Wednesday, June 12, 2013

A Place of Refuge...

Christine Yeats at Hawkesbury today
....is not what comes to mind when I think of an Asylum but after hearing Christine Yeat's illuminating talk, Tracing Ancestors in Asylums, at The Hawkesbury Family History Group meeting today I have changed my thinking.

Christine, who is recently retired from State Records NSW, focused her talk on accessing patient identifying records from mental health facilities and government asylums in NSW.

After giving a brief history of asylums (places of refuge) in NSW and indicating the classes of people who may have been admitted  Christine told us of some of the records available and showed images of some of  those records.  One particularly grisly case was that of Martha Elizabeth Rumpf; take a look on Trove to see how this poor soul made the headlines.

Christine gave us lots of tips and a handout with many sites to follow up. I know that I have someone who died in the Liverpool Asylum for the Destitute later known as The Liverpool State Hospital and Home so I am going to read this Archives in Brief document suggested by Christine to see what I can find.

Christine suggested that if in your research you come across
  • Unexplained absences
  • Gaps in employment
  • Gaps in birth of children
  • Links on family tree who disappear
  • Silence when a name is mentioned
you should check Asylum records.

My main takeaway from this session was - If there is an index (any index of names) available check it for your family names.

Should you get a chance to hear Christine talk on this subject grab it.

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