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Excited to be getting out and about

St James, Haslingden, Lancs UK. Courtesy Google Street View 2009.
St James, Haslingden, Lancs UK. Courtesy Google Street View 2009.
Bill Barlow
11 April 2020
GSV News

This week I decided to go for a trip and visit the church of St James* in Haslingden Lancashire. I had been finding lots of records of Barnes family in the 1800s from there courtesy of the MyHeritage database access for GSV Members. (see below).


'Exciting to be getting out' I thought, so I drove up from Manchester and got off the motorway on to the A680. Shortly I entered the valley village of Haslingden nestled between the high moors and the Forest of Rossendale to the east. After some to-and fro-ing I could see the way up a side street to the church gates on the hill. It was great to see it and also great to get out after a few weeks of 'iso'. From the air I had seen the little cleft in the moors to the west that had enfolded the old village of Grane and Blackhill Farm where my ancestors had probably been for centuries. So I thought I would turn up Heap Clough, a small side road and have a look on the ground. I could see up the old track, so I stopped, got out to walk - and fell into a black void of undocumented nothingness. Google Street View© hadn't been there.




Good news for GSV members. More databases can be accessed from home, Jenny Redman, GSV President announced this week.


'I hope this finds you virus-free and well, with plenty of time to continue your family history research. We are pleased to be able to tell you that we now have access to two more databases for you to use from home. This is in addition to the access we already have to MyHeritage.


The library versions of findmypastand TheGenealogistare now available for GSV members only. Instructions for accessing these databases can be obtained by logging into the members area of the GSV website. Allow time for these instructions to be received as emails are replied to between 10am-4pm on Monday to Friday.Please note that members cannot use any personal subscription to findmypastat the same time as using this library version. Also note the 20-minute time limit and the need to logout when using TheGenealogist.

For those less familiar with the content of the major databases there is a very good introduction at https://www.rootstech.org/video/comparing-the-genealogy-giants

This is a video link to Sunny Morton’s talk 'Comparing the Genealogy Giants: Ancestry, FamilySearch, findmypast and MyHeritage'at the London 2019 RootsTech conference.Sonny’s basic message about finding which records are on which site is to look at the Catalogues at each site (subscriptions not necessary).

findmypast has good Irish record collections, 1939 census, maps and extensive UK parish records (many quite early and not available elsewhere).

Unfortunately the video does not include TheGenealogist, a good UK-based site for census and parish (especially non-conformist) records, tithe maps, war and many other records.


I should also remind you that the free “Quick Lookup” service for members is still available despite the GSV Centre being closed.

Enjoy your researching and stay safe,

Best wishes,

Jenny Redman, GSV President




Where will you go next week?

Me? I've got to write up this week's trip and the story of the Barnes of the Rossendale Valley first.

* No doubt eagle-eyed readers picked up that St Chads was incorrect, that is in Rochdale and also Poulton-le-Fylde. Of course.


COVID-19 virus and the GSV: update

Bill Barlow
25 March 2020
GSV News
Writers Circle



Update from Jenny Redman, GSV President


On Monday March 23 it was decided that the GSV Centre, both the library and the office, would close from today Wed March 25 until further notice.


All member queries to the GSV are to be directed to the email: gsv@gsv.org.au 

Staff will continue to work from home.

Subscriptions can be paid by usual methods excepting via telephone


Research Requests including quick lookups will be processed where possible.


We will endeavour to maintain regular contact with our members and provide them with updates and information to help with doing their family history research at home. We are currently working on supplying more online content for members, so keep an eye on the website for updates.


Please keep safe and enjoy the time at home doing your family history


Jenny Redman




Family Historian told to stay home indefinitely and work on family history!


There are such a lot of family history projects that I have on my to-do list that this current edict sounds like an unbelievable opportunity - if it wasn't also tinged with great concern for our community. Many of us did not directly experience life during  WW2 but, from our parents, we knew about the family deaths, hardships, rationing cards and the long recovery that followed. Helping each other was then, and will be now, the only way forward. 


It is amazing how much we have moved online. Today the Ancestor Edit Team has been working collectively on the articles for the next Ancestor journal. This means our copy has to be finalised by the end of March. The members of the GSV Writers Circle have received one of the writing pieces scheduled for review at the now-cancelled April meeting. Our online forum membershelpmembers is available for any queries and members can check our catalogue and databases from home. I am spending too long on my computer with the MyHeritage Library edition, now also made available for GSV Members to use from home. 


