American and Canadian gold diggers in Australia

I am a member of the New England Historic Genealogical Society because I have an ancestor who came from Nantucket in Massachusetts. They have an enormous number of databases available online to members, most of which are irrelevant to Australian researchers.

They have just announced one, however, that may be relevant. Australian authors Denise McMahon and Christine Wild published a CD last year called American Fever Australian Gold, American and Canadian involvement in Australia’s Gold Rush which “was compiled from official records, archives, contemporary newspapers, and diaries.  It also includes material from letters written to or from the fortune seeker, from the gold fields within Australia, or from onboard ship”. 

The Society has extracted the names from the CD and published them as a searchable database giving, where possible, name, year of birth, parents, native place, and year of emigration. For example, Henry Charlton, born 1823 to Charles Augustus and Lenah (Golden) Charlton, was a native of Queenstown, New Brunswick and emigrated in 1852. Further information, such as the sources of this information, can be found, I assume, in the CD.

Even if you are not a member of the New England Historic Genealogical Society the CD may be worthwhile searching out if you suspect your ancestor came from the USA or Canada during the goldrush.


Fortune Hunters in Australia.  (Online database.  New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2009.)  Extracted from: American Fever Australian Gold : American and Canadian Involvement in Australia’s Gold Rush. CD-ROM. Australia: H. Denise McMahon & Christine G. Wild, 2008.

FamilySearch announces Australian indexing projects

I am an occasional indexer for FamilySearch Indexing. This ground-breaking project is digitising millions of rolls of microfilm, and asking the rest of us to help them index it all. The results are made available to everyone for free. It’s an enormous job and will take many years, and the more of us that get involved and start indexing the quicker it will be.

They have just announced to indexers that they will soon be starting on Australian records.

We are excited to announce that the Australia, Bounty Immigrants, 1824-1842 project and the Australia, New South Wales-Newspaper Cuttings project, which may be of interest to you, will soon be released.

You can find the indexing project here. I can guarantee I will become a more frequent indexer than I have been in the past.

Living in Poverty

Many of our ancestors came to this country to seek a better life for themselves and their children. Life in the old country left much to be desired and in desperation they sailed to the far side of the world in search of something better. Many needed help to emigrate, from their parish and from the colonial government.

Many of them were in abject poverty. No food, no education, no clothes, nowhere to live but the workhouse. I am thinking in particular of the thousands of immigrants who left Ireland during the Great Famine. The potato crops failed two years in a row, the weather was too rough to go fishing, and there was no food. They were evicted from their homes for not paying rent and the workhouses were overcrowded and couldn’t cope. Typhoid and other fatal diseases were rampant. It was a time that we today can scarcely imagine.

And yet there are many in the world even today that live this way. Watching their children starve and die and being able to do nothing. Refugee camps are overcrowded and under-equipped. Borders are closed to keep them out. Diseases spread easily. Natural disasters flood the landscape and wipe out crops, homes and livelihoods. Governments keep charity workers out.

There is as much poverty and misery in the world now as there was when our ancestors sailed for many months to find a new life here in the Colonies. A few, a very few, are accepted as immigrants to start a life here and elsewhere, in a new country with a new language and customs. The rest hang on as best they can. Or they don’t.

Today’s post is in honour of Blog Action Day, to raise awareness of the poverty that still abounds in the world.

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