Finding and solving gaps in our research.

Remembering that stories are important in family history, not just the birth, death, marriage dates and places. So how do we find information to fill in the gaps in the stories was what was discussed at this #ANZAncestryTime chat.

422737 / Pixabay

How do we identify gaps in our research? Is it important to do so?

I use timelines to work out where I need to look for more info eg school records, employment records etc

If you use good desktop software it may have a way to let you know what is missing

I am currently redoing my database and have queries to help find what is missing.

I have two ways of identifying gaps: (1) is writing up my research which makes clear where I’m missing information. (2) checking against my preferred sources to ensure I’ve included them.

To find gaps in knowledge/evidence about an individual … start writing up what you know about them as a sourced biographical narrative. This soon highlights the gaps which you can then set about trying to fill

Starting with what you know is a great tip Jane @Chapja It’s much easier then to see the gaps

Yes, Jane, I can get on board with this method, because my goal is a story, not a full database.

I like to try to fill in the gaps in my research. Often when traditional family history records leave gaps you can fill them using newspapers. DNA has helped me also

Love me a good timeline! Plus checklists, making sure I’ve covered at least all the basics.

For brickwalls I use mindmaps (from FreeMind) to review and identify what I might have missed

I love creating mind maps. I picked up that tip at Rootstech a few years ago. It’s amazing what can jump out at you as missing

Mindmapping – you could do this with pencil and paper I’ve also used Freemind Mindmaps for preparing museum exhibitions What’s really nice is that you can collapse sections or open then up

Using a research log or prompt sheet can help to identify gaps


To visualise gaps in tree … the DNAPainter ‘Ancestral Trees’ function enables you to visualise tree completeness so you can decide where in your tree you may want to focus next – dnapainter.com/#trees

I create detailed timelines for individuals and families – it’s a great way of spotting both gaps and connections I hadn’t noticed before. Creating bios for Wikitree also made me go back and look for things I’d missed, so I could tell a coherent story

As Australia doesn’t have its census records available, we have to utilise different record sets and not get caught in the decennial gap trap.

Identifying gaps in our research is important if we’re to gain a full view of the lives of our ancestors. Learning what records are available for place and time, and using them, is critical.

I find using a spreadsheet to set down timelines of each person useful. Columns represent list of possible records they would be in, when I locate I tick it in the column. Records BMD parish records and census.

As with so much in family history, it’s finding what is most intuitive for each of us that helps productivity.

When looking at gaps in our research we need to look at regional, national and world events to see how they affected our families.

Ancestry’s DNA match colour coding and DNA Painter’s chromosome mapping have filled gaps for me

When new records become available work through them to ensure you have not missed someone GRO site helped me

I use timelines. I include place as well as dates. For example, is it possible that my research people were in e.g. New York for 1910 census and then enumerated in England a few months later in 1911? (Yes, it is, but confirming it opened new avenues)

Yeah Sophie’s “negative space” is basically the same idea, although her approach is more colourful. I’d like to be able to do a 3-D version that layers people on top of time/place. Best I can do for that is Visio/process maps

Visio is a lovely little microsoft package – very easy to use. I also use it for presenting smaller family trees – extracts

It was inspiration from the talk given by @ScientistSoph on Negative Space that really started me thinking more about this topic, including mapping events. Read her blog post here. parchmentrustler.com/family-history…

timelines are really helpful, as is writing up a person’s life. Often realise I’m missing something crucial.

Interesting how many of us find narratives helpful to identify missing research.

I tag my Legacy trees as I find supporting sources so I know which ones I need to find.

i do a timeline sheet in my Research Log (Excel). I add date in first column then age, event and place for each person in the family with a diff colour for each person. Then i can scroll and see where each family member was on a date.

Different formats for diff research questions, but usually just a table in a Word document – year in one column, date in next, then a text field with whatever info I want to record. I find that little bit of visual organisation just enough to work for me

Ancestry’s DNA match colour coding and DNA Painter’s chromosome mapping have filled gaps for me

Yes … Delay no further! DNAPainter has so many useful tools and functions to help find and fill gaps in our research

I have loved DNA painter since Jonny Perl first introduced it at a RootsTech conference. He is brilliant

something I do with my students often is get them to fill out a blank direct ancestor tree just to see where they’re missing bits.

