Nov 29, 2013

National Archives UK - new website just launched

If you have ancestors from the United Kingdom (or from Britain's former colonies) it is well worth taking a look at the National Archives in the UK freshly launched website. You can search and browse through a huge selection of digitised images, online exhibitions and archival records including records relating to the armed services, World War I, wills and probate, maps, politics, the census, the Domesday book... even UFOs. While the bulk of the records held by the National Archives relate to the United Kingdom, there are also many records and digitised content from Britain's former colonies, including Australia. Take a look, but beware: there is so much to see and the site is so inviting you may spend far longer exploring than you intended!


Nov 15, 2013

Who do you think we were?

As mentioned previously in this blog, we have recently put together an album of photographs from our collection and asked for public help to  identify the  people and events portrayed in these images. You can view the album at Sam Merrifield Library or online.

The soldier in this image has been identified as Saddler Sergeant Alfred Robert Shurey of Ascot Vale. Fred, as he signed himself in this photo, enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force, AIF, in October 1915. Records from the National Archives of Australia show that he served in France from March 1916 until the end of the First World War in 1918. He returned to Australia in April 1919. At the time of his enlistment he was 35, with a wife and 3 children. Fred died in Essendon in 1974 at the age of 93. His brother, Charles,  also enlisted in 1915 as a Saddlers ironmonger. Charles served in France and like Fred returned to Australia in 1915.


Nov 6, 2013

A short history of a public holiday

The Melbourne Cup has been run here in Moonee Valley, at Flemington Racecourse, since 1861, traditionally on a Tuesday. But did you know that at first, and for several years, the Cup was held on a Thursday? In fact the first time that a holiday was proclaimed for the Cup it was on Thursday 9th November 1873. Since 1875 the Melbourne Cup race has been on a Tuesday, and each year the Government proclaimed the day a public holiday following the historical precedent first established in 1875, but it wasn't until 1993 that legislation specifically enshrined Melbourne Cup Day as a public holiday on the second Tuesday of every November.

The original letter requesing a public holiday for the Melbourne Cup of 1873.
The Public Records Office of Victoria hold the letter (shown above) that first asked for the public holiday to be proclaimed, and if you're interested their blog also gives a fuller account of the history of the Cup Day Holiday.