Eileen Clark – TASA Conference Scholarship for Sociologists Outside Academe

TASA Conference Scholarship for Sociologist Outside Academe Awarded to Eileen Clark, Clarks Clerks:

This scholarship is designed to assist members working for government or non-government organisations, private employers or other non-university settings to present their work at TASA conferences. While universities still value conference participation, counting attendance as part of normal duties and sometimes providing funding to attend, the situation is very different for those of us working in other settings. Employers may not see the value of conferences, especially those considered ‘academic’ rather than ‘industry’, funding is non-existent, and members may have to use their precious annual leave to attend. Hence, all winners of this scholarship appreciate the support that enables them to network with other sociologists and present their work to a wide audience.

I was awarded a scholarship to attend the 2015 Conference and presented my paper about a novel form of longitudinal research. I am self-employed as a writer and researcher, and the paper evolved from investigations I made about adding genealogical research to my suite of services. In the paper, I report on a study of women in a small NSW town who had applied for support as deserted wives between 1900 and 1914. The court papers are in the Riverina Regional Archives and after extracting as much information as possible from these, I searched online resources such as birth, death and marriage records, electoral rolls and old newspapers to see what happened to the families. In doing so, I realised that this was a form of longitudinal research but without the time delays and costs the method normally involves. Not all my searches were successful, and while there were records spanning over 60 years for four families, another family disappeared without trace after the court hearing. In the conference paper I discuss the merits and drawbacks of archival research for longitudinal projects, and give examples of easily-accessed sources.

‘Longitudinal research using archival sources: A case study of deserted wives in rural New South Wales, 1900–1914’


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