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New GSV Centre opens 2 March

Bill Barlow
25 February 2021
GSV News

Great news!

The GSV Centre has now moved to

Level 1, 10 Queen Street, Melbourne

and we are delighted with our new home.


As you can see we are still finishing the unpacking, but the library is ready for members to come in again on Tuesday next week (March 2). An email explaining our safe reopening procedures is being sent to all members.



Because of Covid requirements for physical distancing you will need to book before coming in. The workplaces are more spread out than usual but six computers are ready for you to resume your research using all our commercial databases plus our own digital collections. Those LDS films which you have not been able to access during Covid are waiting for you come in and browse.



Finding new premises then moving has not been easy especially with Covid restrictions but everything has gone smoothly, thanks entirely to the months of planning and effort by our Councillors and other volunteers. They have been fantastic.


The GSV has downsized in floorspace but become efficient in the process. Our task over the next few months is to develop our media hub for simultaneous in centre and at home Zoom presentations.


In the meantime it will be great to have in-person communication with members again, so do come in when you can, have a coffee in the shop downstairs and check out our new home.


So please ring or email to confirm your visit, so we are Covid safe.



Jenny Redman


Where do 'Squizzy' Taylor and Sir Tommy Bent share a final resting place?

Bill Barlow
12 February 2021
GSV News

Cemeteries are fascinating archives of history and remembrance.

The Brighton General Cemetery is one such place with many interesting stories associated with its 165 years of existence, including those of 'Squizzy' and Tommy Bent.


The Brighton Cemetorians help bring these stories to life.  


On Sunday 14 March at 2.00 pm

they will be conducting their first walk -


Off to the Races - Owners, Trainers & Jockeys


- where you will hear about some of the pioneers connected to the racing industry. 'Meet' the man behind the name of the Herbert Power Stakes that is held at the Caulfield Racecourse. Hear about the often not so easy lives of the various jockeys, owners and trainers.

The walk will begin near the cemetery office. Cost will be $15 for non members $10 for members.

Ring Lois Cowmeadow on 9558 4248 to book. Numbers will be limited.


The Brighton Cemetorians Inc. is a not-for-profit community group formed in 2005 with the aim of raising awareness of the Brighton General Cemetery.  The aim of the group is to work with and assist the Southern Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust and management to:

· Raise public awareness of the Brighton General Cemetery as a historical place of local, state and national importance

· Actively research and preserve the history of the Brighton General Cemetery

· Collate stories of persons interred at the Brighton General Cemetery

· Facilitate the restoration of significant monuments through close links with interested organisations, descendants and other stakeholders


They undertake tours of the Cemetery, research requests for people wanting to locate a grave and produce a journal called The Cemetorianwhich is indexed on their website.


You can find out more about the Brighton Cemetorians and the Cemetery stories on their website - https://www.brightoncemetorians.org.au  

And you can become a member and join in their endeavours.



Brighton General Cemetery and

Firing Party - the Historical Re-enactment Society of Australia at the William Robertson plaque unveiling - 1st April 2007. Who was William Robertson?2007

Moonrakers and Bristolians, SWERD is expanding.

Bill Barlow
2 February 2021
GSV News


Breaking news!

The very popular GSV Discussion Circle - SWERD (South West England Research) - is expanding its area of interest to include Bristol and the landlocked county of Wiltshire. Bristol is a populous city and ceremonial county. 


'The local nickname for Wiltshire natives is apparently Moonrakers. This originated from a story of smugglers who managed to foil the local Excise men by hiding their alcohol, possibly French brandy in barrels or kegs, in a village pond. When confronted by the excise men they raked the surface to conceal the submerged contraband with ripples, and claimed that they were trying to rake in a large round cheese visible in the pond, really a reflection of the full moon. The officials took them for simple yokels or mad and left them alone, allowing them to continue with their illegal activities.' (source: Wikipedia)

So anyone with links to Bristolians and Moonrakers will find this Discussion Group, which meets next on Feb 12 very welcoming.



Ref. Wikipedia contributors. "Wiltshire." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 11 Jan. 2021. Web. 2 Feb. 2021.)

Image: Cherhill White Horse, Cherhill, Wiltshire, England (Sw8 at the English language Wikipedia, C-C-A - SA 3.0 licence)


Back to school - for grandparents too!

Bill Barlow
2 February 2021
GSV News


GSV Events in February 2021

Now that the kids are back in school - actually in school this year - we grandparents (and others) are free to catch up with our events.


You will have recently read that the Society is moving its Centre during February. During this period our events will continue via Zoom. We have a packed and varied program of events, which are open to all GSV Members.

