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

Eileen Clark

Research output: Book chapter/Published conference paperConference paperpeer-review

Abstract

Longitudinal research is valuable for examining patterns of change over time but it presents several difficulties. Archival sources are publically available records that offer a way of doing longitudinal research without time delays. In this paper, I describe popular archival records that are accessible on line and use them to explore outcomes for 24 families in one NSW town seeking support following spousal desertion. The techniques were similar to the constant comparative method used in grounded theory, with each piece of data compared with other pieces to build up a ‘theory’ of each family. At least one record was found for every family, and records for four individuals spanned over 60 years. In some cases, records contained a wealth of detail. It was possible to deduce probable long-term outcomes for the 24 couples. Three couples remained together until the death of one spouse, five couples divorced and/or remarried and nine couples appeared to separate without divorcing. The outcome for seven couples was not clear. The study shows that, with appropriate research questions, archival sources can be used for longitudinal sociological research.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of The Australian Sociological Association Conference
EditorsTeresa Petray, Anne Stephens
PublisherThe Australian Sociological Association
ISBN (Electronic)978-0-646-94798-3
Publication statusPublished - 2015
EventConference of The Australian Sociological Association Conference - Cairns, , Australia
Duration: 23 Nov 201526 Nov 2015

Conference

ConferenceConference of The Australian Sociological Association Conference
Country/TerritoryAustralia
CityCairns,
Period23/11/1526/11/15

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