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Celtic Day - 28 August at Gisborne

Family History Room, Gisborne
Bill Barlow
3 August 2021
GSV News
Member Societies



Member Societies Showcase


 Gisborne Genealogical Group Inc


Dreaming of things to do once lockdown is over? How about participating in the Gisborne Genealogical Group’s Celtic Day on Saturday 28 August? 


Or visit their Family History Room? You could even support regional tourism by making a weekend of it and doing both!


Make the most of your trip to Gisborne and also call in The Gisborne and Mount Macedon Districts Historical Society centre, just on the other side of the library from GGG. This is open Wednesdays.




Saturday 28 August 2021


9.30am – Start 

9.45am - Cornish harp music, followed by – Lyn Hall, ‘The Celts, Cornwall, and the Cornish in Australia’

11.00am – Break

11.15am – Scottish harp music, followed by – Joy Roy, ‘Scottish Kirk Session Records’

12.30pm – Lunch Break

1.15pm – Irish harp music, followed by - Susie Zada, ‘You can’t research Irish ancestors - All the records were lost – WRONG!’

2.40pm – Question time

3.00pm – Afternoon tea

4.00pm – Finish


Bookings are essential.Contact Lorna Jackson (lorna_jackson@bigpond.com).

Tickets are limited and subject to COVID-19 restrictions. 

GGG members: $20 | non-members: $25




The Family History Room is located next to the Gisborne Library. It is open to the public between 2.00pm and 5.00pm on Thursdays, except in January. Generally Bookings are essential. Phone 5428 3925. Gold coin donation would be appreciated.


In the week leading up to 28 Aug 2021, the GGG room will be open daily, 1pm to 4pm. 


The Family History Library contains:

  • over 1200 reference books
  • thousands of fiche
  • data CDs and DVDs
  • journals
  • maps

You can view the catalogue here [https://www.ggg.org.au/catalogue]


Additional family history resources (e.g. Ancestry.com, findmypast, Trove and over 300 years of UK newspapers) are available on the Gisborne Library computer system. For more information visit theGisborne Library’s Family History page [https://www.ncgrl.vic.gov.au/e-resources/familyhistory]


For further information about the Gisborne Genealogical Group, please see their webpage: https://www.ggg.org.au




Top: Family History Room of the Gisborne Genealogical Group, part of the old Council Chambers and Mechanics Institute complex. (Photo courtesy of GGG). 

Centre and bottom: Gisborne and Mount Macedon Districts Historical Society in the restored old Gisborne Court House (1858). (Photos courtesy of G&MMDHC).

Acknowledgments: Julie Dworak, GGG;  Kristy Love, GSV volunteer.

[Other GSV Member Societies might like to showcase their activities in this new section of our blog. Ed]


The Victorian Certificates Exempting from Dictation Test dataset - GSV talk 20 July

Bill Barlow
16 July 2021
GSV News

The significant underfunding of the National Archives of Australia (NAA) affecting their capacity to digitise their unique holdings, has received a large amount of press recently. While a recent funding boost is welcome news, it is important to highlight the value of the NAA’s collection and ensure its future.

One record set of vital importance is that of the Victorian Certificate Exempting from Dictation Test (CEDT). 

Last month the Chinese Australian Family Historians of Victoria (CAFHOV), with the support of the NAA, made these records available as a searchable dataset at https://www.cafhov.com/vic-cedt-index/

You can learn about these records next week in a free online presentation at GSV. 


The Victorian Certificates Exempting from Dictation Test dataset

Free online talk 20 July at 7-8 pm


Dr Sophie Couchman and Terry Young, a CAFHOV member whose ancestors appear in the Index, will present a free online talk about the database and the stories that have emerged from it, at 7 - 8 pm, Tuesday 20 July 2021.

