Society of Australian Genealogists


March 2017

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 

  • Croker Prize - it's time to start writing
  • Latest news on FTM 2017
  • Society of Genealogists (UK) - Membership Offer
  • GRO PDF Pilot Phase 3


  • What's on in April


  • Digitised records of the First Legislative Council 1824-1855



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

  • NEW - Shackled, Female Convicts at Moreton Bay 1826-1839
  • NEW - Tracing Your Twentieth-Century Ancestors
  • That Elusive Digger
  • Understanding Australian Military Speak


  • Subscribe or alter your subscription to these newsletters

Croker Prize - it's time to start writing

The Croker Prize for Biography is on again for SAG members,. This year's theme is 'A Tough Life' and your entry needs to be an 800-1000 word biography based on this topic. Entries close on 31 May and the lucky winner takes away $1000 cash! Just think of the subscriptions and certificates you could buy with that - and the bonus is you'll have written a short biography of one of your ancestors as well. See details here.

Latest news on FTM 2017

Software MacKiev, the new owners of Family Tree Maker, have just announced that PRE-ORDERS are open for FTM 2017 software. How much you pay will depend on the current version you have. If you paid for a copy of FTM 2014.1 or Mac 3.1 (both introduced by MacKiev in March 2016), your copy of FTM 2017 is FREE and MacKiev will notify you directly by email when it is available. If you aren't sure whether you fall into this category you can check here.

If you are still using FTM 2014 or you received the free upgrade to 2014.1 you can pre-order the downloadable upgrade for FTM 2017 for AUD$39.95 until 31 March 2017. After that date upgrades (for a limited time) will be $49.95. This has to be done through MacKiev. Upgrades cannot be purchased through the SAG.

If you have an older version of FTM or are buying the software for the first time the full price will be $115.00 when it launches on 31 March 2017. The SAG shop will be stocking FTM 2017 and expects stock in April – further details in the SAG shop here.

Ancestry's TreeSync

This feature, which works with FTM software, is being turned off permanently at midnight on Wednesday 29 March (Utah time) and the new FamilySync (part of MacKiev’s FTM 2017) will be launched when the software is released on 31 March. This doesn’t mean you’ll lose any trees you have on Ancestry, but it does mean that if you want to continue to sync them with your FTM software you will need to move across to FTM2017 to do so. You might like to make a manual backup (including your media) before 29 March just to be sure. More details on the MacKiev site.

Society of Genealogists (UK) - Membership Offer

Don't forget that until 30 June, SAG members get a £10 discount when they join the Society of Genealogists in London. To take advantage of this offer you need to use the code SAG17 on their website. This waives the joining fee and means you only pay the overseas rate of £36 for an annual subscription. This is a great saving if you are planning on visiting the UK to do research, as a day fee is normally £18 for non-members. Find out more at

GRO PDF Pilot Phase 3

The General Register Office UK are trialling a service from 16 March to provide PDF copies of their non-digitised records. Records will not be immediately viewable but emailed as a PDF.

Applications for each PDF cost £8, must be made online and include a GRO index reference.

England and Wales records which are available in phase 3 include births from 1935 to 2006, deaths from 1958 to 2006 and marriages from 1837 to 2010. Phase 3 closes at 4pm on 12 April or when 40,000 PDF's have been ordered, whichever is sooner.


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.

  • Available until 8 May 2017 - Webinar Season Ticket - May to July 2017
    Only available until 8 May 2017. By booking a Webinar Season Ticket you will be able to view every standard webinar we hold between May-July, either live or by watching the recording later. You book and pay once. We'll set you up in each webinar and send you the confirmation link. And in addition you'll get one webinar free - so this quarter you get 6 for the price of 5. The webinars covered by the Season Ticket this quarter are: Introduction to DNA testing (10 May), Archives in Queensland (15 May), Aboriginal people in government records (17 June), Finding and using German church records (21 June), DNA: I've done my test, what's next (10 July) and Guide to Australian BDMs (18 July). Please note the Season Ticket does not cover virtual events or webfests - these have to be booked separately.
  • Monday 3 April (8.00pm - 9.00pm) - Webinar - London history and resources
    The area known as London has changed over time, and unless this is well understood you can find yourself looking in the wrong place for information on your family. So this presentation starts with a potted history of the city. It then details the resources that are available online for London Research. Presenter: Jenny Joyce. Bookings essential. $12 members only.
  • Thursday 6 April (9.00am - 10.00am) - Free library tour - BOOKED OUT!
  • Friday 7 April (10.30am - 12.30pm) - Hands On @379 - DNA - AM Session - BOOKED OUT!
  • Friday 7 April (1.30pm - 3.30pm) - Hands On @379 - DNA - PM Session - BOOKED OUT!
  • Saturday 8 April (10.30am - 12.30pm) - Putting your ancestors in their place
    Post Office directories, telephone books and electoral rolls can be a great way to pinpoint where family members lived and worked. Using NSW examples this session will explain what’s available, where to find them and how to make the most of these useful census substitutes. Presenter: Heather Garnsey. Bookings essential. $22 ($35 non-members).
  • Thursday 13 April (10.30am - 12.30pm) - Writing Discussion Group - Indexes
    By popular demand we will be running a Back to Basics series in 2017 and our first talk will tell us how, when and why to include an index in the book you write. Convenor: Lilian Magill. Bookings essential. $10 ($15 non-members).
  • Thursday 20 April (10.30am - 12.30pm) - Colonial Secretary: The family historian's friend
    The Colonial Secretary was one of the main NSW government officials in the 19th century. The office was the channel of communications between the Governor, other government officers and private settlers on a wide range of matters including requests for land, petitions to mitigate convicts’ sentences, naturalisation and everything in between. In this session you will learn how to search the Colonial Secretary’s correspondence and hopefully find written gems relating to your family. Presenter: Martyn Killion, State Archives NSW. Bookings essential. $22 ($35 non-members).
  • Thursday 27 April (10.30am - 12.30pm) - Preparing for a visit to State Archives NSW
    If you are coming along to the reading room at the Western Sydney Records Centre Kingswood on 3 May you should attend this session. It will show you how to search our guides, finding aids and website, how to place pre-orders and make the most of your time at Kingswood. Presenter: John Cann, State Archives NSW. Bookings essential. $22 ($35 non-members).
  • Saturday 29 April (10.30am - 12.30pm) - DNA Research Group
    The DNA Research Group is an ideal forum for both beginners and the more experienced to share practical ways to work with test results. This meeting will cover - Autosomal DNA analysis: Working with member case studies, this sessions outlines the key steps in analysing your autosomal DNA results. Convenor: Veronica Williams. Bookings essential. $10 ($15 non-members).
  • Saturday 29 April (1.30pm - 3.30pm) - DNA Advanced Users Meeting - BOOKED OUT!

