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President's Keyboard

From the Keyboard of the President - August 2019

Bill Barlow
19 August 2019
GSV News
President's Keyboard

Hello all members (and soon-to-be members),

 

Even though it has been a bit wintry, we have been quite busy at the GSV. There has been a lot on, marking National Family History Month.

 

David Down and I recently met with the new president of the Royal Historical Society of Victoria(RHSV), Emeritus Professor Richard Broome and Rosemary Cameron, their executive officer, at the GSV. In addition to showing them over the Centre we had a very productive discussion about the two Societies. Like us they are concerned about the ongoing viability of organisations, such as ours. We look forward to having a closer partnership with the RHSV, exploring possible joint events and cross-promotion early in 2020.

 

Many of us still have one or more ancestors that appear to have arrived in Victoria by swimming, as there seems to be no trace of them in the usual passenger records. If you need help with 'when and how did they get here’, the new GSV Victoria and Tasmania Discussion Circle is a good place to start. Meeting on the fourth Friday morning each month, they now have their own Facebook group. See 'What’s on at the GSV' pages in Ancestor and our website for details. But note there is no meeting in September, as the Centre will be closed for the AFL Grand Final public holiday.
 

Tuesday evenings are a good time to come into the Centre if you want one-on-one help with your research. There is normal entry into the building until 6 pm when the front doors are closed. If you want to come in later, ring the GSV before 6 pm and we will arrange to open the doors for you. If you work nearby even 2 hours a week researching each week could help fill out that family tree.
 

The Annual General Meeting of the Society will be held on Saturday 5 October 2019, 2.00 - 4.00 pm. We will present the 2018/19 reports on the activities and financial position of the Society, and elect Office Bearers and Councillors for 2019/20. All members are welcome. Nominations for positions close on 30 August at 4 pm. Members can see the Notice of the Meeting and download the Nomination Form in the Members Area of the website.

 

With the first signs that Spring may be coming, now is the time to check the GSV Events calendar for the coming months and thaw out your family-history endeavours.

 

We'd love to help you at our Research Centre.

 

Jenny Redman

President - GSV

From the Keyboard of the President - April

Bill Barlow
20 April 2019
President's Keyboard

April 2019 - but still endless summer! Or maybe autumn is coming with leaves finally changing colour.

 

We are changing how this blog, Family History Matters at GSV, is linked to our website, so my apologies for some glitches you may have experienced with recent notifications. We will tell you more about this in another post shortly.

 

But there is plenty going on. The new Discussion Circle starts Friday May 24 and will continue monthly on the fourth Friday. The Victoria and Tasmania Discussion Circle will include a range of topics including convicts and the goldfields.

 

Our IT upgrade is progressing well with faster download times in the library, better security and storage for our email system (changed to Gmail). All library computers have been replaced and work on the new cataloguing system is progressing. Unfortunately we still have a large item to replace in the near future , our scanner-photocopier is showing its age. This is obviously a vital piece of equipment used everyday by GSV members and staff and we are appealing for funding to cover this cost.

 

A reminder to update your research skills and learn about new online sources by attending GSV classes on topics such as using Ancestry, the National Archives UK, and Australian archives. See Website for details

 

As talked about in my last blog post, we are investigating ways of providing our journal electronically (to save the environment and reduce the impact of increases in printing and postage costs). One possibility is a 'flipping book'. We would like to hear from any member who has experience with this format.

 

A local lurgy has affected many in the community including many of our volunteers. This, together with school holidays and extra grandparenting duties, exposed our need for more volunteers in all activity areas but especially Research Assistance in the library (six and a half day a week). New RAs will be trained and supported. This is a great way to improve your own research skills!

 

My own research? Just attended Alan Rhode’s talk on DNA Painter. A fantastic tool and after getting the basics (thanks Alan), not too difficult to construct a multi-coloured chromosome map of your DNA.  Just need a few spare hours to play with it.