Register here: https://www.gsv.org.au/civicrm/event/info?reset=1&id=1842


Between 1904 and 1959 customs officials recorded the names, ages, nationalities, occupations, residences and travel details of Chinese (and some Indian and Lebanese) Victorians who travelled overseas under a certificate that exempted them from sitting the notorious dictation test on their return – otherwise known as a CEDT. These registers contain a wealth of information for genealogists.

Sophie and Terry will describe the Victorian CEDT Index website as well as the registers, who applied for them, and what information can be found there. 


The CAFHOV project is a great example of the ways that a communityof family historians and genealogists can work with archives to increase the accessibility of significant record sets. The forthcoming talk will also be of interest to members who want to learn about ways to open up access to genealogical data.

The presenters

Dr Sophie Couchman is a curator and professional historian based in Melbourne with a particular interest in migration history and the role photographs play in how we tell history. Sophie recently assisted Jeff Fatt (aka the Purple Wiggle) on SBS’s ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’. She is a founding member of the Chinese Australian Family Historians of Victoria (CAFHOV).  


Terry Young is an enthusiastic family historian who got the bug a few years ago. His grandfather and father were both market gardeners. Their story is typical of last century Chinese Australian migration and Terry enjoys researching and sharing that story with other historians. He is Vice President, CAFHOV.



Image: Register of Certificates Exempting from the Dictation Test, Melbourne. NAA: B6003, 3.

June 'Ancestor' is now out

Bill Barlow
2 June 2021
GSV News

The June 2021 edition of the GSV's award-winning quarterly journal Ancestor is now out.


Digital editions in flipbook and a PDF are now on our website for Members.


Members will receive it in hard copy by mail soon, unless they have opted for digital-only, thus saving paper and running costs for the GSV.


The Ancestor Editors describe what this issue brings. Happy reading!

and what else would you be doing this week in Victoria) Stay safe.




'Winter means more time indoors, so more time for writing up your family history, an excellent opportunity to complete your article for the GSV Writing Prize. Entries are due by the end of August – see the back inside cover for details. It’s also a great time for curling up in a chair and reading, so you will enjoy the great variety of articles in this issue.


Alex de Fircks has delved into German military records to describe her father’s time as a reluctant recruit in the German army in the Second World War.


Judy Woodlock follows the life and career of J.C. Williamson’s protégé, dancer Tilly Woodlock, in Australia, New Zealand, England and back to Australia.


Andreas Vlassopoulos and his brothers came from Ithaca, Greece, early in the twentieth century. His daughter, Rosa McCall, weaves memories of her father around stories of life on the island of Ithaca, those left behind, and the family’s fruit stall at the Queen Victoria Market.


Two authors have used family documents as the starting point for research into their forebears. Natalie Lonsdale draws on letters sent to family back home, and her own extensive research, to trace the journey of a young convict from his native Bedfordshire to Tasmania, and later to the Victorian goldfields. Jim Coghlan has used a document written by his great grandfather outlining the main events of his life, backed up with his own research, to tell of the Coghlan family who travelled from Ireland in 1838 expecting to settle in Sydney, but found themselves instead in Port Fairy.


Our series on female publicans continues with Gayle Nicholas’s article about Henrietta, who was briefly the licensee of The Park Hotel near Ballarat. Her time as such was short lived as marital discord saw her leave both the hotel and Ballarat.


We regret that we have not been able to include our usual ‘How to’ guide to researching a particular area in this issue, but this feature will definitely be back in the next issue.


Kristy Love has written a clear and concise article on tracing her grandfather’s half-brothers using a combination of DNA techniques and traditional methods of tracing her ancestors. This contribution will be very useful to anyone starting to use DNA analysis to assist their family history research.


Meg Bate’s Research Corner is an informative guide to education records in Victoria.'



Don't forget to get your entry in for the Writing Prize!



Have you got a niggling question?

Bill Barlow
30 May 2021
GSV News

Do you ever want to ask a quick question arising from your family history research and see if someone knows the answer? 


The GSV launched its membershelpmembers forum for just that purpose.


