Family matters

National Family History Month 2014

Family matters is pleased to welcome our special guest blogger for August, Shauna Hicks, national coordinator of National Family History Month.

August is National Family History Month in Australia which is an initiative
of AFFHO, the Australasian Federation of Family History Organisations. It
started as a week in 2006 and from 2013 it has been the whole of August.
This year the major sponsors are, FamilySearch, MyHeritage,
AFFHO and the National Archives of Australia is again hosting the launch,
something they have done since 2006. This year the launch is in Canberra.

There are hundreds of events across Australia. The NFHM web calendar is
divided up into the individual States and Territories then events are listed
in postcode order then date order within postcodes. So remember to check
surrounding postcodes as it might be an easy drive to an event in a
neighbouring suburb. Some events may even be worth travelling some distance
to attend.

For the first time there is an Online Events category for those people who
do not have events in their area or cannot get to them due to work hours,
lack of transport and so on. There are webinars, google hangouts and other
activities to do at home.

It is good to see that State Library of Victoria is continuing the tradition of Family History Feast and the 2014 program with its multicultural theme looks really exciting. Although I do not live in Melbourne anymore I will still be able to hear the sessions when the Library puts the podcasts online. I also like the fact that I can go back and listen to earlier years too.

As well as the major NFHM sponsors mentioned above, there are prize sponsors with
a giveaway prize draw for genealogy and family history societies and
individuals. Instructions on how to enter the prize giveaway and terms and
conditions can be found on the NFHM home page and a list of prize sponsors
and the prizes are on the NFHM sponsors page.

The NFHM Facebook page will be used to keep people informed of any new
events or changes and I will also be doing updates in my Diary
of an Australian Genealogist blog. Others will also be tweeting (hash tag
#NFHM2014), using Facebook, Google +, blog posts and other social media to
highlight events across Australia.

So please join me in celebrating genealogy and family history throughout August.

Shauna Hicks, national coordinator on behalf of AFFHO

Family History Feast 2014 bookings open Monday 14 July!!

Bookings for the annual Family History Feast event hosted by the State Library of Victoria open on Monday 14 July 2014.

The eleventh Family History Feast  will be held at the Library on Monday 25 August 2014 during National Family History Month. The theme for this year is “multicultural genealogy”.

 The Feast is a  day of free information sessions for family history researchers including the annual Victorian Association of Family History Organisations (VAFHO) Don Grant Memorial Lecture.  This year the Lecture will be given by Jenny Harkness on ‘FamilySearch : a world of family history possibilities”.

 A copy of the full program and booking details can be found on the Library website.    Bookings are essential.  If you are unable to attend you can always enjoy podcasts and videocasts of the Feast later through the Audio & video section of the Library website.


Savill Index of The Advertiser Funeral Notices 1971 – 1990 and 1997 – 2013

The State Library of South Australia has recently published on their website the Savill Index of The Advertiser Funeral Notices covering 1971 -1990 and then from 1997 to 2013.

From January 2001 Mr Gerald Savill began extracting and indexing funeral notices that were published in Adelaide’s major daily newspaper The Advertiser. In total he spent more than 300 days at the State Library of South Australia searching newspaper microfilms. The results of his work are now available online on the Library website as the Savill Index of The Advertiser Funeral Notices.  The Index is arranged alphabetically by surname, given name and on occasion given maiden name or nicknames.

I searched the Index for the funeral notice of my Uncle Donald (Don) Burrows and very quickly located the information below saving me much time searching The Advertiser films.

                          Burrows   Donald Michael   2003-07-05

 The Savill Index is a welcome addition to South Australian family history resources!

Pre-1901 Irish census records available on Find my past Ireland

Last week the The National Archives of Ireland and  Find my past anounced the release of over 600,000 Irish census records. These records cover the period 1821-1851 and have been made available through a cooperative partnership between the National Archives of Ireland,  Findmypast and .

Access to 19th century Irish census records has alwas been difficult as most of the pre-1922 records were destroyed by a fire at the Public Record Office during the Irish Civil War. Through this digitisation project all surviving documents have been collated and put online. Many of the surviving records are from Northern Ireland with smaller collections available for the counties Cavan, Meath, Galway, Offaly and Dublin.

The resources include:

Census survivals, 1821-1851; surviving and copy census returns from the pre-famine period. The 1821 census returns are the most extensive, and record every member of a household. The 1831 and 1841 census returns only name the head of household, and give statistical information about the people in the household. In 1851, all individuals are recorded fully. In 1841 and 1851 the households also had to record the names of those who were absent on the night of the census, or who had died since the previous census.
You can search both the Census of Ireland 1901/1911 and Census fragments and substitutes, 1821-51 here.

Census Search Forms, 1841-1851; records of searches in the census records pre-1922 to provide proof of age as eligibility for the Old Age Pension, introduced in 1909. These records give names and ages of members of the family in 1841 or 1851, and often include the maiden name of the applicant’s mother. You can search the Census Search Forms here.

