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Expert Q&A :: City of Sydney’s historian Lisa Murray on family history

Q. From Leane: Hi Lisa, another question if I may. I’ve been told my grand uncle invented the invisible (round) window in Farmers/David Jones Sydney store, he worked for O’Briens glass and was chauffeur driven, any clues how to confirm this?
A. Lisa: Hi Leane, You will need to do a bit more work on this as Farmers and David Jones were different stores in Sydney. If it was an innovative new building feature it might have featured in a building and construction trade journal. There is a journal about glass in the Mitchell Library, SLNSW – I think it is called Glass & Decoration. Also try the Building & Engineering Journal.
A. Leane: I’m sure its the Farmers/Myers store, it’s the window that curves, my dad remembers it, thanks. I’ll do some digging.

Q. From Brett: Hi. Looking for photos of Judges / Magistrates in the judicial system in Sydney. Based around the late 1800’s. Would you know if the Justice Dept’s (Judges) took group shots?
A. Lisa: I think State Records NSW is your best bet. But I would also contact the Law Society to see what archives they might have. There may have been a law journal where group photos may have featured.
A. Brett: Thanks. I didn’t even consider the Society. Another avenue.

Q. From @TheVelvetNap: What about the one [burial ground] under Central? Where are their names remembered? *niggles me*
A. Lisa: The Devonshire Street Cemeteries (and I use the plural deliberately as they were all separately run burial grounds) were in use from 1820- 1865, with some burials after that time if you had a vault. The Cemeteries were cleared to make way for Central Station. The Carters Barracks and Benevolent Society also were demolished to make way for the brand new railway building.
A. Lisa: Here’s more background on cemeteries in early Sydney in the Dictionary of Sydney that I wrote: Hopefully a specific article on the Devonshire Street Cemeteries will be published towards the end of the year.

Q. From IHM: Hi Lisa, the City of Sydney and Dictionary of Sydney have released lots of new resources lately, what are you most excited about and what do you have in the pipeline for us?!
A. Lisa: We’ve been really busy at the Dictionary of Sydney! We have just published our latest release of content, which includes a great series of articles and images around the history of the Cooks River Valley. There is some really great material in here – 14 articles all around the river, the environment, the industries and suburbs that are connected to the Cooks River.
A. Lisa: I have been equally busy with my history colleagues at the City of Sydney. The City’s History Unit has just launched a new oral history website where you can access our oral history collection, listen to excerpts and read transcripts. An ever growing resource.
A. Lisa: We have also updated the Barani Aboriginal history website with a whole new look and feel, plus new content.
A. Lisa: And our aldermen website featuring over 440 biographies of men and women who have served on the City of Sydney Council has quietly been launched. This is a great resource for family historians – and perhaps you can share some info with us too!
A. Lisa: Next up is the former aldermen of Glebe which will be uploaded in time for History Week and our special open day at the Sydney Town Hall on Saturday 14 September
A. Lisa: And I’m appearing with Inside History at the Glass-plates to Cyber-Space panel discussion at the Australian National Maritime Museum. That’s on Wednesday 11 September.
A. Lisa: And in between all of this I’m trying to finish my book on the history of Redfern, Alexandria and Waterloo!!! And also overseeing the development of a smartphone app for our historical walking tours. Both of these will be out in 2014.
A. Lisa: So busy times ahead!

Comment: IHM: Please join me in thanking Lisa for joining us tonight! 
A. Lisa: Thanks Inside History Magazine! And thanks everyone for your fantastic questions!! Always gets me thinking about primary source material and archives. Love it!! HAPPY RESEARCHING!!!!
A. Christine: Thanks Lisa, all the very best with your upcoming projects and thanks very much for your advice tonight, and thanks also to Inside History for this great forum.
A. Rebel: Thank you Lisa! And thanks, Inside History. I love these Q&As and this one has taught me a lot.

Custom House and The Rocks, 1845, by George Peacock. Courtesy City of Sydney's Barani website and State Library of NSW.
Custom House and The Rocks 1845, by George Peacock. Courtesy City of Sydney’s Barani website and State Library of NSW.


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