OUR STORIES – the beginning

From Timeline & History:

The Geelong Family History Group Inc. came into being in 1981 after a series of events following an upsurge of interest in family history in the community.  Several members of the Geelong Historical Society, who were also members of the Genealogical Society of Victoria, based in Melbourne, instigated a talk about research for budding genealogists at the Historical Records Centre, Geelong.

From: Minutes and Financial report of the Geelong Historical Society

3 September 1980: Meeting closed with the reminder that on 1.10.1980 Mrs Irene Watson would speak on “Family History Researching” at the next committee meeting 7.30 pm.

1 October 1980: 
Minutes of Meeting held at the Historical Records Centre Theatrette Evening feature:

Mrs Irene Watson, an enthusiastic member of this society showed that she had no reason for her stated trepidation about her ability to interest a group of historically inclined people.  In fact her efforts were so good that it was almost necessary to bring in the police at 11 pm to clear the hall.

The fact that just under 100 people attended showed the great interest that is currently being evinced in genealogy; also that many people merely required to be told how to start their investigations to set them in motion.  Mrs Watson called on her extensive experience in researching the various branches of her own and her husband’s families to explain the steps normally taken to research back to the generation which left the British Isles (in particular) for Australia.  She explained the usual sources of information – shipping records, family bibles, diaries, biographical references, electoral rolls, newspapers, births, death and marriage certificates (particularly Victorian), military records, Sunday School presentation books, post cards, photograph albums, etc.  She also said that wills, probate certificates and titles were other sources of interest and she confessed that the fact that she is a female probably helped her to break into the good graces of the latter office.

Mrs Watson stated that researchers were not looking for family skeletons or scandals, and it was quite probable that if your families precede the 1850s it was likely that convicts would be encountered; however, this should cause no heart-burning – she had 4 in her ancestry, but there was no evidence that their descendants were other than law-abiding citizens in the middle strata of society.  To aid her talk, Mrs Watson provided a tableful of genealogical exhibits, family trees and pro forma charts which she requested the audience to complete as far as practicable and she agreed to advise members where possible.

At the end of an extensive question time, Mr David Hamilton adequately expressed the appreciation of all present with a well-contrived vote of thanks.

March 6, 1981:

Formation meeting of the Genealogical Society of Victoria, Geelong Branch held in the theatrette of the Geelong Historical Society, arranged by Mr Daryl Wight, Research officer of GSV.  Interim Chairman for the meeting was Mr E Reilly and approximately 100 people attended.

My goodness – how much have genealogical research sources changed in the last 3-4 decades?