The records will be also available shortly on



Researching your military ancestors

In the lead-up to the centenary of the start of the First World War, there has been a proliferation of commemoration plans and projects including online record releases, digitising projects, new books, articles and websites produced by professionals and dedicated individuals from around the world. This is an exciting time for family historians who will benefit from this vast range of commemorative projects now and into the future. Read the rest of this entry »

Relocation of the Genealogy & Newspaper Room on Monday 14 and Tuesday 15 April

Please note that the temporary Genealogy and Newspaper Room will close at 6pm on Sunday 13 April. The combined Family History (Genealogy) and Newspaper services will reopen at 10am on Wednesday 16 April in the refurbished room adjacent to the Copy Centre on Level 2.

During the relocation, on Monday 14 and Tuesday 15 April, a limited supply of daily newspapers will be available in the Information Centre, and some newspapers and family history databases will be available on computers throughout the Library. The remainder of the collections currently in the Genealogy and Newspaper Room will be unavailable. Librarians at the Information Desk will be available to assist with newspapers and family history information requests.

We apologise for any inconvenience.

Children take on family history

Lately, I’ve been noticing a lot of children in our Genealogy Centre. During school holidays in particular, the centre is buzzing with enthusiastic kids, helping their parents and grandparents research the lives of their ancestors. Family history gives them the opportunity to be a detective for the day, discovering interesting elements of their family’s past as well as having a lot of fun in the process. Read the rest of this entry »

Family History Feast 2014 : a date for your diary!

The 2014 Family History Feast is going to be held on Monday 25 August at the State Library of Victoria  from 10am to 4pm (exact times to be confirmed) during National Family History Month.

The theme of the 2014 event is ‘multicultural’ genealogy. More details about the program will follow. If you would like to get an idea of what you can experience at the Feast if you haven’t attended in the past or you would like to relive one or more of the presentations you can listen to podcasts of the event for the past two years or watch videocasts of some of the Don Grant  Memorial Lectures which have formed part of the event since 2007.  Lecturers include Professor Geoffrey Blainey, Professor Graeme Davison and military historian Lieutenant Colonel Neil Smith AM .

I look forward to meeting you on 25 August!

Using maps for family history research

Family Matters is pleased to welcome our February guest blogger, Blair Gatehouse, Digital Resources Graduate.


While maps may not be the first resource that spring to mind when investigating your family history, the State Library of Victoria holds a wealth of map resources which may be very useful for your research. Late last year we published a  research guide to using maps for family history, which will take you through some of these key resources. Many of the maps in our collection have been digitised, making it easy to conduct your research from home.

Maps can be useful for family history research in a variety of ways. They can provide specific information, such as the location of a town, a block of land your ancestor purchased, or street numbering from a different time period. Additionally, they can add context to your research. By looking at a map of a place your ancestor lived you can form a picture of the life they may have lived. For example, a town plan showing features such as houses, businesses, churches and schools can help you to understand the kinds of jobs and educational opportunities that were available.

The most popular collection of maps among family historians is our collection of township, parish and county plans. These maps recorded information about the transfer of land from the Crown (the Government) to private ownership or lease-hold. They show the boundaries of lands which were occupied, reserved or sold, along with the date of purchase, the acreage and, post 1862, the relevant file number for that selection or sale. Because they feature the names of those who purchased land, they are an invaluable resource for family historians.


Township of Balnarring, “Shoreham”, Parish of Flinders

A great resource for researching your ancestors who lived in Melbourne are the maps produced by the Melbourne Metropolitan Board of Works (MMBW). Originally drawn up to aid in the design and development of Melbourne’s sewerage system, they provide a historical record of Melbourne streetscapes and environmental features. These maps can help to identify where people lived, in areas where street names and features may have since changed. They can be especially useful for locating house numbers in streets where the numbering has since changed. Some even include house names.

Melbourne Metropolitan Board of Works Detail Plan

Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works detail plan, 1887, Town of Brunswick

In addition to these resources, we have many other Victorian maps that can be of use, including auction plans, street directories and maps of pastoral holdings all of which can assist with your family history research. We also have a strong collection of gazetteers, reference books which provide basic information about locations, such as the coordinates and population size. These can be helpful when searching for towns which have changed name or no longer exist.

Although the Library’s strength is in maps of Victoria, our research guide also suggests resources which may be useful when tracing your overseas ancestors. If your ancestors are from the British Isles, there are a number of excellent map resources freely available online, including the highly detailed ordnance survey maps for England, Scotland and Ireland.

We encourage anyone interested in using maps for family history to have a look at our research guide and explore some of the many resources available.

Blair Gatehouse

Did your ancestor work for the Government?

Many of us have forebears who worked for the Victorian Government in some capacity. This may not always be obvious though, as records like electoral rolls, directories and birth, death and marriage certificates often list an occupation but don’t always include the employer. Have a think about the type of work your ancestor did – do you think they could have been attached to a Government department? Read the rest of this entry »