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'Australian Family History' - short course Oct 17, 24 and 31

Bill Barlow
3 October 2018
GSV News

Now that we are emerging from our winter retreats, it is a great time to pick up those challenges we set ourselves this year for our family histories. Even for those who have started, it is always good to have a refresher about what we can find and how to proceed. The GSV has scheduled a short course of three sessions in October which will give you all you need to really get going.

'Australian Family History'  - Wednesday 17, 24 and 31 October, 10.00am - 12.00pm.

This will be presented by John Bugg.

The topics to be covered include:

  • Where do I start? How to gather and store information.
  • Getting here - immigration, convicts, naturalisation and wills.
  • State records - Private lives and public records.
  • National Records - Finding families.

For BOOKING and details about this course go to the GSV website HERE. You can also book  in person at GSV, by email to gsv@gsv.org.au or by phone (03) 9662 4455.

The presenter:  John Bugg has a background in Education and is a Fellow of the Australian College of Education. He has been chasing  eight family lines who arrived before 1870 and has published a small family Bugg history, before attending the family reunion in the UK. John enjoys the chase and detective work of family history and finding links to its wider historical context.

John tells us more about these planned sessions:

'Most of us have explored the commercial data sources and probably checked the odd family tree and been subjected to the afternoon tea-party about the family. What this course aims to do is to go beyond that and build up an originaldatabase of our family and to set it in the social context of the time. How do we find Will Smith; especially if this name is Wilfred Smyth, to say nothing of the transcription error of the clerks in a foreign port who may have little knowledge of German or Spanish?

Emphasis will be placed on original documents and where to find them from little used databases that will lead often to further searching and the unlocking of additional and sometimes surprising information. What is the value of the GSV database and how we may best use it. In the last course we discovered, among other matters, why a great-grandmother had a sister six months later from her same father and mother. Often our search is limited by the commercial databases. I am following eight Australian families and only one is on the official documents of immigration in the nineteenth century and that was further complicated by their arrival in Melbourne but their registration in Freemantle. We will aim to find some other sources of data through the sharing of ideas.

Finally the sessions are designed to be fun. By allowing a broad canvas of inputs, and by adding additional information from the group, you will develop a much better understanding of your family and an accurate family tree for all to share.'


The Keyboard of the President #5 - September 2018

Bill Barlow
22 September 2018
GSV News

In recent weeks the number of members coming into the Centre seems to have increased. Many come just to attend events but many are also taking advantage of our new computers and staying to research their ancestors. We are now an affiliate library of FamilySearch and as such have access to an ever growing number of digitised resources. If you haven’t taken advantage of the facility we strongly recommend that you search the resources available on the FamilySearch catalogue and view the images at our centre.

We are still seeking volunteers to learn our administration and membership systems so as to become a backup for Linda Farrow our Officer Administrator. We are developing a team of people who will be able to relieve Linda during the day so she can do other tasks. The job does entail handling credit cards, cheques and cash but the systems are not too complex and you would not be left as the sole administrator on duty. On-the-job training will be provided. If you would like to know more please contact Margaret McLaren on 9662 4455 during office hours.

Our blog is being well-received as a way of keeping members up to date, but also as a means to publicise 'family history' in the wider community. After the recent post about the survey of family historians - 'What makes them tick' (3 September), one of the researchers, Susan Moore advised that 'it has been very productive so far with about 100 people already doing the survey and they keep on coming.' 

We are very happy to post information about the activities of our regional societies and other groups who share our interests.

This will be my last posting to this blog as President as I will be standing down at the AGM on 6 October. I would like to thank everyone who has helped me over the last three years and I wish the incoming President and Council all the best.

David Down - President GSV

Tribute to Dr Joan Hunt - Resources in Ballarat talk - 27 Sept

Bill Barlow
16 September 2018
GSV News

As mentioned in our last post we have received the sad news of the death of Dr Joan Hunt, our intended speaker for this talk. The Ballarat resources to be outlined in this talk are a tribute to Dr Hunt's lifelong work in this area.

