Welcome to the GSV

GSV News

GSV News

Women on the goldfields

Goldfields dress (photo: G. Nicholas 2020)
Goldfields dress (photo: G. Nicholas 2020)
Bill Barlow
11 September 2020
GSV News

REMINDER - The September Ancestor journal is now out - and available as a Flipbook for members on the website. Log in as a Member. You will still receive a hard copy by post unless you have opted not to have it delivered. But you can read it online at any time as a PDF or flipbook. You can change your delivery directions at any time under your Member Details. 


Women on the Goldfields


At their August meeting, members of the GSV's VicTas Discussion Circle tackled a difficult research task. Gayle Nicholas - a member of this group - gives us a few insights that were shared in the discussion.



There was no doubt the women were strong and resourceful – but how do you find resources? One member told of a mother and 14-year-old daughter who travelled from Kent in England to Victoria, and through the notorious Black Forest to Castlemaine. Another tale was of a woman who left her English husband to partner with a goldminer and stayed with him until his death 20 years later. Accounts of travel to the goldfields, written at the time, help us to imagine these women’s travels as they bumped along the road, got bogged and stopped at Inns, or in the open, for supper and sleep (ref. 1).

The women on the goldfields liked to dress up. The watercolour Digger’s wife in full dressby George Lacy portrayed as laughable the contrast between women in finery against the men and landscape of the goldfields (ref.2). The crinoline (dress) pictured was on display at the Old Treasury in Melbourne for Gold Rush: 20 Objects, 20 Stories in 2018 (ref. 3). The dress is hand stitched with a high level of skill. It is noted as suitable for shopping or visiting – even on the goldfield. The Old Treasury web site is well worth a visit to explore the story of this dress or other artefacts from the goldfields’ era.

Many Women on the goldfields were in childbearing years and were giving birth with the assistance of neighbours or midwives. Doctors were too expensive. Those parents who registered the birth of their children provided a much-needed source of information for today’s family historian. 


The high number of deaths of children from accidents or illness was endured.


'Deaths, particularly the deaths of children, were mourned with the force of a lightning bolt to the heart. A child was considered born under a lucky star if she reached her first birthday on the goldfields' (ref.4).


Women also suffered violence, fueled by alcohol, on the goldfields. Author, Claire Wright writes of the acceptance of wife bashing and noise of violence perpetrating the campsite at night (ref. 5).

Death certificates, cemetery records and inquests provide more research material.  Group members referred to dropping into local history centres and museums while visiting former goldmining towns e.g. Beechworth, Chiltern, Talbot, and Chewton, to find resources not otherwise available. 


All current GSV members are welcome to attend the monthly meetings of the VicTas Discussion Circle. Of course, if you are not a GSV Member you can join easily and benefit from this Circle as well as many others, all of which are part of your membership. (Register at https://www.gsv.org.au), join the Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/groups/320532581948801or our email mailing list. Email victas@gsv.org.au for more information or for copies of the resource lists from the 'Women on the Goldfields' meeting.


Gayle Nicholas



1. For example: Duyker, E. A. Woman on the Goldfields: Recollections of Emily Skinner 1854-1878,MUP Melbourne 1995

2. Lacy, G. Digger’s wife in full dress, National Library of Australiahttps://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-134736742/view

3. Old Treasury Building. Gold Rush: 20 objects, 20 stories Old Treasury Building in conjunction with Public Record Office of Victoria, 2018-2019 https://www.oldtreasurybuilding.org.au/past-exhibitions/gold-rush/

4. Wright, C. The Forgotten Rebels of EurekaThe Text Publishing Company, Melbourne reprint 2014 p. 174

5. Wright, C. p. 178



Join our Events online in September

Bill Barlow
31 August 2020
GSV News

Our GSV Events come to you in September

Yes, all our genealogical resources are still at the GSV's research centre in the city (shown above in case you have forgotten what it looks like). It is just that we can't be there with them!

It is amazing, but the situation has produced some good things. You may have had difficulty getting to our Centre for classes or talks in pre-Covid times, but now we have developed ways to bring a lot of our events to you.


