Early Meeting Memories

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)





April 6, 2017 at 11:59 am 1 comment

Tourists In Our Own Town

Last Saturday saw members and friends of the Geraldton Family History Society becoming tourists in our town. We joined with Diane Evans for a tour of the HMAS Sydney II  Memorial. This site pays homage to the 645 men who lost their lives after the vessel was attacked by the German auxiliary cruiser Kormoran on 19th November 1941. This loss was  the greatest naval loss in Australia  accounting for over a third of the losses sustained in WW II.

Everything in this memorial is symbolic in some way from the layout, design,materials, structures including the plants in the garden. It is only once you understand each of five elements in their entirety can you truly appreciate the sacrifice that these men made for our country.

This Saturday marks the 75th Anniversary of the loss of the HMAS Sydney II. A commemorative service will be held at the HMAS Sydney II Memorial Gummer Ave, Geraldton at 5.00pm

Tours are also conducted daily at 10.30am each day by the Geraldton Voluntary Tour Guides.

November 14, 2016 at 6:10 pm 1 comment

“Building Your Western Australian Family & Local History – Seminar”

Grandpop Hays and Mining Days cropped

Western Australia has a short but intriguing history, during this time we have seen early pioneers forge a new life in a untamed land, followed by convicts, pensioner guards and gold miners all looking for a new beginning.

Lorraine Clarke and Cherie Strickland from Swan Genealogy who are the experts in West Australian history will give you great insider tips on researching, compiling family and local histories.

At: The Residency – 321 Marine Terrace, Geraldton (in the Stables Rooms 3&4)
When: Saturday 6th August 2016
Time: 9.15am – 2.00pm

9.15am – Registration
9.30 – Finding Birth, Marriage and Death Records outside the Register General (using Private and Government Records to build your family tree)
10.30 – Morning Tea
11.00 – Putting flesh on your family tree – What records are available to tell your family history?
12.00pm – Lunch
1.00pm – Planning your journey to the Archives

Cost: $10 for GFHS members; $20 for non-members
Light lunch and morning tea included
Bookings Essential: RSVP to gfhs@wn.com.au or 0403 929 559

July 7, 2016 at 9:17 am Leave a comment

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