Was your ancestor in the Salvation Army?

Salvation Army

Salvation Army

It was rumoured that one of my ancestors had a mine that was called Hallelujuh and they were a member of the Salvation Army member. This lead me to wonder what records that Salvation Army had. This helped me strike gold in my own mine of genealogy. My first stop was looking at the Salvation Army website and contacting their main office to ask if they may have some information. I was sent an envelope with exciting stories my ancestors featured in from the War Cry. I love the articles from this publication as they aren’t really written in newspaper style but from a person that knew my ancestors. It makes it sweeter to hear someone that knew them write about them and miss them. It made me think about what other gems of information the Salvation Army may have.

For those of you who haven’t seen it, the “War Cry” is a publication that the Salvation Army puts out to raise funds for it’s social work. In Australia the publication has celebrated 130 years in 2013. Originally it was for members of the Salvation Army  and the public. This is great as many members are mentioned and even memorialised in the publication.   I was able to email my family’s name, areas that they resided and positions that they were known to hold and the Salvation Army heritage centre kindly took their time to look it up for me. Although, they don’t charge for the research, they do accept donations which I was happy to give and an email to thank them again.  If you want to contact them their email is war_cry@usn.salvationarmy.org.

 This also got me to thinking about other information that might be available from the Salvation Army that might also relate to my ancestors. I know that the Salvation Army has run institutions, children’s homes and reformatories and hold many records of people who have come through their doors from 1894 to the 1970’s. Although my family members were part of the Salvation Army and didn’t got through their institutions (as far as I know) there are many people that did. The records go back into the 1890’s and you can search through what records are available on the find and connect website.  If it’s your record, you can show id, if it’s someone your related to you can show how your related for access. An area that sparked my interest was seeing that many photos were taken of social events  and Salvation Army members are in the photos. You can see the photos if you go the Salvation Army heritage centre at Bexley in Sydney but get permission first. The photos cover from around 1922 to 1993 and not many are available online or have been digitalised. I don’t live close enough myself but I think it could be a good source to cover. http://www.findandconnect.gov.au/resources/records-from-salvation-army-homes/

 In the 1920’s, the Salvation Army chartered a boat four times to transport emigrants from Britain to Australia on the Vedic. The Salvation Army reasoning was to help people achieve a better quality of life and that involved emigrating to other Commonwealth countries like Canada and Australia. When boys would come to Australia, many were sent up to Riverview near Brisbane. The training there involved training the boys to do farming. The National Archives have some information about youth migration that features the Salvation Army, and records relating to Salvation Army members that emigrated to Australia through the years. For more information you can read the research guides available. http://guides.naa.gov.au/good-british-stock/chapter3/salvation-army.aspx

I also discovered that The Salvation Army has it’s own museum in Melbourne at 69 Bourke Street. I had never heard of the museum and it takes a little bit of searching to find more information on the internet. It covers everything from 1880 to the present day and they state they have around 750 000 artefacts. It contains the original Limelight Studios and has occupied the same building since 1894. It is free entry but I don’t know when it is open to the public. It was hard to find the opening hours online so I think calling ahead would be the best way to visit. The Salvation Army Museum phone number is (03) 9639 3618

If you know a family member served as a Salvation army member in the Vietnam War you can search for them on the nominal roll. Salvation Army members and Red Cross members that served over in Vietnam in the war where given service numbers and are named in the nominal rolls. http://www.vietnamroll.gov.au/about.aspx

Another great place to find biographies of notable Salvation Army officers is http://webjournals.ac.edu.au/. They hold many great biographies, just search either the name of the person or just Salvation Army.

You may not have family in the Salvation Army but I hope this may give you further ideas for your own research. Religion was such a big part of our early ancestors lives and knowing what religion that followed can give a real insight into their lives. It can also add a lot of the meat to the story of your family. Many religious organisations have archives that are filled with information not put out online or to the public. It can take a while to track them down but it can be well worth it. Happy Easter and let me know if you have found some great information through religious connections.

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