No Liars, No Dirty Faces, and Other Library Rules...

Library rules were simple back in the day. If you take look at current library rules, they’re kind of what you’d expect. Very long and very detailed. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, they’re just covering their bases. But back the 1900s (actual date unknown), the Hyde Institute Library in Hertfordshire, England, created a list of just 12 simple rule … and very wise ones at that! What we do know, is that the first newspaper account of this list that I found was is in The Observer, London, England, Sunday 27 April 1930, p18. But it was so good, that it was picked up by the Australian newspapers, and reproduced in the Northern Territory Times, 12 August 1930, p6, as well as  Brisbane’s Sunday Mail, 11 January 1931, p15 as well as Melbourne’s Advocate, Tuesday 23 March 1939, p16 to mention a few. Incidentally while looking on Trove for “Library Rules”, I found a great article that was printed in the Geraldton Guardian, Tuesday, 4 November 1914, p4, which I’ve added in below. I especially like the “Don’t grumble. You are borrowing, and getting interest for nothing”. So true. Libraries are free, and they provide an incredible service to the community. Respect the staff and library volunteers, not to mention the books and other items the library has and allows the public to use....

1 February 1895 – The Day Time Stood Still in South Australia...

At midnight on 1 February 1895, clocks were stopped, and time stood still in South Australia so as to bring the State (or colony as it was then) into line with international standard times. Actually this was an Australia-wide change as up to this time, each colony had followed their own time set at a local observatory in their capital city. A long article in the  South Australian Register, Thursday 31 January 1895, starts off with the following: “To-night the process of marking that period which Hamlet calls ‘the very witching time of night’ will be exceptionally puzzling throughout the greater part of Australia. By the provisions of the Standard Time Act the Legislatures of five colonies have taken the liberty of declaring that an hour shall not be sixty minutes in duration, but something else, varying in different localities with the ‘ hour-zone’ in which those localities happen to lie. Thus, in South Australia the space from 11 o’clock till 12 p.m. of this 31st of January will be seventy four minutes twenty and two fifth seconds. In other words all clocks and watches, in order that they may indicate the correct time to-morrow, must be put back fourteen minutes twenty and two-fifth seconds.” So as far as South Australia was concerned the clocks stopped at midnight for 14 minutes and 20 seconds, bringing it in line with the 135th meridian, and adopting Central Standard Time. The article continues … “In this colony we have to put our clocks back, and therefore we gain time; but in Victoria, as in New South Wales, Queensland, and Tasmania, the people are to lose time and the Victorians in particular do not appear to relish the idea, although, of course, it is a nominal loss and nothing more … “ The eastern states actually only lost 5 minutes, bringing it in line with the 150th meridian. “The main fact...

The First Traffic Lights in Australia...

When were the first traffic lights installed in Australia? It’s an interesting question, and one that once asked, makes you intrigued to find out … well it did me anyway. So that’s what today’s history lesson is all about. When were the first traffic lights installed in each of the Australian states? Of course I headed to the one and only magnificent Trove to find out, and you might just be as surprised as I was! SYDNEY – 13 October 1933 Friday, 13 October 1933 was when Sydney’s (and Australia’s) first traffic lights began operating. The lights were installed at the intersection of Market and Kent Streets in city of Sydney, and were switched on at 11am, by the then Minister for Transport, Colonel Michael Bruxner. You can see a fabulous photo of the traffic lights here.   BRISBANE – 21 January 1936 At 3pm on Tuesday, 21 January 1936 a large crowd gathered in the CBD to watch the switching on of the first traffic lights in Brisbane.  These were installed at the intersection of Ann, Upper Albert and Roma Streets.   HOBART – 27 January 1937 This one surprised me as I never realised that Hobart had traffic lights so early. But the newspapers reported the grand occasion which you can read on the link below. Just before 11am on Wednesday the 27th of January 1937 the lights were turned on at the intersection of Elizabeth and Liverpool streets.   ADELAIDE – 13 April 1937 Tuesday, 13 April 1937 was Adelaide’s big day, as that’s when Adelaide’s first traffic lights were turned on. These were installed at various intersections along King William Street in the city.   MELBOURNE – late December 1937 The Melbourne public had to adapt...

A Thankyou to the Captain...

As an avid Trovite, I love reading the old newspapers (as so many of us do). And yet, I am still amazed at the very cool stuff you can find in the old newspapers. Take for instance one of my recent finds. A friend asked me to see what I could find on the “Lord Raglan” 1854 voyage to South Australia. So after some general Googling to find out the basic details (the ship left Plymouth, Devon 16 July 1854, and arrived in Port Adelaide, South Australia on 23 October 1854), I found a copy of the original passenger list on the State Library of South Australia website. I also found references to it on the Passengers in History site, and The Ships List. Anyway so then I headed off to Trove , and I came up with a thankyou message that the passengers had written to the Captain of the Lord Raglan ship, and they put it publicly in the the newspaper. How cool is that? It’s great to know that Captain Flanagan and his crew looked after their passengers on the long voyage to a new life. Another newspaper entry I found relating to the Lord Raglan, quotes the following … The fine new ship Lord Raglan, 923 tons register, Captain Flanagan, for Adelaide, and the Appoline, of 500 tons, for Melbourne, having embarked their respective complements of emigrants from the Government dept, at Plymouth, sailed on Sunday. The Lord Raglan belongs to Messrs. W. Nicholson and Sons, of Sunderland, and has been fitted up on a most excellent plan, the result of the experience of Captain Lean, R.N., the Government emigration officer in London. Among other advantages, one-third of each bed can be turned up from the sides of the ship, so as to admit of a free passage two feet...

