Some new family history stories are taking shape at the GSV Writers


Penny Scott – member GSV Writers Circle

14 June 2017

At the June 7 meeting of the Writers Circle we discussed the drafts of two new family history stories submitted by Circle members.

Bernece Schultz has done a lot of research on her South of England and Jersey ancestors who settled in Victoria and later in Tumbarumba, NSW. She said her submitted piece, Mary Ann Simmons, was written as a chapter in the middle of a book that she is writing for her family members about her maternal ancestors.

Her submission concerned the affecting story of Mary Ann Simmons (1848-1880) who in her short life experienced the death of siblings, mother, husband and children before she herself died aged thirty-two. Bernece described the living conditions and influences on Mary Ann, such as problems caused by tuberculosis, which contributed to her sad and difficult life. Bernece appreciated members’ constructive comments on the writing and the subject of the narrative.

The second piece of writing was titled The winds of change – a woman, a watch and a Whig, and the first paragraph provided the force and focus of the writing – a reference to an image of a satirical print by James Gillray. The identity, background and salacious life of the male figure in the print is revealed in the writing, and there is an amusing twist in the final sentence when the writer unwillingly admits the figure is her ancestor. 

Before the meeting the writer had outlined the feedback she would like from the group – comments on structure, tone, the flow of the narrative, its logical sequence, characterisation and references in the text. These areas and more provided the basis of a lively discussion.

The August meeting of the Writers Circle will provide an opportunity for two further members to receive feedback on their writing from the other members of the group.

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GSV is scanning and indexing many of its family history records – progress report

During the recent process of moving, GSV identified a considerable part of its library holdings to be scanned and indexed in order to make this material more accessible for our members. This Scanning and Indexing Project is progressing well, thanks to all the hard work of the volunteer team we have assembled. We would always welcome additional assistance. Below is a brief summary of what we have achieved so far.

Cemeteries Database

We have now indexed 556 cemeteries making a total 780,980 records in the GSV Cemeteries database. We are making excellent progress but we still have approximately 110 cemeteries that have been scanned and are waiting to be indexed.

Family Histories

470 documents have been scanned, checked and the catalogue has been updated.  These digitized records are available to GSV members within the GSV Research and Education Centre.

1494 family histories from the vertical file have been scanned & are waiting to be checked. 313 family history files have been scanned & ready to be added to the catalogue.

 Cemetery indexes with images (mostly transcripts) added 2017

Moroco Station, Mathoura NSW headstones 21/12/1853-28/8/1900

Deaths and burials at Casterton

Pine Creek Cemetery NT headstones -/9/1894 – 4/9/1970

Rupanyup cemetery register 1914-1980 & headstones 1875-1990

Kialla West cemetery register 1886-1985

Coburg: brief history of cemetery and plan

Edi Upper private cemetery

Eurambeen & Eurambeen East private cemeteries: headstones 2/3/1866 – 12/7/1977

Black Heath (Sailors Home) cemetery headstones and receipts 11 May 1879 – 31 March 1930

Jindabyne (NSW) Soldiers Memorial Cemetery headstones 1919-1985

Maldon early burials (church burials) 1854-1856

Walkerville cemetery headstones 1899-1924

Jericho cemetery transcriptions 1868

Freshwater Creek: St David’s Lutheran church cemetery headstones 16/7/1867 to 1/7/1973

Deep Lead cemetery register & headstones 19/4/1859 to 19/1/1992

Mornington cemetery headstones to 1951

Maddingley cemetery register 23/4/1863 – 14/11/1958.

Note: if the library catalogue location states: ‘CEMETERIES DATABASE’ – The  images are attached to records in the Cemeteries database and may be viewed online. ‘INDEXED IN CEMETERIES DATABASE’ – The cemetery had been indexed and our scanned document is only available at the GSV. Check the instructions on the catalogue.

 Genealogical index of names (GIN) – 2017

Bostocks Creek State School register no. 2893 1890-1909 index.


