Family History Matters 
 The blog of the GSV 

4947's blog

Thank you to all our volunteers

Expiry Date
03 June, 2023

This week is National Volunteer Week and I take this opportunity to thank our wonderful GSV volunteers for all they do for our Society and members.
We have over 140 generous volunteers who give their time and effort to support the services we provide to members.  The many tasks undertaken by our volunteers include:

  •   research work for members and others;
  •   one on one assistance for members visiting GSV’s library and research centre;
  •   scanning and indexing resources for GSV’s catalogue and databases;
  •   the production and editing of Ancestor;
  •   organising and running our education programs;
  •   developing and maintaining our IT infrastructure and website;
  •   producing the content and messaging to members and others through our blogs and Facebook page;
  •   assisting our librarians;
  •   working as GSV Councillors; and
  •   much more.

GSV could not continue without the support of our volunteers and we appreciate and celebrate them all.
If you would like to join our team of volunteers – and you have the time and skills or enthusiasm to make a contribution – please give GSV a call or email us on and we’ll put you in touch with our Volunteers Coordinator.  Volunteering is a great opportunity to help others, learn a lot and make new friends.
Thank you again to all our volunteers and I look forward to welcoming others to our teams.
Stephen Hawke

IDAHOBIT and your family tree

Expiry Date
03 June, 2023

Do you have entries on your family tree that, to quote Genealogist Stewart Blandon Traiman, "raise a rainbow flag"? Do you suspect that a spinster aunt might not have been simply unlucky in love? Are you curious about why that second son disappeared without trace from the family story?

Today is IDAHOBIT day: the International Day Against LGBTQIA+ Discrimination. It marks the day only 33 years ago, on which the World Health Organisation removed homosexuality from the Classification of Diseases. IDAHOBIT day celebrates this milestone in the work to achieve LGBTQIA+ equality and to raise awareness of the discrimination that LGBTQIA+ people continue to face today.

What better day to acknowledge what prejudiced and potential persecution may have kept hidden in your family's past? There is beauty in the idea of seeing an ancestor as they might wish to have been seen, to acknowledge a love kept secret, to empathise with someone publicly ‘shamed’, or remember someone deliberately forgotten by others.

While we should be careful not to automatically assume that an unmarried ancestor remained single because they were unable to find a spouse, one must also be careful not to slide into 'Present-ism", the temptation to apply today's cultural norms to people and societies in the past. However, by adopting a 'rainbow prism' when viewing our family tree, we might identify clues that could otherwise be overlooked because so much of LGBTQIA+ experience has been silenced or suppressed.

The links below can help you develop a ‘rainbow prism’. Some are guides that provide principles and sources that can be applied when investigating people in many locations. Stewart Blandon Traiman's blog also gives tips on how to respectfully note relationships, gender and identity in your genealogical record keeping.

LGBT genealogy blog series by Stewart Blandon Traiman (USA)

How to trace LGBT ancestors (UK)

Resources for researchers investigating Australian LGBTIQ+ history:

Australian federal and state events relevant to LGBT history…

Reference List
R Collins (2022) How to trace LGBT ancestors, Who Do You Think You Are Magazine,…, accessed 10 May 2023

IDAHOBIT, The History of IDAHOBIT – May 17,, accessed 10 May 2023

Year-end donations appeal

Expiry Date
03 June, 2023

GSV has emerged from the pandemic lockdown period and the Society, our staff and volunteers continue working for the benefit of you and all our members. Our services and help are available online for members at home, or face-to-face for all members who visit our Queen St research centre.

Interest in family history has grown, as has demand for our extensive range of services, especially online. What we offer to our members goes far beyond that of many other online subscription services. But as demand has increased, so have costs.

As the tax year-end approaches and thoughts turn to year-end donations, please consider donating to the GSV as one of the ways to help keep the Society in a sound position, so we can continue providing services and activities for all our members.

Donations to the GSV are tax-deductible. They can be made online through the Donate Now link on the GSV website homepage, or by a call to GSV with your credit card details, or by a cheque in the mail.

Whichever way you choose, all donations large or small will help ensure a healthy future for the GSV and all donations are very much appreciated.

Many thanks.

Stephen Hawke

Navigating PROV: Family History Tips and Tools May 24th

Expiry Date
03 June, 2023

As the repository of Victorian Local and State Government records, the Public Record Office of Victoria (PROV) has accumulated over 100km worth of records. Naturally, accessing such a wealth of materials can feel intimidating.