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Do you use a timeline to identify research gaps? Do you use your genealogy program, Excel or another program?

I use mainly Legacy but sometimes go with spread sheet

Funny you mention it, because I created one today about a great grandfather, using a table in WORD. I’m including citations from the many sources I have found about him. He never seemed to stay in one place for long – trying to put all the pieces together.

Those wanderers can be a lot of work to trace. I have a few of those. Timelines do help to see where they’ve been

I have a bigamist who disappears after he serves time in Victoria. Not found anywhere yet.

I suspect some bigamy with my American born Adams 2xgt gddad too. Disappears from Grafton & NSW. Then emerged close & shared DNA matches descended from Tassie man of same name who appeared in Tassie little after Grafton man disappeared. Same man or close family?

I find that now I am writing up the family histories (part of my downsizing project) I am finding gaps and then I just fill them as I go. If I can

Yes writing narratives is a great way to find gaps in information … it also helps to spot inconsistencies in the information you have too

I can be in the middle of a blog post about an ancestor and realise I have a gap. Then it’s off down a rabbit hole before I finish the blog post. That’s where I am now

Writing is the best way to spot gaps! Writing seems to trigger all sorts of analytical processes in your brain that regular research does not.

Yes, and why it takes me so long to finish a blog post, let alone a research report for myself (loved your presentation on that!)

I found an infant death in Ireland following naming patterns and a gap in the births.

Tracing 19th century Aussie wanderers, it’s helpful to put the gold rushes on the timeline. A ‘missing’ person may have gone to try their luck. Check other colonies.

Good tip Brooke to add to the timeline. Also perhaps expansion of an occupation eg railway construction?

Gold rushes impacted just about everybody’s family – follow the gold. One of mine moved from Sydney to Victorian goldfields then up to the Gympie rushes in Queensland and finally over to the Western Australian gold rush. Over generations and not all moved.

Yes, my West Coast NZ gold rush ancestors all started mining life in Victoria. Most of them left family there, though contact has been mostly lost. I hope to re-establish some one day!

Another one of my mining families ducked across to Reefton for a while then back to Queensland. Have to look both sides of the Tasman

I realised one of mine did when I mapped the births of all his (many) children. Another way of spotting gaps. Map the babies.


This timeline was created for a specific research question: where was she living when she got pregnant with her children who were born out of wedlock? The timeline helped me formulate a hypothesis about the probable father, later confirmed with DNA.

My genealogy program allows you to export any query to a spreadsheet so you can work on it outside the program


Freemind is what I use for MindMaps thewindowsclub.com/freemind-free-…

Timeline but also my online tree with Ancestry where I can see on their facts or story what might be missing

Also when I write my biographies I have particular sections of their life to include which means I might need to do more research with newspapers etc to find that info

combination of Excel for checklist and offline family tree program for timeline. This then helps with writing up in more details in a blog.

If I’m looking at a timeline, I will use Excel to analyse what I have and what I’m missing. I always use date, month, year in separate columns. Alternatively I use Word document gaps. I don’t use my genealogy program for this.

my genealogy program is good for seeing gaps in the research plus you can add notes and reminders. I used to have lots of sticky yellow notes but using a program helps keep me focused.

I will write or look for other queries to identify other gaps once I have added census information

While I don’t always use a timeline I do identify gaps as I write up my research. I am using a timeline for my troublesome McSherry family. I also compare my checklist of record sources to see what I might have missed.

I’m constantly using timelines and use Legacy family history software. Occasionally I use excel for timelines

I look at my genealogy software & files for reference, but I create it in MS Word.

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What key facts do you include in your timeline? What records do you use to fill the gaps?

vital records (including addresses/occupations on children’s births), the census, any known migrations.

after looking at all possible records I then look at newspapers and overseas records. Sometimes the ancestor could be a witness or informant in a record.