Visit us online at or call in to our new Research and Education Centre to discover your world of family history.


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‘Margaret Flockton’ book wins!

On 25 May, Louise Wilson’s book, Margaret Flockton: A Fragrant Memory (Wakefield Press, 2016), won the 2016 AIGS Don Grant Award for the best submitted biography with an Australian history focus. And another GSV Writer, Margaret Vines, came second in this year’s AIGS Alexander Henderson Award with her book The Baggotts from Herbertstown (2016). That Award was won by The Complete History of Arthur and Rose: the Martin, Jacka, Crougey and Commbe families in Cornwall and South Australia by Tony and Wendy Edwards.

In 2013 Louise also won the AIGS Alexander Henderson Award 2012 for the best submitted Australian Family History, with her book Southwark Luck. Two of Louise’s other books were Highly Commended in other years. You can follow her writing exploits at

Louise is also an active member of the GSV Writers Circle (which you can find out about here and in fact she submitted early parts of her winning Flockton book for review at a GSV Writer’s meeting in 2011.

At GSV Writers monthly sessions, she has led discussions on topics such as reviewing family history, marketing your family history, aspects of structure, and writing a finished piece. If you missed these, you can find her articles on these subjects published in GSV’s Ancestor journal in the regular ‘Getting it Write’ series. Ancestor is available at the GSV Research & Education Centre or members can read PDF versions on the GSV’s website.

Margaret Vines is also a regular contributor at GSV Writers Circle and co-presented a session on ‘the tasks involved in producing a book’. She will be conducting her regular Writing Course at GSV on August 15,22 and 29. (You can book on the website, but be quick.)

If you are facing the challenge of finally turning your never-ending research into readable and informative family history you might like to join the GSV Writers Circle, membership of which is available to all GSV Members as part of their GSV membership. As you can see above, this active self-help discussion group is fortunate to benefit from the award-winning expertise of Louise, Margaret and other published (and awarded) family-history writers.

GSV congratulates Louise Wilson and Margaret Vines!

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Events in May at GSV

We have a full program of events in May for your ongoing family history research or to help you get started.

May 11 –  ‘Timelines to help your family history’. Speaker Meg Bate. Looking at the use of timelines in family history and a study of good practice when researching and documenting records. Bookings are required and can be made online, in person, by email or by telephone. Members $5, non-members $20.

On May 13‘Newtown in the 1840s’. Port Phillip Pioneers Group Inc. Speaker: Michael Moore from Fitzroy Historical Society. Entry $2. Refreshments provided.  2:00 – 4:00 PM. At Wesley Hall, St. Andrew’s Uniting Church, 253A Burke Road, (cnr. Malvern Road), Glen Iris, Vic. Phone: 0418 106 219 – Email:

On May 25 -‘Death and Dying in Australia’ – Speaker: David Down. An examination of the history of death and dying in Australia as illustrated by the various memorials in the Fawkner and Coburg Cemeteries. Bookings are required. Members $5, non-members $20.


On May 31 – a day seminar on Irish Family History with speakers from the Ulster Historical Foundation, Belfast. Program includes Scots-Irish research, landed estate records, census substitutes, church records, Using Registry of Deeds. Irish Poor Law records. Seminar covers all of Ireland, not just the North. Bookings Essential  $45.

There are also the regular meetings of GSV’s Discussion Circles and Groups – Writers, DNA, Scottish, Irish, South West England (SWERD), and International Settlers, plus classes to help you with your family history projects.

Some of these are members-only (but you can always JOIN), others are open to all for a fee. Full details are on our website at and you can book online, in person, by phone: (03) 9662 4455  or by email:

Looking ahead for a genealogical research opportunity : 18-19 August

If you are researching ancestors from the British Isles and Europe, you might be interested in a two-day event that focuses on how and where to research in these two areas.

As part of this program, the GSV will make a short presentation on the British Isles resources available at the GSV Research and Education Centre, 85 Queen Street, Melbourne.