May's session of Family History Tips & Tools will focus on PROV and accessing its resources. There will be short presentations giving an outline of PROV's holdings and systems and tips for navigating their website and catalogue. We will model locating and ordering specific records and leave plenty of time for questions and discussion.

If you have questions you would like answered in this session consider sending them to us in advance.  If you have an example you would like to share of how you have used PROV's resources, we would love to have you join in. Please let us know via

To join us on Wednesday May 24th at 10:30am members should login to the GSV website and visit here to to register to receive the Zoom invitation.

British India Discussion Circle meeting by Zoom on 16 May at 7:30 pm

Expiry Date
03 June, 2023

Did you know that the following words have something in common? Bungalow, thug, yoga, bangle, shampoo. They are all words that came into common English usage from India. Over the four centuries of close association between England and India, many words of Indian origin were adopted into English.

Clare Claydon will give a presentation on English words from India to the GSV British India Discussion Circle and a participant discussion will follow on what these words reveal to us about England, India, imperialism and society during the Raj.

The close historic links between the British in India and Australia, and the current importance of India to Australia, suggest that this topic will also be of interest to many GSV members (especially the writers amongst us!), not just those with a genealogical interest in India.

To receive the Zoom invitation link please log into the GSV Members area of our website and then register to attend the event.

Clare Claydon

Family History ‘Gems’ hidden in Bendigo and district records

Expiry Date
03 June, 2023

We have a real treat in store for the VicTas discussion circle on Thursday 27 April at 7.30pm.

Dr Michele Matthews, M.A., Dip. Ed., member of PHAV & Tas., will be speaking to us (on zoom). Michele is a passionate social historian with decades of experience.

Michele will focus on the delights of studying a city and its hinterland, such as Bendigo and district, as a microcosm of Victorian and Australian society, which should hopefully be of assistance to us as genealogists.

Michele will also assist us to better understand the unique primary sources available to us within the BRAC collection (and other records held in Bendigo). Some of the records covered in this talk include Local Government records, Court records, school records, occupational records and so much more. We’ll also learn about how people lived in the Sandhurst district in the 19th century.

This will be a talk with much wider appeal than just Bendigo and district. The techniques and records that Michele will introduce us to also relate to other municipalities and schools.

It’s a 7.30pm meeting, so kick back with a cuppa or a glass of wine and join in a most interesting evening. Don’t forget to register on the GSV website under Activities - Events.

Please note, you need to be a GSV member to join a discussion circle (what a great reason to join).

ANZAC Ancestors

Expiry Date
03 June, 2023

As ANZAC Day draws near your thoughts may turn to finding information about your ancestors who served in, or experienced, war as part of the British Commonwealth.  With this in mind, we have uploaded a number of new webcasts to our catalogue.

Those with ancestors who served in Europe during World War One may wish to watch the series of presentations to SWERD about service on the Salisbury Plain, Wiltshire. Over a million British and Commonwealth troops were located and trained on Salisbury Plain as they moved to and from the Western Front. It also housed hospitals where injured servicemen were treated, including those who became ill during the Spanish Flu pandemic. Troops memorialised their presence by carving their unit badges into the chalk hill beside their camps. These carvings are known as the Fovant Badges. They remain there today. The webcast Salisbury Plain, Wiltshire and Australian Defence Personnel Part 1 contains the presentations of Martin Lock, Peter Collins and Gayle Nicholas and is peppered with fascinating detail about the role of Salisbury Plain in the war experience of the diggers in Europe.

The other presentations in the series are by Penny Mercer and Patsy Daly who focus on the war experiences of their grandfather and uncle, respectively, who spent time on Salisbury Plain during WW1. Penny points out that your ancestors' experiences were almost certainly very similar to those of her grandfather Arthur McMillan Mercer. Based on diaries and supplemented with further research and photos, Patsy and Penny bring to life this lesser known part of the WW1 digger experience.

The final new webcast, World War 1 Stories, is a collation of short presentations about the war experiences of the ancestors of five of our Victoria and Tasmania Discussion Circle members. It is a special tribute to their varied service which helps illuminate the roles that some of your ancestors may have played too.

There are a number of other ANZAC related webcasts available via the catalogue. Examples include Ross Latham's Australian defence service records which is very helpful for those beginning to investigate war service. Looking further afield to other war related experiences are the informative On the Home Front by Professor Kate Darian-Smith or Great War Soldier Settlements and its records by Dr Charles Fahey.

