January 19, 2014

Horse 1595 - Tonight We're Gonna Party Like It's 1889

I live on a house on Pedant Corner; overlooking Persnickety Lane. From here I can look out the window and notice all sorts of things that the world cares nary a thought about. To wit:

Consider the following two adverts from Ancestry, both their Australian and British websites.

- From Ancestry.com.au

- From Ancestry.co.uk

If you stop both adverts at 9 seconds, you see "Jane Abbey". In the Australian advert it states that she was born in 1890 yet in the UK advert she was born in 1874. What gives? Are the people at Ancestry trying to localise the adverts and figure that the UK is an older country and therefore should have older dates? The truth may surprise you.

As far as voting rights go in Australia, women gained the right to vote in Federal elections in 1902, with the right to vote in state elections varying from state to state. Interestingly, in both South Australian and Western Australia, women were enfranchised, but in the other states they could not vote.
Even assuming that Jane Abbey was born in 1890 in the Australian advert, she would be just 12 years old when women were given the right to vote at Federal elections. Granted that she would have been 18 at the time that women were given the right to vote in Victorian state elections but even then, the lady in the advert looks older than 18 years old (she's probably 21 again).

This brings me to the curious question of the British advert. The achievement of Women's Suffrage in Great Britian was accelerated by the excellent record of women in traditional male jobs during World War I. Full voting rights were given to women in Great Britain in 1928 with the passing of  The Representation of the People Act 1928. In context, Jane Abbey would have been 54 years old when she was enfranchised and so this makes good sense but you'd think that a site like Ancestry which purports to be an historical website, would have at least done a wee bit of research before playing these adverts.
What makes this advert even more strange is that in New Zealand, they use the Australian version BUT in New Zealand, the franchise was extended to women even earlier in 1893, which means that Jane Abbey would have been a mere 3 years old. At the age of 3, most children probably don't know how to read, let alone form political opinions about who to vote for.

Yes I I live on a house on Pedant Corner; overlooking Persnickety Lane but the thing is that when you're doing research, you expect the information to be correct; even if it is just an advert. If not, then Google really is 300 years old and Al Gore really did invent the internet... in 1890.

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