Remembering Our First Meeting in 1964

3rd February 2024
By Engagement Committee
As we celebrate our 60th year we are looking back on the history of Family History ACT

During 2024 we are celebrating the 60th birthday of Family History ACT.  A series of activities and events will be occurring this year to help commemorate our first 60 years. These include a monthly news item titled From our Archives that will showcase some of the many achievements of Family History ACT and our members over the past six decades.

This month we are focusing on the inaugural meeting held on Tuesday 20 October 1964 in Seminar Room No 1 of the Coombs Building, Australian National University. Fourteen people attended this meeting, including our first Convenor Dr Walter Niel (Niel) Gunson and guest speaker Mrs Guy (Louise) Bakewell, OBE, President of the Genealogical Society of Victoria.

The business of this meeting included proposals to form the Canberra Genealogy and Heraldry Group, which were discussed and agreed.

The Minutes of this meeting were recorded by Mr Ian Mackay in the Group’s Minute Book in the beautiful handwriting for which he became known when he was later elected as the Group’s Honorary Secretary.  Ian’s interest in armorial drawing was also evident at this first meeting when he doodled an emblem that was to later form the basis of the logo for the Group.

The Group was initially affiliated with the Genealogical Society of Victoria (GSV) and effectively operated as a subgroup of GSV with special provision for a local executive council that consisted of a president, not more than two vice-presidents, an honorary secretary, and honorary Treasurer and perhaps two elected councillors.

Two categories of membership were proposed:

  1. Full Membership of GSV costing £2.10.0 per annum entitling the member to receive the GSV journal Ancestor, their Bulletin newsletter and full privileges of membership in Victoria;
  2. Local Group Membership costing 10 shillings plus, if desired, an independent subscription to Ancestor at the rate of £1.10.0 per annum.


GSV was to be asked to refund the Canberra Genealogy and Heraldry Group ten shillings from every subscription paid by Canberra members.

A special committee comprising Dr Gunson, Dr Michael Crawford and Mrs H Sedwick was appointed to negotiate with GSV to formalise arrangements for the formation of the Canberra Genealogy and Heraldry Group and the date of 17 November 1964 was set for the next meeting.

If any current or former member of Family History ACT has any records or pictures relating to society activities, we would love to hear from you. Please email our President.



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