01 February 2011

Museum investing in your past relatives

By: Zongezile Matshoba

For William Jervois, genealogy is a passion, commitment and dedication. Jervois is a resident genealogist at Albany Museum. He deals with requests from all over the world, particularly in Europe, Australia and the United States of America. Although he specializes on the 1820 Settlers, he manages to give assistance and further referrals to those requests beyond his scope.

During the Rhodes University’s Cory Library commemoration of Sir George Cory’s interview with King Regent Manxiwa 101 years ago, Jervois took time off to share his expertise.

His job is quite fascinating, yet he is charging close to nothing as compare to professional genealogists. Also, he is willing to share his skills with anyone interested in the field. He is also concerned that there is nothing similar being done for Africans, AmaXhosa example, to complement what he is doing. His main challenge is that he is not familiar with the language.

For a start, Jervois receives an e-mail or a telephone call regarding an enquiry. Full details are very important for him to proceed. This must include full names of both parents being researched, age, date of marriage, profession or trade they were involved in, and place of birth.

Fully armed with precise details, Jervois sits in front of his computer and starts his frantic search. He checks the church registers of baptisms, cemetery tombstones register, business books, newspaper death and marriage notices, and most importantly, the International Genealogy Institute Individual Records freely available on the web.

Jervois normally takes a day to complete an e-mail enquiry once he has most information at his disposal. Anyone interested in his service should contact him at Albany History Museum in Somerset Street. Alternative, please call him at 046 – 622 2312, or e-mail: albanymuseum@ru.ac.za

For further reading, please visit:
Cory Library commemoration
Being a genealogist

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