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Tasmanian family and community reconstitution : with a case study of some estates and families of Bothwell, Hamilton and Ouse

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Chick, NK 2006 , 'Tasmanian family and community reconstitution : with a case study of some estates and families of Bothwell, Hamilton and Ouse', PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Abstract

Tasmania, as an island state, is a "natural laboratory" for such disciplines as medical genetics, historical demography and social history. It is blessed with an abundance of historical records, particularly from 1825 onwards, though that very abundance produces its own problems.
This thesis examines the practicality of reconstituting families and communities in Tasmania through both manual and automatic linkage of historical documents. Such endeavours have been successfully undertaken elsewhere by large teams of researchers with well-established infrastructures. Because infrastructure for such investigations is largely absent in Tasmania, and this research project is the work of a single researcher, what is presented here is exploratory in nature, and more a feasibility study than a fully developed inquiry.
Part 1 of the thesis explores the development of the methodology of family reconstitution as a natural development of the techniques of genealogists, and then through the application of record linkage techniques by medical and demographic researchers, among others.
Chapter 1 considers the sources and sizes of data sets and problems of family reconstitution. These include incomplete registration of life events, inconsistent reference to persons, and ambiguity or non-unique names.
Problems arise from high rates of migration and mobility, from attitudes of administrators to civil data as a revenue-collecting opportunity, and from personal privacy.
Chapter 2 suggests that it may be possible to use other data sets to extend the investigation from families to communities, but warns of the difficulties of investigating individual communities without taking into consideration their interconnection with other communities and the wider context of nineteenth century
records.
Chapters 3 and 4 consider the methodologies of manual and computerized record linkage, with particular reference to vital records.
Lastly chapter 5 considers the theoretical and practical problems of presenting large, multigenerational pedigrees, and establishes the standards used for presenting such in Part 3 of the thesis.
Part 2 is a much more detailed examination of the nature of a selection of classes of Tasmanian records suitable for family and community reconstitution. The uses to which listings of inhabitants can be put are the subject of chapter 6. It uses the 1811 colonial muster of Van Diemens Land, for which several manuscripts exist, with inconsistencies within and between them, to exemplify both potentials and problems, the chief of which is that "one cannot trust the witnesses".
Chapter 7 examines the nature of the more than 2,700 registers of baptisms, burials and marriages that exist in the Archives Office of Tasmania. Early problems of sparse settlement and poor communication are considered. The development of Anglican, Roman Catholic, Protestant non-conformist, and Jewish record-keeping is discussed. The reasons for and consequences of the incomplete systematic transcription by civil
authorities are outlined. The condition of both church and civil graveyards and the establishment of systematic recording of headstones and other memorial inscriptions are also discussed. Computerization and linkage of civil birth, death and marriage registers up to the end of 1899 has been achieved.
The nature of these records and their potential uses and problems of developing unique identifiers are discussed in chapter 8.
Chapter 9 links over 14,000 applications of convicts for permission to marry to the records of actual marriages, and highlights problems of transcription, validation, sources of spelling variation, and discusses the influence of convicthood on fertility and the high emigration rate of emancipists.
Records of land acquisition and transfer are a class of records neglected in family and community reconstitution studies, and their nature and use are discussed in chapter 10.
Chapter 11 elaborates upon the Van Diemens Land Heritage Index, a project to obtain life data on immigrant
and emigrant families unobtainable through linkage of local records.
Contemporary narrative as a class of records that can aid family and community reconstitution is exemplified in chapter 12 by an analysis of Some reminiscences of a Van Diemens Land gum-sucker.
Part 3 brings together the themes of family and community reconstitution through a discussion of some estates and families of the Bothwell, Hamilton and Ouse districts. The landed gentry, the convicts and their descendants are compared. How landed estates were acquired, or lost, or transmitted is discussed through a
consideration of wills, deeds, mortgages and marriage bonds. The expansion or contraction of estates, their families, their tenants and of their agricultural labourers is seen in the context of economic cycles, wars overseas, and the aspirations of exservicemen, extinctions in the male line, and change to other forms of livelihood. As originally conceived, Part 3 was very voluminous. It is felt necessary to relegate
many reconstituted families to the appendices on CD-ROM, where they join the raw and unreconstituted data.
Part 4 returns to the problem of record linkage and migration in family and community reconstitution. Chapter 25 highlights the problems of incompleteness of civil registration as exemplified by record linkage performed on the districts of Hamilton and Ouse. Despite the incomplete nature of nineteenth century civil
registration, some preliminary and indicative conclusions can be drawn from their analysis, and chapter 26 examines aggregate data on seasonality of marriage, birth, death and infant mortality, and brief comparisons are drawn between Tasmanian and English experience. Hitherto, the topic of migration has been neglected except notably where census data have allowed comparison between place of birth and place of residence. Tasmanian census data are inadequate for this task. However, because the reconstitution process has been extended to cover an unusually wide range of records for the whole colonial period it has been possible to investigate nuptiality, fertility, mortality and especially migration in chapters 27 to 31.
Suggestions for further research are made in chapter 32.

Item Type: Thesis - PhD
Authors/Creators:Chick, NK
Keywords: Family reconstitution, Family reconsitution, Tasmania, Demography, Social history
Copyright Holders: The Author
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2006 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We
would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s).

Additional Information:

Thesis (PhD)--University of Tasmania, 2006. Includes bibliographical references

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