Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Trove Tuesday - Anatomy of a search

Family Notices. (1934, November 10). The West Australian (Perth, WA : 1879 - 1954), p. 1. Retrieved December 29, 2015, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article32821946

Good morning everyone!  How are you this fine day in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia?  I have been off the radar for reasons which I won't discuss just now but I am happy to get back into the swing of things with a post on the meme of Trove Tuesday.  

I have a friend staying from Scotland with me at the moment.  Joy of joys, she asked me to do a little family history research for her.  She wanted to find any trace of her uncle who came out to Australia in about 1925 as a young lad from Scotland. She gave me his name: Allan MacDougall, his approximate age (15 or 16) and the name of his mother: Bella Ann (after whom my friend was named) and his father: Alexander.  She thought he might have worked in the railways.

We did a bit of digging and I thought I would share our lines of research with you in case you might learn from it or have some ideas of your own about how we could progress this research further.

Ann told me that her uncle came out under the Big Brother movement.  I didn't really twig to this for a while, I confess.  Big Brother to me sounds like that TV show that used to be very popular or something positively Orwellian.  But of course, those of you wiser than me, would have twigged straight away that in fact it relates to a migration scheme for young men from the UK, instituted after WWI to help Australia with the shortage of labour supply.  You can read more about it here and here.

I haven't done much research in Western Australia so I always like to start from a known and trusted home base (my society's website which lists useful links here) and then creep outwards from there.  We started with the WA Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages.  You can search the indexes for the following events in the date ranges listed:

Births from 1841-1932
Marriages from 1841-1936 and 
Deaths from 1841-1971.

Of course we looked for MacDougall and McDougall and Allan and Alan.  Can you think of any other variations in spelling that we could have used?

I looked for Deaths first, because we had some chance of confirming that it was the correct Allan MacDougall knowing his parents names, but we had no luck there.

We did find two marriages and Ann said that one of them rang a bell...the one to Mabel Allday in 1934, Registration Number 430.  We are going to order this certificate which will tell us if we have the correct Allan MacDougall.  We also found a death for a Mabel McDougall in 1940 at Geraldton which Ann said also rang a bell.

Then we looked at the State Records of Western Australia here.  I tried searching the catalogue but without much success and was reminded that immigration records after Federation (1901) are held by the National Archives of Australia.

Probably at about this stage, I crumbled and started to mutter about dear old Trove and tried to explain to Ann the delights therein.  Before too long we had discovered the birth notice as pictured above:  Alexander to Allan and Mabel. Ann became quite excited because the timing of the birth of this child fitted into what she had been told about the birth of her cousin.  And this child bore the same name as her grandfather.  

The next morning, I searched the National Archives website just in case Allan served during WWII and guess what I found....this.  Bingo!  I recognised the street address that Ann had given me for the family in Glasgow.  And directly underneath was the name "Allday" - Mabel's maiden name.  We also had the name of his second wife Myrtle Linda (maiden name unknown).  I found an electoral roll record for Allan, his son Alexander Donald and wife Myrtle in 1958 at West Leederville in Perth on Ancestry here.

So in summary this is what we have discovered:

Allan also known as Angus MacDOUGALL/McDOUGALL

Born: 29 June 1909
Occupation: Fettler
Son: Alexander Donald MacDougall
Married: Mabel ALLDAY 1934 and then Myrtle Linda ?

Lived: 144 Bucchleuch Street Charing Cross, Glasgow, Scotland - 1911 Census

Maylands, Perth, Western Australia - 1934 Alexander's birth notice in paper

Geraldton (as per Mabel's registered place of death 1940)


29 Chatsworth Road Highgate Hill, Perth, Western Australia 1941 as per attestation form

Gardiner Street, Moora (as per address of wife on military record) - 1942 as per attestation form

149 Tower Street West Leederville, Perth, Western Australia - 1945 as               per discharge paper


30 St Leonard's Avenue West Leederville, Perth, Western Australia -1958 electoral roll

There is obviously much more that can be done here....many leads to follow up and so on.  As I said at the beginning of this post, if you have any observations or contributions to make to this research, we would love to hear from you!

Alex and Ann