All GSV webcasts are now available for members to view from home. Find them on the website Webcast page via the topic 'World War' or through the catalogue.

Launching a new Discussion Circle: Family History Tools & Tips

Expiry Date
03 June, 2023

Please join us for the inaugural meeting of the Family History Tools & Tips Discussion Circle.

Somewhat a blend of The Good Oil and GSV classes, FHT&T aims to provide a dynamic vehicle for building members' understanding of the what and how of family history research.

In each monthly session we will examine some genealogical resources available to GSV members and model using the tools that access them.  Guest members will explain how they use the resources and tools and provide tips to help us navigate them ourselves. Members experienced with those, or similar tools and resources, will be present to answer your questions.

We begin on April 26th with an exploration of hospital records and other allied health sources. Cheryl Griffin will demonstrate how she has used Victorian hospital records to flesh out biographical information. David Down will then show how to access those documents on the PROV online database.

Meg Bate will present some of the Library's collection of health related records.

David will demonstrate how to navigate to GSV webcasts on health related matters.

Along the way April's FHT&Ts' discussion will touch on:

  • Hospital records
  • Other allied health records
  • GSVs Genealogical Index of Names (GIN)    
  • Public Record Office Victoria (PROV)
  • Findmypast
  • Webcasts
  • Inquest Records
  • Ancestry
  • More (Please come and share your experience with any relevant resource.)

We will conclude with a discussion of the topics that you would like to be considered for future FHT&T sessions.

As with other GSV Discussion Circles, attendance for GSV members is free. Don’t forget to register here (log in to access) to receive the Zoom invitation.

See you at 11am on Wednesday April 26th.

Rebecca Landy

Library and Resources Manager

Ancestor journal’s shortened URL trial

Expiry Date
03 June, 2023

The Ancestor editorial team has been trialling the use of shortened URLs for webpage addresses in the regular ‘Blogging with Meg’ feature for the Sep 2022, Dec 2022 and Mar 2023 issues.

As many of you are aware, webpage addresses – known as URLs or Uniform Resource Locators – are hyperlinked in the Ancestor pdf and flipbook versions to provide direct electronic access to references cited. However, often the web addresses can be very lengthy, particularly if the reference is to specific information buried deep in a website. This can cause problems, not only in digital editions but also for print edition readers who want to go to that page, but need to carefully type in long strings of letters, numbers and characters to their browsers.

Shortened URLs, on the other hand, make that access easier by creating a shortened redirected link via the GSV’s domain name,[pathway]. So, for instance, in the September 2022 issue, was shortened to

We would be very interested in reader feedback about this trial.

For instance:

  1. Are the shortened URLs sufficiently short to make a difference?
  2. Does it matter if you can’t see full details of the blog/website you are headed to in the shortened URL link?
  3. Would you like to see shortened URLs continue to be used in this feature and/or used more extensively throughout Ancestor?
  4. If yes to the above, would it be helpful for the website name to be included after a shortened URL link? e.g (The National Archives UK)

Your views would be greatly appreciated. Please email us:

Australian Servicemen buried in Belgrade: Can you help find their families?

Expiry Date
03 June, 2023

An Anzac Day ceremony will take place on 25 April 2023 at the War Cemetery in Belgrade where twenty-seven Australians servicemen from World War Two are buried. Three Australians are planning to travel there to attend the ceremony: Kathy Hancock and Richard Cooke, whose great aunt and grandmother respectively served as a medical officer and Nursing Sister with the Serbs, and myself, Bojan Pajic.  The Australian Embassy is having my book Australians with Serbs in World War One translated into Serbian to distribute in Serbia and we will be in Belgrade for the launch of that Serbian-language edition.

Before our departure, we would like to contact any surviving family of these buried Australians to inform them that we will be visiting the graves of their forebears and to ask whether they would like us to do anything whilst at the cemetery, such as placing sprigs of rosemary or poppies on the graves and taking photos. We hope to take some video film in Serbia to possibly make a documentary about the theme and our visit; in which case we could also provide current families with links to such videos.

We would appreciate help to find the families of these Australians and would ask them to get in touch with us on this email address:

The service and sacrifice of Australians who served with the Serbs in World War One will also be commemorated at the Anzac Day ceremony. See this link for information:!AjB3nikUeHiakLN353FDJyh_6Xv8fg

Hoping you can help.

Bojan Pajic

Australian buried in War Cemetery, Belgrade

Last known family addresses from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission