Assume – as genealogists, we are told not to, but to prove all our assertions by rigorous application of solid genealogical methodology. Assumptions – we are told not to make them, but to back up our claims and cite our sources. What, however, could possibly happen if we did, in fact, challenge some of our most basic genealogical assumptions?
For instance, what actually constitutes a family tree chart? What content, layout, format should be included, or not, for a document to be designated as a family tree chart? Does it necessarily have to be one of our most basic genealogical documents, on which the names of ancestors are plotted and the relationships between them indicated by connecting lines? According to Wikipedia the definition of a family tree is, “… a chart representing family relationships in a conventional tree structure” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Family_tree 19/09/2015. Given, however, the details of occupation, location and immigration, nobility and heraldry, and the photographs that I have found within the trees that I have explored so far, is this too simple an understanding of these documents, into which genealogists past and present have put so much time and energy?
So, what do the family tree charts held by GSQ have to show us? Do they support the more elementary definition or are there further treasures in this trove? Trees #20 and #99 meet the criteria of simple; names, lines and basic dates. Yet, as I made my way through every one of the trees in the Society’s care, I started to understand how creative our members have been and how thoughtful, considered, in their choices as to content and layout.
While the data included on some charts is kept to a minimum, the way in which it is displayed provides wonderful insight into the creative ability of the compiler. Some are coloured in, some hand drawn ink illustrations and one was drawn by a licensed surveyor.
Some have included maps…
… and one is LOTE, language other than English.
Chart #19 has a Certificate of Title on the back and #78 is just showing off as it includes a Coat of Arms and photographs of people, locations, a ship, an event program and a foundation stone, all connected to the family outlined along it’s branches.
Who would have thought to look for your ancestor’s signature or the very detailed wording of a will on a record designated as a family tree chart? Refer to Helen Smith’s blog post http://gsqld.blogspot.com.au/2015/09/where-there-is-will.htmlto see the surprises she got when researching probate files at Queensland State Archives.
I like the fact that members have included the background of their ancestors in their trees. Chart #34 is a wonderful example. Individually, the chart and its accompanying document, measure 56cm x 76cm so the author of the beautifully written narrative could go into quite some detail about the Weyer and Pearce families and their journey from Germany to Morayfield, Banyo, Nundah and Bundaberg.
Not only does chart #85 include a brief summary of the Banham family, but there is a separate document in which the author thanked all those who have contributed their knowledge, explained the way in which research had been conducted to progress the tree to its current state in 1989 and invited interested parties to further the story of the Banham family. On other trees, topics such as monumental inscriptions, the sources of relevant family and location names and antecedents’ connections with Huguenot history are addressed. With Huguenot heritage not being the easiest ancestry to research, a small paragraph such as the one on chart #43 about ‘The French Connection’, might just be what’s needed to ram straight through a brickwall.
At September’s Saturday Education Session, Jo from Queensland State Archives, told us that one of the records relating to the trades and occupations about which she was speaking was found in a file related to education and I think the principle is the same. What ‘genealogical gems’ have you discovered in the most unlikely of places? What treasures in the trove, perhaps in the places you would hardly think to look, are waiting for you at GSQ?