 

Jenny Redman - GSV President

From the Keyboard of the President - January 2019

Bill Barlow
26 January 2019
President's Keyboard

 



I am slowly getting into my role as the President and it is quite a learning curve. It makes me appreciate the job done by my predecessor David Down.

Last month I met with the President and the Business Manager of South Australia Genealogy who were visiting Melbourne. We compared notes on how to tackle a range of issues including ways to encourage new members, our numbers, how we digitise our paper resources and make them available to our membership, and how to encourage more members to volunteer. It is always helpful to exchange ideas and we plan to keep in touch.

Council is lucky to have very good support for our developing IT matters with Peter Johnston as a Councillor and Tom O’Dea as volunteer. We have updated servers and replaced computers. Last year we moved our network to a new content-management system. With this move we hope to build better links between our members database and other parts of our systems, so, for example, we can offer members better ‘at-home’ access.

Our blog has produced over 100 posts in the past 12 months, which we hope you find interesting and informative. We use this to give emailable members updates more frequently than we can by relying only on our quarterly print journal. So if you are changing your email address, please make sure you update it with the GSV. You can do this very easily through your member account online.

As print and mail costs continue to rise, Council will be looking at being able to offer our journal as an electronic version for those members who would accept this option and help us reduce our environmental impost. It is hard to see a time when our high-quality print version is not produced, but just as SLV offer the choice with their flagship The Latrobe Journal, and as many other groups now do, we will be looking seriously at this.

More space has been allotted in Ancestor in ‘Around the Groups and Circles’ to the increased number of Discussion Circles that were formed last year (North England, London, British India). We hope all the groups will use their space to let you know about their coming activities.

And on a personal note I have learned that when looking at the information about my AncestryDNA matches I should not forget to look at their ethnicity report. I was recently able to trace a new family line via a distant cousin on AncestryDNA. The ethnicity report included mostly British Isles origins but several West African locations were also mentioned. I am now exploring 19th Century records from British Honduras at the GSV and on FamilySearch. Fascinating where genealogical research leads you!

Jenny Redman - President GSV

***

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

***

From the Keyboard of the President #3 - June 2018

Bill Barlow
21 June 2018
President's Keyboard

As winter descends on Victoria the place to be seen is at the GSV Centre for Research and Education. The Society conducts many talks, classes and other events to assist with researching our ancestors and developing an understanding of the times in which they lived. Our meeting room holds a maximum of 40 attendees and some events book out quickly. Please use the website to book into events to ensure your attendance.

Our DNA for Family Historians talks are proving to be very popular. We intend to repeat all the talks in a cycle so that everyone is given an opportunity to attend. We will shortly issue a separate blog outlining the full program and schedule of talks.

We have decided to extend the coverage of the Northern English Counties Discussion Circle to include Yorkshire in addition to the other northern counties. A talk will be held on Tuesday 26 June at 12.00 am where a panel of speakers will discuss the records available to assist you research your ancestors from that area. If you have an interest in that part of England then please come and share your experiences and interests.

Classes: We conduct a number of classes each month which are free to members. In addition to Orientation and Starting Your Family History, there are a series of classes designed to help you obtain the best results from various online websites including accessing the vast resources of the GSV through our catalogue. On average there are few attendees at these classes so come along and you will be assured of personalised assistance from our presenters.

Our award-winning journal Ancestor, our Facebook site and this Blog Family History Matters at GSV are all produced by volunteers.  As you are aware we are posting to this blog and our Facebook site regularly to provide updates and useful information for our members. And soon, we hope to add a 'Members Help Members' forum.  If you would like to help us with the production of our media then you may like to join our Communication Team. No technical skills required and we can help you learn. Contact Janne Bonnett at e: socialmedia@gsv.org.au.

Donations

The GSV relies on the ongoing support of our members and volunteers and we ask that at this time of year, when considering tax-deductible donations, could you please give favourable consideration to making a donation to the GSV. Donations of $2 or more to the Society’s library are fully tax-deductible. Thanks to the people who jumped on board with a donation on the opening day of our campaign. We hope that starts the ball rolling so we can upgrade our facilities and equipment for our members. You can donate here http://gsv.org.au/donate-now.html

Enjoy your researching and join us over winter by participating in our numerous events.

