Monday, 26 March 2012

Lithuanians in South Australia Database

Through the research I have been gathering I am compiling a database of people of Lithuanian nationality who at some time resided in South Australia. My initial thoughts were to identify the family names and individuals who came from Lithuania, post WWII.
This has grown to include
• Their involvement in the Lithuanian community
• Their descendants
• Occupation
• Education
• Name changes
• Any notable movement eg have they moved interstate?
• Place of birth
• Date of arrival in Australia
• Ship of arrival
• Settlement camp in Australia
• Headstones

Why would I collect this information?
In part some information is collected because a source of information may provide several facts, eg Immigration records will have date of birth, ship, arrival dates, dependants etc.

The other reason is that no one to my knowledge has collected this information and will be able to provide a more detailed glimpse of the community. Conservative guestimates that approximately one third of Lithuanians were actively involved in the Lithuanian community at any time. How true is this, what portion of Lithuanians remained unmarried, committed suicide, or left the country after only a few years to immigrate to the USA.

Between 1947 and 1953, 9906 Lithuanian refugees arrived in Australia as Displaced Persons. The 1986 Census states that there were 939 persons born in Lithuania and 1,578 persons stated they were of Lithuanian decent in South Australia. The 2006 census shows that there were 460 Lithuanian born persons living in South Australia.
To date, I have over 3500 names in the database, this is first to third generations. This is nowhere near complete, and many may not even be aware of their Lithuanian heritage or show any adherence to it.

One reference has referred to about 20-30 Lithuanians residing in Adelaide during the early 20th century. I have no been able to confirm this, nor the recorded first Lithuanian family to come to SA in 1841 on the ship the Skjold.

Difficulty arises with tracing early Lithuanians as the country did not exist in its present form until 1916, and those who came from present day Lithuania were referred to as Poles, Russians, Prussians or Germans.

Where am I getting the information from?
To date I have perused over 30 resources to compile this information. All the information I am entering has been printed in one form or another. All resources are accessible to the public. The database is not public and exists in only one location.

Resources have included
SA Birth Death & Marriage indexes
• Advertiser Funeral indexes
• Cemetery records
• National Archives of Australia Immigration records
• Records from the Adelaide Lithuanian Archive
• Local and Australian Lithuanian published newspapers
• Family history books
• South Australian Railway Appointments
• Local history books
• Electoral roll 1999

I have been able to use this database to assist people researching their family history from here and on more numerous occasions from Lithuania. There has been an increasing number of requests for information from family relatives hoping to get in touch with family in SA.

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