Family history research success for Fred

Post date: 
Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Fred Leftwich was one of 20 attendees at the Family History Unit session at the Queanbeyan Heritage Festival. The Family History Unit provided information for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people about the type of records that exist for family history research, where to find them, why they were created, and how to interpret them. 

“I really got a lot out of that training session. It left me with a desire to find out more about my family,” Fred said. Later, Fred contacted the Family History Unit with a request to assist him to learn more.

Born in Cairns, Fred’s family have connections to the former Anglican mission of Yarrabah. While he had names and some information about his ancestors, he was looking to gain a better understating of their lives. Fred said “I had photos and stories about my family and a pretty good family tree but I wanted to know more, particularly about some of my female ancestors." 

Fred’s family were removed to Yarrabah from all over Queensland, including his Grandfather Victor who was one of around 100 people forcibly relocated from the abandoned Anglican mission at Fraser Island in 1904.

AIATSIS were able to locate a photograph of Fred’s grandparents, Victor and Julia Leftwich in our collection.

Victor and Julia Leftwich
Victor and Julia Leftwich, early Yarrabah identities

Like many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people tracing their heritage, what was available to Fred depended on what was recorded in historical documents and other sources. 

Using the AIATSIS collection, including photographs, audio and print materials, CIFHS, Birth, Death and Marriage records, Trove and Tindale Indexes, the Family History Unit were able to provide further information to Fred about his family. He said “It was so great to see the photos of my family from the early days of Yarrabah mission. There is one of my grandfather in the Yarrabah Mission Band—the band is an important part of Yarrabah’s history!”

While it is often difficult to find records about Aboriginal women, in Fred’s case women on both sides of his family were recorded in genealogies by Norman Tindale in the 1930s at Palm Island and Yarrabah. 

For Fred, the combination of attending an information session on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander family history research, and accessing support from the Family History Unit, has helped him uncover more about his family and their lives.

Last reviewed: 1 Jul 2020