BDM, children, grave or cremation, residences, any info from Rolls or Census records, newspaper stories

It depends on time period – early 19c Irish ag lab/working class leave very little trace in records so there are often big gaps, especially if they never married/had kids. Newspapers/migration/institutional records may fill gaps but often have to accept gaps

If I could just fill in the gaps in my lots of Irish ancestry I would be very happy. Wills have been useful

If you can find them, if they survive – I’ve yet to find more than a calendar entry and that for only a handful of people. The swines!

So inconsiderate of them! 🙂 I got my English 4GGF’s will. One line sums it up: “to my beloved wife, executor of this will, all my assets” – thanks Grandpa!! 😀

I like to record as many facts as possible in my timelines from cradle to the grave. I also include major events like war, famine, depression, pandemics. These events can trigger ideas for more records to search

If I am trying to find someone who is missing I will search in Newspapers or look for them travelling

Censuses and BDMs are the anchor points. Otherwise it could be anything – church records, entries in the street directory, newspaper reports, appearances as witnesses/registrants on other BDMs, court records – as long as it can be tied to a date

I like to track my ancestors’ locations, and kin, where possible to get a full picture of their lives. For immigrant ancestors I also want their immigration records – where available.

At the moment I’m including day, month, year, event, location, notes and citation. I’ve used newspaper articles, police records/gazettes, BMD certificates, electoral rolls. The guy I am researching went interstate and overseas enough to confuse us all!

Birth, Deaths Marriages, other key events in the life of the person. Also historical events at a certain time, for context

Trove is great for filling gaps we didn’t know we had – totally unexpected events and activities. I like to use Education, land, occupation, military records, immigration, clubs/societies inter alia.

I include every event for which I know a time and place for that ancestor. So vital events, military service, prison time, births of children, etc.

My excel sheet columns include for the names such First & Mid Name, Last Name, Full Name then vital record dates. The ID for the person. I split the dates to a columns for date, month and year. Finally the columns for the specific data I’m working with

vital records (including addresses/occupations on children’s births), the census, any known migrations

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Can you give examples where you or others have successfully plugged research gaps?

One thing that timelines can hide is contradictory activities. eg An ancestor is recorded being in one place for his child’s birth, & having a business. a legal case showed he was also working on the gold fields a distance away: there were regular coaches.

lots of those for my Dickson family. Currently working on Rev Dr David Dickson’s children A few more than in official bios

I used timelines to disprove a family legend (two men) but extending the FAN (family, associates, neighbours) research actually demonstrated there was a foundation for the legend – multiple timelines.

another TL piece: sometimes, not often, RC priests recorded both birth and baptismal dates. RC baptisms usually took place ASAP but there was a 6 week gap. Made me look more closely at godparents. They’d travelled quite a distance, another chink in brickwall

I used timelines to disprove a family legend (two men) but extending the FAN (family, associates, neighbours) research actually demonstrated there was a foundation for the legend – multiple timelines.

Our genimate @luvviealex wrote recently about her life in 12 censuses. It made me think more closely about my own presence in the records and how I wish I’d been able to see my parents’ and grandparents’ census returns.

Tried this today in a timeline but discovered it left out great chunks of our lives even our overseas postings, seems we were always in Aus. Made me think of ancestors gaps

Exactly! I don’t want to share all the nitty gritty but I think it can help highlight the challenge for the next couple of generations while privacy rules apply.

How cool! I have never been enumerated in a census in my life. The Netherlands stopped taking them in 1971 since we have a continuous population registration and they know where we live. 👀

Using DNA Trove BDMs to help adoptees to find their bio families and Collins Leeds method too

My longest running project is the collection of Electoral Data from NZers in my tree. Add another cousin to my tree creates gaps for Electoral Roll entries. Having such a large collection of addresses helps with a diverse range of other research questions

Trying to find out what happened to a woman from when she returned to Scotland in 1868 until her death. For that time period looked at censuses, deaths in her family & mapped them in time & space. Found her. Went to live with her son in England & she died there.

