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 

March 2015

SAG coat of arms

  • MIDAS System Testing
  • Biographical Database of Australia
  • Upper Bylong Cemetery


  • What's on in April


  • FamilySearch - New Collections Added



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

  • Tracing Your Ancestors' Parish Records
  • Writing Your Family History
  • Under the Colony's Eye
  • Legacy Family Tree - Unlocked!


  • Subscribe or alter your subscription to these newsletters

MIDAS System Testing

Work continues on the Society’s new online MIDAS system which members and guests will be able to use to search our manuscript and image collection. We’re currently looking for assistance from members with a professional background in IT to do some exhaustive testing for us. So if you could devote a few solid blocks of time to system testing using different devices and browsers, please email Alison Wolf at The work can be done from home and we envisage needing your help over a two-week period in April.

Biographical Database of Australia

The Biographical Database of Australia has just uploaded a further 400,000 records to its online records, bringing its total record set to more than 900,000 references. This includes NSW Colonial Secretary records, early colonial church registers, monumental inscriptions, shipping records, convict records, military personnel and much more. Members can use this database free of charge within the SAG library at 2/379 Kent Street or you can take out your own annual subscription for $30 at If you are researching early colonial records then the BDA is an excellent and growing source of data which you should check.

Upper Bylong Cemetery

A public notice appeared in the SMH on 18 March 2015 advising that it is intended to exhume and relocate all burials from the Cemetery of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart at Upper Bylong, NSW. Exhumed remains will be reburied at Bylong or another location to be specified. Known burials include John Gerald BURKE d.1932, Gerald William CAMPBELL d.1931, Hugh Francis COBREY d.1929, Susan Helena Cecelia COBREY d.1945 and Ethel Kate READFORD d.1937. Any relatives or descendants of these people or of anyone known to be buried in an umarked grave in the cemetery is asked to contact Dr Edward Higginbotham at PO Box 97, Haberfield 2045, by phone (2) 9716 5154 or email


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.

  • Tuesday 7 April (10.30am - 3.30pm) - Special Presentation - Colleen Fitzpatrick
    Includes morning tea and a light lunch. Direct from her visit to Canberra for the AFFHO Congress, The Society takes great pleasure in welcoming Ms Fitzpatrick to Sydney where she will host all all day event, taking in two fascinating talks.

    AM session - Forensic Genealogy - the database detective

    Birth, marriage, and death indexes are three databases familiar to even casual genealogists. But have you ever considered using Google Maps to solve a genealogical mystery? What about Amazon or eBay? And once you have found the facts, how do you “connect the dots” in a meaningful way to bring long-gone family members to life again?

    PM session - The Unknown Child On The Titanic

    On Sunday 14 April 1912, the SS Titanic on her maiden voyage to America with 2207 souls onboard, struck an iceberg and sank in less than three hours. Only 705 passengers survived. Of the 328 bodies recovered by the salvage operation sent from Halifax, just one was that of a child. His identity was known only to God for nearly a century until 2002, when Dr. Alan Ruffman and Dr. Ryan Parr announced that they had identified the remains of the “Unknown Child” as Eino Panula, a 13-month-old Finnish baby who had perished in the accident with his mother and four older brothers. But was this identification correct?

    Bookings essential by 2 April 2015. $60 ($80 non-members).
  • Thursday 9 April (10.30am - 12.30pm) - Writing Discussion Group - BOOKED OUT!
  • Friday 10 April (10.30am - 12.30pm) - Hands On - Finding Your Ancestor's Land - BOOKED OUT!
  • Friday 10 April (1.30pm - 3.30pm) - Hands On - Finding Your Ancestor's Land - PM Session - BOOKED OUT!
  • Saturday 11 April (10.30am - 12.30pm) - Pre 1841 Census Substitutes
    In England and Wales there are many records dating from the 14th to the early 19th centuries which take the form of name lists that can be used in the manner of census substitutes. Whilst many do not have the national coverage of later censuses, they can still be exceptionally helpful resources pinpointing specific people at particular places and times. Bookings essential. $20 ($30 non-members).
  • Thursday 16 April (9.00am - 10.00am) - Orientation Tour
    Held in the Library at 2/379 Kent Street from 9.00am-10.00am. Members only. Bookings essential. Join us for a tour of the SAG library - learn about its layout and the services offered. Remember you can stay on and do research after the tour. Free - a gold coin donation on the day towards our Collections Fund is always appreciated.
  • Saturday 18 April (10.30am - 12.30pm) - Gallipoli Series - WWI records with State Records
    Looking at the contributions made by NSW public servants who went to war. This session will examine the records created by the departments for which they worked. Presenter - Gail Davis. Bookings essential. $20 ($30 non-members).
  • Tuesday 21 April (8.00pm - 9.00pm) - Webinar - Gallipoli Series - Commonwealth War Graves Commission
    Presenter: Andrew Fetherston, Records Manager, CWGC London. The CWGC’s Archivist and Records Manager, Andrew Fetherston, will provide a detailed introduction to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Gain an understanding of who they are, what they do, their website and the types of records available online and how to get the most out of them. Andrew will also provide an insight into other collections they possess that will provide contextual information about your military ancestor - all delivered with a particularly Australian focus. Bookings essential. $10. SAG Members only.
  • Thursday 23 April (10.30am - 12.30pm) - A Beginner's Guide to Family History Podcasts
    You may have heard of “podcasts” – they are a great way to explore genealogy – they are fun, flexible and informative. The first part of this seminar takes you through what a podcast is, and what you need to do to enter the world of podcasts. The second part focuses on some excellent podcasts that focus on various aspects of family history and explain the ways you can find more in the world of “podcasts”! Presenters - Judy Keen and Deborah Lloyd. Bookings essential. $20 ($30 non-members).
  • Thursday 30 April (8.00pm - 9.00pm) - Webinar - Tracing Your Wiltshire Ancestors
    If you have ancestors in Wiltshire, this webinar is not to be missed. Join Claire Skinner, Principal Archivist of Wiltshire and Swindon Archives as she explains the record holdings of one of the main repositories to use for tracing your Wiltshire ancestors. Sources covered will include parish registers and probate records, including the excellent Wiltshire Wills project. Bookings essential. $10. SAG Members only.

FamilySearch - New Collections Added

FamilySearch continues to expand it's online records, adding 41 new collections of records over the past month, comprising more than 32 million records from around the world. Many of these have been indexed whilst some are available to browse but are not indexed.

The updates include collections from the USA, Australia, SLovakia, Philippines, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Russia, Ukraine, Japan, Czech Republic and Zimbabwe. More information about the lates updates can be found on the FamilySearch Blog.


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.

Tracing Your Ancestor's Parish Records - $32.00

This book is an excellent introduction to this key area of family and local history research - it is a book that all family and local historians should have on their shelves. In concise, easy-to-follow text he describes where these important records can be found, and demonstrates how they can be used. Records relating to the poor laws, apprentices, the church, tithes, enclosures and charities are all covered. The emphasis throughout is on understanding their original purpose and on revealing how relevant they are for researchers today. Softcover, indexed, 186 pages, 23cm. Stuart A Raymond, Pen & Sword, South Yorkshire 2014. [More detail]

Writing Your Family History - $32.00

Gill Blanchard's practical step-by-step guide to writing a family history is designed for anyone who wants to bring their ancestors' stories to life. She looks at ways of overcoming the particular problems family historians face when writing a family history - how to deal with gaps in knowledge, how to describe generations of people who did the same jobs or lived in the same area, how to cover the numerous births, marriages and deaths that occur, and when to stop researching and start writing. Softcover, 23cm, 152 pages. Gill Blanchard, Pen & Sword, South Yorkshire, 2014. [More detail]

Under the Colony's Eye - $35.00

This beautifully written book tells the story of the penal settlement on Cockatoo Island, the struggle to build a dock and an autocratic superintendent who turned the island into a secret gentleman’s fight club with his bare-knuckle prize-fighting convicts. It is a true story of corruption, patronage and intrigue. ‘Historians of colonial Australia and visitors to Cockatoo Island alike will find this a fascinating insight into the strong personalities that lay behind the colourful history of the island as a convict prison and significant engineering achievement’. Associate Professor Carol Liston, School of Humanities and Communication Arts, University of Western Sydney. Softcover, indexed, 196 pages, 25cm. Sue Castrique, Anchor Books Australia, 2014. [More detail]

Legacy Family Tree - Unlocked! - $36.00

This book is for genealogists and Legacy Family Tree users of all expertise. All levels of genealogists benefit from learning about how others do research. Long time Legacy users will enjoy the insights into the advanced features (especially the Shared Events) and little tips and tricks along the way. Beginning Legacy users will not only begin to grasp what is possible in Legacy but they will learn to “do it right the first time.” Softcover book, 236 pages. Geoffrey D Rasmussen, Idaho USA 2013. [More detail]


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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.