Mad Monday: Crime and Insanity in Victorian Britain

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What a great title!
Mad or Bad: Crime and Insanity in Victorian Britain.
The book covers 25 cases, tried at a time when insanity was used as a grounds for self defence. Was

the accused mad or bad when they committed that offence? It was the new wave of  'mad doctors' aka alienists (their patients were known as aliens) who sought to define the psychological conditions that could lead to the Insanity plea.
The main part of the book are the case histories, such as the case of one Roderick McLean, who attempted to assassinate Queen Victoria. McLean was found Not Guilty on the grounds of insanity and sentenced to life imprisonment in Broadmoor Criminal Lunatic Asylum. It was noted that as a teenager, he had suffered a head injury and subsequently spent time in an asylum, as he was not "right in the head." Then there's the case of Isabelle Blyth, who repeatedly claimed her nose and hands were wasting away, and who struck her elderly mother with the fireside tongs. She was recorded as insane - but sent to a general prison. In the end, four decades later, she died in an asylum.

For the family history researcher, the terminology around insanity is useful, with a glossary explaining the terms. There's also a Who's Who of notable medical and legal folk of the time, and a chapter devoted to mad and bad women. The case histories themselves, though, are packed with information about the legal and medical thought of the time.
We have borrowable copies in Auckland Libraries - check them out here. Remember, there is no cost to place a hold and request the book be sent to your local library, and you have eight days to collect it.

Joanne.
Research Central

Family History Fiction Friday

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Take a break from that puzzling family history research and settle down with something that does get solved!
Here are a couple of great looking reads for those who love to indulge their love of family history in the realm of fiction, too. Both of these are available from Auckland Libraries, so place a hold now. Though you'll have to get behind me in the list!

First up, is The Girl from Ballymor. It covers two time periods. First up is Kitty, a widowed mother in 1846 Ireland who is trying desperately to keep her remaining two children alive as famine ravages the land. Cut to the present, and we have Maria, arriving in Ballymor to research her ancestor, a Victorian portrait artist whose mother, the mysterious Kitty, disappeared without a trace. How do these two stories line up, and how are they resolved?  This looks a gripping and emotive read, and for those of you with that interest in Ireland, worth a look. You can check it out on the catalogue here.


Where the Sweet Bird Sings is a family history novel with a different story. Emma is still grieving  over the death of her son to a genetic disorder, a disorder she and her husband carry in their DNA. Now, her beloved grandfather has died, too, and as she helps her mother sort out his house, Emma tries to tie together the pieces of her genealogical puzzle.  Reviewers have called this book a story of love and forgiveness, touching and emotional. Plus there's a Salt Lake City setting... You can reserve your library copy here.
Joanne ~ Research Central

2017 Auckland Family History Expo - report back

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 Many thanks to the Exhibitors, speakers, volunteers and attendees who came to this year’s Expo in the Fickling Convention Centre, Three Kings.

Many many thanks to  my co-committee members Marie Hickey (Auckland Libraries), Jan Gow, Don Gallagher, Chris Bayley, David Bryant, Rex Wood, Dorothy Walker and Bryn Smith from the Genealogical Computing Group.

We had three international speakers this year, Chris Paton (Scots/Irish), Dirk Weissleder (German/European) and Helen Smith (Australian, British, DNA), as well as many local speakers.  We had about 30 lectures across the 2.5 days,  12 workshops, a Beginners' Table and 25 exhibitors: Ancestry, Auckland Council Libraries, Auckland War Memorial Museum,   Beehive Books/HOG Tours, Chinese genealogy researchers, Families in British India (FIBIS), FamilySearch, FamNet/Jazz Software, Guild of One Name Studies (GOONS), Kippenberger Research Library - National Army Museum - Waiouru, Indian genealogy / West Research Centre, My Heritage, New Zealand Fencible Society Inc, New Zealand Micrographics/Recollect,   New Zealand Military Historical Society, New Zealand Society of Genealogists Head Office  and Interest Groups: English, European, Irish, Maori, Pacific Island, Scottish; Unlock the Past/ Gould Genealogy, Wales – New Zealand Family History Society.

We had awesome financial sponsors: Auckland Council Libraries, Genealogical Computing Group, MyHeritage, Ancestry, The Genealogist and LivingDNA, who also donated prizes for our raffles. Many exhibitors also donated prizes for raffles too. Altogether we had more than 75 raffle prizes totally over $9000!

110 people attended the opening night on Friday night where we shared some yummy canapes and heard from Chris Paton on “Genealogy without borders”, and heard from LivingDNA about their offer (a mixture of video call from the UK, recorded video, and explanation from Michelle Patient), and then we had a panel discussion with our three speakers Chris, Dirk and Helen, about the future of family history.

Saturday and Sunday were very busy and we know for certain we had over 750 people attend across the two days – however, we suspect the actual number was a fair bit higher, as not everyone would have taken name labels or bags (which was our method of trying to calculate attendance). We got a lot of complete beginners again this year, so hopefully we have infected them with our enthusiasm, and they have now become addicted!



It had been posted on the Auckland Research Centres' Facebook page, as the Auckland Libraries new website was about to be launched. Please feel free to like the Research Centre’s Facebook page to be kept informed of what events and new resources we have in!

All going well, we hope to hold the next Auckland Family History Expo again next year – weekend Friday 10 to Sunday 12 August 2018. If it goes ahead, once again, we plan for it to be free, and for the exhibitors to pay minimal costs so it will be affordable for everyone to attend.

Watch this space!

Happy hunting

Seonaid