Yaaay - I finally did it!! My first ever Blog Spot and what an amazing world Blogging is too. To all the other Blog Dwellers who read this - WELCOME!!
Genealogy, someone once told me, is an obsession not a hobby and I tend to agree. Personally I dislike the word fanatic so I am happy to say that I am only obsessed.
I cannot think of a time when I am not thinking about genealogy or one of its related topics like history or archaeology. When being introduced to someone for the first time I mentally automatically slot them into genealogical categories - mmm...this name is probably Huguenot or that name is definitely German Military Settler stock. (put that straight jacket down - I'm OK...really I am!!!)
South Africa has a rich genealogical legacy and for some lucky souls their family's arrival on South African shores has been well documented. I am thinking 1820 Settlers, Huguenots, Aided Immigrants (1857), German Military Settlers, Moodie Settlers etc. etc. Others have to go hunting their ancestors one by one, death notice by death notice, church register by church register. I am definitely in the last camp. I'm not complaining though. My ancestors weren't very big on diaries and letters and such so because of the lack of family folklore I have been compelled to ferret out info in the most unlikely places. Makes me feel like Grissom in CSI. Yep...lateral thinking rules!!!
One thing I do know is that I probably would not have been so enthusiastic about genealogy if it was not for the Internet....I just would not have had the patience to pursue it via snail mail. Can you imagine having to wait weeks for a reply to a query only to find that it wasn't what you were after??? Nope - I definitely would not have had the patience. Hats off to those who persevered through the Cyber-less years.
Speaking of persevering...hands up all those who have had dealings with the Masters Office in Cape Town???? Perseverance takes on a different meaning does it not? Firstly, there is the reading room. For those who have not visited the Masters Office let me just say that the term 'reading room' is a touch ambitious for such a humble facility. It is a partioned off space (with no ceiling) within a HUGE hall and is so noisy that one can hardly think. I have on occasion had to chase cockroaches from between the pages of the registers (yes...creepy crawly nightmare and do you know how they cling to the pages as you try to flick them off with something....eeeuw!) The dust is also something else. All this aside though, the thing that irritates the most is that some of the registers are missing completely!!. There is a sign up to this effect in the reading room (1961, 1963 and 1966. 1967 was also missing but appears to have been returned (from where though? It has been missing for at least 2 years and no-one knew where it was!!). The only other way of getting the information you need is to stand in a long queue at the main enquiries counter in order to get the clerks to look in the ancient card filing system. When one puts the request to them they always argue with you that the information must be obtained in the reading room. (makes you wonder who put the sign up in the first place!) It takes a good 5 minutes just to get it across that the registers for the years you need are MISSING...M-I-S-S-I-N-G. Grrrrrr!
A visit to the vault is the next lesson in self control. You may only draw 5 files a day so woe unto you if you have six. If the clerk on duty is in a bad mood it means another trip on another day with parking at R7 an hour in order to get that one extra file.
As far as staff are concerned, I have yet to meet one single person who actually looks like they enjoy what they are doing...goes with the territory I guess. Can't say I blame them really...working in such an environment must be demoralising, but having said that, I object to being made to feel that I am wasting someone's time when I ask for something or that it is a huge favour which is being bestowed upon me. (sighs and rolling eyes can be very expressive). If the facilites were upgraded one would not need to 'bother' anyone. By this I mean for instance that according to the staff the records from 1989 to present day are now on computer. By making a terminal available to researchers no-one would have to disturb the staff when requesting some assistance. (on the other hand what else are they there for I ask myself.)
Wish Adelbert Semmelink would continue with the excellent project he started in indexing the death notices (see the e-family website (click on the CDNI (Cape Death Notice Index)option Oh well...that is my first soap-box topic for my BlogSpot. Would love to hear your comments or views on other things.
Spot the genealogist in a crowd - they are the one sporting a "Who's Your Daddy" T-Shirt.