So lots to do - STAY HOME!


The logo for the President Updates shows a laptop computer balanced on a Sands & McDougall Directory. For many years this amalgam of old and new-world technology was a feature of the meeting room back in our Collins Street offices.

If you would like to publish a family history story on this blog just email me at blog@gsv.org.au. [Ed.]




GSV events cancelled from Tuesday 17 March

Bill Barlow
16 March 2020
GSV News
President's Keyboard

On behalf of the GSV Council and staff, I hope this email finds you in good health as the COVID-19 pandemic disrupts all aspects of community life. 


Given the increased risks to our members from the virus, over the weekend it was decided that all events at the GSV will be cancelled from tomorrow, Tuesday March 17, until the end of April. 


The situation will be reviewed as the crisis continues and in all likelihood the cancellation time period will need to be extended.


For now the centre will be open to members as normal for independent research but we will no longer be opening late on Tuesdays.

No library volunteers will be rostered although volunteers may of course choose to come in.


We are in the final testing stage of our capacity to offer members video conferencing and video presentations of some of our classes. Members will require a computer, web browser, speaker and microphone to access this facility. Follow the GSV Website and Events page for further information over the next week or so.


You will be able to contact the GSV office on 9662 4455 during normal office hours if you have any queries.


Feel free to contact me at president@gsv.org.auif you have any questions. Please stay safe. 

With best wishes


Jenny Redman


Family historians self-isolate

Bill Barlow
14 March 2020
GSV News
In the Library


My mother often wished her brother would self-isolate. Later in life she would often complain that her brother had rung again, but all he ever talked about was yet another distant cousin he had discovered in the family history. We all know the feeling. Our research is often not interesting to other family members.


Self-isolation is what family history writers - and all writers - are good at. It is a necessary and sought-after precondition for our research and our writing. 


In a new development, if GSV members are stuck at home they can now access the GSV's Library edition of MyHeritage database from home. Simply sign on to our website as a Member, go to the Members Area and select MyHeritage.


GSV Members can also use the new online forum membershelpmembersto link with others who may be able to answer questions or give advice, and they can use our online catalogue and unique databases. 


You can see our Presidents notice to members on Covid 19 on our website here https://www.gsv.org.au/article/gsv-responding-covid-19


Many of us, or even most of us will have documented sad stories from our own families of Spanish Influenza epidemic of the 1918/19. In Australia 40% of the population fell ill and 15,000 died. In 1921 there was a peak in diphtheria cases and over the following decade 4,000 died. In the 19th C this infectious disease occurred often and many children died. In 1872 the Victorian Government held a Royal Commission into its nature and treatment. In my family young John died in Molong in 1886 aged 11, only two years after its cause had been identified in Germany. By the mid 1890s an anti-toxin was available. Too late though for him. Later vaccination programs have almost eliminated this death from our family histories.


We sincerely hope you are all well and treating yourself and others with kindness and reason. 


What's on in March?

Bill Barlow
29 February 2020
GSV News

Discounted certificates for the month of March


Vic BDM has announced that they are offering downloadable uncertified historical certificates for $20 each for the entire month of March to say 'thank you' to valued family historians. This is a saving of $4.50 per certificate. Click below:





Are you stuck in England in a time warp?


Alan Fincher - our expert in early English records is giving a talk on 19 March that could help you.


English Research, Eighteenth Century


This talk is intended for those who are stuck in their English research in the 1700s. Most English researchers can get back to the early 1800s or late 1700s, but the 1700s can be really challenging, as there are fewer records available than in the 1800s or 1600s. In fact there is a real incentive to get back to the late 1600s as many more records then become available; records that either cease to exist in the 1700s or are quite uncommon then.

Note this talk has been previously advertised as '19&20c to 18th c English Research'


March 19 - 10.30 am-12.30 pm


$10 GSV members. $40 non-members. FHC, RHSV and CAV members should contact the GSV for a 25% discount. GO HERE  https://www.gsv.org.au/civicrm/event/info?reset=1&id=1439



Update on producing a flipbook version of our 'Ancestor' journal


In December 2019 we posted news about our investigation of flipbook options for this journal. We included a demonstration flipbook and invited members to try it out and send comments. We were amazed at the response we have had.  By mid January we had over 70 responses - with roughly 2/3 in favour of this option and many giving constructive feedback. 


