Welcome to the GSV

BB's blog

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.

***

 

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.

 

***

 

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.

 

***

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.]

 

***

 

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.

***

 

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. 

***

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

 

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

President

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:

GET THEM HERE AT BDM

 

***

 

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
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.

 

***

 

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

 

***

 

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.

 

***

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.

 

***

 

Notes

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 HEREand 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'.

***