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Map it! Using maps for your research

Shakespeare's 'hood', London c.1600 . The Agas Map.
Shakespeare's 'hood', London c.1600 . The Agas Map.
Bill Barlow
25 September 2020
Treasure Chest

Webcasts to help you use maps

for your family history research

 

Maps are lovely things! I have been reading The Lodger Shakespeare by Charles Nicholl in which he recreates the neighbourhood of Silver Street within the walls of London, where the Bard lived in about 1600. He walks us around the streets on the famous  'Agas ' woodcut map of London c.1561.

 

I did a similar exercise for my great great grandfather's town lots in Molong NSW in 1861, describing buildings of the time on an imagined walk from his house into the town. 

Understanding where your ancestors lived, worked and travelled is an important part of family history research. 

There is such a wealth of map images and tools available, so we have sought guidance from some of our experts and have assembed a collection of recorded talks that will help you in this task. 

Six of these talks are now available as webcasts for streaming through a dedicated link on the Member’s section of our website. Sign on as a Member and go to the Members Area. There you will see a link to 'Maps - a Source for family history'. (If you are not yet a Member, this is another reminder about what you can find at GSV).

The webcasts examine topics such as the journeys that our ancestors took from Europe, the landscapes they encountered when they arrived in Melbourne and the development of Melbourne and Geelong through the lens of the sewerage plans developed by the Government. 

· Joy Roy’s talk uses examples from the ScotlandsPeoplewebsite to examine the importance of locating your ancestor in a place and time. 

· Librarian Judy Scurfield tells us about the extensive online collection of maps of Victoria, Australia and elsewhere held at the State Library of Victoria. 

· Meg Bate introduces Historypinand shows us how to use this online mapping tool to share photos, stories and your family history.

These webcasts are informative and interesting and valuable resources to assist your family history research. Enjoy them and the many others in our extensive collection.

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References to illustrations

Civitas Londinium.the 'Agas' map of London, c.1561, Maps of Old London, Adam and Charles Black, Lond., 1908 / scanned and corrected Mike Calder 2009, accessed 25/9/2020. Detail showing Shakespeare's neighbourhood (Wikimedia Commons CC-PD-Mark).

Map of East and West Molong and Suburban Lands, 4th ed. (courtesy of the Registrar General, NSW Dept of Customer Service /Annotated W. Barlow 2019) in 'Guilty and Lucky', William Barlow, 2020, fig. 5.4

Descendants of those who fought fascism in the Spanish Civil War

Australians in the Spanish Civil War Memorial, Canberra
Australians in the Spanish Civil War Memorial, Canberra
Bill Barlow
18 September 2020
Treasure Chest

Do you know descendants of Internationals who fought against fascism in the Spanish Civil War?

 

This week I have been reading a memoir 'Eric and Us' about George Orwell's childhood (as Eric Blair). So I had cause to reach down 'Homage to Catalonia' (1938). Then to my surprise a message came in from one of our members, journalist at 'The Age', Carolyn Webb, seeking descendants of the International Brigade who fought in Spanish Civil War. 

 

Carolyn writes:

 

'I have a call-out for a newspaper story I am writing. Do you know anyone who is descended from someone who fought in the Spanish Civil War? I'm a journalist at The Age newspaper. I'm looking for descendants in Australia of members of the International Brigades who fought against fascism in Spain. The Spanish government has just announced these descendants will be eligible for Spanish nationality. So in other words, I'm not looking for Spanish people, but rather descendants of those who fought in international brigades for the anti-fascist cause - descendants who now live in Australia. Please email me, carolynwebb@theage.com.au

Thank you.

Carolyn Webb, The Age, Melbourne.'

 

***

If you can contribute please contact Carolyn directly.

 

The Australian War Museum gives an outline of the involvement of Australians in this war, 

 

'66 Australians are thought to have served in the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), not counting those of Spanish descent that returned home to fight. All except one of the 66 fought for the republicans, as opposed to Franco's fascists, and around a quarter were killed. The Australian's, as part of the International Brigade, were assigned to various 'national' battalions as there were not enough numbers to constitute a distinctive Australian battalion. Franco's eventual victory was utilised as propaganda for the fascist regimes of Germany and Italy, and is often seen as a precursor to the Second World War.'

https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/CN500103

 

References:

 

Australians-Spanish Civil War Memorial, Flynn Drive, Yarralumla, Canberra ACT.

Designer Ross Bastiaan, 1993. Photo: Peter Ellis at English Wikipedia, 2008 (CC BY-SA).

 

Eric & Us: A Remembrance of George Orwell, by Jacintha Buddicom, 1974

 

Homage to Catalonia, George Orwell, 1938 (Penguin 1962). 

