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eBooks in family history

Bill Barlow
21 July 2019
GSV News

The GSV jumps into National Family History Month - with a talk about ebooks on Thursday 1 August. Be quick to book - or 'ebook' - this event!


eBooks in Family History

Presented by Glen Wall

Thursday 1 August 12.00pm - 1.00pm. 


The talk will show how you can identify interesting family history and experiences, and prepare them for sharing in eBook form with family, friends and other interested parties.

The presentation will include examples of working with people to help them capture living history stories and prepare them for eBook publication.

At the end of the talk attendees with have a better awareness of how to use the internet and technology to package the results of their own genealogy work in a form that can be handed on for others to benefit.



Free for National Family History Month.


Our presenter, Glen Wall is a Vice President of U3A Network Vic Inc and President of Whittlesea U3A. He has been working with people to help them capture living history stories and prepare them for publication as an eBook.Over the last three years he has been delivering a U3A class on ePUBLISHING for authors wishing to self-publish novels, short stories and family history experiences for access on online platforms such as Amazon.

Bookings are required and can be made online HERE., 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.


And there's more!

Go TO THE GSV WEBSITE to find other events that are on at the GSV during NFHM - some are free to all for that month. But as you can see from the calendar, every month is family history month at GSV for members.




Your own coat of arms

Bill Barlow
14 July 2019
GSV News
Treasure Chest

My teenage grandson recently quipped that: 'The Barlows have a coat of arms, you know'. He had found it on the net. It reminded me that in my early family-history research days I recorded the 'Barlow' arms in my notebook and, having a healthy cynicism I have not paid it any more attention. But, with the great interest today amongst youngsters (and the not so young) in 'things mediaeval', encouraged by 'Game of Thrones' and so on, perhaps 'coats of arms' may be a good way to excite an interest in genealogy and in history generally. And that is always a good thing! As long as it doesn't lead to tribalising and marching under banners.


GSV first logo 1941
GSV's first logo 1941

I can't see our Genealogical Society of Victoria marching anywhere bearing arms - but we have them! In 1941 a logo with a tree trunk emblazoned on a quaint tilted shield was adopted. In the early 1960s the GSV endorsed four special interest groups, one of which was the Heraldry Group. Then in 1986 the GSV acquired its current coat of arms through official British channels. That there was some tension between budding republicans and monachists had been shown when, at the GSV's Colonial Dinner in 1985, the National Anthem tape was sabotaged by someone reinstating 'God Save the Queen' for the newly adopted 'Advance Australia Fair'. 


Coat of Arms of the GSV


The GSV's coat of arms, or Ensigns Armorial, was designed and granted to The Genealogical Society of Victoria by the Court of the Lord Lyon of Scotland, King of Arms on 1 March 1986. It is described as:


Azure, five mullets [stars], one of eight, two of seven, one of six and one of five points Argent (representing the constellation of the Southern Cross), on a chief Gules, a pale of the Second charged of an oak tree Proper issuing from a mount Vert, and fructed Or, between two acorns slipped of the Last. Above the Shield is placed an Helm, suitable to an incorporation (videlice: a sallet [helmet] Proper lined Gules), with a Mantling Azure doubled Argent, and on a wreath of the Liveries, is set for Crest on a mound of pink heather a male lyre bird close and in display Proper holding in its beak an acorn slipped Or, and in an Escrol over the same this Motto: "GENEALOGI SEMPER VIGILES". 

Public Register of all Arms and Bearings in Scotland, 69th volume, page 20.


The Shield was based on the arms of the State of Victoria with an oak tree added to represent genealogy. The oak tree is a long-lived tree and its fruit, the acorns, represents the seed origin of the tree from which continuing generations of oak trees and acorn seed will spring. The Crest comprises two parts, the Device, which shows the lyrebird, native of Victoria with an acorn in its beak, and the Mount which incorporates the Pink Heath, the floral emblem of Victoria.


The Motto, Genealogi Semper Vigiles, translates from Latin to 'genealogists always watchful'and is a play on the initials of the Society.