City Hall, Ballarat c.1907. (Courtesy SLV Pictures H96.200/1381)


We are grateful to Carmel Reynen who has agreed to present this talk. Carmel is a member of the Ballarat and District Genealogical Society Inc, produces "Link", their newsletter, and administers their Facebook page. She has been active in photographing the headstones of many cemeteries which appear in the Australian Cemeteries website as well as a CD produced by the Smythesdale Cemetery for their 150th anniversary. Carmel has given talks in Warrnambool, Maryborough and Ballarat on Using Trove, Facebook and Genealogy, DNA, and Military Records.

Note: This event is currently full. However you can register now and be added to a waiting list. Go to the GSV website. You will be notified if spaces become available.



What's coming up at GSV in the next two months

Bill Barlow
9 September 2018
GSV News

GSV had a very successful Family History Month in August and events were well attended.

The winner of the AncestryDNA kit was won by Rod Van Cooten, and GSV thanks all those who participated.

There are plenty of special interest groups and discussion circles for GSV members to join and get help with their particular lines of research. And they are all part of your membership. Each quarter, notices from the groups are published in Ancestor journal in a regular feature 'Around the Groups' and now a new page for 'Around the Circles' has been added (September issue). More frequent news from the groups will be posted on this blog and on the website to keep you up to date. Check the GSV website for all Events in the months ahead and plan your Springtime!

British India Discussion Circle – changes to meetings

Beginning in 2019 the British India Discussion Circle will meet each quarter rather than on a monthly basis. We will have set topics for discussion, also members will be welcome to make short presentations (no more than 10 minutes) on their research. These help to stimulate the discussion as many of us are following one area of research – military, as an example.

In August this group discussed BMD’s and where to access information if official records are unavailable including newspapers.

Our 18 September meeting will feature military research: how to use the FIBIS guides and where to access records.

There will NOT be a meeting in October, as the convenor will be attending the FIBIS 20thAnniversary conference in Oxford, England.

This group is also considering setting up an email group which would allow members who are unable to attend meetings to post questions and receive advice.  [Mary-Anne Gourley, Convenor].

Classes and Talks 

October 5 - 'Starting Irish Family History'. Speakers : Maureen Doyle and Beryl O'Gorman.This class will cover basic information, where to start your research, church, civil and land records, Internet sites and question time. Register via https://www.gsv.org.au/civicrm/event/info?reset=1&id=995

October 17,24,31 - Australian family history [course]

Presenter: John Bugg. Topics to be covered over three two-hour sessions on 17th, 24th and 31st October:

- Where do I start? How to gather and store information

- Getting here - immigration, convicts, naturalisation and wills

- State records - private lives and public records

- National records - finding families.

Register via https://www.gsv.org.au/civicrm/event/info?reset=1&id=1000

NOTICE - 'Resources in Ballarat' - 27 September. This talk is fully booked, but GSV has received the sad news of the death of the intended speaker, Dr Joan Hunt.  Her full life of contribution to academia, to historical research and especially to communities was described in an earlier post about this talk and she will be well-remembered. We are at present contacting a potential new speaker.



What makes a family historian tick?

Bill Barlow
3 September 2018
GSV News

Want to be part of a study to find out?

In a  project entitled ‘Motives and profiles of family historians', social researchers Doreen Rosenthal (University of Melbourne) and Susan Moore (Swinburne University) are examining what drives amateur family historians. Their study will also explore the psychological processes of amateur genealogists as they chart their family trees. Is interest in this field associated with particular life experiences or family profiles?

A recent email from a GSV Member captures something of the collaborative satisfaction that comes from the family history quest.

