Early Meeting Memories

April 6, 2017 at 11:59 am Leave a comment

Joan and Jess

Founding Members Joan Downes and Jessie Lowrie


“Our Society met at several venues during the early years, the problem was the cost of a hiring a room to hold meetings was beyond our means to pay.

A few times we met in a member’s own home but this we felt was an imposition on the member’s family. Then for several years we were allowed the free use of a room in the Regional Health Centre in Shenton Street which was very nice. However it was always seemed eerie to be in such a huge building at night. After the cleaners left, there were often only 5 or 6 people in the building and at times we did have some odd people who definitely had no interest in genealogy, wander in through the open front doors. On our departure we had to lock the building.

One meeting night, Jess was away, my husband left me at the centre with bags of books, charts etc …..plus food for supper. No other members came  and I was most uneasy but  very glad to be able to use the payphone to call my husband to rescue me. On another evening when Jess Lowrie was away on holiday and Bob (my husband) was in Perth, I pushed my shopping trolley full of books from Carson Terrace around to Shenton Street….Jeff and Dot Ding took me home that time.

The society only had 7 or 8 books available for research at the beginning but there were not many genealogy books available. Jess and I gradually purchased book ourselves and took them to meetings to share with other researchers until we could raise enough money to buy books for the society’s library.

The Society encouraged members to send their family records to be included in the first editions of the Dictionary of Western Australians which appeared in 1979 to mark the 150th Anniversary of the founding of this state. In those early years there were absolutely no Registrar’s General Indexes available. We had to write away for all information and we really watched our letter boxes closely for replies from far off record offices.Research was slow and difficult but very rewarding as we patiently followed up each small clue to uncover our family ancestor’s records in Australia and overseas.”

Written by Joan Downes (1925 -2007) Member No 5 ( originally published in the Midwest Ancestry Magazine Volume 58, March 1988)




Entry filed under: Blog.

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