Sunday, February 26, 2017

Sepia Saturday 356: 25 February 2017

Bayfront Painting Class 1945 : Florida Memory (Flickr Commons)

This is the photo prompt for Sepia Saturday this week.

It reminds me a bit of this photo...which was taken by the water at a regatta - showing happiness with get the picture.  My mother is the one in the middle with the Alice band on her head drinking some lemonade, I'm guessing.

 I've blogged about this photo before won't say anymore about it today.  

No-one is painting in the picture sadly, although my mother was and my father is a competent artist.

Here is a photo of my father when he was a young whipper snapper in the Public Works Department I think.

It's the only photo I could find of either of them even thinking about drawing...  

So I have little to show for this week's prompt I'm afraid...but here are some scans of my mother's drawings to give you an idea of her work.

Alex by Barbara Conner

My mother did quite a few drawings of me which I won't bore you with - I suspect they are rather is one she did of my friend Judith

Judith by Barbara Conner

Here is one she did of my paternal grandmother....

Ethel by Barbara Conner

My mother was taught to draw by her father, Tom McLoughlin, who was very exacting apparently.  I still have school exercise books with beautifully drawn maps (yes - hoarder) 

She went on to do Dress Design at East Sydney Tech but didn't finish, I think to everyone's great is an example of her work.

Dress design by Barbara Conner

She was never happy with her work, I don't think.  She loved photography too but became frustrated as she got older and couldn't keep a steady hand or see properly through the lens.  I have joined her in that frustration.

Okay - one last one....

Painting of Alex by Barbara Conner

For more painting groups or groups by the water click here.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Sepia Saturday 355: 18th February 2017

Feeding the pigeons- Royal Library Denmark

This week's photo is an easy prompt for me.  I found this photo of Cecil and Gladys Maloney in Trafalgar Square London.  

There is no date on this photo.  Would anyone like to hazard a guess?  

Cecil and Gladys used to live at Gulgowra near Lue in NSW.  Then in about 1954 they moved to Church Street in Mudgee.  Cecil died in 1974.  

I reckon this photo was taken somewhere between 1950 and 1960.  

I wrote about Cecil earier here.

For more pigeons click here.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Sepia Saturday 354

"Steinmetz, Joseph Janney, 1905-1985. Assistant Niki Vasilikis at work in John M. Gonatos' curio shop in Tarpon Springs, Florida. 1942. Color transparency. State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory. Accessed 11 Feb. 2017.<>

The photo above is this week's theme for Sepia Saturday.  If you go to the link on Florida Memory you will see a general note that advises that Niki Vasilikis was also the first Greek member of the W.A.C. or Women's Army Corps.  There's some great information about the W.A.C. on this site and this site.

But I'm not going to focus on the W.A.C. today but look at another shop - this time from Brisbane.

Anyone who knows me well knows that I am a sucker for a good cake shop.  Check this out!

George E. Adams' cake shop, Brisbane Arcade, Brisbane, ca. 1938 John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland

Some cake shop huh?  Wait til you see the front window display!

Front display window of G. E. Adams' cake shop, Brisbane Arcade, Brisbane, ca, 1938 John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland 
Don't you think that's a lot of cake?  I do!  Did we eat more cake then or what?

Check out what I imagine must have been the first George Adams cake shop.  Isn't it sweet?

Adams' Cake Shop in Fortitude Valley, Brisbane, ca. 1925 John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland
I particularly like "Cosy and Quiet".  

Here is an advertisement from the times....

Advertisement for George Adams' Cakes, Queensland, 1930 Queenslander John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland

Let's see if we can map out the stores and factory in Brisbane...

According to this site, the Tivoli is the former site of the Adams Cakes factory. Who knew?

It's been a bit difficult to plot the site of the Melba Picture Theatre in the Valley.  The BCC Valley Heritage Trail plots 201 Wickham Street as the Valley Corner. Newspaper advertising from the time puts the Melba Picture Theatre in Wickham Street at the Valley Corner.  The Cinema and Theatre Historical Society database however plots the Melba in Duncan Street.

And because I am a Mexican (i.e. from down south and born in Sydney) I didn't know where Chapman's Corner was in Brisbane city but this newspaper article helped me figure that out.

"SOLD.. FOR £52,500" The Courier-Mail (Brisbane, Qld. : 1933 - 1954) 9 October 1954: 8. Web. 12 Feb 2017 <>. 

