Sunday, June 15, 2008

Of things that were

A few months ago I decided to research my family history. I started with a free trial on and used resources such as the Australian Archive and the Victorian Registry Office. It turned out to be addictive. I've always loved a bit of research and the stories were so compelling. I love seeing the old Census documents, knowing that my relative must have stood in their doorway and told the Census collector about the occupants of the building. It is the only connection I have as there are NO photographs of my direct descendants past my Grandparents - except a few of my Great Grandparents. Sad.
Most of all, I love reading about their occupations;
  • chair maker
  • dairy farmer
  • confectioner and pastry maker
  • female green grocer in Victorian England (most of the other women are listed as 'domestic duties')
  • shoe maker
  • paper marbler
  • alcoholic floozy
OK, so that last one isn't a profession, but it is certainly interesting to find out more about their lives when so much has been lost. I guess they had no pride in these occupations or perhaps they were ashamed of 'skeletons in the closet' like illegitimate births, divorce and multiple marriages, 'living in sin' and the like. (It's interesting to note on researching these 'sins' that so many of these shameful things were common place in society (then and now).... no one would bat an eyelid these days yet to them it was never to be spoken of...... Who wants to boast about growing up in a London slum? Better to make up a story about being Irish!@)
Even now there is a certain feeling that there are things in the past that should remain buried as 'the past is the past.' But these life experiences made us who we are and shouldn't we be proud of that? So far we have come.