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Kath Ensor

Kath Ensor

Kath became interested in history after being part of the family history boom in the 1980s. Searching for her own family roots and identity and being able to reflect on her own family history in the context of social history brought history alive for her.

Kath began much of her early history work in a voluntary capacity helping other family historians search for their ancestral roots.  Recently she has started assisting marginalised and disabled groups in the community reclaim aspects of their own life-stories and record them so they can be shared with others. For the past fifteen years Kath has been employed as a probate-genealogist researching hundreds of family trees with branches all around the world to locate the nearest living next of kin when some has died intestate in Victoria.

Completing her Masters in Public History in 2008, Kath has since commenced doctoral research into the effects of institutionalisation on individuals, families and communities.  Kath is particularly interested in discovering lost family stories and retrospectively reconnecting long term patients with families from whom they may have been estranged.  Researching in this area has revealed many aspects of social history and previously untold stories many of them relating to the marginalized and disabled.

Family secrets and lies surrounding mental illness have created dislocation and unanswered family questions over several generations. Her thesis addresses the causes and results of this as well as confronting the international and national influences on the development of the asylum system in Victoria. These people were much more that a name in a case book or a person with a particular diagnosis they were members of families and were part of a family’s history. Kath hopes to discover how families and communities are now remembering these people who were previously certified as insane and placed in mental asylums.

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