An electronic newsletter for family historians from the
Society of Australian Genealogists

120 Kent St, Sydney NSW 2000, Australia
Website -
Tel: (02) 9247 3953 Fax: (02) 9241 4872 

July 2015

SAG coat of arms

  • Croker Prize for Biography - Last chance to vote!
  • August is Family History Month!
  • Roll-out of new online Education booking system
  • New series of Who Do You Think You Are?
  • Electoral roll update


  • What's on in August


  • Australian Wills & Probate records



Browse SAGs online bookshop for a great collection of family history books, CDs and software.

  • The Hidden Thread: Huguenot Families in Australia
  • Nurses & Midwives
  • Help! Historical and Genealogical Truth
  • Help! Why can't I find my ancestor's surname?


  • Subscribe or alter your subscription to these newsletters

Croker Prize for Biography - Last chance to vote!

Voting for the Croker Prize closes at midnight on 31 July so you only have a few days left to vote for your favourite essay. Start reading here then follow the link and tell us which one you’d like to see win the $1000 Members’ Choice Award this year.

August is Family History Month!

August is the time when Australia celebrates all things related to Family History. You’ll find a full list of events on the National Family History Month website.

To celebrate we’ll be offering the following specials:

Waiving of our joining fee – a saving of up to $20. Encourage friends and family to join the Society during August and they’ll save up to $20 on their membership fee. Subscriptions will run until 30 June 2016 and they’ll enjoy all the benefits of membership – discounted access to our activities program, library access, our quarterly journal and much more. You’ll find the application form here or membership can be organised during the first visit to the library.

Bring a friend to an activity during August and they’ll pay the discounted member price: If you’re coming to a lecture, workshop or research/software group meeting being held in August why not bring along a non-member friend or family member and introduce them to our education program, while enjoying a day out together? When they accompany you to a session during August they’ll only pay the member price. Bookings are essential and you’ll need to ring or book over-the-desk so that we can organise the discounted price for you.

Roll-out of new online Education booking system

As part of our website upgrade we will shortly be switching to a new online event registration system. A new display of events will also allow you to read more about each activity before you book, and give you the ability to either see a chronological list of all events on offer, see what’s coming up in the next week or month, or view events by category (such as webinars or lectures). You’ll still be able to reserve your place in a session online and then pay over the phone or in person within 7 days if you prefer, but rest assured online payments will continue to be processed through the secure Eway payment system and your card details are not stored on our site.

As our current registration system already contains bookings through to the end of October we’re hoping the transition will be as smooth as possible, but will appreciate your understanding while we move all bookings across to the new system.

New series of Who Do You Think You Are?

The next Australian series of WDYTYA starts on SBS Television at 7.30 on Tuesday 4 August, and feature Geoffrey Rush, Toni Collette, Luke Nguyen, David Wenham, Dawn Fraser, Peter Rowsthorn, Grieg Pickhaver and Ray Martin. You’ll find more details here.

Look out for scenes filmed in both the library at 379 Kent Street and Richmond Villa, along with a few familiar SAG faces.

Electoral Roll update

In early 2014 the Australian Electoral Commission began to enforce restrictions on access to the current electoral roll - in effect only allowing individuals to check their own enrolment details. The electoral roll, both in its current digital form and in microfiche and microfilm in libraries and archives, is of course a key genealogical tool and the lack of access to the current edition meant that the tracing of present day family members and long lost relatives was severely hampered. However, as part of the inquiry into the 2013 federal election the question of access to the current electoral roll was revisited and in May this year the AEC’s heightened restrictions were withdrawn.

This is fantastic news for family historians as this means we can once again visit AEC offices to examine the current electoral roll for genealogical research purposes. Any individual can again examine the electoral roll for any name - though electronic recording of the data is not allowed. For further details of how to access the electoral roll please visit


A chronological list of all activities is now available for online viewing and bookings here. You can also phone Monday to Saturday during office hours on 9247 3953 or book over the desk during library hours Tuesday to Thursday and Saturday.

All activities are held at Richmond Villa, 120 Kent Street unless otherwise specified.