Apparently if you fancy having a coat of arms you can just design your own - whilst being careful not to infringe trade marks. 


The Australian Heraldry Society website has an interesting discussion about the authority of granting arms. The Australian PM issued advice in 2018 that: 'There is nothing preventing any person or organisation from commissioning a local artist, graphics studio or heraldry specialist to design and produce a coat of arms or identifying symbol. Those arms would have the same standing and authority in Australia as arms prepared by the College of Arms in England.'


However like an 'Engrish' T-shirt, or when co-opting any language, it will help if you know what various symbols you use could be taken to mean. The Australian Heraldry Society could help (https://www.heraldryaustralia.org/your-arms). 


When you design your avatar take careful note of the powers and attributes you assign. But your game-playing kids will know all about that.


Bill Barlow



Amateurs and Experts: a history of The Genealogical Society of Victoria 1941–2001,by Elizabeth Ellen Marks, Penfolk Publishing, Blackburn, 2001.

The Australian Heraldry Society Inc. website (accessed 13 July 2019)


8 weeks to go - to enter for the 2019 GSV Writing Prize!

Bill Barlow
7 July 2019
GSV News
Writers Circle

8 weeks to go! Enough time to finish off that family history story for the 2019 GSV Writing Priize.

The closing date for entries is 4 pm on 30 AUGUST 2019. So you still have time to START writing!

Last year Helen Pearce won with her entry exposing the story of a murder in Adam Elphinstone's family history. GSV Members can read past winning entries in back copies of Ancestor in the members area of our website.




But you don't need murder to make for an interesting story. It is a writing prize. So use this year's GSV Writing Prize as a prompt for you to capture the story you have been researching, but never quite written up.



This year we have extended the eligibility criteria, enabling more people to enter, and made some changes to the judging panel. Full entry details and conditions can be read on the GSV website at https://www.gsv.org.au/gsv-writing-prize


Purpose of the Prize

  • to encourage the writing of family history
  • to provide an opportunity for recognition and publication
  • to publish the winner as an example of quality family history writing


The article should:

  • have a family history / genealogy theme
  • be the author’s own original work
  • not have been previously published in any format, or be under consideration or accepted for publication by any other publication
  • be between 1200 and 2400 words (not including title, image captions, endnotes and sources).
  • contain citations of sources


The Prize   

We are very pleased to announce that Ancestry™ is again generously sponsoring the competition with an enhanced first prize of a 12-month subscription to their Worldwide Membership and an Ancestry DNA test kit.



The competition is open to GSV Members and all members of GSV Member Societies.

Members of the Ancestor Editorial Team, the judges, GSV staff and the winner of the previous year’s prize are not eligible to enter.


The winner will be announced at the GSV’s Annual General Meeting in October and the winning article will be published in the December 2019 issue of Ancestor magazine.


Not only will your family read your story but it will be published and hence discoverable in our wonderful State and National libraries by future unknown descendants in years to come.



Photo of Adam and Elizabeth Elphinstone from 'Elphinstones: Pioneer Farmers in Northern Tasmania', Elphinstones Committee, Launceston Tas, 1988? courtesy of Helen Pearce.



The new online Geelong Heritage Centre Archives is now live!

Bill Barlow
29 June 2019
GSV News

For the first time in the 40-year operational history of the Geelong Heritage Centre, access to search more than 46,000 records in Victoria’s largest regional heritage archive, is now just a click away.


Mark Beasley, Manager of Heritage Services at the Geelong Regional Library Corporation has let us know about an exciting new development - the launch of a new online collection search site for the Geelong Heritage Centre Archives. 


A visit to the Centre will certainly brighten your winter day. 





Geelong Heritage Centre is handing the public the keys to the Vault – Victoria’s largest regional heritage archive catalogue is now just a quick click away. 

The Geelong Heritage Centre (also known as ‘the Vault’ or ‘Kim barne thaliyu’) Archives catalogue includes over 46,000 records and can now be searched online for the very first time by visiting archives.grlc.vic.gov.au.