Our members are a great source of knowledge and helpful suggestions.


In the last few days three members have jumped online with suggestions to help another locate goldfield place names, Double-O Creek and Banshees Creek. And there have been over 750 posts on nearly a hundred topics so far.


It is only for members - but this is yet another good reason to join GSV if you are not a member.


This coming Thursday Tom O'Dea will give an overview of the Forum. His presentation will include a demonstration and he will answer your questions.


Thursday 3 June at 10.30 - 11.30 am. 


Members can log in to register for this Zoom session.

Register on our website HERE


So join in the Forum. Ask questions and help others. Share your experience. 


What better way to spend part of your present lockdown? (Just joking!)



Thank you volunteers!

Bill Barlow
16 May 2021
GSV News

This week is National Volunteer Week 17-23 May 2021 and we would like to recognise, applaud and celebrate the great work OUR volunteers do at GSV. 


There would be no GSV without our nearly 190 Volunteers.


This past year has been very testing, especially for members who have not been able to get out and share their interests with as many happy, smiling people as before. With the help of our volunteers, the GSV changed gear and ran events and other services online. It has been amazing to see more distant members participating from afar, when previously, travel distance would have prevented this. 


We can particularly thank our IT-savvy vols who kept the show running and devised ways to proceed with Zoom meetings and talks, often with increased numbers; our membershelpmembers online forum, which we launched before COVID; our Facebook sites and even our digital editions of Ancestor journal. 


Thanks to all our conveners, guest presenters and content-producers who had to adapt to online communication - rearranging their home offices to look 'appropriate' (blurring or adding virtual backdrops) and managing small children or partners who suddenly appeared 'in shot'.


On top of all this the GSV had to move to new premises - which is now open and welcoming visitors! Despite Zoom, the past year also showed us how important face-to-face contacts are in our lives. We would love to see more of you pop in. 


This year, a very big thanks go to our volunteer President and Councillors who had to locate new suitable premises and arrange our move. And our staff also volunteered working from home to keep our Society flourishing. Thank you.


On behalf of all our members and everyone in the wider world of genealogy we acknowledge your enormous contribution and thank you.


Last year I put on virtual cake, but this year I have found a champagne fruit punch for you! 



If you would like join in as a Volunteer contact Linda or our vols at our reception or go to our website to read more about volunteering with us. 


Celebration fruit punch image courtesy of Nagi at RecipeTinEats  https://www.recipetineats.com/celebration-fruit-punch/

Anything for mere show would be worse than useless - Talk May 20

Bill Barlow
13 May 2021
GSV News



Clothing has much to teach the genealogist.


We may have a treasure trove of photos, drawings or paintings depicting ancestors in a variety of modes of dress. Deceased estate records may have listings of the items of clothing belonging to a person and their value. Some of us may even own items of our ancestors’ clothing - a wedding dress, a christening outfit, or perhaps even a fireman’s helmet. Others may have had ancestors who worked in the rag trade, as dressmakers, patternmakers and seamstresses. 


Ultimately, the outfits worn and made by our ancestors are more than mere pieces of fabric. Clothing can offer us clues to status and class, changing fortunes, time period, and even the personality of the individual, but do we know how to read and interpret these items? 


In a forthcoming talk, Laura Jocic will speak about the things that clothing can tell us about Australian colonial society and the emigrant's experience. 


'Anything for mere show would be worse than useless':

emigration, dress and Australian colonial society, 1820s – 1860s


Thursday 20 May, 5 - 6 pm by Zoom at GSV


Bookings are required (you will be sent an email with the Zoom link). $20 non-members and $5 for GSV members (log in to receive the discount). You can book on the GSV website HERE


As Laura states: 


Australia was generally reckoned as a country where, for much of the nineteenth century, there was little need for fashionable dress. As late as 1853, The Emigrant's Guide to Australia continued to urge prospective emigrants to pack only the most useful and durable items of clothing.