Timelines have been very useful me to find out where ancestors were fighting during WW1. I start with enlistment date and place and then do a timeline of their war service

I hadn’t thought do to a wartime timeline. what a great idea @SharnWhite I intend to do it

It helps to know what battles to research Jennifer and what war diaries to look for

It is always worth looking to see if there were births before a marriage one turned up this week not a relative but the person they married was

I have been trying to find out how a man in Bathurst met a woman in Hill End and how she had 4 children to him. There were no family connections between the places. Today I found on Trove his license to drive a coach from Bathurst to Hill End.  Yes unfortunately he never married her. I must do a timeline to see if his coach trips coincide with the births! I expect they did

Doing a timeline of where members of a family were in census records helped me to find a missing person

I find researching between the census records for missing children has turned up a few who died young

using census records – when I can’t find them I try all variants – Price was indexed as Grice – sometimes gaps are caused by indexing errors, bad handwriting or human error

Or search by a family member with the most distinctive first name. That worked for me.

All of my ancestors start in UK. When they emigrated to New Zealand, I found them passenger lists and rest of the information in the newspapers, even when they then moved to North America, especially the journalist ancestor, which was the subject of my blog

I’ve set up web pages with blog post sections for all my ancestral lines- sometimes cousins read these and make suggestions that I’ve missed something or drawn a wrong conclusion

My ancestors lived in a place in the Netherlands that kept mill tax records in 1700s that listed everyone in the household. I used these to see when children entered the household and prove that one child was baptized under a different name than used later.

I’m using a spreadsheet of every single event I can find for my McSherry family in the hope of breaking down my mysteries. Very clear for a 25 year block, then nada.

Timelines + checklists = winner!

Blog posts relating to the topic

Kerrie Anne – using mindmaps,

Alex – my life in censuses,

Legacy – mindmaps webinar,

Sue – examples of biographies written,

Readers: How do you find the gaps in your research? How do you find the info to fill those gaps?

Remembering school years

macdeedle / Pixabay

What do you remember about your school years? Was it a good time in your life? Have you found out anything about your ancestors school lives?

Our questions this week were:

  1. Share some memories of school -funny, happy or inspiring -sad or scary -school rules – tough or easy
  2. Let’s hear about the teachers and school friends
  3. Tell us about your family schooling traditions, school traditions, does your school still exist? Have you visited it?
  4. What about your ancestors education? -have you found their school records or reports? -what records have you found & where? -any teacher discoveries?

Memories

  • Carmel has written a great post about school day memories.
  • Fran has written about her first day at school.
  • Jennifer – We made Waldorf salad in cookery. I didn’t and still don’t eat dressing so I refused to eat it. they made me sit there through the next two classes until I ate it. I didn’t care. I didn’t eat it. Teacher hated me after that.
  • Pauleen – Stubbornness wins! I never had a cooking class at school – the joys of the science class.