Some months ago I read a member's query [in the GSV's journal Ancestor] and realised I could help.  A member wanted information on a family from Central Victoria, an area where I have a small property. So we began to search the local Historical Society records, with much help from their President and volunteers.  Soon information and photographs were found and with the GSV's assistance, we contacted the enquirer. Further searching took us to the local cemetery. On a sunny afternoon we photographed all the graves of interest and learned heaps more about this lovely country place and the forebears of the family whose property I now own. So this adventure had its own rich personal rewards too! All the information we gathered was passed on to the enquirer who was overjoyed and very grateful when we finally met face to face.

I want to thank the GSV staff and express our pleasure in helping someone find a "lost" family. This was just our way of returning help such as I had received when searching for my family in Ireland. I found a friend who came from the same town as my grandparents and who readily over several years found all my late father's family. It was a pleasure to think, "What goes around comes around".

What insights and experiences have you had as a family historian?

Australian adults (18 years and over) interested in genealogy, or who have researched their family history are invited to participate in this study. You can take part by completing an anonymous online surveythat will take about 30 minutes. Find out more (and start the survey if you wish) by clicking on this link: https://tinyurl.com/familyhistorystudy

The researchers explain the background and aims of their project:

'Family history has always been a popular pastime, whether it involves drawing up complicated family trees or recording stories from the past. In recent years, the availability of so many records online, and the possibility of finding DNA matches, has escalated this ‘hobby’ into a worldwide craze. One motivator for exploring family history, popularised by the ‘Who do you think you are?’ television programs, is the search for self-understanding – finding your identity through knowing more about where you come from. Genealogical studies can also assist in understanding your own family dynamics, and in a broader sense, the histories of ‘ordinary people’ (and thus nations) from times past. Some family historians see themselves as ‘kin keepers’- inspired by wanting to acknowledge their ancestors through passing on their stories to a new generation. Others are searching for a lost relative, or for clues about their medical history and biological risk factors. For some, the detective work of the research process becomes an end in itself, with genealogists often reporting elation and other strong emotions as they discover a new link or break down a ‘brick wall’.


In this research study we are interested in examining the motives that drive amateur family historians and in exploring whether strong commitment to this field (expressed, for example, in hours per week spent researching and number of years interest) is associated with particular personality, demographic and family profiles. We are also interested in the psychological processes of amateur genealogists as they chart their family trees. The survey concerns level of involvement, motivations for and outcomes of their genealogical research.What kinds of insights and experiences have they had?'


The survey is being conducted by social researchers Emeritus Professor Susan Moore smoore@swin.edu.au from Swinburne University and Emeritus Professor Doreen Rosenthal d.rosenthal@unimelb.edu.au from the University of Melbourne. You can contact them by email if you would like further information.





Australians and New Zealanders in Serbia in WW1

Bill Barlow
1 September 2018
GSV News

Sadly wars produce a wealth of records of the  lives  lost and entangled in these conflicts. 2018 marks the end of the WWI Centenary. This war gave Australia and New Zealand the story of Gallipoli, but Australian and New Zealand volunteers were already in Serbia, treating wounded Serbians, before the ANZACs landed.

Because of the Gallipoli Campaign, Germany, Austria-Hungary and Bulgaria invaded Serbia to secure a land supply corridor to Turkey. The Serbian Army was forced on a deadly retreat over the wintry mountains of Albania to the Adriatic coast, an event sometimes called the Albanian golgotha. Australians and New Zealanders accompanied the Serbian Army on this long march. When the fighting shifted to the Salonika or ‘Macedonian’ Front, many served there with the British Army, the Royal Flying Corps, two AIF units and six Royal Australian Navy destroyers in the Adriatic and Aegean Seas. Some died in action, others from disease.

Several hundred doctors, nurses and orderlies treated the wounded and sick in an Australian-led volunteer hospital and in British and New Zealand Army hospitals. The author Miles Franklin was a medical orderly supporting the Serbian Army; her memoir is quoted extensively in a new  book. Fifteen hundred Australians and New Zealanders served on this little known yet crucial battlefront.

There will be a commemorative presentation about the service of these Australians in WW1 and a launch of a book about them - in Melbourne on 8 September and at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra 15 September.