With the steady influx of free settlers from the 1820s onwards, diaries, letters and surviving items of dress paint a different picture of colonial society, one which was often criticised for being preoccupied with fashion. Drapers, tailors and dressmakers advertised the latest goods and styles from overseas, while newly arrived emigrants found a society where the regular round of social activities required a range of appropriate dress.


Don’t forget to register for this talk to find out what items of clothing people brought with them when emigrating to Australia and whether their packing lists tallied up with their expectations of the country!




Our presenter

Laura Jocic is undertaking a PhD at the University of Melbourne, researching dress and its role in Australian colonial society. She is a former a curator of Australian Fashion and Textiles at the National Gallery of Victoria where she curated Australian Made: 100 Years of Fashion (2010) and Linda Jackson: Bush Couture (2012). In 2016 Laura curated the exhibition Louis Kahan: Art, Theatre, Fashion for the Town Hall Gallery, Hawthorn. Most recently she has been working as a consultant curator on a project at the RMIT Design Archives interpreting the designs of Sara Thorn and Bruce Slorach.



This post was prepared by Dr Kristy Love, a GSV volunteer. 



Image sources;

The Life of Emigration [jigsaw puzzle], London, c1840, State Library of South Australia.


‘Convicts in New Holland’ from Felipe Bauza - drawings made on the Spanish Scientific Expedition to Australia and the Pacific in the ships Descubierta and Atrevida under the command of Alessandro Malaspina, 1789-94, 

Mitchell Library, SL NSW, SAFE /DGD 2, item IE1110200.








Criminalising the poor - ‘A Most Undesirable Woman’ - May 6 Talk

Bill Barlow
28 April 2021
GSV News




‘A Most Undesirable Woman’ -

Writing about the Criminalisation of Poverty


Zoom talk by Kristy Love

7.00 pm 6 May 2021


Free to GSV members and non-members. 

Bookings are required and can be made online via the Register Now link. HERE. You will receive an email with the Zoom link. 


In 2016, I found an article filled with extraordinary amounts of hyperbole about my great-great grandmother, second-generation Irish-Australian, Margaret O’Connor [ref. 2]. The article detailed her involvement as a witness for the prosecution in the 1915 murder trial of one of her Chinese clients. A journalist for the known scandal-rag theTruth, claimed that neither the Russian, British nor American literary greats had given the public ‘more vivid glimpses of what may be called “THE UNDERWORLD”’ than did this particular trial. And yes, the capitalisation was in the original.


The article featured hand-drawn courtroom portraits of Margaret; her lover, William Moon (one of the accused men); and the murder victim, her client, Ah Chee. I have to confess, that despite the tragic subject matter, I felt a thrill of excitement at the discovery of this newspaper article. Until that point, I’d known very little about Margaret, other than she was buried in an unmarked pauper’s grave in Sydney. 


Finding the article led to the discovery of Margaret's string of 64 plus convictions, received between 1914 and 1923. It led to me finding her prison photograph, shown here. I’ve cropped the image because I don’t believe that Margaret’s prison record is all that she was. The nature of her so-called legal and moral ‘crimes’, and that of her younger sister, Annie O’Connor, included smoking opium, being drunk, swearing, being tattooed, doing sex work, and consorting with Chinese men. Both sisters were also arrested and imprisoned multiple times for ‘being of insufficient lawful means’ – a peculiar crime that effectively criminalised people for being poor. [Read more about this in ref 3. below].


My forthcoming talk offers an insight into the lives of women who, like Margaret and Annie, were criminalised by poverty over a century ago, and of new ways to write about them. In doing my research, I kept asking myself, how can I best tell the stories of women who were only written about in a disparaging fashion by others? This talk, therefore, arises out research for my historical novel in progress ‘A Most Undesirable Woman’, part of which was written during a residency at 'Frontyard' [https://www.frontyardprojects.org/], Marrickville, New South Wales. A version of the talk was first presented there on 8 March 2020.