During the lockdown the Genealogical Society Victoria has developed a suite of events that are being delivered through our Zoom licence.


Our many September events are advertised on our website. They include:

  • classes conducted by our librarians and other volunteers
  • Discussion Circles where you can chat about researching specific topics or geographical areas
  • DNA talks which will be presented by Alan Rhodes
  • sessions to assist you with your Scottish research 


There is something of interest for everyone. In pre-Covid times you may have found it difficult to attend an event at the Centre, but now we can bring the events to you with the opportunity to join online.


Make sure you book! Log in to the GSV website as a member to book your place, and the session details with a clickable link will be emailed back as part of your booking confirmation. Information about using Zoommay be found on our website and in the September issue of Ancestor.


Participate and enjoy our events.

Not too late to enter GSV Writing Prize 2020 - closes 28 August

The Last of the Mail Coaches at Newcastle upon Tyne (1848) by James Pollard (1792-1867)
The Last of the Mail Coaches at Newcastle upon Tyne (1848) by James Pollard (1792-1867)
Bill Barlow
17 August 2020
GSV News
Writers Circle



You have just under two weeks - a week from Friday to enter the GSV Writing Prize 2020.


Last year's winner Louise Wilson painted a vivid picture of the development of the Royal Mail coaches in England unravelling the story of her coachmaster Boulton and Willson families in her article 'Masters of the Road' (Ancestor 34:8 December 2019).


In 2018 Helen Pearce won this prize for 'Daniel Elphingstone: his son's secret exposed' (Ancestor43:4 Dec 2018). Both these winning entries can be read by GSV Members on the website. Go to 'Ancestor Journal / View Ancestor as a PDF' where past issues from 2012 on are available.


But this year it's your turn. I suggest you lock yourself in (oh! done that) and polish up that family history story you have been promising to finish.


Members of the GSV as well as members of GSV Member Societies are eligible to enter. You can read the Judges' Report on 2019 winners on the website and 'Tips for Writing an Article' in the last issue of Ancestor 35:2 June 2020 is a very useful guide on how to 'make it easy for the judge's to say yes' 


Full details of the competition are on the website www.gsv.org.au/gsv-writing-prize


Entries close at

4 pm on 28 August 2020.

Now lock yourself away!



Webcasts on Irish Research

Bill Barlow
12 August 2020
GSV News
Irish Ancestry
An update on accessing the GSV Collection Unfortunately our catalogue and databases are not available currently. Due to CoVID level 4 restrictions we may not be able to fix this, as it requires a permit to visit the GSV where the server is hosted. Please use our new catalogue and databases, though links to files in the databases are not available at this point. Our September issue of Ancestor will have a full description of our coming new system. If you do wish to obtain a file please use Quick Lookup request. GSV Members can access this from the Members area and the link to New Look Databases & Catalogue (Beta version) ... and GOOD NEWS about access to our webcasts GSV Webcasts – Researching Irish Ancestors The Society holds an extensive collection of webcasts on a wide range of topics. A webcast is a video of a talk that is available to stream from our website. To promote our collection, we have selected six webcasts that relate to researching Irish ancestors. The talks range from examining the social conditions in Ireland in past centuries to emigration, especially to Australia, and to the lives built by Irish workers in Victoria. In all cases the presenters refer to resources you can find that will assist with your own research. To find these webcasts you should go to the GSV Website, login as a Member, select the 'Members Area' and then look for 'Researching Irish Ancestors' under the Webcasts heading. Here you will find a link to the page that displays six selected webcasts. Click on an icon and the webcast will stream to your computer or portable device. Each file has controls that will enable you to adjust the volume and to pause and restart the webcast. Over the next few months we will be highlighting other webcasts that fall into particular themes. In the interim you can find all our webcasts by searching our catalogue using the term ‘webcast’ in the format field and combining that with a subject in the topic field. We hope that you enjoy listening to these talks and that they inspire you to further your research. ***

Events in August - National Family History Month

Bill Barlow
2 August 2020
GSV News

As it's cold in August, we have arranged for you to stay home! 

