Familia Best Articles

The GSSA’s Northern Transvaal branch annually sponsors the award for ‘Best FAMILIA article’ published during the preceding year. Some of the criteria the adjudicators take into consideration for eligible articles include:
• Does the article provide a significant contribution to genealogical knowledge, i.e. does it contain new information?
• Is the article professionally compiled with good sources, references, etc.?
• Is the article an easy read, is the presentation interesting and engaging, and does it maintain a good balance between readability and academic correctness?
 Year  Author  Title  Original  Issue   Article
 Dr Rentia Landman 
 Ancestor from Africa to Africa
 Dr Wilhelm Bernhardt
 An economic framework for genealogical research?
 Charlie Els 
 The outcasts
 Sam Basch
 Of mine and mines — A brief look at descendants of Alexander Basch  in SA

Ancestor from Africa to Africa

3H7B3588 WillieDr Rentia Landman Reid [Familia 2020 Vol. 57/1 p38-47]
The question whether her Reid ancestors descended from the ancient Picts of present-day Scotland or Vikings from Scandinavia, prompted the author to use her brother's DNA as the basis for the article on the origins of modern humans.
Homo sapiens (man who is smart) originated in Africa when high rainfall made the Sahara and sub-Sahara highly fertile. The last ice age changed this and prehistoric man inevitably migrated. Her family's male line, Haplo group IJK, later found itself in the Fertile Crescent in the present-day Middle East. Her research shows that the founding ancestor was born on the European side of the Caucasus Mountains about 43 000 years ago. His chromosome variant could fall within the Haplo group I-M170. Carriers of this haplo group again migrated to the present-day Ukraine north of the Black Sea, and could even hunt large game with weaponry made of bone and quartz. They also shaped Venus figures as symbols of fertility. Their way of life is known as the Gravettian culture.
Further climate changes led to constant migration and changes in lifestyle, which has also led to further chromosome variation. The author's research showed that migrants reached Scandinavia about 13 000 years ago. Her family has, according to DNA results, mainly genetic ties with Denmark.
She discusses the origins of agriculture and animal husbandry, as well as language through which different haplo groups once again interacted with each other. She points out that her ancestors' language eventually became part of the large Indo-European language family.
That the ancestor from Denmark ended up in Scotland, she can attribute to Viking raids and also trade. While she could not find an answer to the question of whether he was a Viking looter or simply a Danish fisherman, what she does know is that her family's Scottish roots in South Africa date from 1861.
Extract from panel adjudicators' comments:
Although not an article with many names and dates like most genealogical articles, it is the story of all of our ancestors ... it is well researched with the necessary references and in fluent reading style.
The article, of course, speaks of particular research in a hitherto relatively unknown field.
DNA data is playing an increasing role in genealogy. This article is an excellent example of how raw DNA data can be woven into a genealogical family research and an accurate guess and acceptable theory could be linked to answer historical questions.

An economic framework for genealogical research?

3H7B3588 WillieDr Wilhelm Bernhardt [Familia 2019 Vol. 56/3 p23-41]
The article explains that genealogical activities can be divided into a spectrum of at least five types of mutually supportive fields of interest. All five of these types can derive value from shared methods of inquiry. One such method that can serve all five types of research to a greater or lesser degree, is the author's proposed economic framework for genealogical research, and the concomitant use of timelines. The proposed framework is explained with examples from the author's own research.
By gathering knowledge of the ancestors, genealogists actually get to know the present better, and move closer to answers to the core questions of genealogy: "Who am I?", "Why am I?" and “What has happened in the past that made me who I am?” The most basic purpose - and joy - of genealogical research lies in the search for and finding answers to questions about our ancestors. From this point of view, the proposed economic framework for genealogical research is therefore hopefully still a method among many others, which may help genealogists to derive even more enjoyment from their chosen field of interest.
Extract from panel adjudicators' comments:
1. The author succeeds well in using modern research practices, namely genealogical and historical research, by setting up an economic framework and a new way of providing an integrated picture of how the ancestors lived. The article serves as an excellent example for other genealogists on how to tackle similar research; it is special and fun to read. Technically, however, it is not a purely genealogical article but the originality of the assessment does not constitute a significant problem.
2. This article is one of the best that has ever appeared in a Familia, but I place it third because my interpretation is that articles must contain genealogical data in order to qualify for this award. In the end, there is genealogical information on the author's father but it was only used for the primary purpose, viz. to support the economic framework within which an article can be written.
3. The article re-emphasises the value of considering the changing environment in which the family tree's generations succeed each other. His inclusive model encourages researchers to deliberately utilise timelines of different nature to, e.g. improve insight into family decisions AND it also provides guidelines for further research (e.g. by looking for records at economically stronger places). The article is well presented with some source references. Given that this is his proposal (and own brain child), fewer sources are at stake. The author wanted to explain a relatively novel concept (especially the timeline aspect) and he had to illustrate it with examples. He has a comfortable writing style and complements it with tables and other sample material.

