Monday, July 25, 2005

Aussies Proud of Criminal Past

From the Sydney (Australia) Morning Herald:

The dead persons society

July 26, 2005

Once, skeletons were locked in the closet. No longer, as we dig deeper for the roots of our family trees, writes Steve Meacham.

MORE than 40 years ago, says Heather Garnsey, the sober staff who worked behind the counters of the Society of Australian Genealogists felt they had to protect innocents from the "C" word.

If someone came in researching their family tree and asked to see the all-important 1828 census, they wouldn't be allowed to look themselves. A member of staff would do it for them, fearing the worst.

"If it was found that they had convict origins, they'd be told, 'No, there wasn't anything of interest for you'. [The researchers] knew that the person would not be happy to have convict ancestry. They felt they had to mask the truth." The convict stain was too awful to admit.

And now? Garnsey, executive officer of Australia's premier genealogical body, laughs. "Now it's a badge of honour to collect as many convicts in your family tree as possible - even if you wouldn't have wanted to meet any of them today."


[Read the whole story]
To find scoundrels in your own family tree, visit Black Sheep Ancestors.

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