David Down - President GSV

The Keyboard of the President #2

Bill Barlow
28 April 2018
President's Keyboard

I am very pleased that recent GSV events have received ringing endorsements from members.

DNA: Our recent 'DNA for Family Historians' talk followed on from our well-patronised event in December. Further talks are scheduled – an introduction to DNA for family historians entitled ‘DNA Testing – should I do it?’ will be conducted on 13 June and ‘Using Your Ancestry DNA Results’ will be held in July. Check our events pages for details and ensure you book your place. The DNA Discussion Circle continues to be held monthly on every second Wednesday at 10.30 am.

Discussion Circles: The first meeting of the British India Discussion Circle was held 0n 17 April. Attendees resolved to continue to meet and I thank the convenor Mary Anne Gourley for her hard work and enthusiasm in establishing the Circle.

The newly formed London Research Discussion Circle met with great success on Thursday 26 April and will meet thereafter on the fourth Thursday of the month.

A Discussion Circle is a  great opportunity to discuss your research successes or seek assistance from GSV members interested in the topic. The Circles work on the basis that the participants contribute to the meetings. We have seven Circles at present and there are more in development. Check the events calendar for all Circles.

If you would like to see a Circle developed around a particular topic or area please let me know by email to the office. I will do my best to help you to find like-minded members and to assist with the establishment of the Circle.

Volunteers needed: We are looking for members to help us in many areas but two in particular are important at the moment.

We are looking for volunteers to assist Linda Farrow conduct the administrative duties necessary to ensure that the Society operates smoothly. We have step-by-step detailed instructions for all the administrative tasks, which makes the role easier to understand and learn. We have four members who can undertake parts of the role and need additional helpers who will also learn and assist to understudy Linda.

Our IT systems are essential these days for the conduct of the Society. We are looking for members with IT experience and skills to assist Peter Johnston maintain and develop our systems.

If you are interested in either of these areas or any other area of the Society please email Margaret McLaren on gsv@gsv.org.au

With autumn now here, it is the perfect time to retreat indoors and pick up those family history lines of enquiry that have lapsed over summer.

Happy researching!

David Down - GSV President

Writing a Morkham history: a member's challenge

Bill Barlow
7 April 2018
President's Keyboard
Treasure Chest

I was interested to read an email from John Morkham, sent in response to the first 'Keyboard of the President' article. John has been a GSV Member for twenty-eight years. Life is busy for most of us, and our genealogical research proceeds in bursts, when it can be fitted in. In John's case, the family history compilation has been going on over a number of generations and that work has passed down to him. With so much accumulated research, he now plans to retire from his 'retirement' positions, so he can commence writing the history. Many of us can identify with John's objective, as he described it in his email.

*

'May I, at the outset, wish you, the Board, Staff and the Members, a very happy Easter. I joined GSV in July 1989. How pleased was I today to receive your 'Keyboard' number 1 report concerning activities and observations for the GSV's future. This prompted me to reflect on my family history research and my present situation.  

Morkham family tree, painted by Thomas Frank Morkham, 1902. Courtesy of John Morkham.

 

My great grandfather, Thomas Frank Morkham, following his retirement as Secretary of Lands (Victoria) travelled to the UK and Ireland in 1902. His father, who brought most of his family to Geelong, told him of the then known history of the Morkham family, which had been based in Dunster, Somerset. This drew him to start family research from the Dunster records. As a result of that trip he wrote notes from those records and then painted a Family Tree, which shows at its base his own great grandfather. His notes also include a reference to the death of his great, great grandfather’s wife Katherine, wife of John.

Since 1902, recordkeeping has evolved immensely, with digital recording of hard copies and the collating of them into family records. It is most unfortunate that Catholic Ireland failed to undertake Parish recordkeeping before 1837. Odd records were maintained by UK legislation and Victorian church systems. My great grandfather, who was born in Denmark, possessed an older family history, which was burnt in 1870. Such a shame; but fortunately the Diocese had many relevant records. From 1973 up to today, I have researched our whole family history with the help of branches of over three times-removed supporters as well as my father, mother, aunts and uncles and others not related to me but carrying the now false name of Morkham.

