Welcome to the GSV


Bill Barlow
22 December 2020
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The arrival of "La Grippe" - the 1889 'Russian influenza' of Europe and America - was reported in Australia and New Zealand in 1890 (Australian Town & Country Journal, 5 Apr 1890, p10.) In Europe it 'began to kill off a great number of old people, and a 'number of Civil Servants [were] reported suffering from the epidemic...In Victoria it is chiefly Civil servants who have been attacked. Randwick races are coming on, and it is to be hoped that our own poor overworked Government clerks will not suffer from the malady', the Journal opined. Dr Thompson, the NSW Chief Medical Inspector advised that 'quarantine against influenza would be profitless against the disease and would certainly cause very serious monetary loss'. By April 1890 it was raging in Melbourne. The first notice of its arrival in Sydney was on April 2 when HMS Rapid returned from Hobart with Alexander Stevens, my great grandfather in its crew and 21 cases under treatment. Another RN ship brought 35 active cases from Melbourne. The harbour master did not quarantine the vessels but kept afflicted crew on board. At least the captain and officers were able to attend the Sydney Lord Mayors' Ball a few days later, so that was good.

All sounds very familiar 130 years later. In fact the 'Russian' flu may have been caused by the COVID 19-like 'common cold' coronavirus, which split or jumped from a cattle virus about then. The events of this year have given us a firsthand lesson in the part played by disease throughout our family histories.


But that's enough reflection on 2020. 

Australia's 'luckiness of distance' - and good management - means that we can plan events for 2021. [Ed.]




Thanks to all at the GSV, the 2021 Events program has lots to offer.

Our existing program of Classes, Discussion Circles and Talks will continue in the new year by Zoom. And there are new events and talks coming up.


15 January - The Good Oil will recommence when Cheryl Griffin will lead a discussion on various techniques and tips for undertaking good family history research.

20 January - The GSV Writers are planning the first of a series of ‘Shut Up And Write’ sessions. This was successfully introduced to their program this year, to focus members on starting and completing a piece of writing. Without this, all that research doesn't become history. Numbers at this event are limited so book early for this exciting event. The group's full program for the year will be on the website soon. All GSV members are welcome.

Writing course - 1, 8 and 15 February

For help in the skills needed to write your history, Margaret Vines will conduct her Writing Course by Zoomon consecutive Mondays 1, 8 and 15 February 2021, starting at 10.30 am. The course fee will be $75 and like her past courses will include the writing process - getting started, drafting and editing, basic writing skills and documenting your writing. Participants would be expected to write in class and between classes. The course is limited to 10 participants.


Book now to attend the following:

21 January– Ann Copeland from the State Library of Victoria will discuss the records available to assist you to research a house or property

4 February– Carl Villis from the National Gallery of Victoria will talk about dating paintings

11 February– A talk entitled ‘Researching NSW records prior to 1850’ will be presented by Louise Wilson 

18 February– Stephen Haby from the Prahran Mechanics Institute will talk about the development of the Melbourne railway system and its impact on the lives of your ancestors

4 March– Jillian Hiscock, the Collections Manager at the Royal Historical Society of Victoria, will speak about their extensive resources including their manuscript and image collections.

18 March– Liz Rushen will present her talk about ‘Immigration to Victoria prior to the Goldrush’. This talk had to be cancelled in December. There are spaces still available for this event.


Register early for these events so that you do not miss out


The GSV Education Team wishes all members a happy and safe holiday period and looks forward to seeing you at events in 2021.


Expiry Date: 
Sunday, 20 June, 2021 - 15:45
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