Sunday, January 31, 2010

File types useful in SA family history research

Divorce records provide addresses, career details, names of children and who received custody and reveal financial and other circumstances of both plaintiff and defendant. If the cause of divorce was adultery, another person's name may be cited in the proceedings: this could lead to finding a spouse's later change of surname and from there to a deceased estate file for a second husband.

Perhaps the most useful aspect of divorce files is that a copy of the marriage certificate may be found among the documents. The term 'illiquid' (illiquidation) cases is applied to divorces, but can also refer to the dissolution of business partnerships. The latter may offer addresses for the ancestor concerned and tell us more about the rise or fall of his fortunes at that point.

Divorce records are indexed under the archives of the Supreme Court in each province: in Natal the code RSC applies, in the Cape CSC, in the Transvaal WLD and in the Orange Free State, HG.

Though divorce files can be either depressing or intriguing, depending on your point of view, they are certainly worth accessing.

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