Monday, 22 April 2013

Climbing the Family Tree

A couple of weeks ago, I decided to reluctantly part with my genealogy microfiche collection.     I started buying these about 20 years ago when I  ~  a.   had a life /   b.   had money to spend.

Researching the family tree became my passion.    It was a grand mystery to be solved - link A to B, and track the trail further back.   It suited my nerdy/Aspberger's personality  The funny thing about genealogy - to get extra information about your ancestors - to put meat on the bones, so the speak - they had to have either been rich or naughty.

I'm very lucky that mine were naughty (I would have been luckier if they had been rich).   Yes, tragedy, naughtiness and poverty abounds in my family tree (and still does!) - which is chock full of coal miners, factory workers, servants, labourers and farmers.   Yet sadly, none of them were convicts that were sent to Australia!!   (This would be due more to their cunningness at not getting caught, rather than having never committed a crime).

Yes, I found out some things that weren't meant to be known.

I found out my mother was # 8 of 15 children.  I didn't know that.  Mum wasn't too happy when I found out, and I was questioned sharply on exactly why I had to do the family tree anyway.    I had only met two uncles and one aunt, and knew of two other uncles that I'd never met, and one who had died when I was young.   I only know that because when I was a child (about 10), I opened the front door one night in my PJs and dressing gown, and found two policemen standing there.   Later I quizzed Mum about why they were there, and she finally admitted that my Uncle John had died.   Uncle John?  Who? I'd never heard of him ...   That got quickly swept under the mat, but those two policemen stayed in my child's mind, because I had been in awe of them - so tall in their smart uniforms.

Having never known any of my grandparents -  and my parents,  aunts & uncles being of the era where children were seen and not heard - none of these things were talked about.  

I got the genealogy bug when I was about 25, and never stopped from there.   I had to visit my parents with a bottle of wine and get them half-cut, before the stories came out of their loosened lips and I would sit there scribbling in my notepad.

Anyway, searching for something to make some money so I could pay my mounting bills, I found my plastic container full of microfiche and decided to let them go.   I didn't even have a microfiche reader - that got sold 3 years ago when I was forced to move, so they were of no more use to me.   I had gleaned all the information I needed from them already.  

But I had no idea if there were of use to anybody else.  Surely all this information was now available on CD, or on the internet?

I searched for previous sales in the "Genealogy" section of eBay, but there was just so few microfiche that had been for sale, that I had no prices to go on.  My microfiche contained censuses, and baptism/marriage/burial registers for certain counties in Scotland and in England, and few from Australia.

I put most up for auction, and the single ones up for BIN prices.    There was interest from all over the world - and they ended up being sent to Scotland, England and the US (and within Australia).
Every single one of them sold - and my total sales in the end was just over $600.   I had been without the pleasure of watching a bidding war for so long, these ones had my granny undies dancing with joy.

Here are a couple of the sales, so you get an idea.   Lots of people bought multiple microfiche.  Or microfishes - as one customer hilariously called them.   ;-).

I still have a few left - some of them I don't know what to do with, as I don't have microfiche reader any more, and they have no title on them - I basically have no idea what is on them.

So, if you ever see some microfiche (or microfishes) lying around your op shops - be sure to pick them up if the price is right.     Then somebody else with a microfiche reader can get motion sickness like I used to - scrolling through the pages.   Happy days.


  1. Nice sales! I wish I could think of something I had stored away that would bring in a tidy profit like that.

    My "real job" is as a librarian. I was helping a young student work with a big reel of microfilm yesterday and he asked why it was called "micro" if was so big. I tried not to laugh, and explained that the film was micro compared to having a huge stack of very old newspapers to wade through.

    Thanks for the fun BOLO!

    1. LOL. Kari, he was probably thinking of 'microfilm' like in a James Bond film, when it was so tiny it was secreted in a button or some silly thing.

      Ooh librarian - my dream job. ;-)

  2. Cool,I didn't know that microfiche were sellable. I have an aunt that is big into geneology and had looked up all sorts of records of ancestors fighting in the Civil War and what side they were on.She tried showing me the information she had gathered once, but I was a teenager at the time and I specifically remember my eyes glazing over.I would probably be more interested now.

    1. Spymay, my late aunt (father's sister) brought over a photo album when I was about 12 - and did a show and tell on it. Yes, my eyes glazed over too! Now I have inherited that album, and don't know who all the people are in the photos. :-(