All are listed on our website.


Writing Course 

As previously advised Margaret Vines is conducting her very popular writing course in 1.5 hours sessions over three days – 1, 8 and 15 February. Bookings are limited so investigate the event page and book before it is too late. If you miss out this time, join the Writers Group for encouragement and assistance.



The classes conducted by our librarians Linley Hooper and Meg Bate cover digital topics of interest to family historian. Assistance with your Scottish research is also available.


The various Discussion Circles such as the Writers, DNA Study Group, Counties of Northern England, South West England Research, London Research, British India and the Victoria/Tasmania Circles will all be conducted during the month. These events are open to all Members.

SWERD meet on Feb 12 and have now enlarged this group to include Bristol and Wiltshire.


The Good Oil 

The next session will be held on 19 February. Come along with an item of family ephemera and share the story behind the item. This is an open group where we share our experiences and seek assistance to further our family history research. Everyone is welcome.

Special Interest Groups:

The Irish Ancestry Group will meet on 13 February. This group is open to all members and especially those with an interest in Irish family history research.

The International Settlers Group for those researching non-British ancestors will be held on 20 February. Four of the members of this group will talk about their ‘Most Interesting Ancestor’.


Introducing our GSV Member Societies

This is a new series of monthly events where our Member Societies across Victoria are provided with an opportunity to talk about their resources and expertise. On the 25thof this month The Lilydale and District Historical Society will introduce themselves and outline their resources many of which are not available elsewhere.


Talks – We have a program of five talks this month:

· 4 February – Carl Villis from the National Gallery of Victoria will talk about journey of discovery that led to the reattribution of the NGV’s 16thcentury portrait of Lucrezia Borgia.

· 9 February – Alan Rhodes will talk about DNA Auto Clusters – learn how to group your matches into clusters likely to share common ancestors.

· 11 February – Louise Wilson will discuss researching people would arrived in NSW well before 1850 and how to find the resources to support that research.

· 18 February – Steven Haby of the Prahran Mechanics Institute will explore the development and impact of the railways in Melbourne and Victoria across the 19thand 20thcenturies.

· 23 February – Alan Rhodes with introduce the website Gedmatch. 


All events may be booked through the GSV Members section of our website. Upon registration you will receive and email containing the zoom meeting details.


Join in, enjoy and discover something new.

Help get more Victorian newspapers on Trove

Bill Barlow
26 January 2021
GSV News


Our lockdown year reminded me how lucky we are to have Trove and digitised newspapers online. For those of us who fiddled with microfilm readers and squinted at black screens over the years, more searchable Trove can't come soon enough.


There are more than 10,000 years worth of out-of-copyright microfilmed Victorian newspapers at State Library Victoria yet to be digitised to Trove. These almost extinct local newspapers regularly reported domestic details that provide gems which enliven our family stories and which may prove to be our only link to past lives. 



In 2017 a campaign was mounted to digitise to Trove 35 years of five microfilmed, out-of-copyright newspapers of the Knox and Dandenong Ranges area. Through the efforts of the Dandenong Ranges Historical Council, an umbrella group of four historical societies, a heritage trust and a local action group, all five local newspapers were successfully digitised on Trove


Following this success, a campaign headed 'More Trove for Vic' (see WEBSITE) has been launched to encourage the Victorian Government to provide more funding so that more Victorian newspapers can be digitised and made searchable on Trove'More Trove for Vic' has put up an e-petition on the Victorian Parliament website and is encouraging historically-minded people to support it.


Based on the State Library Victoria's summary of holdings of microfilmed newspapers there are more than 10,000 years worth of out-of-copyright microfilmed newspapers from 71 Victorian municipalities yet to be digitised to Trove 26 of these municipalities have more than 85% of their microfilmed newspapers yet to be digitised to Trove.


'More Trove for Vic' calculates that at the rate achieved in 2018-19 it would take nearly 180 years to digitise just the microfilmed newspapers of the more than 870 newspapers published in 216 towns and communities in 71 municipalities across Victoria.  But if the Victorian Government commits to funding a dedicated mass-digitisation of Victoria's historical newspapers then this could be completed in 3 years. The microfilmed newspapers could be digitised for as little as 80c per Victorian per year for three years and this would benefit 71 municipalities. 


You can view and sign the petition here: follow the prompts at https://www.parliament.vic.gov.au/council/petitions/electronic-petitions/view-e-petitions/details/12/299


You must be a resident of Victoria to sign. You can read more information about how petitions to Parliament work on the Parliament's website.