From golden gowns and dinner sets, family diariesand football socks, researchers can uncover the rich heritage and unique local treasures that exist within the Vault from the comfort of home.

The Archives are a unique recorded history of Geelong and surrounding areas (stretching from Portarlington to Lorne, Belmont to Lara, Geelong to Meredith and everywhere in between) and include countless memories and stories which live on in the extensive collections of public and private records, newspapers, maps, plans, photographs, and extensive catalogues and indexes.

For those who would like to view a collection item in person, an email or simple ‘contact us’ form allows details of the item to be sent to Geelong Heritage Centre staff, who will retrieve the item from the repository for viewing. 

Specialist staff at the Geelong Heritage Centre can assist visitors to browse the collections, view an item or use the cutting-edge digital technology on offer in the Reading Room, and are on-hand to provide expert research advice. 

Geelong Regional Library Corporation (GRLC) Chair, Councillor Ron Nelson, believes that offering the catalogue online represents a significant opportunity for the community. 

“The collections held at the Geelong Heritage Centre are of huge significance to the local community, and provide an invaluable resource for researchers,” Cr Nelson says. 

“By enabling people to start their research online, we have opened up the Archives – and access to the heritage of the region – to the world. In fact, the first visitor to the website was in New York,” Cr Nelson finished. 

Mark Beasley, Manager of Heritage Services at the GRLC says the online catalogue will save researchers a lot of time, but a visit to the Geelong Heritage Centre can complete the experience. 

“The hunt for something can be a lot of fun and take you on an incredible journey of discovery. Of course, nothing beats being able to view an historical item in person, and a visit to the Geelong Heritage Centre – located in the wonderful Dome building – allows you to do just that.” he said. 

Visit archives.grlc.vic.gov.auto start exploring today.


Scotland during the Enlightenment - Seminar 13 July

Bill Barlow
24 June 2019
GSV News
Scottish Ancestry

If you have Scottish ancestors (I have a Campbell) - and even if you haven't - you may have been watching The Rise of the Clans on SBS presented by that long-haired archaeologist and history-warrior, Neil Oliver, who is often seen from a helicopter standing on the edge of a cliff. 


On 13 July the GSV gives you a wonderful opportunity to catch up with what the Scots were doing a few hundred years later. This day-seminar will explore an exciting period of intellectual and scientific accomplishments in Scotland from the mid-18th to mid-19th centuries.




of The Genealogical Society of Victoria, Inc.

Scotland: 1730-1830 - during the Enlightenment

13 July 2019 – 10am to 4.30pm

At the RACV City Club, level 2, 501 Bourke St Melbourne


Alex Tyrrell

Small country, big ideas: The Scottish Enlightenment shows the way

Bruce McLennan

The Highlands during the Enlightenment

Malcolm Horsburgh

The Communications Revolution: from pack tracks to modern roads- Malcolm Horsburgh

Ben Wilkie

Scotland, the Enlightenment, and Australia: Legacies from Macquarie to Menzies


You will hear from great speakers.

Alex Tyrrell was born in Scotland, educated at Edinburgh and McMasters Universities. Prior to retirement he was an Associate Professor of History at Latrobe University. His research interests include aspects of national identity in Victorian Scotland.

Bruce McLennan is the coordinator of the Clan MacLennan worldwide project, focussing on Scottish records as well as New Zealand, Canada, Australia and the USA. He is an author and presenter at international events.

Malcolm Horsburgh has been researching his family history and genealogy for 35 years in both Edinburgh and Australia. He is a long-term member of the Scottish Ancestry Group and a current member of the committee.

Ben Wilkie has an honours degree and PhD from Monash University on the history of Scots in Australia. His interests include stories of the Scottish diaspora. He is an author and past lecturer at Deakin University.


Be quick to book your place.

Cost: $60 GSV members, $90 all other non-members. Scottish Ancestry Group subscribers who are not members of the GSV should apply to the GSV for a reduction to $60.

