Write your family’s migration story: some ideas to get you started (part 1)
One aspect of family history which fascinates most of us is the change from an existence with limited possibilities, to a life in Australia with life-changing opportunities. If we return to our family’s country of origin, it is often a culture shock when we realise the enormous changes our family had to undertake. What pushed them out of their home country? Why did they come to a country so far away with little possibility of seeing family and friends again? How did they negotiate this challenging migration path full of the unexpected?
Push factors in migration
Find out about conditions in the time and place from where and when your family came. The following keyword searchable newspaper archives at State Library may help. Access is free for State Library members.
- British Library newspapers - includes 48 titles (onsite and offsite access)
- British newspaper archive - covers over 200 titles from the British Isles (onsite access only)
- Irish newspaper archive - has a mix of out-of-print and current titles (onsite and offsite access)
Remember to also try Trove historical newspapers, which provides Australia-wide newspapers up to 1954, some later.
Pull factors in migration
Conditions for passage varied over time and you can read more about this in Nineteenth century government assisted immigrants from the United Kingdom to Australia : schemes, regulations and arrivals, 1831-1900 and some vital statistics 1834-1860, by Robin F. Haines. Click on the author’s name in the catalogue record to discover her other books on the migrant journey.
Coming to Queensland as a migrant was a relatively safe proposition because the government was investing a lot of money to get thousands of people around the world to develop the State. They had a stake in ensuring the venture was a success. Years of dealing with convicts and migrants meant there were well established procedures. This ensured migrants’ transport to the vessel, and their health was reasonably protected with adequate food and space; a surgeon-superintendent could attend to medical needs. It was safer to take the long trip to Australia than to take the much shorter one to North America where private agents were involved and there was little government supervision.