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Describing and transcribing - My Dad's diaries

Dad's farm diaries (W.Pfeifer 2015)
Dad's farm diaries (W.Pfeifer 2015)
Bill Barlow
13 July 2020
Treasure Chest
Writers Circle

 

 

If only we had time to record the stories behind all those family objects collecting dust on our shelves! Oh, I guess we have now! I re-found a silver 5 franc 1840s coin that had been re-purposed by my great uncle in WW1 as an identity disc. Many men improvised extra identity discs and it was two years into the War, before two discs were ordered to be worn to help with identifying mutilated bodies. So this week I photographed it and wrote a short summary of its origin. If I cannot pass it to a direct descendant, the Australian War Memorial confirmed they would be pleased to accept it. Week 1 of stage 2 lockdown and one object recorded. Many to go!

 

A few years ago, Wendy Pfeifer, GSV member, wrote a lovely description about transcribing her father's farm diaries.* This is a great inspiration.

 

My Dad's Diaries

I am slowly transcribing my Dad’s diaries, which he had kept from 1931 until his death in late 2009. He had his first diary given to him for Christmas 1930 by his Aunt Emily when he was nearly fourteen years old. This was the year he finished attending his local primary school. While working on the family farm at Telford, he continued further education by correspondence.

 

Those early diaries are like reading a history book, as he mentions flights of Kingsford Smith’s planes Southern Cross and Southern Cloud along with the many political affrays. He also paints me a word picture of what life was like then, especially within the family. All the horse farm work is there, in detail, along with his sport and shooting adventures. Dad loved riding his bike and all his times are recorded when he raced at local meets. His poor sisters are only mentioned when they got taken to school or collected the mail. Dad always said that his Dad spoiled the girls because he was made to walk the three miles to school. He forgot to add, he got his first bike when he was six and could ride that to school. His sister gave me this information many years later.

 

I now know what the weather was like from 1931 to 1981, with a few misses. Each night when he had finished work, out on the farm, the last thing for the day was to sit with his feet in or on the stove and write his diary. I can pick the days when he must have been exhausted because after the weather entry it just states ‘shearing’ Other days there is a long involved series of events, including which paddock he was working in. The information was copied from his ‘Cooper’ books.

Over the war years his diaries do not exist, so I do not know if they were ever written. I have only one for 1943 when he left the RAAF base at Townsville and returned to Melbourne by train. He was a patient at the Repatriation Hospital based at the Ascot Vale Show grounds for many months. Then we are missing some which I know were in my parent’s home, but my mum did not like his frequent comments ‘I will look that up in the diaries’ so I think she moved some to the rubbish bin.

I do have all the ones from 1946 on to the 1980s, when he sold the Soldier Settlement farm in Western Victoria and moved back to the Shepparton area. They have made me smile as I have been transcribing them, because I know how hard life was at times, but he could be so dry and factual. The weather is the first entry, then farm work and at the end of the day’s entry we might find ‘baby born’. 

As a small child I remember being fascinated by how the men in my father’s family seemed to know what had happened 20 years ago, as if it was happening today. I was often allowed to draw in their Cooper’s books. These were small books produced by Cooper’s Dips, which were given to farmers each year. They were small enough for farmers to keep in their top pocket. They would also have this small pencil in the same pocket. These books were used to keep the running numbers, tallies or wages while they were out on the farm. If we, as small children, were good in church we were allowed to draw in my Grandpa’s Cooper’s book.

My Dad kept all his ‘Coopers’ books. Each year’s books contain treasures of animal and fodder prices for me to still research. I doubt that he ever realized the treasure he left for us; his children and grandchildren, to understand what life could be like.

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* This article was originally published in FiftyPLUS News, January 2015.

Scottish assistance online 21 May

Bill Barlow
5 May 2020
Scottish Ancestry
Treasure Chest

No need to stop your family history research. We have moved our Scottish Assistance service online for 21 May.

With the GSV education centre being closed during May, the Scottish Assistance in the Library service, which was scheduled for Thursday 21 May, will now be available to members online, free of charge.

To register an interest and book a 30 minute time slot for 21 May, please email the GSV on gsv@gsv.org.au providing a contact phone number and your GSV membership number. The one-on-one consultation will take place on either FaceTime or Skype, and you will be contacted in advance to finalise the arrangements. Bookings are available from 10.00 am to 3.30 pm.

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A case of 'breaking bad'

 

Just after my last post and Clive Luckman's article about the usefulness of Police Gazettes, I had a note yesterday that a cousin had found a long-lost great aunt of ours in a Police Gazettes notice. She had disappeared and had neither married or died in any Australian State (as far as we had found)!