On Saturday 8 September The Australian Serbian Cultural Foundation is presenting an evening of remembrance and commemoration of the Australians and Serbs who served together in The Great War. Doors open 6.30 pm (for 7 pm start) at Holy Trinity Serbian Orthodox Church Hall, corner Nicholson St & Glenlyon Rd, Brunswick East.

This event is open to the wider Australian and Serbian community. Entry is free.

Special guests from Australia and Serbia will present remarkable accounts and experiences of these Australian and Serbian men and women, who served in that war:

  • 'Albanian Golgotha, 100 years later' - presented by Marko Nikolic and Nenad Mitrovic, who are part of a team which in 2015 retraced the epic withdrawal of the Serbian King, Government, Army and civilian refugees in 1915/16 across the Montenegrin and Albanian mountains,
  • Richard Cook, the grandson of an Australian Nursing Sister who served in Serbia in 1915,
  • Margaret Brown, the grandniece of an Australian soldier who fought in Serbia and on the Salonika Front in 1915-16, and
  • Bojan Pajic, the grandson of a Serbian soldier of WWI, who will present his newly-published book Forgotten Volunteers – Australians and New Zealanders with Serbs in World War One.

The GSV has been assisting Bojan Pajic to trace and contact descendants and relatives of Australians and New Zealanders who served in Serbia or alongside the Serbian Army on the Salonika Front and nearby seas in World War One. Over 100 have been identified and contacted.

Finally, after several years of research and writing, this story has now been told in a book recently published by Australian Scholarly Publishing. The book will be launched by Emeritus Professor David Horner AM at the Australian War Memorial on the 15 September 2018.

Copies of the book can be obtained from the publisher by emailing them at e: enquiry@scholarly.info or you can arrange for a copy to be brought to the event next Saturday by emailing the author at bjpiris@gmail.com


This Serbian research is a reminder that, whereas the GSV helps Victorians, their stories and the GSV's resources are truly international. And this is not limited to the British Isles. The GSV has a specific group for its members - the International Settlers Group - focused on non-British research. Go HERE to see when they meet and how they can help you.


'Resources in Ballarat' talk at GSV

Bill Barlow
26 August 2018
GSV News

For anyone with links to 19th C Victoria, Ballarat and other goldfields will be an important part of your story, if not directly, then in providing background to the growth of the new Colony. In the coming month the GSV hosts a talk by Dr Joan Hunt on the wealth of research sources that are available in Ballarat.

'Resources in Ballarat'

Thursday 27 September 12.00 pm - 1.00 pm at the GSV. See  HERE for details and to make a booking.

City Hall, Ballarat c.1907. (Courtesy SLV Pictures H96.200/1381)


Ballarat is rich in both history and historical research sources. Dr Hunt will share with us the many resources that can help with local and family history research, revealing both on-line and personal contact responses from the Ballarat and District Genealogical Society, the Ballarat Historical Society and other societies such as those at Sebastopol, Smythesdale, Linton, Creswick, Clunes and other surrounding areas, the Ballarat Mechanics’ Institute, the Australiana Room of Ballarat Library, the Ballarat Archives Centre of the Public Record Office Victoria, the Gold Museum, and other sites.

Dr Joan Hunt


This is a great opportunity to be guided by an historian with a deep knowledge of these local research materials. Dr Joan Hunt recently retired from her position as an Access Services Officer at Ballarat Archives Centre, Public Record Office Victoria. Dr Joan Hunt is a past president of Ballarat Historical Society, a founder and past president of the Woady Yaloak Historical Society, has served two terms chairing the Ballarat & District Genealogical Society, and is an active member of other local historical societies.  She is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society of Victoria, where she served several terms on Council, partly as Vice-President, and partly as Convenor of the RHSV History Victoria Support Group.  Her work in community history spans thirty-seven years, from Dandenong Historical Society committee membership in 1974 to involvement in the Ballarat region since 1980.  She is a co-founder and inaugural secretary of the Central Highlands Historical Association.  In 1988 Joan was awarded a Churchill Fellowship to study how local and family history societies in the UK organise and administer themselves.  Joan has published a history of Ross Creek, a centenary history of Scarsdale Old Boys Reunion, a history of Smythesdale Cemetery, and many articles and papers. She is currently working on a history of the Springdallah goldfields.  


