Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Trove Tuesday : Identifying James Muir

Last week the resources of Trove were utilised to help build a family profile of James Muir (see Trove Tuesday : The family of James Muir). This week I will go one better and explain how a newspaper article helped identify one of the carte de visite photographs contained in the Georgina Auld nee Muir album that is currently being scanned.

Obituary notice for James Muir

From the results seen last week whilst searching the newspapers, it was noticed that when James Muir's name was mentioned, reference was also being made to his father John Muir and to where his father lived - in Gatehead, Ayrshire, Scotland. With this in mind, a search was performed using "James Muir Gatehead Ayrshire Scotland". The results were rather surprising and helped identify several additional siblings of James Muir who had also immigrated to both Australia (Brisbane specifically) as well as New Zealand. Of particular note was an obituary notice for James Muir that was published in several newspapers. Below is a copy of the obituary that appeared in The Brisbane Courier on 7 July 1916:

Source: PERSONAL. (1916, July 7). The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864 - 1933), p. 11. Retrieved June 3, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article20133427

From reading the obituary, readers will pick up on several possible avenues for potential research. The item that stood out for me was the mention that James Muir was a founder of the Queensland Bowling Association.

Queensland Bowling Association

A quick search on the Internet found a breakdown of the history of Bowls Australia. According to the information provided on the site, the first Brisbane Bowls Club was formed in 1878 and they played on a green in the Botanic Gardens. The club subsequently became the Booroodabin Bowls Club with the Queensland Association being formed in 1903.

To see if any further details could be found, the all knowing oracle of historic Australian printed media 'Trove' was consulted. The question we asked the oracle was "James Muir Queensland bowling" and the oracle Trove referenced the following full page article that appeared in The Brisbane Courier in 1904:

Source: [No heading]. (1904, February 6). The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864 - 1933), p. 12. Retrieved June 3, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-page1546481

Several articles appear on the page and detail James Muir's involvement with bowling. One such article on An Ancient and Honourable Game, details Muir playing on the lawns of the Brisbane Botanic Gardens as a pioneer of bowling in Queensland in 1878, to being the first President of the Queensland Bowling Association in May 1881.

A photo of James Muir as printed in 1904

On the same page appear fourteen photos of individuals connected with bowling in Queensland. One of these photos is of James Muir, President of the Queensland Association. The closeup of the photo follows:
Source: BOWLING IN QUEENSLAND. (1904, February 6). The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864 - 1933), p. 12. Retrieved June 3, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article19264300

Comparing the photo of James Muir taken in 1904 with the photos in the Georgina Auld nee Muir album, a match was made with one of the photographs of an unknown male taken circa 1875 in Brisbane. There is a time difference of nearly thirty years between the two images but the similarities can be seen.

Unknown male (possibly James Muir) by Metcalfe & Glaister (front face) [Auld Photograph Collection apc-000105-s1]

Readers will note the name written in ball point pen on the front face as 'Edgar Collingbourne'. Unfortunately there are several photographs in the album which have been written on and from research undertaken to date, it appears the names are fictional and do not correspond to any family members that have been uncovered to date. The names are all in the same handwriting and one possible scenario is that the carte de visite photographs were used in some sort of game. Other photographs with these type of names have been matched against other identifiable photos and hence the reasoning that they are fictional.

What do you think?