If you are a GSV member you can already read PDF editions of our current journal and past issues on our website in the Members Area. And its articles are indexed in our catalogue. So if you have recycled your past paper copy, you can check back-issues from the comfort of your hard-worn home research chair.

CHECK out this service if you haven't tried it.


We will continue to look into a digital form of Ancestor, taking into account all comments. We thank all who took the time to respond.


... And GSV Writers meet next week... And March could be a good month to volunteer! AND did you remember to book for Richard Broome's talk coming in May? See last post for details.




More family secrets

Bill Barlow
23 February 2020
GSV News

A coming talk at the RHSV dovetails neatly with my last post about 'Family Secrets' - the new research project looking at interactions between settlers and indigenous Australians (see note 1).


On March 17 at the Royal Historical Society Victoria, Prof Lynette Russell will talk about family secrets and her journey to discover her aboriginal history.



What the little bird didn't tell me

17 MARCH - 5:15 - 7:00 PM


The RHSV has opened their March talk to GSV members at the RHSV member’s price of $10. GSV members who wish to attend should book through the RHSV website, as if they are RHSV members.


Prof Russell:


Twenty years ago I wrote a book that documented a journey I had been on for over a decade. The book was A Little Bird Told Me: Family Secrets, Necessary Lives. This book represented a journey of discovery where I located my Aboriginal ancestors and answered a number of questions that had dogged my family for generations. Along the way, I discovered a story of secrets and lies, of madness, and refuge.  In this talk, I will reflect on this book nearly 20 years later with a focus on the importance of women as the keepers and tellers of family stories. In so doing I will consider the reasons why I wrote the book, what impact it had at the time and its ongoing influence. I hope that these reflections might have something to say to other family historians. I want to question whether there are there some family secrets and necessary lies that should never be told?


Professor Lynette Russell AM is an award-winning historian and indigenous studies scholar. In 2020 she is taking up an Australian Research Council’s Laureate Fellowship to examine Global Encounters and First Nations People: 1000 Years of Australian History.

This personal story will be interesting to those who would like to better understand the complex issues of aboriginal identification and the inter-relationship between genealogical records, biological descent, family stories, self-identification and community recognition. Though it has been about 40 years since a three-part 'working definition' of aboriginality evolved and has been adopted in Australia (see note 2), there are still popular commentators and some historians who can't get their heads around this.





Note 1.Family Secrets Research Project. Contact Dr Ashley Barnwell

See the previous blog for details of how to participate in this research project:



Note 2. For a full history of this topic see Defining Aboriginality in Australia, Dr John Gardiner-Garden, Parliament of Australia Current Issue Brief no. 10 2002-03







On May 7 at GSV, Dr Richard Broome will talk on Frontier Encounters. 

Richard is a Professor of History and Associate at La Trobe University. One of Australia's most respected scholars of Aboriginal history, He has written many articles and books including  Aboriginal Australians and Sideshow Alley.

His last talk at GSV was sold out, so it would be worth getting in early to hear firsthand from a prominent historian, author and wonderful speaker.  


This talk will fill up quickly so go HERE to book early.



Unsettling family history - new research

Bill Barlow
8 February 2020
GSV News
Writers Circle

Genealogical study is a hot topic. Witness the lengths to which some 'historians' and genealogists are presently going to deny Bruce Pascoe's aboriginal antecedence, possibly to undermine his views about pre-Colonial aboriginal society. This particular instance of genealogical research should remind us of the traps that can result from a simple reading and over-reliance on early records; even for so-called historians, who should know better about the inherent limits of documents in tracing biological ancestry (note 1). Anyone researching their early Australian forebears will have to think about where they were and what they were doing during The Frontier Wars, a period from 1788 to 1928 (note 2). 


The intersection of written records with family memory and oral history can be unsettling and sometimes divisive. If your family stories take you into this period you may like to contribute to a current university research project.


Ashley Barnwell, a Lecturer in Sociology from the University of Melbourne (note 3), is currently undertaking a national study that investigates how inherited family secrets, stories, and memories inform Australian’s understandings of colonial history. Ashley is looking to interview family historians who have found interactions between settlers and Indigenous Australians in their ancestry and who are doing some research into that aspect of the family tree.