I have retired from employed positions, but I am presently the treasurer of three organisations, as well as being committed to the Catholic Church weekly and with visits to Prison and a Hospital. I have started to inform those organisations that I wish to retire during 2019 so that I can undertake the writing and recording of our family history back to a date of about 1490. In 2019, I plan to start the recording of my family history in the hope that I can accomplish this in my remaining years.

With my other 'retirement' commitments, I find it very hard to attend functions of importance arranged by GSV. Despite this, I support GSV, its relationship with RHSV and the Australian Congress on Genealogy & Heraldry. I am also a member of the Somerset Archives and the Australian Heraldry Society. I hope to be able to use the GSV resources more fully as I undertake this next stage of my family's history. Best wishes to you and the Board.'

John Morkham, 4 April 2018.                                                                                          [This is an edited version of John's email, reproduced with his approval, Ed.].

*

Presenting years of research in a readable way can be daunting. GSV can assist its members to get started and can provide ongoing support from other writers in its Writers Discussion Circle. Articles in Ancestor's 'Getting it Write' series address all aspects of writing family history - for example, 'Getting Started' (vol. 28 no.1) and 'The Writer at Work' (vol.30 no.7). See the list here https://gsv.org.au/images/stories/pdf/GSVWritersarticles-2017.pdf. Our best wishes to John and thanks for his membership support.

***

The Keyboard of the President

Bill Barlow
1 April 2018
President's Keyboard

From the Keyboard of the President - no 1 - April 2018

Welcome!

In this post I want to tell you about some of the recent activities of the GSV and to share some of my observations of where we are going.

Our program of DNA-related events for 2018 is underway with a talk scheduled for April 17 (see our website for details), another one planned and more to follow later in the year. This is obviously a 'hot' topic with all the TV advertising and promotion of kits. But the question often remains - what does it all mean? Without guidance and complementary research it can be unsatisfying. This is where GSV can assist.

The rationalisation of our resources continues after our big move last year. We have now cleared out the mezzanine floor due to the great progress made by our volunteers in scanning and indexing the folders of family history notes stored there.

I, and a number of other GSV members, attended the 15th Australasian Congress on Genealogy & Heraldry in Sydney in early March. I will report more about this very successful event in the next Ancestor.

Our London Research talk by Vicki Montgomery on 22 March was a great success with overflow attendances. On the strength of this we are launching a new monthly Discussion Circle for our members on that topic. The first meeting will be on Thursday 26 April commencing at 10.30 am. We are anticipating that this Circle will be very popular so please book either online or by ringing the office.

I have been a member of RHSV for some years and as GSV President I continue to seek closer ties with that organisation. They are now the custodians of the bulk of the GSV library. Located on the corner of William and A'Beckett Street opposite the Flagstaff gardens, they are readily accessed. Parking is easier on the edge of the city; they are just along from the north exit of Flagstaff Station and two tram-lines pass nearby. Our GSV catalogue identifies whether items are located at the RHSV or at our GSV Research and Education Centre in Queen St.

This month I attended a workshop at RHSV by Rosalie Triolo, Lecturer in the Education faculty of Monash University, entitled ‘Writing and Publishing Local History’. Quite a number of the participants were writing about particular ancestors or the history of their families in general. Rosalie emphasised the value of broadening our perspectives and integrating local and wider historical context when writing our family stories. I am discussing with Rosalie the possibility that we might host her workshop later in the year.

We seem to have settled into our smaller office footprint but the work to get our house in order continues. Although downsized, we are expanding our Discussion Circles and our digital media services via our website, Facebook and this blog, Family History Matters. A new web-based service for members is soon to be trialled.

I hope to regularly keep you informed via this post - but perhaps e-pistle is the appropriate word for this communication.

Happy researching!

David Down, President GSV.