Delving into the Archives

Walking into the Mitchell Library I think can be very daunting. No I don’t know what a microfiche is, no I don’t know how to print, wait, what – my library card has expired! (Surely library cards don’t have expiry dates).
Initial hurdles, it turns out, were easily overcome. I didn’t really think that my research would take me into the depths of an archive. Mostly, I’ve been chatting to my family, and destroying any sort of order that mum had the photos in. But when Dad said that Schenk & Co got most of their business from a huge half page ad in the Yellow Pages, I thought that I probably would be bad historian if I didn’t follow that up.
Actually, Dad said the White Pages. Companies don’t really advertise in the white pages. I did not know this, being a child of the twenty first century. After about an hour of fiddling around and trying to make the microfiche legible, I did find my family listed, and the company, but it was no half page ad. It was only after that that I thought maybe it’s the Yellow Pages that does company adverts. Turns out the Yellow Pages didn’t exist in the 1960s and 1970s. It was called the Pink Pages. But actually, there was no ad in that either. What Dad was actually thinking of was the Western Sydney Buyers Guide.
The actual struggle of finding it I can only blame myself for. I tried smash repairs, repairs, wreckers, cars. It was actually under motor. But once I had figured that out I was set. Schenk & Co had a small ad, not really the half a page that Dad seems to remember, but still quite significant for a small family business.
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I feel like my project is a little more valid now. I know that family histories are valuable, but compared to all the fabulous projects being undertaken by my peers, I feel that I really have taken an easy road. Definitely a great experience feeling like an actual historian, looking for actual sources in an actual archive.

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