My great grandfather had reported her or had her charged as a vagrant - perhaps hoping to find her.

 

An instance of her 'breaking bad' giving us a good break in our sleuthing.

 

And what is an 'ulster' Off to the internet!

 

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Breaking bad

Castlemaine Gaol, Vic (Photo. W. Barlow)
Castlemaine Gaol, Vic (Photo. W. Barlow)
Bill Barlow
23 April 2020
GSV News
Treasure Chest

In the present COVID-19 emergency it has been interesting to see how we have reacted to new regulations and the evolution of social constraints. Very quickly we saw individuals prepared to fight over toilet rolls and to raid supermarkets in small towns.

Our responses have ranged from wealthy skiers who believed the laws didn't apply to them, to 'innocent' young women who had their brush with the law just by walking on the sand. And of course, politicians who demanded to see the 'science' so they could decide whether a rule about not playing golf should be followed.

Many of us in Australia are here because of our forebears' conviction under the onerous property laws of 19thC England. And poverty and economic depression often meant continued lawbreaking here. If our ancestors fell foul of the law we can often find out more about them in the extensive and detailed newspaper reports of their capture and trials than BDM records will tell us. Before the era of WW1 studio photos, the only photograph of an ancestor might be the one in the Criminal Registers, where from the 1870s photographs were included for those with sentences of 6 months or more. Presumably not their most flattering look! 

Their transgressions and bad luck are our good luck as social historians. Clive Luckman describes the rich source that the Police Gazettes offer. The GSV can help you find Police Gazettes and the many other sources of encounters with the legal system. [Ed.]

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Police Gazettes in the 1800s

We may not want to recognise it, but many of us with 19thcentury Australian ancestors may well had one whose name appeared in a Police Gazette. Before you get upset let me hasten to add that these Gazetteshad names of many people who were not criminals or “of interest” to the Police.

There were, of course, names of criminals in the Gazettes. The main purpose of the Gazetteswas to promulgate news about crimes and criminals. Descriptions about the crimes themselves (from murder through to illegal sale of alcohol) were often included, as were reports about wife desertion, bigamy, drunkenness and abandoned children. Also there were notices about missing persons – not only people reported as missing but also people seeking lost friends.

There were notices about licences granted for the sale of alcoholic beverages, tobacco and other regulated products, and licences for the conduct of regulated activities such as auctions. All police and magistrate promotions, dismissals, appointments and retirements were published.

During the gold rushes skippers of visiting ships often had some of their crew desert, which must have left those ships sometimes in a perilous position for their return journey. Ship’s deserters were certainly amongst those sought by the Police. Sometimes a deserter changed his name to evade detection, thereby presenting an interesting challenge to genealogists.

Details about those being sought by the Police were often published in several States as well as in New Zealand. There was a great deal of traffic across "the pond" between Australia and New Zealand in the 1800s.

On a personal note, a convict allocated to one of my Tasmanian ancestors absconded and a notice reporting that appeared in the Victorian Police Gazette.

Later in the century photographs were sometimes published, as were details such as eye and hair colour, height and characteristics such as tattoos or scars that might aid the Police. 

These documents are a good source of family history as well as other facets of history. Genealogists can use them to see if they will reveal details of their ancestors’ life (at risk of repeating myself, whether your ancestor was a criminal or not). The Gazettesmay allow you to get your ancestors in perspective – details about how they lived, indications of their wealth, of their occupation, and where they resided. And details that help you understand how society in that century behaved.

Family history is much more than discovering the names, dates of births, marriages and deaths, and the names of wives and husbands. These things are critically important because they obviously must precede the thrills of the chase for the social, financial, demographic and other details of your ancestors. I find that these thrills are the best.

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This article was originally published in Fifty-Plus News in June 2007.  Clive Luckman contributed many articles Fifty-Plus News.

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Further reading

PROV Registers of Male and Female Prisoners (1855-1947)

https://prov.vic.gov.au/explore-collection/explore-topic/justice-crime-and-law/register-male-and-female-prisoners-1855-1947

Using the Victorian Police Gazettes to research your ancestors, SLV Blog Jan 19 2015

https://blogs.slv.vic.gov.au/family-matters/using-the-victorian-police-gazettes-to-research-your-ancestors/

 

 

Feely me bony belly!

Bill Barlow
4 April 2020
Treasure Chest

STOP PRESS (can I have that with a blog?)

 

Discounted certificates for the months of April and May

Due to the success of our March offer for family historians, BDM Vic is continuing to offer downloadable uncertified historical certificates for $20 each until the end of May 2020. This is a saving of $4.50 per certificateThis offer is to say 'thank you' to our valued family historians.

