smithsonian Library)
The reference collection was located on the wall behind the card cabinets.

The ceiling in the foyer of the library was two stories high and the focal point was a model of the box kite designed by Lawrence Hargrave after whom the library was named. Lawrence Hargrave was commemorated on the Australian $20 note from 1966-1994.
A Lawrence Hargrave box kite
On the right wall was a group of ceramic pieces designed as a Homage to Lawrence Hargrave by John Perceval, known for his 'angels'. In her biography, John Perceval, Traudi Allen noted: "Perceval wrote an explanation of his mural, describing the central core as representing the splitting of the atom, with a dead astronaut to the top right, a baby astronaut to the lower left, and a birdman homage to Hargrave.

The total can be seen as a constellation of the stars which emphasises man's desire to get off the earth. The splitting of the atom is seen as a problem incidental to that of population growth, and space travel offers no solution." (Allen p121)

SLV image -
As there was no information provided in the library about this sculpture its meaning was a mystery to most staff and students entering the building. However everyone noticed it. Above the door to the current periodicals room was another head which the Hargrave Librarian at the time irreverently referred to it as a 'woman washing her hair'. However apparently Perceval designed this as the sun, 'the source of life, a mysterious body containing the symbol of birth". (Allen p121)

A curved staircase in the middle of the foyer led to the second floor. I
t was not unusual to see a student slide down the banister. The room to the bound periodicals was past the staircase while more bound periodicals and the books were stored on the second floor. The abstracts and indexes plus maps collection, entered via the current periodicals room, was staffed by a reference librarian who helped students and staff members use these tools

The Hargrave Library was a busy library, especially during the day in term-time, and was open seven days a week - Monday to Friday from 10 am to 10 pm, Saturday until 5 pm plus Sunday afternoon.

Monash University - Library in a timeline

Hargrave Library - Monash University Gazette vol. 1 no. 1 1964 pages 7-9
Monash University - Matheson stories
Friends and Angels - John Perceval by Traudi Allen (MUP re. ed. 2015) p 121
Floor plan of Hargrave-Andrew Library today
Lawrence Hargrave - Wikiwand

Lawrence Hargrave - Australian Dictionary of Biography 

Sunday, 8 July 2018

#52Ancestors - Week 27 - Independence

The prompt this week is Independence due to July 4 (American Independence Day) occurring during the week.

I therefore looked at a number of definitions for independence (and independent) - ability to live life without being helped or influenced by other people (Cambridge Dictionary), the ability to make decisions and live your life free from the control and influence of other people (Macmillan Dictionary) plus capable of thinking and  acting for oneself and not being influenced by others, impartial (Oxford Dictionaries). There is also the political use of the word, independence, when a country or state gains political freedom from outside control (Merriam Webster dictionary).

How can the prompt, Independence, be applied to my family story?

Independence can be defined as freedom so for the convicts 'freedom from servitude' was an important stage in their lives in their new land. In the early days of the Sydney colony, convicts were provided with small parcels of land and were encouraged, in their spare time, to farm the land to provide produce not only for the colony but also for their family. To be 'off stores' was an achievement and a step to independence for the family.

The above image, from the colonial Secretary's Papers, shows the recommendation to the Governor for the emancipation of Uriah Moses who had held a Ticket of Leave for eighteen years. Although he had received a Life Sentence he was about to be a free man.

My twelve convicts had no choice in the decision to travel to Australia at the end of the eighteenth century and first few years of the nineteenth century. However, once they had served their sentence it could be argued that they had now gained their independence and were able to make independent decisions that affected their later lives.

George Guest, for example, once the decision to close the Norfolk Island settlement was announced, immediately (1805) took his family and possessions to Van Diemen's Land to organise the best opportunities in the new environment. The last settlers left the Island in 1814. Not happy with the first possible settlement offered in the north of Van Diemen's Land George settled his family in Hobart.

Then there was Simeon Lord who, as one of the first former convict (Emancipist) businessmen in Sydney, frequently antagonised the Exclusives (free settlers in the colony) as he strived to establish (not always successfully) his business endeavours.

The colonies of Sydney, and surrounding areas, and Van Diemen's Land offered countless opportunities for Emancipists to establish farms or small businesses in towns as they gained their independence from their former lives as convicts. Yes, they had to contend with the forces of nature including floods, especially in the Hawkesbury area where many of my convicts settled, but they survived and worked to support their families and eventually lived independent lives.