Ashley outlines the context of the project 'Family Secrets':


'There has been a lot of research about how museums and schools deal with colonial history but not much acknowledgment that family historians are doing a lot of interesting historical research in this area and often writing up the findings for their families too, Ashley says. In his famous 1968 Boyer lectures After the Dreaming, WH Stanner spoke about 'the great Australian silence' around the treatment of Aboriginal peoples and the impacts of colonisation. Family stories sometimes mirror this silence, but families can also be places where past interactions between settlers and Aboriginal peoples are recorded and discussed, at least by some generations if not others. 


Popular texts based on family history, such as Kate Grenville’s The Secret Riverand Sally Morgan’s My Place, show that unpacking family stories and secrets can stimulate public discussion of Australia’s colonial history. Ashley is very interested in how family relationships add an important layer to how historical research is done. When we read and write about our own families there are often extra layers of emotion that can inform what we choose to write and publish. Family historians sometimes also have to navigate tricky conversations with other relatives who may not be happy with the revelation of family stories or who insist on a different version of events.' 


For this Australian Research Council-funded project, Ashley will do a study of self-published family history books, interviews with family historians, and some research into her own settler ancestors in mid-north coast NSW. 


If you are interested in participating,

please contact Ashley via:

phone: 03 83444559  

email: abarnwell@unimelb.edu.au; or 

mail: Dr Ashley Barnwell, School of Social and Political Sciences, John Medley Building, Level 4, University of Melbourne, VIC, 3010.





1. Dark Emu(2014), Bruce Pascoe. See Keith Windschuttle citing Jan Campbell [Holland?] in QuadrantDecember 2019.

2. The Forgotten War, Henry Reynolds (2013).

3. Ashley Bardwell see https://findanexpert.unimelb.edu.au/profile/708324-ashley-barnwell

Do you have to write your family history?

GIW heading Ancestor Dec 2019
GIW article heading in December 2019 'Ancestor'
Bill Barlow
1 February 2020
GSV News
Writers Circle



Once you have all the certificates - the names, dates and places - and have these imbedded in proprietary databases, and maybe you have graphically presented these as trees of various designs, is there any need to do more?

Do you need to put all those 'facts' in a written story?

And, a sensitive historian may ask, should you presume to put them in a story? When you look at the 'factoids' it does seem necessary to link them somehow, but once you start there can be a tendency to over-link them in ways not fully supported by the facts.

In her book 'Genealogical Proof Standard' Christine Rose puts forward five steps for genealogical proof: (CR Publications 3rd ed. 2009. GSV 929.1 ROS):

1) Reasonably exhaustive search for information

2) Complete citation of the source,

3) Analyse and correlate to assess the quality of the information

4) Resolve any conflicts AND

5) Arrive at a soundly reasonedwritten conclusion(my emphasis).


So your investigation is not finished until you do step 5. It is not the after-thought following the discovery of facts; it is an essential part of the process. 'Soundly-reasoned' requires writing up (or if you prefer, 'writing down' - strange language English).

This is the focus of the GSV Writers Discussion Circle. Its members help each other as they attempt to turn their carefully assembled facts into a 'soundly reasoned written conclusion'. More than that, the group suggests ways to make the written conclusion attractive to its intended audience.

The GSV Writers group is open to all GSV members as part of membership. It meets monthly on the first Wednesday at which about 20-30 of its over 90 members provide comments and suggestions on submitted draft histories or discuss some aspect of the craft. It also has a closed Facebook group for online discussion. You can see more about the group on the website HERE and their program for 2020 is now available - GSV WRITERS PROGRAM 2020

The group provides the ongoing articles for 'Getting it Write' in Ancestor journal. A list of past articles is available on the GSV website. There are a number of award-winning published authors in the group and many who are just starting to write. All are friendly. Where else could you get twenty editing reviews of your writing free?


Joining this group is a good way to tackle your genealogical objectives for the year.


The GSV also offers a course on Writing Family History presented by Margaret Vines, commencing 7 February - BOOKINGS ESSENTIAL. See HERE.


So no excuses for 2020! This is the year to 'get it down'.