It will be held on 18 and 19 August 2017 at the Veneto Club in Bulleen.

For more information and enrolment details, go to

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Book review: ‘A Woman of Importance’ by Jean Uhl

Review by Mary Holmes, April 2017

A Woman of Importance: Emily Childers in Melbourne, 1850–1856

Author: Jean Uhl

Publisher: Jean Uhl, Blackburn, Vic. 1992.

ISBN 0 9596631 4 2. Hardback copy. 340 pages.

Purchased at the Royal Historical Society of Victoria.

Emily Childers became a woman of importance in the social life of the colony of Victoria and she knew many who impacted on Melbourne’s early history. This book gives an account of the six years Emily Childers spent as a young married woman in the rapidly growing Melbourne until she returned to England.

We read of her daily life, her motherhood joys and sorrows and also of a time when she acted as First Lady to Sir Edward Macarthur, the Acting-Governor. The reader will enjoy accompanying Emily to Hobart, Geelong, Queenscliff, Portland and The Heads and reading about the houses in which she lived in St Kilda, Jolimont, Collingwood, Hawthorn and St Heliers in Abbotsford; some of these houses are heritage-listed today. Uhl quotes extensively from Emily’s diaries and letters so we see Melbourne very much through Emily’s eyes. She provides excellent context and background information and the narrative and the diary entries flow comfortably. Uhl’s analysis and commentary enrich the original texts.

The structure of the book would be of particular interest to those who are writing a family history and are fortunate to have access to diaries, letters and journals. Uhl has organised the book into chronological chapters covering the years 1850 to 1856.

The comprehensive notes at the end of each chapter are interesting references and may give new directions to explore for a writer interested in Melbourne during this time. As well, the book has an extensive index of names and a general index. Biographical information of the people mentioned in the diaries is comprehensive and covers people well-known and not so well-known, including church leaders, squatters, medical practitioners, stockbrokers and friends of Hugh and Emily Childers. A few photos of the Childers family are also included.

Emily’s diaries provide a glimpse of life in Melbourne at this time – the everyday chores and trials as well as the sophisticated and stylish. This is a book that will appeal to researchers and historians as well as general readers.



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What’s new…

13 April 2017 – This post commences a new category which we hope keeps you better informed about the resources in our Library that may help you with your family history research.

The GSV receives about 250 family history and genealogy periodicals from Australian and international societies. These are available for members and visitors to access. Articles in the majority of these journals are indexed by our volunteers in the searchable GSV online library catalogue.

Articles of broad interest in recently received periodicals are highlighted quarterly in GSV’s Ancestor journal in the regular column, ‘Jottings…and library news’. Members receive this journal as part of their membership.

Recent periodicals received by the GSV library (March 2017 quarter) include articles on:

  • the diary of Walter Williams, a private soldier in India 1878-1888
  • ‘Dundee: tracing the Tay Valley’s history on ScotlandsPlaces
  • tracing ancestors – Irish, Huguenot, Royal Navy, and Army, as well articles on the ‘1939 register’, on places and families in Buckinghamshire and another containing a good introduction to the enclosure of shared strips of land after 1773.
  • Ancestry‘s indexing of ‘Ireland School Masters and Mistresses 1826’, British Army pension records, pensioners records of the Royal Hospital Kilmainham 1724-1924, Royal Hospital Chelsea 1715-1925 and Pensioner Soldier Records 1760-1920.
  • genetic genealogy
  • a new release online for the first time of over 2.1 million new fully searchable records of individuals; baptisms 1538-1751; marriages 1538-1753 and burials 1838-1865.
  • an interesting article about un-named death records held by the various Australian State registries. The NSW records have over 3000 records for ‘Unknown’.
  • useful tips in ‘Some of our ancestors are missing’ (Buckinghamshire).

You can follow up these in our catalogue – online before your visit.

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What the GSV family history writers did in April

13 April 2017 –

‘All writers need support and advice about their work. Last week as always, members of this GSV group generously offered thoughtful analysis and encouragement for two of its writers.’