  • Saturday 1 August (10.30am - 12.30pm) - Reading Old Handwriting
    Found an old document but having trouble deciphering it? Discover the challenges involved and hear tips to help you succeed, including how to make transcriptions and abstracts. Presenter: Jeremy Palmer. Bookings essential. $20 ($30 non-members).
  • Thursday 7, 14 & 21 August (10.30am - 12.30pm) - 3 part Writing & Publishing Workshop
    Over 3 Thursdays, Margaret Szalay will return with her popular course on writing and publishing your family history. This course will cover a range of topics including: writing up your research/ memoir; preparing for printing/publication; formatting; book styles; using photos, maps & charts; indexing; design; registration; print quantities; preparing print specifications; print quotes; marketing and more. Bookings essential. $70 ($105 non-members).
  • Saturday 8 August (10.30pm - 12.30pm) - Family Tree Maker User Group - AM Session
    Introduction & seeking "What do you want to know?" from new short time users (length of session dependant on # of new short time users). Experience Speaking - 5-10 minute 'presentations' by longer time users. Bookings essential. $8 ($12 non-members).
  • Saturday 8 August (1.30pm - 3.30pm) - Family Tree Maker User Group - PM Session
    Backups - On your own computer, external drive, flash drive or "the cloud" - Fred Scott. Your Tools and Preferences - TBA - Helene Shepherd. Bookings essential. $8 ($12 non-members).
  • Tuesday 11 August (8.00pm - 9.00pm) - Webinar - Putting Your Ancestors in their Place - One-Place Studies
    Presenter: Janet Few. One Place Studies focus on people, their relationships to their communities and to each other, bringing family and local history together. This talk describes ten steps that you might take in pursuit of this exciting branch of genealogical research. Bookings essential. $10. SAG Members only.
  • Thursday 13 August (1.30pm - 3.30pm) - Writing Discussion Group - Sourcing Images
    There are many different ways to find images for your publication from free to 'pay to purchase'. This presentation discusses the various ways to find images and the issues involved. Presenter - Philippa Garnsey. Bookings essential. $8 ($12 non-members).
  • Friday 14 August (10.30am - 12.30pm) - Hands On - 20 Hints for Trove - BOOKED OUT!
  • Saturday 15 August (1.30pm - 3.30pm) - The Master Genealogist User Group
    Users of The Master Genealogist software show how they use the program to record their family history and preserve that information for the future. Bookings essential. $8 ($12 non-members).
  • Wednesday 19 August (8.00pm - 9.00pm) - Webinar - Surrey Parish Registers & other records
    Do you have Surrey ancestry? The Surrey History Centre has a wealth of historical sourfces dating as far back as the 12th century. Find out abut the range of records avaialble to maximise your search efforts on Ancestry and FindMyPast. Presenter - Jane Lewis, Surrey History Centre (UK). Bookings essential. $10. SAG Members only.
  • Saturday 22 August (10.30pm - 12.30pm) - English Research Group - Domestic Servants
    Discovering more about the background of servants such as the 'pecking order', where and for whom they worked, wages, and more, can build a bigger picture of ancestors in service. But where are the resources? - let's find out! Presenter - Pauline Kettle. Bookings essential. $8 ($12 non-members).
  • Saturday 22 August (1.30pm - 3.30pm) - Introduction to Ancestry
    Learn what groups of records Ancestry holds and how to use the search features to find what you want. Presenters - Judy Keena & Danielle Lautrec. Bookings essential. $20 ($30 non-members).
  • Thursday 27 August (10.30am - 12.30pm) - Timeline of Irish History: A Genealogical Perspective
    Put your Irish ancestors in context. Learn about their origins and the events that shaped their lives. From early human habitation, trace the significant events in Ireland's history up to 1922 when the island split into two separate states. Bookings essential. $20 ($30 non-members).
  • Saturday 29 August (10.30am - 12.30pm) - SRNSW - Mental Hospitals & how to access their records for family history
    This session will look at researching patient records from the State-run psychiatric facilities now held as NSW State Archives. Gail will also provide advice on acccessing closed records. Presenter - Gail Davis (State Records NSW). Bookings essential. $20 ($30 non-members).
  • Saturday 29 August (1.30pm - 3.30pm) - SAG Anniversary Lecture - Carole Baxter
    Hear about Carole's latest boook, The Black Widow, the true story of Australia's first female serial killer and gain tips for writing history. Presenter - Carole Baxter. Bookings essential. $20 ($30 non-members).

Australian Wills & Probate Records

One of the most useful sources of information for trying to trace descendants and close relatives is the will or probate record of the individual. The following sites will help you locate Australian wills and probate records:


Visit our bookshop at 2/379 Kent Street, where we're open 10am to 4pm on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday. Our great collection of family history book titles is also available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week online, where you'll find local histories, CD-ROMs, charts and genealogical software - all at competitive prices!

When you place your order online, the Australia Post Calculator on our new bookshop website will calculate the correct postage fees according to the weight of your order.

The Hidden Thread: Huguenot Families in Australia - $40.00

It includes: 'Who were the Huguenots?' introductory chapters, a list of almost 500 Huguenot families represented in Australia, including places of origin in France, chapters on individual families in all six states, maps showing provinces of France and families' places of origin and a full bibliography and index. Softcover book, 262 pages, indexed. Edited by Robert Nash, Huguenot Society of Australia Inc, Reprinted 2015. [More detail]

Nurses & Midwives - $17.00

Nurses and midwives worked in hospitals, refuges, asylums, prisons, charitable institutions and were pioneers of bush nursing, established maternity hospitals and were often important health providers in small communities in past decades.

The records of their lives are found in a wide range of places, and as well as online and digitised records, this book also points the researcher toward the myriad of documentary and private records which are useful for writing their lives. Softcover, A5, 76 pages. Noeline J Kyle, R Lynette Russell & Jennifer Blundell, Unlock The Past Series 2015. [More detail]

Help! Historical and Genealogical Truth - $22.00

This is a ‘must-read’ for family history detectives wishing to accurately trace their ancestry. Written in Carol Baxter’s easy-to-read style, it explains how to evaluate our ancestral information so as to determine which is reliable and which is like a virus that corrupts our efforts. After reading this book, you too will be able to separate fact from fiction, truth from mistruth. Your ancestors will thank you! Softcover, 21cm, 132 pages. Carol Baxter, St Ives NSW, 2015. [More detail]

Help! Why can't I find my ancestor's surname? - $27.50

This book is a gateway to a new world. Once you have read it, you will think about surnames in a completely different way. No longer will you be flailing in the dark, making stabs at spelling possibilities. When you follow its instructions, you will find that some of those previously abandoned surname searches are now successful. Softcover, 21cm, 301 pages, indexed. Carol Baxter, St Ives NSW, 2015. [More detail]


Have you got friends or relatives who've expressed an interest in family history? Why not give them a nudge to join SAG? Go on, forward this email to them!

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© Society of Australian Genealogists 2015 - all rights reserved
Any feedback or enquiries regarding this newsletter should be directed to the editor: Lisa Watson. Items for inclusion are also welcome.