OK it's the not the only reason, but always look on the bright side...! It is National Family History Month and at the GSV we also have plenty of regular talks and sessions that you can access at home.

We have developed a suite of events that are being delivered through our Zoom license.

Our GSV August events are advertised on our website. They include:

  • classes conducted by our librarians Linley Hooper and Meg Bate 
  • Discussion Circles where you can chat about researching specific topics or geographical areas
  • meetings of the Irish Ancestry Group and the International Settlers Group
  • DNA talks which will be presented by Alan Rhodes
  • sessions to assist you with your Scottish research. 


There is something of interest for everyone. If you did not have an opportunity to attend an event at the Centre now is your opportunity to join online.

Make sure you book! Log in to the GSV website as a member to book your place, and the session details with a clickable link will be emailed back as part of your booking confirmation.

Participate and enjoy our events.



National Family History Month is August throughout Australasia!


Family History events are being held during August 2020 by family history groups, libraries, museums, archives, companies and individuals, all celebrating family history related topics.

Events are posted on the National Family History Month website. Check out some of the events already listed at NFHM EVENTS. There are prizes up for grabs for participating in National Family History month events including subscriptions to Ancestryand MyHeritage.See the website for more details: NFHM COMPETITIONS.

Many events are free.

Get involved in National Family History Month this August!


Accessing GSV services - update

Bill Barlow
1 August 2020
GSV News

Greetings all GSV Members


We really value your continued involvement with GSV and we are working hard to bring you lots of ways of getting your genealogical fix.


As you are aware, the GSV premises are closed until further notice due to the COVID-19 situation, with all staff and volunteers working from home.  This means that we are operating under restricted conditions, including in relation to processing of payments.


Because the office is unattended, any incoming phone calls are redirected to a message advising that our office is closed and to contact the GSV via email at gsv@gsv.org.au, so we are currently unable to process credit card payments over the phone.  


The preferred payment methods at the moment are either online via PayPal or credit card, or via direct deposit to our bank account (details below).  GSV membership renewals can be paid online through ‘Renew Membership’ on our website when logged in.  Payments to our service groups – Scottish Ancestry, Irish Ancestry or International Settlers – can be made by selecting ‘Activities’, ‘Special Interest Groups’, then the applicable group, and clicking on the ‘Renew Online’ button. 


GSV’s Westpac bank account for direct payments is:


Account: Genealogical Society of Victoria

BSB: 033-009

Account No: 38-7919


Please include your membership number/surname as a reference.  If your payment relates to a service group, please also include the service group initials, e.g. SAG 12345.  This ensures that the payment is allocated correctly.


It is still possible to post a cheque to the GSV office, but processing may be delayed.  Mail is only being collected about once a week by one of our volunteers, then the cheques need to be banked and the information emailed to our office administrator for processing into our system.


Thank you for your understanding during these difficult and challenging times.


Best wishes from Linda and the GSV Team


Go to 'About Us' on our website to read about our wonderful staff. They get a big THANKS for carrying on! [ed.]

GSV's 'Ancestor' journal in print and online in September

Bill Barlow
24 July 2020
GSV News

From the Keyboard of the President

I am very pleased to let you know that providing the June edition of Ancestor in digital form for most members has saved almost $5,000 in costs (mostly postage). This is a huge contribution to both getting us through this extended lockdown period and the ongoing financial sustainability of the GSV.

As previously advised, for the September edition of Ancestor we are reverting back to a mailed copy for all members.


However, many members have commented that they preferred the digital form for many reasons, including the cost-savings for the GSV and the environmental benefits of reduced production and distribution of the paper copies.

If you would prefer to continue to access the September and future editions of Ancestor in digital form, please email membership@gsv.org.au to let us know and we’ll update your Ancestor delivery preference in our membership system.  As with the June edition, the September and future editions of Ancestorwill be available on-line to all members in our extensive digital Ancestor library, through the Flipbook and PDF links in the Members Area of GSV’s website.

Having members switch to the digital Ancestor will help us continue the important cost-savings and environmental benefits, all of which are very much appreciated. However, we fully understand that many members still prefer to receive the mailed copy.