Bookings essential, and can be made online, www.gsv.org.au, by email gsv@gsv.org.auor by telephone 03 9662 4455 (Mon-Fri 9.00 am-4.00 pm)



Was your ancestor in the workhouse with Oliver Twist?

Children at a workhouse c 1895
Bill Barlow
22 June 2019
GSV News


Hannah Barlow (nee Rex) was admitted as a pauper to the workhouse in Kings Road, London run by the St Pancras Poor Law Union, sometime after Oliver's time.  But your ancestor may have shared Oliver's experiences.

At the next meeting of the London Discussion Circle (free for GSV members), 10:30 at GSV on Thursday 27 June, we will have a presentation and discussion on the Workhouses of London and the real Oliver Twist.  We'll discuss life in the workhouses, the story of the real Oliver Twist and how we can research the lives of our ancestors who found themselves in a London workhouse. 



Workhouses of London and the real Oliver Twist

The London workhouses differed from those in the regional areas of England.  The regional workhouses were generally newer and purpose-built to meet the requirements of the 1836 poor laws.  Many of the London workhouses had a longer history and operated from older, cramped and decayed structures.  The rapidly increasing numbers of poor from late in the 18th century had parish officers taking radical (many would say inhumane) approaches to reducing the demands on the parish purse.  A booklet published around 1830 set out the desperate efforts of London's St Pancras workhouse to be rid of the burden of maintaining the children of the poor. This involved apprenticing them out to miserable lives of enslavement to chimneysweeps and sending cartloads of children to the 'satanic mills' of the north, where many of the children were starved, brutalised, maimed and killed.  Terrible though many of the London workhouses were, the life in the northern mills left many children pining for a return to the comparative safety and security of the workhouse and their now distant families.  The life of one of these children is believed to have strongly influenced Charles Dickens; his story of Oliver Twist's early years carries a marked resemblance to the even more horrific true-life story of one of the St Pancras orphan boys.



New group for Victorian and Tasmanian family history and old maps of South West England

Bill Barlow
15 June 2019
GSV News
Treasure Chest



The eight discussion circles convened by the GSV include one on South West England (SWERD) and a new one for Victoria and Tasmania. These Discussion Circles are a great way to share your queries and pool your discoveries.


The Victoria and Tasmania Discussion Circle has just been started. It meets monthly on the 4th Friday of the month at 10.30 am to 11.30 am and is convened by Ruthie Wirtz. Their next meetings are on Fri 28 June and then Fri 26 July. All GSV Members can take part at no cost - it is part of your membership benefits. Ruthie can be contacted at ruthie.wirtz@gmail.com.



[ Courtesy of Libraries Tasmania Online Collection Item no. PH30/1/2067 ].


At the May meeting of the South West England Research and Discussion Circle (SWERD) they explored the maps of that region. Stephen Hawke, SWERD convenor, reminds us that:


'Maps are a vital (but sometimes under-used) resource for our family history research. Accessing a series of maps produced over decades or centuries is an important part of understanding your ancestors' 'places'. They can reveal changes over time that would have impacted on your ancestors' lives.  For example, in Somerset, a mere forty year span between two maps (1782 and 1822) held at GSV gives evidence of the draining of the Levels, the rapid development of coal mines and the growth of towns. Other features of maps such as new roads, turnpikes, canals, railroads etc. provide clues as to how your ancestors moved around the county or further afield. Estate and tithe maps may help pinpoint your ancestors' homes and the land they worked. 


Where were the markets, the pubs, and the schools, the cemetery used by your ancestors?  Where were the mills, mines, ports and factories that provided work for your ancestors?  A little delving and study of old maps can answer many questions and open up new ideas for researching your ancestors' lives.' 


In other recent meetings they have discussed the Widows of Cornwall, Devon & Exeter Industrial & Reform Schools, Dorset Machine Breakers, local history resources and the Bristol Hearth Tax.

SWERD next meets on 12 July.

