Advantages of an in-depth history

This project very consciously limits its scope to the Williams River Valley, and even then largely to the stretch from its headwaters beneath the Barringtons to Clarence Town. This is only about 60 kms or so of a valley that is perhaps 10 kms wide at its narrowest points and much less for most of its length. Even today, with its population at perhaps 3,000 people the highest it has ever been, is not large. So why devote so much historical effort to such a small local area?

The advantage of such a narrow focus is that a great deal of historical depth can be achieved. The constant shifting of evidence and sources relevant to this limited area constantly yields surprisingly fruitful results. As well, this in-depth approach throws up an amazing number of questions across a very broad range to be asked and gradually answered.

Surprising results:

  • Dungog – the name of the major town on the Williams River since 1833 and of a police district for much of the 19th century – is an unusual word that as more and more material becomes digital and so subject to powerful search engines gives great advantages in sifting out small contributions to the research.
  • One such example was the discovery of the little known first letterbook in a series of Dungog Magistrates Letterbooks running from 1834 until 1851. This very underused resource is held in the NSW State Archives whose holding only begins in 1839. The discovery that a mislabeled Dungog ‘Police Office’ Letterbook held by the National Library was in fact the first in this valuable series greatly adds to our historical knowledge.

Questions thrown up:

4 thoughts on “Advantages of an in-depth history

  1. Hello,
    have found your website very interesting, as I hope to come and stay in Dungog early next year. I am researching the death of my great grand mother, Emma Laura Berry, and looking for her living descendants. http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/137750848 It was a very sad tale. St Leonards is listed as their home, so hoped you might have some information on this , warm regards Alannah

  2. Hello Alannah – Thanks for the comments. A sad story indeed. I don’t know any details myself but there are many Berry’s and Nash’s still in the Dungog area. Have you visited the grave at Thalaba? The Dungog Historical Society many be able to help. Good luck with your research. Michael

  3. Hello Michael, finally made the trek. Beautiful town, still in recovery. More green, hilly than I thought, for some reason always had images of dust and dry. To write this story I needed to be in the space. Found the Thalaba cemetery, sadly Emma wasn’t worth a headstone, but her story will come.
    Alannah

  4. Hello Michael, finally made the trek. Beautiful town, still in recovery. More green, hilly than I thought, for some reason always had images of dust and dry. To write this story I needed to be in the space. Found the Thalaba cemetery, sadly Emma wasn’t worth a headstone, but her story will come.
    Alannah

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