Kristy Love


Dr Kristy Love (formerly Davidson) is a researcher with a passion for family history writing. Her current interest is the historical criminalisation of impoverished women. She recently joined the GSV Volunteers Team and is now assisting with our GSV Blog Family History Matters. Kristy has a PhD in Creative Writing, an Honours degree in Psychology and has worked in university research management for over two decades. She is a member of the Chinese Australian Family Historians of Victoria and assists with their social media outreach. She is also currently undertaking the Certificate of Genealogical Studies through the Society of Australian Genealogists. 



Photo: Margaret O'Connor, Long Bay State Reformatory for Women, 12/11/1923. ‘Gaol Inmates/Prisoners Photos Index 1870-1930’. Photo No. 608. Series NRS249 [3/6007], page 110. Copyright: State of New South Wales through the State Records Authority of NSW 2016 

Ref 1.'A most undesirable woman' in 'Armidale Police Court - "No Lawful Visible Means", The Armidale Express and New England General Advertiser, Friday 7 April 1916, p9. 

Ref 2. 'Horror and Infamy',Truth, Sunday 13 June 1915, p12.

Ref 3. 'Policing the Poor: The History of Vagrancy Laws and the Criminalisation of Homelessness' by Paul Gregoire and Ugur Nedim, in Lexology[website] 9 March 2021, accessed 28/4/21.

More books about women's stories

Bill Barlow
10 April 2021
GSV News

More books about women's stories


We had a good response to our list of books about women's stories.

So another list prepared by Penny Mercer for our GSV Writers is attached here as well. (See PDF below).


Liz Rushen's book Single and Free: female migration to Australia 1833-1837 is in the GSV library and elsewhere. See her website for her accounts of four women's stories https://www.rushen.com.au/bounty-womens-stories


Barbara Goldfinch let us know of a rare book  'Women of Williamstown' (City of Hobson's Bay, 1990), which includes a piece about her grandmother in WW2 written by her father. This is not in the SLV or NLA (but Prahran Mechanics Institute has a copy), so it reminds us how important it is to ensure publications are put in places for safe-keeping and thus turn up on databases like Trove.


Writing stories is one thing but ensuring they can be found is just as important.







How a picture revealed a woman

Lucrezia Borgia, Dosso Dossi, NGV
Lucrezia Borgia, Dosso Dossi, NGV
Bill Barlow
10 April 2021
GSV News

It is often said that a picture is worth a thousand words.


This coming week on 15 April the GSV is very pleased to host a talk by Carl Villis of NGV about the revealing of a famous woman, Lucrezia Borgia.


Dating of paintings - Lucrezia Borgia

Lucrezia's portrait - a journey across five centuries


15 April 10.30-11.30 am via Zoom.


Don't miss this opportunity. Book via the GSV website quickly.

$5 GSV members. $20 non-members. GSV members please log in to register.


Carl Villis will relate the journey of discovery that led to the newsworthy reattribution of the National Gallery of Victoria’s sixteenth-century portrait of Lucrezia Borgia, the most famous woman of Renaissance Italy.  Prior to this research, the portrait was believed to represent a young man, but through one discovery at a time, a detailed examination of the portrait’s highly specific technical and visual features led to the conclusion that the painting’s subject could only be Lucrezia. The revelations came about through an interconnected examination of conservation, art historical and provenance sources which may be familiar to genealogical researchers.


About our presenter

Carl Villis is the Senior Conservator of Paintings at the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne. He has specialised in the conservation of Old Master paintings at the NGV for the past twenty-five years. He has also spent several years working in both Italy and the United States. At the Gallery he has conducted major conservation treatments and technical research on paintings by many artists in the collection, including Correggio, Titian, Tintoretto, Veronese, Rubens and Giambattista Tiepolo. He frequently combines his technical analysis of paintings with art historical research and has published studies on works by Poussin, Van Dyck and Bernardo Bellotto, among others. In 2013-14 he was a Craig Hugh Smyth Visiting Fellow at Harvard University’s Centre for Renaissance Studies at the Villa I Tatti in Florence for the purpose of researching and writing a book on his identification of the Gallery’s early sixteenth-century portrait of Lucrezia Borgia.