Tina Hocking reports: Last Wednesday (5 April) the GSV Writers Circle met for the first time at GSV’s new Centre at 85 Queen Street. It was also possibly the first time we reviewed a submission from an interstate member unable to attend the meeting.

The ‘row of chairs’ arrangement in the meeting room should suit our structured ‘topic’ meetings, but we hope to recreate our informal ‘circle friendly’ atmosphere in future meetings.

There was spirited discussion of the submissions by two of our members, which focused on immigrant families from quite different backgrounds. Some members had already emailed their responses to our two presenters, with others to follow.

The feedback provided at this session for our Adelaide member should encourage any writers on our email list of over 80 who cannot attend meetings due to distance, to join in either as submitters or email reviewers. And there is also the GSV Writers Closed Facebook site for continuing the discussion. (This is part of a GSV membership).

One of the participants – who is writing the odyssey of the Dedes and Wares families – wrote:

‘Thank you for your most helpful analysis of my work – I appreciate the comments. Along with other observations from the group, I have lots to follow up! 


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Immigration Museum welcomes GSV Members with free admission on 18 & 19 August

Now that the GSV has moved closer to the Victoria’s Immigration Museum we are looking forward to being closer!

GSV Members are invited to two days of complimentary admission to the Immigration Museum – 18 and 19 August.

Set in the beautifully restored 19th century Customs House, the Immigration Museum is the perfect place for learning about our ancestor’s journey to Australia, exploring Australia’s migration history, sharing personal stories, researching contemporary issues, and understanding our culturally diverse community.

GSV Members can celebrate Family History Month with free entry into the Museum on Friday 18 August, Saturday 19 August. Simply show your GSV membership card upon entry to the Museum.

Visit the Immigration Museum website for information about current exhibitions and activities.

Open 10 am – 5 pm, 7 Days. Closed Good Friday and Christmas Day.      400 Flinders Street Melbourne

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What’s on …

Our new Centre opened last week and it looks good! Congratulations to all who made it happen! Pop in and visit us soon. This coming week our program continues with the following events:

DNA Discussion Circle

Wed 12 April 2017 – 10.30am to 12 noon.

At: GSV Research & Education Centre. Members only. See website for information about this group:


South West England Research & Discussion Circle (SWERD)

Wed 12 April 2017. 12.30 pm – 2.00 pm.

At: GSV Research & Education Centre. Members only. See website for information about this group


GSV Library catalogue and databases

Thurs 13 April 2017 – 1.30 pm to 2.30 pm.

These small-group classes are designed to enable you to get the most out of the computer-based resources available in the GSV Research & Education Centre and at home. Duration 1 hour.

At: GSV Research & Education Centre. Free for GSV members. $20 non-members, $15 AIGS,RHSV. Bookings are required and can be made online, in person, by email or by telephone.

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GSV re-opens!

GSV opens the doors at our new Research and Education Centre on Tuesday NEXT WEEK – 4 APRIL – L6, 85 Queen Street, Melbourne.

Two Events next week:

Wed 5 April at 12.30 pm – The GSV Writers Circle meets to review two pieces of writing submitted by members – one ‘The Odyssey of Two Families: the Dedes and the Wares’ and the other a saga of Simeon Kneebone and family: two generations of a mining family from Gwennap, Cornwall. The writers of these interesting developed drafts will have the opportunity to discuss their writing with the members of this Group, and receive useful feedback: everything from meaning and structure to style and punctuation. GSV Members only (but you can join on the day and see if this Group could be useful for you).

Thurs 6 April – Special Class:  10.00am – 1.00pm – English Research 1700-1837
Speaker: Alan Fincher
How to trace your English ancestors pre-civil registration, through church records, maps, wills, educational, occupational and military records, newspapers, and land related records – with relevant sources and websites.
Members $45  –  Non-members $90 – Bookings essential. 

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