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ERIC Number: EJ1080260
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2004
Pages: 11
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-0311-2543
Family History and the History of Families
Selleck, R. J. W.
Education Research and Perspectives, v31 n2 p48-58 2004
The State Library of Victoria, which opened its doors in Melbourne in 1856, was designed and built in a confident and expansive decade. Even as war clouds gathered in 1913 the Library's confidence remained strong and it added a magnificent domed reading room, designed with the British Museum Library very much in mind. In the Library's genealogical collection, experienced genealogists move swiftly from source to source in their search for information; the multitude of records on microfiche and microfilm are usually in strong demand; the birth, death and marriage records, including many from England, Ireland and Scotland, are consistently consulted; so are the records of wills and probates, of immigrants, of Victorian hotels and crime, local histories, and much besides. Moreover, printed guides to the searching of family history and covering a range of countries where English is not the first language are available. Sir Redmond Barry, the founder of the State Library of Victoria, did not require a genealogist or a genealogical society to acquaint him with the history of the Barry family. For Barry, like other members of the Irish Ascendancy, the oral and written history, the statues and paintings, the wills and collections of family documents encountered in the family home, as well as day-to-day living in that home, shaped the understanding of family history both at a personal level and in the larger context of Irish social and political life. Such a family's history was a familiar presence that did not have to be discovered and could be absorbed without the need for formally studying it. Most people lack the certainties like the Barrys and, if they wish to study the history of their own family, have to search for themselves or pay someone else to do the searching. As the construction of a family tree is often taken as a sensible way to begin that search, the genealogical societies and genealogical collections such as that at the State Library of Victoria have found themselves in great demand. Richard Aldrich, the person whom this issue of "Education Research and Perspective" honors, in one of his latest articles, "Family History and the History of the Family," published in what is his latest book, "Public or Private Education? Lessons from History" (2004), has grappled with some of the complexities of historical writing focused on the family. Herein, the author reflects on some of the issues raised in Aldrich's article.
University of Western Australia. 35 Stirling Highway Crawley, Perth, 6009 Australia. Tel: +61-8-6488-2388; Fax: +61-8-6488-1052; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Australia
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A