You have to be in it to win in Family History Month

Bill Barlow
16 August 2018
GSV News

August is National Family History Month.  To celebrate your family history endeavours there are opportunities for you to win prizes IF YOU ARE QUICK!

Simply enter your details in the draw for PRIZES provided by the good sponsors of National Family History Month - BUT YOU HAVE TO QUICK - closing 20 AUGUST! 

AND you can enter your writing in the GSV 2018 Writing Competition which is on now - CLOSING 31 AUGUST.



There are lots of events and some terrific prizes to be won including DNA kits, Ancestry and MyHeritage subscriptions, a Nikon camera and more. For details on how to enter the prize draw go to  https://familyhistorymonth.org.au/sample-page/


Our 2018 writing competition is still open but entries close soon - 31 August.  It is open to all GSV Members. We are very pleased that Ancestry™ has very generously offered a 12 months subscription to their ‘UK Heritage plus’ option as the prize.

Last year's prize was won by Helen Pearce with her article: Thomas Owen: the skeleton in my family's closet. This is the story of her ancestor Thomas Owen who was transported to Australia for 'uttering' - the passing of forged notes. Helen began her story with her memory that her mother was adamant that there were no convicts in her family, even though she was from a long line of Tasmanians. The real story was uncovered by Helen too late to let her mother know the facts - perhaps just as well - but Helen was excited with her discovery. It is interesting how a better understanding of the times has changed the way we receive this knowledge. You can read her story in Ancestorjournal December 2017 (vol 33 issue 8)

It is not too late to make your final edits to that family story you have been researching - or even to write up that material you have been promising to put in better shape for the family. And the winning article will be published in the December 2018 issue of GSV's award-winning journal. What better way to make your story available for the family down through the generations!

For full details of conditions of entry click HERE.




The Keyboard of the President #4 - August 2018

Bill Barlow
10 August 2018
GSV News
President's Keyboard

GSV Council has been working hard to support members in their family history endeavours.  In this post, David Down, GSV President gives us an update. There are more benefits than ever from joining GSV and many ways you can contribute to helping others. [Ed.]


The GSV was very pleased this week that its quarterly journal Ancestor was, once again,  selected as the winner of its category in the 2018 Nick Vine Hall Awards, which were presented at the AFFHO launch of Family History Month.

Strategic Plan: Council met this week to review the Strategic Plan that we developed one year ago. We have introduced a number of new programs such as our contact with new member’s scheme, our DNA for Family Historian program and our new Discussion Circles. These efforts have resulted in an increase in new members and the slowing of the decline in our membership. We intend to reinforce those programs and introduce other initiatives such as a website Forum for members to replace the old ‘GSV-L’ Rootsweb bulletin board and new Discussion Circles.

AGM: The Society’s Annual General Meeting will be held on Saturday 6 October at 2 pm in our meeting room. The GSV Council is responsible for ensuring that the human, physical, financial, and research resources are available to ensure that the Society is acting in your best interests both currently and in the future. We are seeking members prepared to serve as Councillors for the next two years. The challenges of guiding the Society’s future are exciting and fulfilling and if you are interested in learning more about how you could contribute please email me and I will contact you.

Our new computers are being installed.  I would like to thank everyone who has very kindly donated to our ongoing appeal for the renewal of our IT infrastructure – we have raised almost $9,000 of the $15,000 appeal target. The funds raised so far are sufficient to replace all the library PCs and those who have visited recently will have noticed that we have commenced installing the new PCs and monitors and a few new ergonomic chairs. After considerable hard work from our IT volunteers and librarians we are implementing a new universal menu system that enables the user to access all our resources from each PC. We are still very keen to raise the remaining balance of $6,000 as the back-room IT equipment, especially the servers, need to be replaced to ensure a stable and secure IT system.