  • Sandra – I just remembered, In year 2 I used to write back to front and right to left. Must have been interesting for the teacher. In college, I wrote the same for some notes because I got bored. I’m left-handed if that explains it
  • Pauleen – I have to say I have very fond memories of my high school and its advanced learning opportunities with language and science labs, good teachers and a fab library. I finally felt like I belonged somewhere.
  • Jo – 2 different primary schools & 2 different high schools – though 2nd high school was the 1 I was supposed to go to in Yr 7 so knew some of them. 1 primary school new school – 8 students & I was only girl for a while
  • Jill – In my final years was a gopher for the boarders. I used to post their letters to bypass the censors (nuns) and used to buy all sorts of contraband except alcohol.
  • Jennifer – We recited the times tables over and over every day. They were imprinted on our brains. I’ve never forgotten them
  • Sandra – Not a tradition but we were given a rating first to last in the class. It always motivated. Wouldn’t be able to do that now
  • Carmel – at boarding school we were not allowed to wear “witches britches” – remember those long knickers, usually coloured and sometimes with frills – fashion in the late 60s
  • ANZ – I always wanted to go to boarding school – I think it was all those English books about tuck boxes and midnight feasts. Am sure it wasn’t always like that!
  • Pauleen – I felt for some of our boarders who had a terrible time with teachers but couldn’t speak or write to parents without censorship. Mr Cassmob only saw his parents once or twice a year once a boarder. We made sure our girls never boarded.
  • Maggie P – we had a roster to take turns with torch and clock to stay awake until midnight. I was a heavy sleeper. Took torch in my sleep I think. Someone else woke up and we went downstairs for our feast about 1am.
  • Jill – My most vivid memory was spending two months in hospital in the term prior to our Leaving Certificate. I scraped through. I put a lot of weight on in hospital and wouldn’t go to our end of year celebration because I was so fat – nearly 9 stone
  • Sandra – At primary school, every report said I was too quiet. In year 3 someone poked me in the back with a pencil and I turned around and told them off. I got into trouble and I never forgave that teacher. Mum had to bribe me with a bag of lollies to go back.
  • Jill – I remember us all rubbing ourselves with a bush that gave us a red rash. We were hoping the school would be closed if enough of us got measles
  • Fran – We had out hems measured at a govt. high school. If you leaned forward you could reduce the measurement. I think there was a line of girls leaning forward.
  • GenXalogy – I adored school. I attended three different high schools: a country public school, then two private schools in ‘town’. MUCH stricter rules at the latter! Maths test in about week 3… teacher left the room and nobody cheated or even stopped working/talked!!
  • Pauleen – Frightening memories of primary school, aged 5, being told in graphic detail by my teacher, a nun, what the communists would do to us when they came. This during the “Reds under the beds” scare. Stayed with me for years.
  • Carmel – Boarding school not at all like the story books but I did make some great friends in 5 years there. Was a huge change from a 2 teacher country school, I met girls who even had their own bedroom!!!!
  • Hilary – We had an outside toilet block at primary school in the 1960s
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  • Fran – Us too. When my brother started school he was afraid of going there as it was stuck out the back so I had to wait outside for him. Unfortunately, a teacher told me off for hanging around the boys’ toilet so got moved on. Brother was not happy when he came out.
  • Pauleen – School rules weren’t intimidating for me as I was a compliant, well-behaved child (yes, things change!). As a prefect in high school one of my jobs was to ensure compliance with uniform rules etc.
  • Jennifer – My happiest memory of school is riding my bike to and from every day. Rain hail or shine!
  • Sue – Changing schools at high school was terrible – lost all my friends but loved library at new school
  • Hilary – in primary school we had a carpet in the library created static and metal shelving made for some shocks
  • Jill – I can remember being told that people in mixed marriages were evil. I couldn’t see much wrong with my parents! But this was mostly in secondary school. Sister Eugene was a fearmonger/ She was relegated to the tuckshop when I was in third year.
  • Jennifer – Strong memories of very strict rules on school uniform. Who remembers those drab grey winter tunics with box pleats. They looked dreadful on this chubby teenager.
  • Sue – Missing three months of school to travel around Australia as a family, having to teach my brother how to write in cursive while we were in Darwin. Teacher asked me to keep a journal about what we saw and learnt, but my brother’s teacher organized daily lessons which I ended up making sure he did, beginning of my teaching career.
  • Jennifer – I loved library class and just being in the library. I enjoyed shorthand, typing and accounting. I was good at those subjects
  • Maggie P – Doing a short musical in Std 3- aged about 9. I was supposed to help an old man onto a ‘log’ but they forgot to put it on stage until the end of the scene! Loved performing anyhow.
  • Pauleen – Dozens of girls climbing the wooden stairs to the concert hall at high school, making nary a sound with shoes or chatting. Sitting stiff as a board during a performance and not looking around or fidgeting.
  • Carmel – in primary was in a small 2 teacher school learnt lots from older kids in same room. Was always frustrated with prescribed readers, just gave a snippet from a longer novel
  • Jennifer – When I think of school, I think of how much hated it. Primary school was ok but I hated going to secondary school
  • Pauleen – Unhappy memories: at a Catholic primary school feeling often “odd man out” as an only child of a mixed marriage.
  • Fran – My memories of school are both good and bad. Good: one teacher that read out to the class a Famous Five Adventure so I then just had to read books with chapters after that. The first one took ages. By the end of the series I was a much faster reader.
  • Sue – Playing softball with friends, then missing those same friends when changing to another school
  • Jill – We used to do a lot of marching at school – The nuns used to take over Victoria Street, Kings Cross and march us up and down at lunchtime.  The nuns encouraged us to be modest and wear petticoats under our uniforms. I was severely castigated by Sister Christine when she spotted my bright red half-slip. Good girls didn’t wear red underwear!

