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Genealogical Research

Cory Library holds many sources which are useful to researchers interested in family history, and local Eastern Cape history in general. Cory Library currently has no genealogist on the staff, and queries may be redirected to professionals in the field. Visitors wishing to conduct their own research are always welcome.

Visiting the Library

Please introduce yourself at the Front Desk, where the staff on duty will assist you. Visitors to the library are requested to fill in a Researcher’s Form, indicating the exact nature of their research. Please bring an ID book, passport, or similar identification.

Genealogy Corner
Cory Library has set up a “Genealogy Corner” with selected texts on Eastern Cape settlers, as well as genealogical directories and Familia. Researchers also can browse through the open access area of the library, especially at the genealogy and military history sections

Genealogical Resources

The Catalogues
These are the key to the open shelves and the archival collections. There is an online catalogue in addition to various traditional card catalogues. The Cory staff will assist you. Please refer to the brochure Guide to the Catalogues.

Early Newspapers A good starting point for genealogical researchers using Cory Library for the first time is the Index to the Graham's Town Journal (G.T.J.). G.T.J. was first published in December 1831, and the newspaper then ran through until 1920. The Grocott's Penny Mail (now known simply as Grocott's Mail) began in 1870. For 50 years both newspapers were published in the city. The card index to the G.T.J. is an alphabetical surname index containing references to birth, marriage and death notices inserted in the newspaper. Other references include appointment as Mayor, registration as a voter, regimental allegiance, etc. It is useful to note that entries in the index also reflect events in places other than Grahamstown, such as Lower Albany, Fort Beaufort, King William's Town, Peddie, Queenstown etc. Unfortunately there is no equivalent index for the Grocott's Penny Mail.

Manuscript Material
The Cory Library holds a very extensive manuscript collection, and if there are any letters, diaries, family trees or any other material relating to the particular family you are researching, these will be in the Manuscript Catalogue.
Pictorial Collection The Picture Catalogue will indicate whether there are any pictures or photographs relevant to the family you are researching.

Early Directories
The collection of early Eastern Cape directories, unfortunately with gaps, contains lists of inhabitants of the main cities and towns in the province. The earliest directory containing a list of Grahamstown inhabitants is dated 1848. More comprehensive volumes cover the Cape Colony as a whole. Particularly useful in this section is the Howard and Co's Border Directory (Cape Colony) 1901 which contains lists of farmers in the District of Albany including East London, King William's Town, Queenstown, Peddie, etc. as well as the Lower Albany areas.

Church Registers Collection
This collection is perhaps the most exciting source for genealogical researchers. These original Church records are unique and of enormous value to researchers in many disciplines besides family history. The Cory Library is the official repository of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa, and as such holds many original baptismal, confirmation, marriage and burial records for a vast number of places within all nine provinces, although its holdings are richest for the Eastern Cape. In addition the collection also includes records of the Anglican, Presbyterian, Baptist, Congregational and Catholic Churches, again mainly for places within the Eastern Cape, but there are some scattered records for other provinces. There are a few Hebrew registers.

The key to searching this enormous collection lies in the Index files kept in the Genealogy Corner. This guide is initially arranged alphabetically under place names, further sub-divided into baptism, confirmation, marriage and burial records. These records are finally listed by denomination.

O.D. Inggs Burial Records Index 1899 -1996
Several years ago the diaries of the late O.D. Inggs, Undertaker in Hill Street, Grahamstown were indexed on behalf of the Cory Library by Mrs Liz Eshmade of the Eastern Cape Branch of the Genealogical Society of South Africa. This is another very useful source if you are researching a Grahamstown family, or a forebear who might have been buried from this city.

This information was adapted from a talk by Mrs Sally Poole to the Lower Albany Historical Society.

Useful links

Last Modified: Fri, 23 Jun 2017 11:31:00 SAST