Anyway that's enough for one day.  Bring on cake I say and another cup of tea. By the way, I have borrowed an excellent book on baking from my library if you like looking at cookery books.  It's called Bake Class and is by Anneka Manning.  Published by Murdoch Press it is laid out beautifully and has great photos.  It was recommended to me by a customer as she was returning it.  She pointed out that it is really important to figure out where the recipe was published as American measurements are very different from Australian measurements and that can be a whole world of difference in baking.  Australian teaspoons or tablespoons are not the same as American.  And check your spoons and cups...maybe they weren't made in Australia or America or wherever you live.  

Bake Class is an unusual book in that sets out chapters in terms of the method of cooking e.g. measure and mix, measure and beat, folding, rubbing-in etc.  Quite extraordinary.  I've never seen that in a cookbook before.  There's so many recipes I want to try.  I may just have to buy the book in the end.  And I'd love to do a class with Anneka too.  They sound fun.  

For more interpretations on the Sepia Saturday theme go here.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Sepia Saturday 353: 4th February 2017


Well I'm going to use a photo I've used before for Sepia Saturday but I think I cropped it earlier.  Here it is in all its glory again.....

Alex and Barbara Conner Leith Waters Edinburgh 1971
I'm not going to talk about the photo because there isn't much to say.  You can figure out why I picked it.

I did have fun though looking up Chichicastenango in Guatemala.  I have to date been remarkably ignorant about Guatemala and feel that I have led a somewhat narrow existence.

The photographer of the photo prompt in Sepia Saturday this week was Joseph Janney Steinmetz.  Here's a photo of him on his way to Guatemala.

I wondered what music might be connected to Chichicastenango and found this on YouTube.

Speaking of music, I went to a funeral this weekend.  Sounds glum I know.  

It was a hot day.  I should have worn a hat like the people in the photo but I wasn't really thinking properly.  Jane was so loved by her whole community that the chapel was groaning at the seams and many of us had to sit outside.   The service was very special - just like her. It was made especially so by the music that had been chosen to celebrate her life.

I thought you might like to experience some of it.  

And here's some great footage of Jane when she was a slip of a girl on a magnificent voyage with her family half way around the world.

Bon voyage Jane.  You will be much missed.  Thank you for sharing your gentle spirit with us here on earth.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

The Body (okay Ancestor) in the Library....

Greenham Studios. (1901). Victorian Parliament House, Federal Parliamentary Library, Melbourne, [1920?] Retrieved January 30, 2017, from

Libraries are my happy place.  So you can imagine how pleased I was last weekend when I discovered that one of my ancestors worked in this fabulous looking place in the 19th century.

How did I discover this?  Well, I was mucking around, as you do, trying to be a good family historian.  I had received an email from the Lost Cousins mob and was trying to add more ancestors and their households to the site.  I knew my Sinclairs had come out from Scotland and was trying to remember when and then trying to find relatives in the 1881 Census.  I didn't have much joy in that regard but in the process reminded myself of some earlier research I had done here.  

Do you use your blog to remind you of previous research conducted?  I do all the time. Thank goodness I have a search bar on my blog. It is my lifesaver- my back-up brain as it were.  

So, about this time four years ago, I discovered when one of my earliest "arriving in Australia" Sinclairs died in Melbourne - Isabella Sinclair died in Fitzroy in 1891.  What about her husband Peter?  I had written a warning to myself on my blog to be careful when searching the Victorian indexes because they charged for searches, so I opted to search Trove instead.  Here I found a couple of beautiful Funeral/Memorial notices inserted by Isabella Jnr. - Isabella and Peter's eldest child.  Here they are:

Family Notices (1888, January 26). The Australasian Sketcher with Pen and Pencil (Melbourne, Vic. : 1873 - 1889), p. 15. Retrieved January 30, 2017, from

Family Notices (1888, December 31). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 1. Retrieved January 30, 2017, from

God bless dear Isabella Jrn. for putting that handy bit of biographical information in the notices. I trotted off to the Victorian BDM site which happily now doesn't seem to charge for searches  - HOORAY! and bought myself a digital copy of Peter's death certificate.  ($24.60 kerching! before you ask).  This gave me his parent's names - yay! back another generation - though of course one must be a bit sceptical (okay a lot sceptical) of information in death certificates but it was something to go on.  