Friends and teachers


  • Brooke – Most disliked teacher Subbed for 1 term in grade 3. He used to fire staples & blackboard dusters at us. I kicked him in the shins for teasing me. I got in trouble.
  • Maggie – We had a sub maths teacher throw blackboard dusters at us. He ended up having a nervous breakdown (wasn’t me!) and leaving.
  • Fran – I had one teacher that Mum made cry because he wrote something in my report that was not true so he could not be a good teacher if he thought this. He was much nicer to me the next day at school.
  • Jo – music teachers at both schools favourites – now friends on FB! Disliked my Yr 7 English teacher – we were always in trouble. Still friends with school friends and been to 10 yr & 20yr reunion of 2nd high school (no 30yr one organised!)
  • Jennifer and Fran and Sue – I’ve never considered attending a school reunion. That would be my biggest nightmare
  • Carmel – School reunions never appealed to me either but I was contacted for the 50th and set up a private FB group, we all shared photos and a lot of laughs, was quite glad I wasn’t in SA for the actual event but facetimed with them on the night.
  • GenXalogy – My favourite teachers were ones who weren’t afraid to toss out the script and do something completely different. Ms. Dawson (Yr 8 HASS, no relation), Mrs. Merriman (Yr 11 English). Props to Ms. Abbott (Yr 8 English) for starting me off on family trees.
  • Maggie – There were a couple of very special teachers during my school years, who kept me sane (and at school). I was glad to leave and get on with life
  • Jennifer – I couldn’t wait to get out of there. Funny thing is I’ve loved learning as an adult
  • Jill – My two besties from school are good friends. I attend each of our ten yearly reunions. It’s interesting to see the girls have developed. About 20 of us meet up every few months around Sydney. Covid has put a spanner into the works with that.
  • Pauleen – I’ve been to one primary school reunion years ago which was interesting. Despite living at a distance I’ve been to a few high school reunions over the years – interesting to see how we’ve changed and how things that once mattered no longer do
  • Jill – I don’t know how those nuns coped with the huge classes. In our final year English class we had 55 girls.
  • Maggie P – We went to boys’ Catholic HS for physics and chemistry in my last two years of school. Br Luke would never embarrass a girl in front of the boys- always checked we had right answer before asking us. Once gave me 11/10 for a problem, boys couldn’t cope.
  • Sue – I loved Mrs Chalmers, my grade 6 teacher, probably my incentive to teach, 4 of my friends in that class also became teachers. Even went to her funeral
  • Pauleen – I don’t remember any teachers especially disliking me at primary school other than because dad wasn’t a Catholic. He wasn’t as subservient to them about disciplinary action either.
  • Hilary – my language teacher also taught classics neither were my strong subjects I wanted to learn Latin as thought it might help in my career
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  • Pauleen – My favourite teacher at high school was Sr Mary Benedict – she was such a smart dynamic woman who taught my science subjects. Sr Mary St Christopher who taught physiology in Junior. Sr Mary Borgia taught German very well.
  • Jane – I think I have blocked my school years out … I do recall that I found Art particularly traumatic in primary school because of the mismatch between what I could see in my head and my inability to draw it
  • Sue – I had a German person teaching me French and a French person teaching me German in high school, I loved languages
  • Fran – I think that I was fortunate to have many of my high school teachers and uni lecturers from different countries. Being from a small town in NZ this widened my horizons heaps.
  • Jill – Sister Casimir in 5th and 6th class used to borrow books for me on her library card so I’d have more to read.

