Blog post

Saturday, January 15, 2011

My first FHL film arrives

Today was the big day. I used my first ever FHL film!

The film was the Amherst Hospital (Victoria, Australia) admissions register (over two films, actually). I have a copy of the Genealogical Society of Victoria's (GSV) Victorian Goldfields Hospitals Index on CD and knew that the families I'm currently focusing on had admissions there.

While I waited for the films to arrive, I started searching the CD index for other ancestral families I knew were living in the area. What an exercise in frustration that was. The CD didn't run on my desktop computer. I can get it to run on a laptop, but the display doesn't work well on widescreen. I can only see the very top edge of some buttons at the bottom of my screen, and had to refer to the help file to find out what each button did.

I could have lived with a shonky user interface if the other features of the CD were more helpful. It was possible to search for a name, but little more. There was enough information in the fields returned to get a good idea of if you were looking at a person you were interested in, but it wasn't possible to filter the results by hospital (or anything else), and it wasn't possible to sort the results on any field. Even that I could have lived with but it limited exports to 200 at a time - which had to be hand selected from the full list of results returned for the search. Looking for relevant entries was going to take a very long time. I was starting to hate that CD!

Fortunately, I had decided to join the GSV and my membership came through while I was in the midst of grappling with the CD. I was able to access the members' version of their "Genealogical Index of Names" instead. Having given the CD a big thumbs down, I give the members' database a big thumbs up. It includes the hospitals database, has more searchable fields, and allows you to click through to additional information. A free guest version of the database is available, but the results give only a fraction of the detail of the full database. I think I'm going to get my membership value from that database alone. If you have research interests in Victoria it's definitely worth a look.

Comparison: Goldfields Hospital CD vs GSV members index vs Hospital admissions register

The index on CD contains:
  • surname; 
  • given name(s); 
  • admission date; 
  • age of patient; 
  • patient's place of birth; 
  • whether single, married or widowed; 
  • occupation; and
  • residence.
The members only index contains all the above plus: 
  • discharge date; 
  • religion;
  • father's name; 
  • mother's name; and 
  • remarks. 
The register itself is labelled slightly differently. It has column headings:
  • number; 
  • name; 
  • age; 
  • date of admission; 
  • residence; 
  • natal place; 
  • relatives names; 
  • married or single; 
  • religion; 
  • trade; 
  • former occupation; 
  • by whom recommended; 
  • Disease: primary, secondary; 
  • date of discharge; 
  • days in hospital; 
  • result; and
  • observations [which do not seem to be the same thing as the remarks].
Not all the fields are filled in for every admission, of course, but there's plenty of potentially interesting material.

Next post, I'll report my research findings.


  1. Good luck with the film -it should be a great help to you.
    I'm looking forward to participating in the Australia Day "challenge".

  2. Hi Shelley
    I've nominated you for the Ancestor Approved Award. My blog post today will tell you a bit more about it.

    Kylie :-)

  3. Shelley, your blog is one of my favourites, but as it has already been nominated for the Ancestor Approved Award, I did not nominate it again. However I did sneak a link into my post at Genealogy Leftovers!

  4. Hi Shelley
    I've nominated you for the Ancestor Approved Award. My blog post today will tell you a bit more about it.

    Kylie :-)