Monday, 22 June 2015

Dailidė family history

Late last year I was very fortunate to come across a marvelous new publication, a family history of William and Margaret DELADE who arrived in Australia from Scotland in the 1920s:

Tėvynės: The Homeland, a family history of Margaret and William Delade,
published in 2013 by Robert Staib and Roslyn Staib, Sydney
(see the National Library of Australia's listing here)

Not only does this book tell the story of William Delade (Vincas Dailidė) and his wife Margaret (Magdalena Deckerie/Dekerytė) as well as their extended families in Lithuania and Scotland, it also serves as a valuable resource for social and migration history.  It is a particularly significant contribution in that there have been so few Australian Lithuanian family histories published to date.

The 88 page publication is attractively packed with colour photos, maps and tables as well as a very readable text.  It was awarded 3rd prize in the Australian Institute of Genealogical Studies' 2013 Alexander Henderson Awards for Best Australian Family History (see link here).

I particularly liked the outlines of political, social and economic conditions in late 19th century Lithuania and early 20th century Scotland which helped place migration decisions in context.  An interesting point was that the majority of the Lithuanians in Scotland had - like Vincas Dailidė and Margaret Deckerie's parents - come from the Suvalkija region of Lithuania.  The discussion of the Anglo-Russian Military Convention of 1917 which in effect forced most Lithuanian men in Britain to choose between conscription into the British Army and deportation for service in the Czar's Army, with profound consequences for the families involved, was illuminating.

The authors drew on a range of source material for the 13 chapters of the book, including apparently well-documented records of family memories, a visit to Lithuania in 2011, and an impressive number of referenced publications.  The book assists the reader with useful appendices on Lithuanian surnames, a family time line, a family tree, a list of all people mentioned in the book, and a comprehensive index.

My only quibble is with the use of the word 'Tėvynės' in the title: that word in the nominative form as used here means 'homelands' (plural), while the singular form would be 'Tėvynė'.  The mistake could have been avoided by checking with a Lithuanian-speaker.

Having left Scotland in the late 1920s, the Delades settled in Dapto NSW (near Wollongong) where William worked at the Wongawilli coal mine for 26 years; he died in 1978, and Margaret in 1980.  Contacts with other Lithuanians were probably intermittent, although the book includes a photo of William with fellow Scots-Lithuanian Frank Augustus (Pranas Augustaitis) and the Lithuanian chronicle Metraštis No. 1 records Vincas Dailidė as having been a member of the Sydney-based Australian Lithuanian Society.

Roslyn Staib (Margaret and William's granddaughter) and her husband Robert have produced a high-quality publication celebrating their lives which is also a great contribution to the history of early Lithuanian migration to Australia.  Hard copies of the book may be found at the National Library of Australia and the Wollongong Library; the Australian Lithuanian Community Archives also has a CD version of the publication, courtesy of the authors.

No comments:

Post a Comment