Traditions

  • Remember the days when they printed everyone’s exam results in the newspaper … couldn’t do that these days!! – Jane
  • And you’d head to the newspaper outlet to find out your results. Didn’t go well the first year in uni when I bombed some subjects…not at all popular with parents – Pauleen
  • None of my family were teachers in past generations – they were lucky to get to school given they were regularly on the move. My husband’s family has a tradition of teaching which continues today. – Pauleen
  • All schools I went to still exist. Did 1 lot of prac teaching at 1st high school! – Jo
  • Search family memorabilia for school photos; old school report cards; books that may have been awarded as prizes (I have a few from ancestors); Facebook pages for the school or school photos. Ask relatives. I have my grandmother’s Scottish certificate. – Pauleen
  • My primary school still exists & my niece & nephew go there. Sometimes Mum picks them up so she has been at that school gate since 1976. My high school still exists too…you might have heard about it #TheTeachersPetPodcast – Brooke
  • My primary school was demolished in the late 1960s. My high school celebrates its 160th anniversary this year, Qld’s oldest secondary school – Pauleen
  • Hated the ANZAC day races at school so three of us would all run over the line at the end holding hands, so no one came last – Sue
  • I remember the small bottles of milk that we were given and made to drink at recess. They were delivered early morning and sat in the sun until they were given out. I’m sure many people were put off milk for life by it. – Jennifer
  • Yuk, yes by morning recess time the milk was hot- no refrigeration at our primary school. Most of us were from farms so didn’t need bottled milk. – Carmel

  • Family school tradition… after every P/T night my dad would tell me the teachers said I needed to work harder. It took me far longer than it should have to work out they didn’t say that, it was just what he thought. – GenXalogy
  • Primary school traditions: St Patrick’s Day concerts and fetes with home made goods. High school traditions: giving friends holy pictures with personal messages written on the back; celebrating friends’ birthdays bringing home made cakes and biscuits. – Pauleen
  • As part of curriculum at Sorell School, each class spends a week at the Pioneer School in role play as if in 1821, inkwells, nib pens, nose on chalk on chalkboard if naughty, check fingernails before entering room etc – Sue
  • I looked up centennial magazine. There was photo of my aunty in 1922 in school uniform. She was one of the oldest/tallest. She went on from school to train as a nurse. – Maggie P
  • A high school tradition which remains is the ability to sing the school anthem in Latin, Angeli Archangeli. Some things stick in the mind – Pauleen
  • Not only have I visited my old school – I joined the staff as Head of Library 35 years after I finished my schooling. What a blast from the past! Rules were relaxed, there weren’t many nuns, students were allowed to speak in class – Jill
  • all my 6 siblings attended same rural local primary and then my brother’s 9 children went there too – no more in the family to follow – Carmel
  • Three generations of my direct family have attended the same high school: mum, me, our daughters. Special memories over the years. Sadly generation 4 lives in the NT so won’t be going – Pauleen
  • All schools I have attended are still standing, and I taught for 21 years at Sorell school which is the oldest school in Australia still operating from the same site begun in 1821. – Sue
  • We have had several high school class reunions organised by a couple of those who have stayed in New Plymouth. At school 125th celebration, the boarders had lots to say- our bond was so much stronger- and our memories so much funnier or poignant. – Maggie P