The outcasts

3H7B0022 Charlie Els 1Charlie Els [Familia 2018 Vol. 55/2 p56]
This informative article is about the search for the author's step-aunt of whom the family knew nothing. All a niece of his knew was that their grandmother, Catharina Elizabeth Els (born Uys) had previously been married to a Van der Merwe and that two daughters were born out of the marriage, one of whom died early. The author was able to determine according to the naming pattern that his aunt's name was Dina Magrietha van der Merwe. With this information the author was able to follow in her footsteps to the Pretoria Leper Institution west of Pretoria where he was able to obtain confirmation that she was the daughter of Catharina Elizabeth Els. Dina is also mentioned in the records of the Middelburg concentration camp where the conditions were extremely appalling. He was also able to locate other family members who were similarly denied by the family.
The author gives a lot of interesting information about this disease that has been considered reprehensible since biblical times. He discusses its handling through the ages, which has led to these people being denied, rejected and forgotten by their families. Ironically, it is a bacterial disease that can be easily treated, as we know today.
Extract from panel adjudicators' comments
For many centuries it was believed in the Christian world that leprosy was brought on as a punishment for mankind's sins. The Christian conviction was so strong that lepers worldwide were removed from communities and placed in isolation. Against the background, the tragic story of Dina van der Merwe and her other family members is read with a touch of sadness. The article provides new information to our genealogical knowledge. Is professional, interesting and fun to read with full references.
The theme of this article is refreshingly original and the writing style captures the reader's attention. Although the theme of leprosy is considered in the context of the author's 'lost' relative, the cause of the disease, the origin of the accompanying stigma and the wider implications for affected individuals and their families over the centuries also become detailed and are dealt with empathy.
The author indirectly makes the genealogist aware of another possible source where an absent, lost or missing family member can be searched - the records of leprosy hospitals, psychiatric facilities or similar institutions - that many genealogists have never thought of as a search site.

Of mine and mines - a brief look at descendants of Alexander Basch in South Africa

IMG 2385 Sam 1Sam J. Basch [Familia 2017 Vol. 54/1 p23-42]
At present there is not much information on Alexander Oskar Adolf Berthold Basch (1837-1902) who was born in Silesia, at the time part of Prussia but now a province of Poland. His  Death Notice described him as a blacksmith and farmer. From his first marriage to Martha Smit, four children were born, the youngest of whom was ultimately the author's grandfather Samuel (Sampie) Jacobus Basch (1868-1934). Alexander owned a portion of the farm ‘Elandsloof' near Dullstroom, where he farmed until his death at the end of the Anglo-Boer War in 1902. The author describes the part Alexander and his sons played in the Anglo-Boer War, as well as briefly the lives of some of his descendents in South Africa. 
These descendents lived in difficult times, even as many other white South Africans, and the author provides interesting facts about the ‘poor white’-problem, which led to many of these relatives to find employment on the mines. The mine is where the author also grew up, as his own father, Samuel (Sam) Jacobus BASCH (1918-1980), managed to build a relatively successful career as a mining official. Notwithstanding the mines' somewhat tarnished reputation in South Africa today, they did have a major impact on the economic development of the country – and that of many displaced Afrikaner families.
Extract from panel adjudicators' comments:
The article is well curated in terms of language and is a pleasant read, richly illustrated with photographs and also contains new information about the family. His source references meet bibliographic requirements and the genealogical notation is aligned with those accepted by Familia.
Apart from meeting all the criteria as required, it is one of the few articles that provides sources according to research criteria, viz. those that one can follow up AND verify.