Valentine’s Day is “as dead as Julius Caesar”...

Valentine’s Day is just a hyped up, money making day. There I said it!! [Note: that is entirely my personal opinion here. No offence to those who love the day, but I feel why have ‘a’ day when you’re simply ‘expected’ to give something, when it’s so much nicer to receive an ‘out-of-the-blue-no-reason-needed’ gift.] Flowers, chocolates, jewellery, a card and/or other romantic gifts … it is what you ‘should’ give your loved one right? Not necessarily. But it is certainly what we’ve been programmed to think. Anyway it certainly wasn’t always the case. In fact in the early 1900s Valentines Day had all but died out. That sure has changed!! Take for instance this article from South Australia’s ‘Evening Journal‘ newspaper from Thursday 15 February 1900: ST. VALENTINE’S DAY. Wednesday was St. Valentine’s Day, but perhaps few people knew it outside of those who are diligent students of their calendars. The old practice of sending valentines has almost if not completely died out. A leading bookseller reports that it is as “dead as Julius Caesar;” that most stationers do not stock valentines nowadays; and, moreover, that people never ask for them. The circulating of extraordinary caricatures is now almost entirely in the hands of the satirical papers, and if a remarkable event were to happen on February 14 there is a probability of St. Valentine’s Day not even being remembered by tie publishers of calendars.  But as the years went by, the tradition was starting to gain a foothold again., and according to the Albury Banner and Wodonga Express from Friday 11 July 1919 we can blame the Americans for it! VANISHING VALENTINES. Although the custom of sending valentines is very nearly dead in England, it may, perhaps, be revived...

The Train, the Explosion, and the Parliamentarian...

The year was 1890, and … “a most painful accident, of a character unparalleled in the annals of railway accidents in this colony, if not in Australasia, occurred on the Northern line on Friday evening, Jan. 17. The terrible calamity which befel … was so sudden, and its effects so appalling, that the harrowing details were listened to with bated breath and unconcealed sorrow.” That’s how the long article about the tragic death of well-known South Australian businessman and parliamentarian, Honorable James Garden Ramsay, M.L.C. begins. James Ramsay was born in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1827, did an apprenticeship as an engineer at the St Rollox Ironworks in Glasgow, and then emigrated to South Australia in 1852. He established an agricultural implement and machine manufacturing plant at Mount Barker, which represented the starting point of what later grew into the largest business of its kind in the colony. Apart from his Mount Barker business, he opened up agricultural implement manufacturing businesses in Adelaide, Clare and Laura as there was a huge demand. Anyway J.G. Ramsay’s interest in politics began in the 1860s, and in 1870 he entered Parliament for Mount Barker, and from then until his death he held various parliamentary positions. The article says … “Altogether he served over five years as a Minister of the Crown. As leader of the Legislative Council he exhibited considerable tact and ability, and possessing the confidence of his fellow members, he was eminently successful in conducting the business”. Which then brings us back to Friday evening, 17 January 1890 when James Ramsay is travelling back to Adelaide, from Saddleworth, South Australia by train. Travelling with Mr Rounsvell (a fellow M.P.), who by the time the train reached Riverton left to go to the smoking...

Trove – Eight Years of Incredible Discoveries...

Eight years ago, the way of historical and genealogical research in Australia changed forever. Trove went live. Created by the National Library of Australia, the Trove website is a portal to their absolutely incredible collection of records. By “absolutely incredible”, I’m talking millions of records. But not “just” millions. How about 554,000,000 of them? That’s right, over HALF A BILLION of them in fact! All online and all free to search. So how lucky are we? There’s no doubt that Trove is Australia’s number 1 website for research. If it’s not yours, it should be! So go and bookmark it www.trove.nla.gov.au now. If you’re not familiar with Trove, take a quick look at the videos below that give you a quick overview, of what it is, and the different facets to it. So you’ll find photos, journals and articles, archived websites, government gazettes, music, sound and video recordings, diaries and letters, maps and books, even vintage issues of the Women’s Weekly magazine. They all make up the phenomenal collection of Australian history that the National Library of Australian (NLA) looks after. For more a detailed analysis on using Trove and all it’s facets, check out Shauna Hicks’ “Trove: Discover Genealogy Treasure in the National Library of Australia“. However what most researchers (myself included) head to Trove for, is their historical newspaper collection. And why wouldn’t we, they are so fun. And with over 200 million pages of old newspaper online already – there are so many stories just waiting to be found. The blog theme “Trove Tuesday” was started back in 2012 by Amy Houston of the Branches Leaves and Pollen blog, [note, I know the link has changed, but I still wanted to give her the credit], and through its creation, has...