How can GSV extend services to regional members? Report of Member Societies Day 25 May

Member Societies Day 2019 at GSV (photo: S. Hawke)
Bill Barlow
8 June 2019
GSV News
Member Societies

Member Society Report 2019

By Michael Rumpff, GSV Councillor

On Saturday May 25, the Genealogical Society Victoria played host to our Member Societies with our Annual get-together at the GSV in Queen Street, Melbourne.

The GSV has 59 Member Societies, and three Service Groups and it is important that we have this meeting to detail the things that the GSV has achieved in the past year, and just as importantly, to hear what our Member Societies have been up to. Representatives arrive from all over the State, and it is pleasing to see everyone willing to travel long distances to be there.

We had two key areas to discuss this year. At the GSV we have been pleased with the growth of our Discussion Circles. The latest, Victoria and Tasmania, had its inaugural meeting just the day before. So, a select group of convenors were asked to present a snapshot of their Circle, and the challenge was presented to the Member Societies – how might they take advantage of these circles, how might we take the Circles to those Member Societies, or how might they adapt and create their own Discussion Circle? Suggestions ranged from Skypecontact through to bus tours.

The second item was the contentious issue of the changes to the BDM website, and the angst it has caused to us all. The answer to this problem would seem to be Susie Zada, who provided an excellent in-depth solution to our issues. Susie was at the meeting as representative of the Geelong Family History Group, but for this presentation, she wore her other hat as representative of VAFHO, the Victorian Association of Family History Organisations. Very early on, Susie recognised the problem at BDM, and organised a one-on-one meeting with them, which now continue on a regular basis. An excellent presentation of these meetings is to be found on the VAFHO blog at https://vafho.com/This site presents all the identified problems, and their status. Susie deserves a vote of thanks for taking on this project single-handedly and working on behalf of all Victorian genealogists.

Once again, the day proved to be terrific. Social activity, and good information exchange. Next year’s meeting will be on Saturday 23 May.


Gold in your blood? Researching NSW goldfields for ancestors

Tambaroora Cemetery, near Hill End, NSW
Bill Barlow
3 June 2019
Treasure Chest
Writers Circle

by Martin Playne


Victorian readers will be well aware of Bendigo and Ballarat as rich goldfields, but for most Hill End will ring no bells. But, between 1851 and 1872, Hill End and neighbouring Tambaroora, which is now a ghost town, were among the richest goldfields in NSW.


I came across Hill End almost by accident. While chasing up a distant cousin and her convict husband, I found that on his release from Hobart Gaol in 1856, the two of them and their teenage daughter, Marguerite, travelled to Mudgee to start a new life. Then, I discovered that daughter Marguerite died in Hill End, which is about 70 km south of Mudgee in the ranges of central NSW. Why did she end her days there?


It is a pleasant drive on a winding hilly bitumen road from Mudgee to Hill End these days. Some 5 km short of Hill End, one finds the Tambaroora Cemetery. Searching for her grave, we found that it was the most imposing in the cemetery. So there must have been more to this woman than I knew - why such a big tombstone? This led me to continue the search for more information on Marguerite and husband, Edward. This is what makes family history search so interesting, and it takes you to beautiful places.


I wonder how many readers may have a relative who lived in Hill End. After all, there were some 2500 residents at one time. Hill End has been preserved as an historic town by the state government. Indeed the Hill End Historical Museum is run by the NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service in the old hospital building. There they maintain information on early inhabitants, supported by keen volunteers and family historians. The museum is well worth a visit. It has lots of photos of old buildings and their inhabitants, and the equipment they used.


Soon I came across another mine of information - the Hill End and Tambaroora Gathering Group, headed by Lorraine Purcell in Sydney. This group of descendants of Hill Enders aims to preserve and record as much information as they can on the early days. They meet at least annually in Sydney, and also arrange frequent visits to Hill End. An email newsletter is produced regularly, and a number of books and booklets are published. Details can be obtained on their comprehensive website: www.heatgg.org.au   . The website has recently (2019) been greatly improved by the addition of searchable records.

The Mitchell Library holds a wonderful photographic record of early Hill End known as the Holtermann Collection. Some of these photos were published in 1973 in a book by Keast Burke.


