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The first family tree was deposited at the Albany Museum in 1958 and since then there has been a steady growth of the genealogical collection. It soon became apparent that systematic research and curation was essential and this was initially undertaken by a team of amateur volunteers, led by Mrs D Rivett-Carnac. The Genealogy Department was established as a separate entity within the History Division of the Museum in 1983 and has since been staffed by a succession of professional research officers. The post of Genealogist is currently filled by Mr William Jervois who is honorary Research Associate, partially funded by the 1820 Settlers Association. He is able to compile family histories, together with appropriate heraldry, through a wide range of documentary and photographic reference material.
Research is the main function of the Department, and is carried out by our professional genealogist, who is also able to compile family histories, together with the appropriate heraldry. The current fees for these services are available on request.
Visitors are permitted supervised access to the collections, and are given a reasonable amount of assistance in carrying out their own research. The postal service provides contact with the numerous amateur family historians who frequently seek advice and other help. Most of the correspondence is now carried out by means of e-mail, which increases the speed of response and reduces costs to the researcher. There is no charge for the our response to the initial enquiry. Loose-Leaf Files. This is a large collection of files which contain correspondence and research material for a great number of families. It should be noted that these are not exclusively concerned with the families of 1820 settler origins, but the department tries to assist with all research enquiries that it receives.
Computer Files
These are compiled by the genealogist, using the evidence gathered from all available resources. The genealogical programme that is used, "Brothers' Keeper", can generate reports in many different formats, including the narrative report, family tree chart and ancestor charts.
Print-outs of family history narratives and/or family trees are supplied to clients and copies are placed in the appropriate loose- leaf files. Complete indexes of all persons named in each of these computer files are generated. This means that it is possible to make a quick check through these master indexes to establish which families are interconnected and for the occurrence of a particular name.
The International Genealogical Index (I.G.I.) - Micro-Fiche
Thanks to the generosity of the Latter day Saints, a copy of this most valuable research tool is available and covers most European countries, their former colonies and the states which have evolved from them.
The Museum has a good collection of bound 19th century copies of the Grahamstown Journal, Grocott's Mail, and a few other newspapers. They are a valuable primary source for local research.
The Document, Photograph and Artifact Collections
The archive of documents and photographs contain an extensive collection of items, most of which have a direct bearing on the history of British families in the Eastern Cape. The collection of artifacts, some of which are on display in the galleries of the Museum, is also an occasional aid to the compiling of family histories.
The Genealogy Department Library contains genealogical works which pertain directly to South African families. In addition to a good collection of published works, there are collections of unpublished papers, including those of the late A.E. Makin, which are especially useful for families connected to the Salem district. Another very useful aid is the Skead Collection of notes on the farms of the Albany, Alexandria and Bathurst districts. The library has an index to the old Grahamstown cemetery, as the inscriptions on the gravestones are sometimes the only source of information on the individual. In addition, the library has a copy of the valuable work carried out by the Border Historical Society in recording details of some 20 000 graves in that area. The library also houses the resident genealogist's personal collection of international genealogical and heraldic works which are a valuable source of information on the British origins which may pertain to local families. The Bowker Library is adjacent to the Genealogy Department, and contains a useful collection of local historical material.
The Cory Library for Historical Research at Rhodes University.
We are fortunate in having easy access to the material held in this resource centre. Amongst other items, the Cory Library holds a collection of original church registers which, especially those of the Methodist church, covers most of the country.