How did Melbourne grow? - seminar 1 Feb

Two Suburban Street - Chapel Street Prahran, 1889, A.C.Cooke, SLV PCINF AS 03/10/89 157a.
Two Suburban Street - Chapel Street Prahran, 1889, A.C.Cooke, SLV PCINF AS 03/10/89 157a.
Bill Barlow
18 January 2020
GSV News

For many of us, our ancestors arrived ,one way or another, in Melbourne. This was a big city by 1890. 

How had it grown by then to be the second largest city in the British Empire?


I found a newspaper reference in 1889 to 'Ordinary' passengers - a married woman (my great grandmother) and family of six - boarding the train at Albury at 2.10 pm on New Year's Eve bringing her family from country NSW to 'Marvellous Melbourne', to make a new start. I followed them in the records as they moved around rented accommodation in Cremorne, Richmond and Little Brighton. They had arrived in the less 'marvellous' aftermath of the rampant property speculation and in time for the crash of the banks and the opening of soup kitchens. We know so much more about our ancestors when we understand the times and places in which they lived.


This coming seminar could help you put your family in context.


An overview of the growth of

some early Melbourne suburbs



The Royal Historical Society of Victoria and the Genealogical Society of Victoria are delighted to co-present this full-day seminar, which will give participants a deep understanding of the forces and influences that have shaped Melbourne’s early growth.


This full-day seminar will be held at the Royal Historical Society of Victoria, 239 A'Beckett Street, Melbourne, on Saturday 1 February - 10.00 am to 4.00 pm.

The speakers will be:
- Footscray - Carmel Taig
- Prahran - Steven Haby & Judith Buckrich
- Heidelberg - Graham Thorley
- Brunswick and Coburg - Cheryl Griffin.


With an introduction by Gary Presland on how Melbourne's geography shaped its development.


This seminar is designed for those who are researching their family or community history and want to understand the why, who, when, what and how of Melbourne’s growth. Were the influencing factors economic, geographic, climatic, demographic, religious, commercial, opportunistic, geological, corrupt, or dictated by government? What drew our ancestors to settle where they did?

It will also be of interest to those who merely want to deepen their understanding of Melbourne’s development without having a history project to hand.


This event is open to members and non-members. Cost $60, GSV and RHSV members $45. Light lunch and refreshments provided.


Bookings are required and can be made online, by email, in person or by telephone (03 9662 4455 Mon-Fri 9.00am-4.00pm). Joint members please book in separately if both attending. RHSV members should book directly through the RHSV.



There will be a waiting list if the event is fully booked.


This is a good chance to kick-start your research in 2020!

Support our communities in the bushfires

Gippsland, Sunday night, Feb 20th 1898, John Longstaff, NGV.
Gippsland, Sunday night, Feb 20th 1898, John Longstaff, NGV.
Bill Barlow
7 January 2020
GSV News
Member Societies

Bushfires have shaped this country for millennia. And our human activities have shaped bushfires.

I am reminded of reading the history of the white settlement of South Gippsland - The Land of the Lyre Bird : a Story of Early Settlement in the Great Forest of South Gippsland(Korumburra and District Historical Society Inc. 2001 ed.). The firsthand recollections describe the huge efforts in the 1870s and '80s to clear the ancient bush to establish farms. There was plenty of rain; slogging through the mud was the norm. And then came the devastating bushfire of 1897/98 where the early community battled the fires that engulfed this regularly rain-soaked Korumburra district, W.H.C. Holmes recalled vividly that 'there was not an inch that was free from showers of sparks driven by the wind from the blazing trees alight from root to topmast branch. ...it was almost dark at 4 o'clock; through the black pall of smoke the fire appeared a livid blue, giving everything a weird and unearthly appearance: the sun looked like a big copper ball through a red-black smoke haze. All night 18 of us battled ...and most of the workers were at last unable to see; some were totally blind.'

This is again the picture we are seeing all over Australia this summer. Very sadly our communities are in great danger, at the moment especially those of our Member Societies of Benalla, East Gippsland, Jamieson, Lakes Entrance, Mansfield, Mid-Gippsland, Sale & District, Wangaratta and Yarrawonga. 

Our thoughts and support go out to all our regional Member Societies and their communities.

Please support the Victorian Bushfire Disaster Appeal. Money is needed for daily living items for displaced people, for feeding and sheltering volunteers and animals. 



Picture: Gippsland, Sunday night, Feb 20th, 1898, John Longstaff, NGV.