Lucrezia Borgia, Duchess of Ferrara (1519-1530)

Dosso DOSSI 

Battista DOSSI (attributed to) 

oil on wood panel

74.5 × 57.2 cm

National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

Felton Bequest, 1966

© Public Domain 

Photo: National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne


What's in the current issue of Ancestor

Bill Barlow
8 March 2021
GSV News



The March edition of the GSV's award-winning quarterly journal Ancestor is now out.

Members will receive it in hard copy by mail or can read it as a flipbook or a PDF in the Members Area of our website, thus saving paper and running costs for the GSV.

Back copies are also available via the website - helping you with your home de-cluttering!


' In the March 2021 we open with the runner-up from last year’s Writing Competition, Susan Wight’s article about her Webster forebears who made soda water in a number of locations in Victoria and southern New South Wales. Also included is one of the short-listed articles from 2020 and one from 2019. Bernard Metcalfe tells of the hard but eventful life of Jane Hughes and her family on the gold diggings of central Victoria in the 1850s to 1880s. Claire Dunlop invites us to consider how the life of her ancestor worked out after a most disadvantageous start.

We also feature the first two articles in a series on female publicans. Leonie Elliss writes about her widowed ancestor Mary Delany who successfully ran both a hotel and a drapery store in the former mining town of Gordon. Margaret Vines speculates on what prompted the widowed Johanna O’Donnell to take on the licence of the North Fitzroy Arms hotel.


Have you ever wondered whether to use the word baptism or christening? In our back page feature, Robert Gribben, explains the origin of the terms and how any perceived differences may have arisen.


Phillip Crane’s ‘DNA News and Notes’ explains how he needed to use conventional genealogical research techniques married to his autosomal DNA results to make sense of the true relationship to one of his ancestors.


Senior New Zealand genealogist, Bruce Ralston has generously prepared this issue’s ‘How to’ article on researching your New Zealand genealogy. It is a very comprehensive article and is sure to be referred to frequently. We particularly thank Bruce for this important contribution.


Submissions for Members Queries have been diminishing over recent times, so we have decided to discontinue this page. We advise members to use the forum membershelpmembersto get help with their queries.


Finally, be sure to read the President’s report about our new home. This is an exciting new development and we are looking forward to being able to visit, but please check the website for Covid-19 restrictions.'


- Barbara Beaumont, Ancestor Editorial Team



Entries are now invited for the


2021 GSV Writing Prize.


Closes 4 pm 27 August 2021.


You too may be published in future Ancestor journals.


Purpose of the Prize

  • to encourage the writing of family history 
  • to provide an opportunity for recognition and publication
  • to publish the winner as an example of quality family history writing


You can see details about the Prize on the website under 'ANCESTOR' here https://www.gsv.org.au/gsv-writing-prize


The Prize was first awarded in 2013. Past winners are:


2013    Kath McKay: Finding Shakespeare in family research

2014    Anne Cavanagh: Elizabeth and the Doctor elope: the story of Elizabeth Ware

2015    Marilyn Fordred: Every photo tells a story     

2016    Emma Hegarty: Finding Mary Jane

2017    Helen Pearce: Thomas Owen: the skeleton in the family’s closet

2018    Helen Pearce: Daniel Elphinstone: his son’s secret exposed

2019    Louise Wilson: Masters of the Road

2020   Brian Reid: 'Tom were the naughty lad'.


The Judges's report on the 2020 Prize is available on the website to help you think about your entry this year.


There is plenty of time between now and August. But it is important not to leave your writing to the last minute, as it will benefit from having time to review and reflect on it, before your final rewrite.


Happy reading ... and writing!

Don't forget there is no family history without the writing part.