The CLOSING DATE for this petition is 30 May 2021. After that it may be tabled by a Member of the Legislative Council and will then be referred to the relevant Minister.


Obviously the more signatures the better!




Campaign logo designed by Laura Renfrew, 2020.


What have family historians been doing in 2020?

Bill Barlow
14 January 2021
Book Reviews
GSV News

Did the circumstances of 2020 focus you on your family history research?

Or maybe, instead you turned to cooking and walking just to get out. 


Certainly this pandemic and the recent storming of the US Capitol building makes this family historian think more about the pandemics of the past and the volatile political uprisings that our family members may have lived through in their day. The 1918-20 Spanish flu killed about 20-50 M of the then 1.8 billion world population. So far COVID is approaching about 2 m deaths of 7.8 billion world population. 


Whether learning about the past will be enough to save us from a repetition (Churchill, Santayana, etc.) remains to be seen. But 'knowing more' about such past events helps us cope better - and hopefully helps our survival. [Ed.]



Why do we study family history? This question was asked on this blog on 3 Sept 2018: 'What makes a family historian tick?' A new book sets out some answers.


Many GSV members responded to this question by participating in a survey of the motives and characteristics of family historians that was conducted by social researchers at the University of Melbourne and Swinburne University. 


The outcomes of that study have been incorporated in a new book, now available: The Psychology of Family History: Exploring our Genealogyby Susan Moore, Doreen Rosenthal and Rebecca Robinson (Routledge, 2020).


The book presents their findings regarding:

  • Family history: Passion and popularity 
  • Spiritual and religious underpinnings of genealogy 
  • Identity: Who do I think I am? 
  • Biological realities: Who am I genetically? 
  • Beyond the self: Altruistic and intergenerational motives 
  • Family history as therapy   
  • The genealogical detective: Cognitive motives for family history research 
  • Health: What are my inherited health risks? 
  • Ethical dilemmas:  What should I do now? 

It concludes with consideration of the future challenges for family historians.


You can find out more about the book at: https://www.routledge.com/The-Psychology-of-Family-History-Exploring-Our-Genealogy/Moore-Rosenthal-Robinson/p/book/9781003011576



Maybe we can bring you a review in a future post. 


Best Wishes to all of us for this New Year of 2021

- and check out our GSV Events in January-March (see the last post and the website).



Bill Barlow
22 December 2020
GSV News



The arrival of "La Grippe" - the 1889 'Russian influenza' of Europe and America - was reported in Australia and New Zealand in 1890 (Australian Town & Country Journal, 5 Apr 1890, p10.) In Europe it 'began to kill off a great number of old people, and a 'number of Civil Servants [were] reported suffering from the epidemic...In Victoria it is chiefly Civil servants who have been attacked. Randwick races are coming on, and it is to be hoped that our own poor overworked Government clerks will not suffer from the malady', the Journal opined. Dr Thompson, the NSW Chief Medical Inspector advised that 'quarantine against influenza would be profitless against the disease and would certainly cause very serious monetary loss'. By April 1890 it was raging in Melbourne. The first notice of its arrival in Sydney was on April 2 when HMS Rapid returned from Hobart with Alexander Stevens, my great grandfather in its crew and 21 cases under treatment. Another RN ship brought 35 active cases from Melbourne. The harbour master did not quarantine the vessels but kept afflicted crew on board. At least the captain and officers were able to attend the Sydney Lord Mayors' Ball a few days later, so that was good.

All sounds very familiar 130 years later. In fact the 'Russian' flu may have been caused by the COVID 19-like 'common cold' coronavirus, which split or jumped from a cattle virus about then. The events of this year have given us a firsthand lesson in the part played by disease throughout our family histories.


But that's enough reflection on 2020. 

Australia's 'luckiness of distance' - and good management - means that we can plan events for 2021. [Ed.]




Thanks to all at the GSV, the 2021 Events program has lots to offer.

Our existing program of Classes, Discussion Circles and Talks will continue in the new year by Zoom. And there are new events and talks coming up.


15 January - The Good Oil will recommence when Cheryl Griffin will lead a discussion on various techniques and tips for undertaking good family history research.

20 January - The GSV Writers are planning the first of a series of ‘Shut Up And Write’ sessions. This was successfully introduced to their program this year, to focus members on starting and completing a piece of writing. Without this, all that research doesn't become history. Numbers at this event are limited so book early for this exciting event. The group's full program for the year will be on the website soon. All GSV members are welcome.