GO HERE.

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Feely me bony belly!

 

Phonology for family history

 

Looking through early 17th C registers of births, deaths and marriages in Lancashire this week I regularly came across the use of Latin - Alis Barnes fil Robert Barnes; John filius Willmi Barnes and Marie filia Thom Barnes. Apart from my school French, this brought back a memory of my father telling of his schoolday Latin classes when the boys would break with gusto in to the chant 'Feely me bony belly' while the teacher tried to restore the phrase fili mi boni belli- for 'sons of the good war' - back into the lesson. This tale of deliberately misconstrued pronunciation is a good reminder for our FH research.

 

There are many websites explaining the use of Latin in BDM records (see Alison's Ring's article in GENUKI 'Latin in Parish Records' https://www.genuki.org.uk/big/LatinNotes

 

In looking at documents it sometimes pays to look at how the words may have been pronounced at that time and place. Most documents, especially registers and lists of passengers and so on in the first place involved someone saying their name or details and someone else writing them down. Others then transcribed that from the initial written version. The hearers tried to capture what they thought was being said.

 

A baptism entry in June 1700  from St James church in Haslingden caught my eye:

'Ssussanna Barnes ffill John Barnes of Oakenheadwood', and a month later Ssussanna Barnes was again entered this time as a burial. Ssussanna is not unknown as Szuszanna in Hungarian and derives from Hebrew Shoshanna (lily). It probably came into Lancashire with the Danish invaders. The double ss perhaps tells us how her name was pronounced with a hissing soft sound of sz.

 

We don't get much evidence of how our past family members spoke except perhaps by faint echoes in the transference to written word.

 

A place called 'Oberlee' I could never find, except for one reference to the Oberlee Mountains in central west NSW. Then on a road trip I mentioned this, and a local pronounced as 'Obe-erlee' the small place of 'Obley', that I had read as 'Obblee', and things clicked. He had introduced a trilling or rolling 'r' into it, extra-rhotic in a way. Similarly a document recorded my gg-grandfather as assigned to 'Mrs Niland'. I couldn't find anyone of that surname. But I eventually realised it was written from the pronunciation of 'Mrs Ireland', about whom I could find out much.

 

As a writer it helps to read your own writing aloud, but as a researcher it can also help to read your own reading aloud.

 

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A REMINDER that in these isolated times, GSV Members can access various databases from home (or wherever you are isolated). Go to the website and access as a MEMBER.

 

Keep well and be part of the 8o% and flatten the curve. [Ed.]

 

 

More Nellie and also the 'Sands & McDougall'

Photo courtesy J. Watson, 2020
Bill Barlow
28 March 2020
Treasure Chest

 

Our recent Melba story triggered a family memory from one reader and another related how 'Sands & McDougall' is still giving support to their online activity. 

 

This family memory of Melba told below reminds me that often we are so focussed on trawling databases to find very distant antecedents and geographically remote cousins that we forget the family history in our own backyard. My son once quipped that he would be more interested to read stories from my own early life than about our forebears from previous centuries. 

Judy Macdonald contributes this family story about Melba.

 

'I was interested to read your article yesterday on Dame Nellie Melba and Geoffrey Serle as my husband John has connections to both people. Geoff Serle was his brother-in-law being married to his late sister Jessie (Macdonald). My husband’s father Ken Macdonald had a first cousin Donald Macdonald who married Zoe Beatrice Mitchell, who was a cousin of Nellie Melba. The family story was that the bride’s wedding gown was given to her by Melba. John’s father Ken attended the wedding under strict instructions from his father to mind his manners and to be on his best behaviour as the Mitchells were ‘upper class’. However, by the end of the night, with some liquid refreshment no doubt, the party turned rowdy and the Mitchells resorted to throwing plates at each other!'

 

There is a large article on the wedding on ‘Trove’ from Punch 1903 that includes a fascinating list of all the presents given, with accurate descriptions such as 'electro-plated pickle cruet'. But the equally interesting observation that plate-throwing occurred has possibly not (until now I believe) been captured in the historical record. And well authenticated too.

 

"WEDDINGS." Punch (Melbourne, Vic: 1900 - 1918; 1925) 3 December 1903 p.24. Web accessed 28 Mar 2020, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article175403842.Punch 3 Dec 1903

 

Support provided by 'Sands & McDougall'

 

Our 'Presidents Update' logo prompted another reader's response:

 

'I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the 'President Updates' logo. Whoever designed it has totally captured my husband’s laptop, except it’s just the monitor he has sitting on top of my parents’ 1953 Sands & McDougall directory. I totally understand the sentiment. Nice to have a laugh in these gloomy times!' (Jill Watson)

 

I well remember the shelves of them in the old SLV Latrobe Reading Room. As noted, those directories are more useful than we ever realised.