Digitised records of the First Legislative Council 1824-1855

The First Legislative Council, the precursor to the current NSW Parliament, is the oldest legislative body in Australia having been established in 1823 as an advisory body of 5 appointed members. Initially the Council's jurisdiction covered not only NSW but also the colonies of Victoria, Tasmania, parts of Queensland, South Australia and even further afield.

For the first time these documents will be easily available to researchers with the recent digitisation of over 60,000 documents dating from 1824 through to 1855. You can peruse tabled papers, Bills, minutes of proceedings, reports of debates and correspondence.

The documents have been indexed by document type and date and will be available from Thursday 30 March on the NSW Parliament website.


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 will calculate the correct postage fees according to the weight of your order.

NEW - Shackled, Female Convicts at Moreton Bay 1826-1839 - $35.00
Brisbane, the capital of Queensland, was first known as Moreton Bay, a place of secondary punishment in New South Wales until 1859. Who were the women convicts who were sent there? Were they part of a distinct criminal class? Could they control their own destinies in any way or were they victims of an uncompromising penal system? Were they irretrievably tied to their criminal past or did they develop new lives? This book identifies each woman sent to Moreton Bay and brings to light their full stories. Here the women are evaluated to enable an understanding of the procedures which ordered their lives. As the new settlement developed, the social conditions proved as much a shackle as their criminality. See the review in Descent March 2017. Softcover, 25cm, 271 pages, Jennifer Harrison, Anchor Books Australia, 2016 [More detail]

NEW - Tracing Your Twentieth Century Ancestors - $39.00
The recent past is so often neglected when people research their family history, yet it can be one of the most rewarding periods to explore, and so much fascinating evidence is available. The rush of events over the last century and the rapid changes that have taken place in every aspect of life have been dramatic, and the lives of family members of only a generation or two ago may already appear remote. That is why Karen Bali's informative and accessible guide to investigating your immediate ancestors is essential reading, and a handy reference for anyone who is trying to trace them or discover the background to their lives. Softcover, 23cm, 156 pages, Karen Bali, Pen & Sword 2016 [More detail]

That Elusive Digger - $15.00
Tracing your Australian Military Ancestors Previously there was no concise but comprehensive guide to help the family historian embark on the search for Australian military ancestors, much less one which also gives simple overviews of Australia's military history. This small book sets out to remedy these failings. Herein are provided handy summaries of Australia's military history both in peace and war; a glimpse of where to look and what to look for, all leavened with brief forays into how to understand and so get the most from military records. For those seeking to search out their Australian military ancestors, there is no better place to start. Softcover, A5, indexed, 56 pages, Neil C Smith, Unlock the Past 2013 [More detail]

Understanding Australian Military Speak - $16.00
Recent years have witnessed unprecedented efforts by family and other historians to dig out more and more information on Australia's rich military heritage and especially on those who served. This groundswell of interest follows on from milestones such as the centenary of the Boer War and World War I. As a result, historians now seem to be surrounded by an ever expanding plethora of records, most of which they find are digitised. That's where the problem can start. The task of understanding military records is fraught with the difficulties of grappling with and interpreting among other matters, military speak, acronyms, initialisms and abbreviations.

This book fills the need by detailing 6,000 abbreviations, initialisms and acronyms found in Australian military records from 1788 to the present day. Softcover, A5, 72 pages, Neil C Smith, Unlock The Past Series, 2016 [More detail]


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© Society of Australian Genealogists 2017 - all rights reserved
Any feedback or enquiries regarding this newsletter should be directed to the editor: Lisa Watson. Items for inclusion are also welcome.