You only need to email us at membership@gsv.org.auif you would like to change to the digital format. 

We look forward to hearing from you. Take care.


Jenny Redman

President GSV

GSV Writers: Shut up and write

Bill Barlow
18 July 2020
GSV News
Writers Circle


A number of the GSV Discussion Circles have now run their first get-togethers on Zoom. This month the GSV Writers conducted a writing exercise - 'Shut up and Write'- that culminated in a Zoom session to discuss their experiences. 

Penny Mercer, the convener describes the session and this technique, aimed to get us writing and actually producing something.


To ensure we were organised to write, we all had to choose a topic that would, achievable, similar to the short pieces we normally share for review.

First we were asked to prepare by organising our relevant research notes and information and creating a bibliography of our sources. The goal was to have everything we might want to consult ready to hand when writing. 

We read about the Pomodoro technique: https://thesiswhisperer.com/2011/06/02/another-way-to-write-1000-words-a-day/then applied this to break up our topics into smaller chunks.

We were counselled to remove distractions; turning off our phones, closing all other windows on our computers, clearing our desk, advising anyone else in the house that we needed some concentrating time. 

On the day, everyone had to follow these instructions:

  1. Remove the distractions identified previously.
  2. Set timers for 25 minutes and write, trying not to stop until 25 minutes have passed. Then do a word count at the end of the 25 minutes.
  3. After 25 minutes, have a break for 5-10 minutes - coffee, chocolate biscuits, stretch, pat the cat, do whatever creates a mental break and a reward for your hard work.
  4. Repeat steps 1-3.

5. Optional repeat again. And again, if it’s going well.

   We had some ground rules:

  • Don't listen to your inner critic. Just keep writing.
  • You are not aiming for perfect words and sentences. Editing can be done later.
  • Focus on getting a first draft done of an achievable chunk.


All those who too part wrote something that we might not have written without this exercise. Having a deadline helped. It also helped to have committed to write something.

We all also agreed that assembling all your information beforehand makes it much easier. We agreed that a timer going off in the middle of a paragraph was annoying, and that it was better to finish that section rather than interrupt the flow.

Some of us found it helped with finding our ‘voice’ and with writer’s block. It was easy to just move on to another section to keep the writing flowing. Missing information was just noted for adding afterwards. 

One of us discovered freedom in removing the need to write perfect grammar, punctuation and spelling: “… the words rolled out in the second allocated time. Sitting there saying “I’m here now, tidy me up later, thanks very much!”

Everyone knew that whatever they wrote was just for their benefit. No-one else would see it unless they choose to share it. Since then, most of us have polished up our stories and shared them. 

Most of us were very satisfied with what we had achieved and are keen to repeat the exercise. 

Of course it’s important to remember that it’s not really finished until it is published or disseminated!


More events are scheduled to be available by Zoom and the GSV is working at offering other talks and presentations online. Check the Events list on the GSV website home page and also look at a previous blog 4 July about using Zoom HERE.

It is not hard - even writers can do it - and it is fun to see people again.


Events online at the GSV in JULY

Bill Barlow
4 July 2020
GSV News

History goes on at the GSV

Our centre is not yet open but we have moved many of our events online so members can continue to get assistance with their family history endeavours.

This month we have a number of discussion circles, classes and assistance days that will be delivered online by Zoom.  Many of our members are already using this online facility. More information about how this will work is given below. 


Online events for JULY 

These events are only open to Members and are free as part of your membership. They must be booked through the events pages on our website. The numbers that may attend any of these events are limited so book early. 


Discussion Circles

Counties of Northern England– Tuesday 14 July at 1 pm.

This event is limited to 25 participants. We will discuss the textile and allied industries on the lives of our ancestor  since the 18thcentury. We will look at the impact of the burgeoning cotton industry across the north of England especially in Lancashire.


London Research– Thursday 23 July at 10 am. This event is limited to 25 participants. The lives of our London ancestors will be discussed.