Peter was described as a Gentleman - 84 years old.  He died of Senile Decay.  His father is described as Donald Sinclair. There is something written in brackets after his name which I think says (not known) and his mother is described as Margaret Sinclair formerly Bell.  He was buried 31st December at Melbourne Cemetery and was born in Glasgow coming to Victoria about 30 years ago.  He was married at Inverness about 40 years before to Bella Birrell and his children are listed as follows:

Bella 43
Anne 40
James 38
Helen 36
Emma 32

Jolly good.

"Melbourne Cemetery" I thought to self - "I wonder where that is?"

This is where it is timely as a Family Historian to actually look at what you are reading and SLOW DOWN.  I'm not very good at that.  Do as I say, not as I do.  

I got all distracted by this page....when really I should have been looking at this page .Never mind.  It got me off my bottom and off to the QFHS at Gaythorne which had the Marjorie Morgan book mentioned on the Old Melbourne Cemetery page and better still, the CD-ROM published by the GSV and AIGS Melbourne General Cemetery: index and transcriptions of Melbourne General Cemetery monumental inscriptions to 1989.  

I searched under the surname Sinclair and then narrowed it down to all the Peter Sinclairs and found my family.  I was a bit confused at first because the headstone had ROACH on the top of it rather than SINCLAIR.  But then I realized that the youngest daughter Emma's married name was ROACH.  From the headstone I found out who all the other children married and/or when they died.

Yes, I also tracked down Peter's will and probate on the PRO site.  That was all free to download - yay!  Peter basically left everything to his wife and then in the event of her death, it was to go to his unmarried daughters and son.  Son James died in 1895.  Wife Isabella died in 1891.  Daughter Helen Sinclair applied to the Supreme Court to administer the estate in 1901 declaring that the only persons entitled to a share in the distribution of the estate were sisters Anna and Emma.  Their eldest sister Isabella was still alive at that time but perhaps they considered she was well provided for and indeed, I have to agree when I reflect on her probate as discussed in this post here.

Anyway, that's not important in the scheme of things.  I really would like to find out more about their father Peter and what led him to be Chief Clerk at the Library.  I wonder what he actually did as Chief Clerk.  

Here's a map of where he lived and worked and was buried.

I've looked him up in various directories and have managed to plot a bit of a timeline.

From about 1867 there is a Peter Sinclair living in Napier Street Fitzroy (later clarified to be number 54) and he seems to move to Best Street in about 1884.

According to the Blue Book of 1867 which I found online here, 

Peter was appointed to the position of Clerk on 24 June 1861.  His annual salary was £250. He still seems to have been clerk according to a directory in 1871 at the age of 69.  So he would have worked for Librarians Charles Ridgway and James Smith.  I wonder how he obtained this position.  Previously, on his daughter Isabella's marriage certificate he was described as a contractor.  That could mean anything really yes?

A bit more digging on Trove and I found a couple of articles which indicated how the position might have become available.  It seems that there was a young book-sewer by the name of Jessie Gallie who fell pregnant with the assistance of Alfred Britter, a clerk in the Parliamentary Library. According to the morals of the time, she lost her job due to her condition and was forced, through destitution, to take him to court for maintenance.  If you want to get a sense of the times  this article and this article  will enlighten you.  I suspect Mr Britter didn't suffer too much though and that he was just moved sideways into the Post Office according to this article - sigh.  

What would it have been like working in the Parliamentary Library I wonder?

This article gives us some idea.

MELBOURNE. (1862, December 12). Bendigo Advertiser (Vic. : 1855 - 1918), p. 2. Retrieved February 4, 2017, from

I'll never complain about my job again!

Sue Reynolds in her paper Libraries, Librarians and Librarianship in the Colony of Victoria quotes Patrick Gregory who wrote a history of the Library as saying:

 "that the true work of the library was performed by the Committee, with Ridgway (the Librarian) the "fetcher and carrier" who had "little to do with the development of the collection, a task that fell to the Committee and its London agents...his work consisted more of checking the inventories against the contents of ever-increasing number of creates, cataloguing the unpacked books and doling them out to members."

Dr. Diane Heriot's paper Integrated Library and Research Services in the Australian Parliament here quotes Biskup and Goodman:

"Parliamentary libraries grew up in the nineteenth century tradition of the cultured gentlemen’s library and were, for many years, little more than well-appointed clubs where members could read their favourite newspapers and find the occasional literary allusion or quotation for speeches."

If you are interested in the history of the Parliamentary Library in Melbourne, click here and here.  There is also an online exhibition celebrating 100 years of the National Library archived in Pandora here.

Next time I go to Melbourne I am going to have some fun aren't I?