Family histories in print at the Library
Discover them online—read them in print!
6 November 2015
The collections of the National Library are full of the stories, images, voices and relics of not only the famous and infamous in our nation’s history but also those of many other individuals and families for whom Australia is, or has become home.
Although many items in the Library’s collections have been made available online, family histories are amongst those items of our printed collection material that may be overlooked by some researchers because they are only available in print. Yet an examination of a small proportion of this cornucopia of Australian histories held by the Library reveals a wonderful resource of family and personal stories.
The last four decades have seen a surge in written personal and family histories with many either self-published or produced by small, non-mainstream publishers and local printers. As a legal deposit library, the National Library of Australia receives many of these books from authors and publishers under their legal obligations, which has the benefit of not only enhancing the wealth of our national collection but also by providing long-term preservation of many titles that might otherwise be only held at a local or state level.
Since 1980 over 6,000 family histories have been received and added to the Library’s collections. Over 900 of these have been published since 2010 with 125 titles received in 2014 and over 50 so far in 2015.
The families covered in these stories include those now living in New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania and Western Australia, and whose origins include England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, New Zealand, France, Germany, Denmark, Norway, Greece, Canada and the United States.
From a small sample of books published in 2015 we can learn about the Wagner’s whose origins lay in Prussia but whose future and those of their descendants lay in South Australia and beyond; of the Dayman family whose Australian story began with the arrival in Port Adelaide of husband and wife aboard the ship Hooghly in 1839; and of the life and family stories of Jim Connelly whose roots lay not only in the Connelly family but also in those of Hazard and Tooth.
If you or a family member has or is intending to publish the story of your family, whether for distribution at a reunion or on the anniversary of a significant event in your family’s history—don’t forget to include the National Library of Australia on your distribution list. Not only will you be meeting your legal obligations but more importantly, your story will be listed and be discoverable in our prized national collection—of Australians—for Australians.
And, if you’re looking for a family in Australia, you’ll know where to come.