Opportunity for people to help as Office Assistants. We have an ongoing requirement for Office Assistants to join a team who support Linda to handle the day to day running of the Office. They are the first point of contact with members, volunteers and visitors. Major responsibilities include reception duties, administrative tasks such as handling cash, processing cheques and credit card payments, and processing within our membership system. A program of training and mentoring will be provided. If you are interested in assisting in this way please contact Linda during office hours. She will explain what is involved and send you more information in the form of a position description document.

Membership System Emails: I must apologise as recently a number of regular membership emails failed to be sent out whilst follow-up emails advising that membership was overdue or had expired were distributed. The system is designed around three emails:

  • a membership renewal email sent one month in advance of the renewal date
  • a reminder email sent a few days after membership is due
  • an expired membership email sent one month after the due date

Understandably if the sequence is disrupted then it is not easy to determine if your membership is current. If you have any queries at any time please email us or phone the office during business hours. We are investigating the source of the problem with a commercial company experienced with the software and hope to resolve the matter promptly. Again, please accept my apologies for any concerns that the disruption may have caused.

All the best with your family history research.

David Down - President GSV


GSV wins 2018 Nick Vine Hall Award for best family history journal

Bill Barlow
4 August 2018
GSV News

August is  National Family History Month and we celebrate the finding and telling of our family histories.

Barbara Beaumont (left) accepting Nick Vine Hall Award 2018.


The GSV is particularly pleased to be awarded this year's Nick Vine Hall Award for Ancestor, our quarterly journal. This award and our previous wins in 2012 and 2015 show our continuing commitment to helping people tell their family stories. Our journal is produced wholly by a volunteer Editorial Team and special congratulations are due to our layout designer, Jay Wickham, and to our two articles sub-editors, Martin Playne and Barbara Beaumont, as well as all our contributing writers. Barbara accepted the Award on GSV's behalf at the launch of National Family History Month this week and her report of this successful event is this week's post. You can find out more about National Family History Month on AFFHO's website HERE.


The Australian Federation of Family History Organisations (AFFHO) launched National Family History Month on Wednesday 1 August in Hobart. Vicki Montgomery, wearing her AFFHO hat, (she is Vice President of AFFHO as well as GSV Secretary), conducted the meeting. The building at 91 Murray St, Hobart is home to The National Archives of Australia and the State Library Archives Service. Short addresses by Celia Blake, Victorian and Tasmanian Director of the National Archives of Australia, and Caroline Homer, Manager of the State Library (Tasmania) Archives Service, emphasised the value of the co-location of these two organisations. Celia introduced us to some of the treasures available in the National Archives, then Caroline spoke about how Family History dovetails with the library’s aims and outlined some of the Archive Service’s current projects.

The winning issue of Ancestor, 33:7 September 2017


The Nick Vine Hall awards for the best family history journal/newsletter in Australia and New Zealand were then made. The GSV (yes us!) won the first prize in Category B, societies with a membership over five hundred. I was delighted to be able to go as a representative of our editorial team to accept the award. Look out for the beautiful plaque we were given when you next visit the Society.

The keynote address, ‘Why is Family History Important?’ was given by Dr. Dianne Snowden. Dianne’s entertaining talk drew on her own experiences of family history research and touched on several themes. Some that particularly appealed to me:

  • In her childhood her grandmother’s exercise book of recipes and names and the big family bible sparked her interest in family history, and this led on to formal study of history and a passion for conserving heritage.
  • Academic historians, once condescending about family history, were lately coming to see its value (when it is done correctly).
  • Researching one’s family enables us to make connections with family both past and present, and helps to develop one’s own sense of identity.

The afternoon concluded with a lavish afternoon tea.

Barbara Beaumont