Finding teacher…

Thomas Baines

Welcome to Stories from the Archive’s guest blog! This guest blog is by Lorraine Digney of the Genealogical Society of Queensland. Lorraine will be taking you through the journey of a personal discovery in the Queensland State Archives. As a new user to the Archives, Lorraine talks of the trials, tribulations, and revelations of exploring our archival records in her ‘QSA adventure’! So sit back with a cuppa and read her story for the insight, or alternatively, for a helping hand in finding your way through a family history research process.


Queensland State Archives: Finding Teachers

by Lorraine Digney


It’s funny what you find along the way!

Recently I was researching my 2nd great uncle, Thomas Baines, an Irish school teacher who emigrated to Queensland. Now, I am one of the ‘new kids on the block’, as far as genealogy is concerned, so the Queensland State Archives (QSA), although not completely unknown to me, was not a place where I felt comfortable to do my research. However, if I was ever going to give a correct account of my ancestor’s life, then that is where I was hoping to find the meat to put on the bones of my basic research and bring him to life on the page.  This is my QSA adventure.

    1. Firstly, I went on-line to the QSA Home page:

2. I then scrolled down to ‘more ways to explore’. I then clicked on Schools, Hospitals & Orphanages. Scrolled down to Teachers 1860 – 1905.


3. Once again I scrolled down and selected Schools, Hospitals & Orphanages and selected Teachers 1860-1905. Joy oh joy! A full online searchable index.


4. I downloaded the file and saved it to my computer for future reference (this is optional). So now I was ready to search and find long lost Uncle Thomas.

5. To find Uncle Thomas in such a large database; there is a search box at the upper corner of the page, so I typed in ‘Baines’ and sure enough, up came all the teachers with the surname of Baines.

6. Armed with these reference numbers, off I went to search to QSA in search of Uncle Thomas’s teaching record.

Note: You can order the ‘not filmed’ records from the counter when you have the correct reference numbers.

7. By asking at the counter for a little direction – lo and behold the Microfilms were easy to locate, there were plenty of fiche/film readers available, and quite a number of records to scroll through, but I ‘hit pay dirt’ on my elusive Uncle Thomas –  from his teaching record I found a myriad of information.

[I found his:]

  1. Signature
  2. Date of arrival in Australia
  3. Referee
  4. Previous employment
  5. Qualifications
  6. Number of children
  7. Inspector’s reports
  8. Date of Birth
  9. Nationality
  10. Religion
  11. Date admitted into the service
  12. Date resigned from the service
  13. Previous employment history
  14. Classification
  15. Authority of Record, Name and Date
  16. School Appointed to, date and position held
  17. Salary
  18. Skills
  19. Organisation of school


8. Because I had to look through many names on the microfilm, it was difficult for me not to notice how many teachers were employed at that time. I began to wonder, did any of my ‘brick walls’ become teachers? So, if you have drawn a blank on one of your ancestors in Queensland, you could try an enjoyable day at the Queensland State Archives.

However, don’t forget your lunch – I’m sure you’ll be amazed at just how much information has not been made available on the ‘web’.

What became of Thomas Baines?  Yes, I did search Trove and there he was, large as life. Thomas was a teacher and head master and taught in and around Ipswich from 15 July 1878 to 15 March 1882, he became an auctioneer and ran his own business auctioneering firm in Ipswich.

He was a well-teachers4respected and civic minded individual who served as a councillor on the Ipswich City Council and became Lord Mayor of Ipswich in 1899. I found a very interesting article following the trail of Uncle Thomas, which clearly sums up how he chose to live his life.

Happy hunting!










Featured image credit: Thomas Baines.

This piece was originally published as “Queensland State Archives: Finding teachers” by Lorraine Digney on the 13th of May, 2019, on the Genealogical Society of Queensland Inc blog, originally located at:

About Queensland State Archives

For more information about Queensland State Archives visit

Leave a Reply