The Duel in the City of Adelaide...

A duel is something you associate with westerns. Two cowboys pacing it out on a dusty street before turning around, and drawing their guns as quick as possible. And usually the fastest one wins. So when I found out that there was a duel in my hometown city of Adelaide, South Australia naturally I was intrigued, and had to check it out further. There was no cowboys, or dusty streets, or tumbleweeds in this duel … (actually the streets may well have been dusty still at this stage), but certainly no cowboys or tumbleweeds. Instead we had politicians! The two players in this duel are Charles Cameron Kingston, Q.C. & M.P., (1850-1908) and Richard Chaffey Baker, M.L.A. (1841-1911). The scene was the Adelaide Town Hall, on King William Street, Adelaide, and the time was 1.30pm, on Friday, 23 December 1892 … and it all started over name calling! The Australian Dictionary of Biography sums up the who episode quite succinctly in the following paragraph … “The most dramatic and colorful episode in Kingston’s political career occurred in 1892. After a prominent conservative member of the Legislative Council, (Sir) Richard Baker, denounced him as a coward, a bully and a disgrace to the legal profession, Kingston responded by describing Baker as ‘false as a friend, treacherous as a colleague, mendacious as a man, and utterly untrustworthy in every relationship of public life’. Kingston did not stop there. He procured a pair of matched pistols, one of which he sent to Baker accompanied by a letter appointing the time for a duel in Victoria Square, Adelaide, on 23 December. Baker wisely informed the police who arrested Kingston shortly after he arrived, holding a loaded revolver. Amidst widespread publicity he was tried and bound over to...

They Died in the Asylum

Parkside Lunatic Asylum is the original name for the building that was subsequently renamed to Parkside Mental Hospital, then Glenside Hospital and more recently Glenside Health Services. Situated on Fullarton Road at Glenside, it is in one of Adelaide’s leafy eastern suburbs and is by outwards appearance, a magnificent place. But the asylum was far from that for the inmates at the asylum, and sadly for so many it was their last home. The Parkside Lunatic Asylum was opened in 1870 initially housing men, but by the 1880s men, women and children were being housed there. It housed not only those suffering from mental illness, but also people with intellectual disabilities and medical conditions like epilepsy. While browsing around on Trove, I found this article in the Adelaide Advertiser, 14 January 1910, and was saddened by the fact that there was so many who even in a six month period, died without family nearby. LUNATIC ASYLUM. Return of persons who have died in the Lunatic Asylum during the half-year ended December 31 whose relatives are unknown or reside outside the State:  – Margaret Sinnott (81), died July 3 last, the cause of death being cardiac disease and senile decay – Wilhelm Heinrich Dittich (71), July 5, pulmonary disease and cardiac failure – Judy (aboriginal female), (60), July 10, gastritis and cardiac failure – Guiseppe Castagneth (58), August 8, apoplexy and cerebral disease – Rosalie Russell (63), August 20, hepatic disease and ascites – Theodosia Byrne (78), August 20, apoplexy and senile decay – Sarah Jane Hayes (35), August 29, phthisis and exhaustion – Bridget (alias Annie) Evans, (42), August 29, suicide by hanging – William Conway (36) September 1, general paralysis and apoplexy – Dora Knout (80), September 2 cardiac disease and senile decay – William Carruthers (75), September 5, diarrhoea and senile decay – Thomas...

Society of Australian Genealogists …. the Beginnings...

Most Aussies who’ve been doing genealogy for a little while will be familiar with the major genealogical societies in each state: QFHS, GSQ, AIGS, GSV, WAGS, GSNT, GST, SAGHS, HAGSOC and SAG. Today’s story focusses on the Society of Australian Genealogists in Sydney, which we commonly refer to as SAG. While recently browsing on Trove (as you do on cold, almost-winter evenings), I came across the following article which tells of the beginnings of the Society … So as you can see the Society of Australian Genealogists was formed way back in 1932. This made me go looking to see when the other state societies were formed, and here’s what I found: 1941 – Genealogical Society of Victoria 1964 – Heraldry & Genealogical Society of Canberra (also now known as Family History ACT) 1973 – South Australian Genealogy & Heraldry Society (also now known as GenealogySA) 1973 – Australian Institute of Genealogical Studies 1978 – Genealogical Society of Queensland 1979 – Queensland Family History Society 1979 – Western Australian Genealogical Society 1980 – Genealogical Society of Tasmania (now known as Tasmanian FHS) 1981 – Genealogical Society of the Northern Territory A snippet from the above 1932 article states… “Mr. H. J. Rumsey, said he was convinced that no country had more complete records from the time of its occupation by civilised people than Australia. Mr. Rumsey indicated the various sources of information available for research work, both in Australia and Great Britain … To help one another in genealogical study, Mr. Rumsey advocated the use of a card index system, so that members could be supplied with standard cards to record their investigation. Ultimately, he said, it was to be hoped that a genealogical reference library of their own...