So if you think an ancestor went searching for gold in the NSW goldfields, it is likely that they spent some time at Hill End. It’s not too hard to chase them down if you follow up some of these leads. The gathering group is a great place to start - and you can do that from your armchair with an iPad.


By the way, I did find out about Marguerite and Edward. She lost her mind when her little boy died, and became a piano-playing recluse living in her dressing gown with all the windows curtained all day. After her death in 1902, Edward went to Marrackville in Sydney, remarried, and died in 1914. He had however ensured Marguerite’s sad story would not be forgotten, with her monument in the cemetery at Hill End.




This article was first published in Fifty-Plus NEWS, December 2013.


Martin Playne is a long-time member of the GSV Writers Discussion Circle and a member of the Editorial Team of the GSV magazine Ancestor. He has published many articles in Ancestoras well as his 2013 book,'Two Squatters: The lives of George Playne and Daniel Jennings' - a digital copy of which you can find in the GSV Collection. (A Kindle edition is available via Amazon). He is currently writing a new book on the lives and families of the Great Will Forgers of the1840s. This book covers the fen country of England, London, and the west of England, and then moves to Norfolk Island, Tasmania and mainland Australia. 


If you need help and support with your family history writing, come to the GSV Writers Discussion Circle which meets on the first Wednesday of each month (GSV members only). If you are a GSV Member just come along this week - it's all part of your membership.




Bill Barlow
22 May 2019
GSV News


Two interesting presentations are coming up at the GSV. On 13 June there is a video presentation on 'Cold cases: brickwall strategies'and you should book early for an interesting presentation by George Helon on 17 August, Tracing Your Polish and Eastern European Ancestors. More information is given below. 

Bookings are essential for both events and members and non-members are welcome. Click on 'ALL EVENTS' on our web home page for more details about booking.


Cold Cases: brickwall strategies

Thursday 13 June from 12 noon -1 pm.

Video. Speaker: Lisa Louise Cooke.

Apply principles used by cold case detectives to your genealogical brick wall 'cold cases' in this vital video session. You’ll learn to track ancestors like a bloodhound, sniffing out holes in your research and getting missing information on the record"


Tracing Your Polish and Eastern European Ancestors

Saturday 17 August from 10 am to 12 noon.

Presented by George Helon

George is an author and a genealogist with an extensive knowledge of Polish family history research. He presentation will address:

· My ancestors were from Poland – “Oh really! From where exactly?”

· All records destroyed: Fact, Fiction, Myth – the Reality!

· Poland – A Short History of Events and Boundaries.

· English: Forget It!

· Language Essentials: Translations, Transliterations, Transcriptions and Variant Forms.

· Your Name: A Key that Can Open Doors.

· Place Names: Gazetteers, Maps and Online Sources and Resources.

· Deportation, Emigration and Immigration. 

· Records, Resources and Archives.

· Are you a Noble Person?

· DNA: It actually Works – Utilise It!

· Knocking Down those Brick Walls.

There will be time for general discussion and questions. Participants will be welcome to take notes and photographs (without flash), but strictly no recording or filming without express permission.

So this is a great opportunity to benefit from a lifetime of interest in this area.

Some background to our presenter:

George Helon is a Life Member of the GSV and on the Board of Trustees of the Polish Nobility Association Foundation (PNAF) based in the USA. His families were expelled at gun-point from the Kresy Region of Poland by the Soviet KNVD and deported to Siberia on 10 February 1940. He is also a Freeman of the City of London, an historian, lecturer, author and genealogist; an etymologist and ethnographer; a theologian; a social commentator and an author of numerous books and articles published in Australia, the USA and in Poland. He has almost 40 years’ experience in genealogy and family history.

George’s most notable works include First Names of the Polish Commonwealth: Origins & Meanings (with William F. Hoffman, 1998), Aboriginal Australia(short title, 1998), and The English-Gooreng Gooreng-English Dictionary (1994).

For further information visit www.georgehelon.com