These sessions will be conducted by the GSV Librarians Linley Hooper and Meg Bate or John Blackwood.

National & State Archives in Australia– Thursday 9 July at 1.30 pm. Limited to 10 participants

The National Archives of the UK online– Tuesday 21 July at 1.30 pm. Limited to 10 participants

FamilySearch™online– Thursday 23 July at 1.30 pm. Limited to 10 participants

ScotlandsPeopleonline– Thursday 30 July at 11 am. Limited to 15 participants.


Library Assistance online

Scottish Assistance in the Library– Thursday 16 July – You can book a 30 minute timeslot between 10.30 am and 4 pm to talk to John Blackwood and obtain help with your Scottish research. 

Irish Assistance in the Library– Wednesday 22 July at 2 pm. Limited to 6 participants. A team will focus on the topics submitted by the participants.


How to take part in these online events


Go to our website COMING EVENTS where you can register. 

When you register you will receive an email with instructions including the Zoom event code and password. 

To attend, you will need a computer/tablet/phone with internet access, a speaker or headphones, and a microphone. 

A camera is desirable so we can see you, and a keyboard if you need to send in questions during a presentation. 

You may need to download the free Zoom app at https://zoom.us/signupand will be invited to test your video and sound when you log in to the session. If you are unsure, the advice is to log into the session 15 minutes early so our IT volunteers can assist you.

The Zoom website has good introduction videos for first time users: 

Joining a Zoom meeting - 


Basic Zoom controls - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ygZ96J_z4AY&feature=youtu.be

There is also a very good introductory guide at the following link:



Our Writers Discussion Circle finished up their July work session on Zoom last Wednesday. A report from the 'Zooming Writers' will be in a coming post to this blog. 

So jump in and join these events!


More assistance with your Scottish ancestry this Thursday 18 June - online

Royal Scots Greys, Edinburgh
Royal Scots Greys, Edinburgh
Bill Barlow
16 June 2020
GSV News
Scottish Ancestry

The first online delivery of Scottish Assistance day last month was booked within the day, as was its overflow session.


So be quick for this one on Thursday!


With the GSV education centre being closed during June, the Scottish Assistance in the Library service, which was scheduled for Thursday 18 June, will now be available to members online, free of charge. To register an interest and book a 30-minute time slot for 18 June, please email the GSV at gsv@gsv.org.au providing a contact phone number and your GSV membership number.

Registrations will close at 3.00 pm on Wednesday 17 June.
The one-on-one consultations will take place on FaceTime, Skype, or Zoom, and you will be contacted in advance to finalise the arrangements. Bookings are available from 10.30 am to 3.30 pm.


Using the ScotlandsPeople website

Tuesday 30 June, 11.00 am

With the current restrictions due to the corona virus, this class will be held online for GSV members only, using ZOOM as the medium. This initial online class will be limited to 10 participants, but a follow up class will be arranged if required for additional numbers. To register your interest please email the GSV atgsv@gsv.org.au quoting your membership number and a contact phone number. 
Registration will close at 3.00 pm on Monday 29 June.

Presenter: John Blackwood

The ScotlandsPeople website, www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk  "is the official Scottish Government site for searching government records and archives. In this site you have access to the statutory registers of births, marriages and deaths; census returns; church records; evaluation rolls; and legal records from Scotland's courts of law".
These include indexes and images.
This one hour class on the ScotlandsPeople website will explore what's on the website, how to register as a user, buy credits, obtain certificates, as well as advice on researching the site.


Memorial to the Royal Scots Greys (1905) sculpted by William Birnie Rhind (1853-1933) in Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh. Sergeant Major Anthony James Hinnigan from Jedburgh and his horse 'Polly' were models for the statue. Photo courtesy of © Ad Meskens / Wikimedia Commons Sept 2010.

Among William Rhind's notable commissions are the statue of Burns at Aberfeldy and statues of King Robert The Bruce and Wallace for the Scottish National Portrait Galleries in 1895, and the Boer War Memorials in Edinburgh, such as the Royal Scots Greys (1905), the Black Watch (1908) and the Kings Own Scottish Borderers (1919).