 

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Dame Nellie Melba and Do You Know All Your Grandparents?

'Madame Melba', Rupert Bunny c.1902 (NGV A70-1980)
'Madame Melba', Rupert Bunny c.1902 (NGV A70-1980)
Bill Barlow
23 March 2020
Treasure Chest

 

This is a good time to do some family archiving and sorting. I am isolated in my workshop sorting through tools and jars of nails and screws inherited from both my father and father-in-law, along with my own magpie collection. I have also been going through books with family connotations and adding a note to explain their significance. One, a small book inscribed 'To A.H. ... Xmas 1919', is from Nellie Melba to my mother's uncle Adrian Holland who was her piano accompanist in London.

The article below by Clive Luckman FGSV and past President of GSV, previously published in 'Fifty-Plus News' April (2007), reminds us that capturing those memories from our grandparents and older family members is always important to do.

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Dame Nellie Melba & Do You Know All Your Grandparents?

 

A snippet I came across that I thought was interesting is in a book by John Thompson, The Patrician and the Bloke, about Geoffrey Serle (19221998), a very respected Melbourne historian. At the time Serle was an editor of the Australian Dictionary of Biography when a submission for entry into the dictionary about Dame Nellie Melba arrived on his desk.

Dame Nellie died of septicaemia after a face-lift done in Europe. The media at the time, with great respect for Dame Nellie, modified 'face-lift' to 'facial surgery'. Serle agonised over whether the true reason for her death should be in the Dictionary. After much thought and consultation he decided that as 55 years had then passed since her death, and he wanted the Dictionary to be accurate, he would include it.

This was, I think, an interesting example of how writers used to modify the truth because they did not want to publicly reveal matters that might degrade the reputation of 'great people'. How often does this attitude colour family histories and, especially, family stories handed down over the generationswhether public figures or ordinary people?

The most dramatic example of this may be that the British press did not print news about the relationship, for the first several years, between Mrs Wallis Simpson and King Edward VIII; however it was widely reported by the US media. I am sure you know of other examples. I am also sure that these days no such suppression by the media would occur.

The age-old advice given to those starting their family history is to first talk to relatives in order to collect the family lore. It is also very good practice to make a list of those things that need investigation as part  of the modus operandiof genealogy.  A basic record of those things includes compiling an ancestry chart of what you can remember about your grandparents. Few can remember all their near relatives going back to their great-grandparents era. Fewer still can remember the occupations of their grandfather, let alone great-grandfather. Any family lore known by your living relatives will probably have been derived from your grandparentsif you are lucky from earlier generations also.

Having researched your recent generations proceed backwards in time, and enjoy the 'thrill of the chase'.

In case you haven't done this, download the Ancestry chart from the GSV website ANCESTRY CHART and fill in the names, occupations and residences of your great-grandparents and their direct descendants. I wonder how many of you can fill it all in. 

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This article is a slightly-edited version of that first published in Fifty-Plus News April 2007.

 

Madame Melba, Rupert Bunny, c. 1902, NGV Acc. no. A70-1980

 

More family secrets

Bill Barlow
23 February 2020
GSV News
Treasure Chest

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.

 

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References:

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

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

https://www.gsv.org.au/content/unsettling-family-history-new-research

 

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

https://www.aph.gov.au/about_parliament/parliamentary_departments/parliamentary_library/publications_archive/cib/cib0203/03cib10

 

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ADVANCE NOTICE

 

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.

 

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The perfect Christmas gift!

Bill Barlow
23 November 2019
Treasure Chest

How often do we hear that someone wishes they had asked their older relatives more questions about the family?

 

Many of your relatives have memories and knowledge of the family that would be highly valued if recorded. Unmarked photographs could be identied and saved with some prompting.

 

You could help unlock these memories and give someone in your family hours of fun and interest. 

 

This Christmas consider giving a Gift Membership of the Genealogical Society of Victoria.

 

With the gift of a GSV Membership someone in your family could benefit from volunteers and research assistants to help them track down family facts. They may like to join any of the Special interest groups and discussion circles - making new friends sharing problems and discoveries. 

 

Do they need another set of bathroom products or a bottle of wine? Well, maybe, but this Gift may be a gift for the whole family.

 

Just ring the GSV office on (03) 9662 4455 and speak to Linda or one of our friendly volunteers to arrange this.

 

See our website for more details about Membership BENEFITS HERE.

 

Gift sorted!

 

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