Ancestor education

  • Maggie P – Found enrolment for my uncle at Camerons school on the West Coast when he was 5. My mother was born there but must have moved to Kumara soon after. My Aunty, 10 years younger than my mother, never knew they’d lived at Camerons, but school record clinched it.
  • Hilary – FindMyPast have lots of the records and they are an interesting read also found newpaper report of non-attendance prosecution
  • Fran – Newspapers are a good one I forgot about. Many Uni exams, nurses, public servant exams, etc are reported in local newspapers in NZ.
  • Brooke – In the @BNArchive I found reports of truancy. My great-grandmother’s parents were hauled in & fined for her non-attendance when she was about 9.
  • Hilary – just found the scans of those school reports for my Mum need to take another look at them
  • Brooke – I have found some Cambridgeshire school records (can’t recall if it was Ancestry or FindMyPast) which listed my great-grandmother. My gg-grandfather was a schoolmaster in Ireland c.1880 but I’m still looking for records.
  • Pauleen – Have you checked the county archives to see what they might have? Also the national Archives Ireland has some records but they’re not digitised
  • Pauleen – School centenary publications or similar can be useful but do try to check for accuracy. Trove stories of the school’s opening or events…look beyond your family’s name. See if local history museums have any records or information, useful in country areas
  • Pauleen – Qld State Archives also has some records for the Grade 8 Scholarship exams – I need to revisit these.
  • Hilary – My grandmother’s cousin was a pupil teacher. I also have school photos of my aunt’s class

  • Carmel – Have a pic of my husbands mother at school in 1925 Maroubra Primary
  • Jill – My Dad left school at 13 to work on the farm, my Mum left at 15 to work in the Post Office. My parents valued education – I was the first in my immediate family to gain a university degree (or 3).
  • Pauleen – My generation was also the first to go to university – no, there was one person ahead of us in a different family I didn’t know. I’m so grateful to my parents for the opportunities they gave to me, especially being a girl. Mum went to Junior (grade 10). One of the biggest things I owe my parents who were working class and my mother who nagged my high school to admit me – I’d gone to a primary school with a different order of nuns. She was sure determined!
  • Carmel – Me too, none of my siblings completed High school so I was the first to go to Uni etc. very grateful to my mother who valued education as she had to leave at the end of primary school, no money for her to travel to a secondary school
  • Sue – Have found newspaper reports though of ancestor parents being fined for truant children
  • Maggie – I’ve looked through school records at Kent Archives in Maidstone – fascinating details there! Sadly, none relating to my ancestors.
  • Sandra – There are a few reports of school picnics on Trove from my grandparents time. They are always interesting reading.
  • Jennifer – Have found teacher records in @PRO_Vic My gg gfather was schoolmaster on the ship. information about him in passenger record
  • Jennifer – I’ve come across many articles about teachers on @TroveAustralia – school concerts, outings, teachers leaving the school or district. But not for my ancestors
  • Maggie – I had a look on @findmypast in their Yorkshire school records for my great grandmother but couldn’t find her – she left for NZ aged six so probably didn’t start. Will have to look in NZ records for her instead!
  • Carmel – Have school admission records for my father and his siblings in 1921 but hard pressed to find any others
  • Jill – I have found several reports that mention my Mother and her sisters’ achievements on Trove. I’m grateful that the Cobar newspaper reported on school activities.
  • GenXalogy – I have all my grandmother’s primary school reports (hilarious reading!!), and I have sourced quite a few records from school archives over the years as two of my great-grandfathers were teachers. (One of the great-grandfathers dropped dead just outside the school after a particularly trying day. I may or may not have threatened my students that I may do the same.) (I totally have.)
  • Pauleen – School admission registers are gold, and even inspectors’ reports can help. Requests to establish schools can include relatives names, and their children’s ages and names.
  • Maggie P – My father was at the younger end of his family. Once he passed Proficiency in Std 6 he had to go out to work as the family were too poor to send him to high school.
  • Pauleen – I have found most records for the relatives who attended state (government) schools because, where they’ve survived, they’re at the archives. Some have been lost over the centuries/decades. How to find the Catholics is my new challenge.

  • Fran – I have found schools for some of my grandparents in both London at the archives and libraries. In New Zealand the NZ Society of Genealogists have great school records. Helps with names, dates and addresses.

    White77 / Pixabay

    Readers: What are your memories of your schooling? Have you found anything about an ancestor’s schooling records?