Writing course - 1, 8 and 15 February

For help in the skills needed to write your history, Margaret Vines will conduct her Writing Course by Zoomon consecutive Mondays 1, 8 and 15 February 2021, starting at 10.30 am. The course fee will be $75 and like her past courses will include the writing process - getting started, drafting and editing, basic writing skills and documenting your writing. Participants would be expected to write in class and between classes. The course is limited to 10 participants.


Book now to attend the following:

21 January– Ann Copeland from the State Library of Victoria will discuss the records available to assist you to research a house or property

4 February– Carl Villis from the National Gallery of Victoria will talk about dating paintings

11 February– A talk entitled ‘Researching NSW records prior to 1850’ will be presented by Louise Wilson 

18 February– Stephen Haby from the Prahran Mechanics Institute will talk about the development of the Melbourne railway system and its impact on the lives of your ancestors

4 March– Jillian Hiscock, the Collections Manager at the Royal Historical Society of Victoria, will speak about their extensive resources including their manuscript and image collections.

18 March– Liz Rushen will present her talk about ‘Immigration to Victoria prior to the Goldrush’. This talk had to be cancelled in December. There are spaces still available for this event.


Register early for these events so that you do not miss out


The GSV Education Team wishes all members a happy and safe holiday period and looks forward to seeing you at events in 2021.


A study of family history and DNA testing - you can be a part

Bill Barlow
14 December 2020
DNA and family history
GSV News



DNA testing and the re-framing of histories and identities in contemporary society.


A research project at the University of Newcastle, Australia.


A research team at the University of Newcastle in Australia (Drs Shaw, Donnelly, Burke and Parkes from the School of Education) are conducting research into family history and DNA testing and its impacts on people’s understanding of themselves and their place in history. They are conducting an online survey, which is expected to take about 20 - 30 minutes and would welcome your participation if you have utilised DNA-testing in your research.


The Research Team is hoping that GSV members and others will take up this invitation, using the link below to take part in this survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/2DDTC2L


The purpose of the research is to investigate the use, role and impact of DNA testing in exploring and understanding individual national and global histories and identities. This study is an Australian-first and will provide an exciting opportunity to be involved in a new worldwide project about exploring the past.


Dr Debra Donnelly, Senior Lecturer at the University's School of Education, and principal, researcher for this study said that 'My colleagues and I have become interested in DNA testing and its impact on ideas of history and family heritage. The project is just beginning and we plan to collect data survey data for a few months. We will then analyse the data and likely there will be phase two interviews and case studies.'  


Participants will be asked to reflect on their experience with DNA testing and to provide some general demographic information. The survey will be online for 4-6 months. Links to a plain English report of the findings will be emailed to participating family history societies, so we hope to provide some feedback possibly in this blog.



December issue of GSV journal now out

Bill Barlow
7 December 2020
GSV News

The latest edition of our quarterly journal 'Ancestor' has now been published.

Members who have elected to receive a print edition should have received their copy in the mail and be perusing its many interesting articles, including 'Tom were the naughty lad' by Brian Reid - this year's winner of the GSV Writing Prize

But this edition is also available to members to read as a PDF file and as a flipbook that can be accessed in the Members Area of the GSV website.

This move to give you digital-media options for reading our journal is part of developing more ways to provide services to our members. Our COVID year has certainly prompted us in this. Our Zoom meetings and webinars are proving very popular especially as our centre has restricted access and as people only cautiously return to public transport.

Have a look at our digital editions - and you may even elect to access future editions in this way - thus saving postage and printing costs for the GSV, improving our environmental footprint and helping you downsize your home shelf space! You can access back copies as a Member via our website and search past articles via our catalogue.

You can change your delivery preferences under your Membership Details on the website.



Good news! A limited opening of our research centre from Nov 17.

Bill Barlow
15 November 2020
GSV News

It has been great to see people back in the city this past week, all being cautious and wearing masks, as we emerge from a time when we showed that we have a strong community. And we have developed new ways to connect to our far-flung members online, welcoming many from regional Victoria and  interstate to our Zoom sessions. Well done Melburnians!


And the GOOD NEWS is that we will open the GSV Library from Tuesday 17 November to a limited number of members for a limited number of hours.

Of course our new online options for you will continue as well, while we work our way forward in a different world.


Days open:  Tuesday, Thursday & Saturday

Open times:  approx. 11am – 2pm

Access: GSV’s library collection including item listed as “Digital @ GSV” & some databases. 

Booking essential as it’s limited to 2 -3 members per day.

Email to Book:research@gsv.org.au  and please specify which day and time and what records you would like to research, e.g. browse FamilySearch“affiliate library” documents.

Once at the GSV please follow instructions so that we can ensure that our staff and members are safe.


Thank you for all your support during this second Covid closure.