Founded by volunteers in 1973, and now with over 4,300 members, Genealogy SA is South Australia’s leading resource for genealogy and family history research and the largest family history society in Australia.
The Society continually adds to its family history collection, dating back to settlement, through outreach programs to community groups and publications, digitizing data and making it available online for both Society members and the general public.
In addition to the online resources (now over 8 million records), the Society has an extensive collection of books, microfiche, Journals and other family history resources in the Library, located on Unley Road, Unley.
Approximately 230 volunteers from all over Australia and the world continue to support the Society, by way of data transcribing and checking (both in the Library and from home) providing assistance to visitors who wish to access the resources in the Library, and through various administration and governance roles.
Members of the Council
(Chair Mangagement Committee)
Robert Blair worked for 36 years as an Accountant in the manufacturing industry until early retirement in 2014. He commenced researching his family tree in 1979 and his tree now extends to Australia, England, Scotland, Canada, United States of America, New Zealand, Argentina and South Africa with DNA being used to find some ancestors and relations. He joined the Society in 1980 with membership number 827. In 1981 he became a library volunteer, on the Saturday roster, a role which he has had ever since. He served on the Society Council from 1981 until 2001 which included 6 years as Treasurer, 2 years as a Vice President and 8 years as President. He has also served on the Society Council since 2015 taking on the position of President in 2022.
In addition, to his time on the Society Council he has served on many of the Society’s Committees and since 2015 has also been a volunteer on the Society’s transcription team in the Research services. In 1998 he was made a Fellow of the Society and in 2003 he was made a Life Member.
Vice President I
(Chair Research & Development)
David has been a member of SAGHS since 2007, a councillor since 2011, Vice President since 2021, and Chair of Research and Development Committee since 2014, as well as member of the Management and IT sub-committees. Former convenor of the Irish Special interest group and joint founder and first convenor of the Computer Users Special Interest group with Richard Merry, he was awarded Fellow of SAGHS in 2022. He has been researching his family connections in South Australia, Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland, New Zealand, England and Ireland for over 25 years.
Vice President II
(Chair Awards Committee)
Andrew has had an almost life-long passion for family history, from transcribing cemeteries in the early 1970’s, to writing and publishing family histories, biographies, and local histories. On the way founding the Society, which has now become the largest family history society in the southern hemisphere. He has been a Council Member, President, Secretary and Vice President of the Society over that time.
Dale Johns started dabbling into family history in the late 1960s when he infrequently visited the NewsPaper Collection in the basement of the State Library during his lunch - for something to do, probably. His interest may well have come from being a member of a relatively large family. His involvement in the Society really started in 1980 when he wandered into the then modest Library of the Genealogy Society in the Block in Hindmarsh Square and joined the Society on-the-spot. His initial intention was to compile Pedigree Charts of and for his parents. Subsequently he has learnt his ancestry traces back to England and Prussia. He recalls the immense benefit he gained from the early Cemetery Card Index. In those days, research was undertaken by trudging up and down rows of headstones, contacting anyone with information that could help, hand-writing or manually typing requests (with carbon-paper for a record) for details from those he couldn’t ring, trawling through newspapers, electoral rolls and books for information and hints. The card indexes created and updated by the Society and other bodies were of tremendous benefit as were those later on microfiche. He continued pursuing this ‘hobby’ as time permitted whilst working, studying and raising a family.
However, from that initial visit or two, it wasn’t long before he was recruited onto the Council of the Society in 1981. The Council members were then relatively new and keen to get on with it. His involvement on the Council, over many years, has led him to positions of Council Member (26yrs), Vice President (3yrs), Secretary (12 yrs) and President (12 yrs) as well as being a regular volunteer in the Library. He has been a keen advocate of the adoption of Information Technology in the Society to make information more readily available to members. He believes the Society’s compilation and publication of the Biographical Index of South Australians and the Indexes to the early BDM records of this State (and subsequent availability on-line) were outstanding achievements of the Society in assisting people in their family history research while he was on Council. Likewise as has been the tremendous growth in the Library holdings, on-line resources and the substantial premises the Society now owns. The Society officially recognised his contributions by making him a Fellow of the Society in 2021, awarding him Life Membership in 2017 and presenting Certificates of Appreciation along the way.
With regards to his research, he has compiled family trees of almost every ancestor of his and his wife’s from their arrival in South Australia between 1837 and 1883 and constructed quite a number of pedigree charts of those early arrivals in the home countries. He has also found time to produce a history of his time at Primary School (52-29) and (with one of his sisters) produce substantial biographical and family histories for both of his parents.
While he has been retired for some 19 years, he maintains his membership of a couple of professional organisations in both accounting and information technology to keep him in touch with the every changing landscape and to assist him in his roles in the Society. In his professional life he principally worked as an Auditor in Information Technology which has been of great benefit in his contributions to the Society.
(Convenor of the England Special Interest Group)
David has over 40 years practical broad business experience gained in commerce, industry, semi government and professional practice in Australia and the UK. He has been a member of the Society since 15 December 2003 and became a member of Council and Treasurer of the Society in 2006, and Convener of the England Special Interest Group in 2020. Although David has no South Australian ancestry, his wife, children, and grandchildren can claim descendancy from James Michael and his wife Mary who arrived in South Australia in 1839 on board the sailing ship Cleveland.
Fiona has been a member of the Council since 2020 and member of the Society since 2014. Her interest in family history began when she was very young, listening to stories told by her grandparents and numerous great aunts. She developed an interest in history and loves being able to connect personal stories with the wider events occurring at the time. She greatly enjoys the challenge and detective work involved with genealogy, tracking through obscure sources to make connections, even though she has been cursed with Irish Murphys and Welsh Joneses in her family tree.
In her real life, she is a lawyer, and mother to a busy, sportsmad child.
(Chair Marketing & Promotions Committee)
I first joined SAGHS while living in Victoria in the late 1980’s to get the benefits of BISA. I have been an active member since moving to Adelaide and use my professional skills and qualifications from the University sector to assist with cataloguing and archiving the collection. My own ancestry is from the UK but my husband has many ancestors who arrived in South Australia during the 19th century. Like most genealogists, my trees will never be done, there is always more to find out!
(Chair IT Committee)
Phil has been a member of SAGHS since 2021, joining after moving from Canberra to Adelaide in 2020. Phil worked since the 1980’s in the Commonwealth public service, managing computer systems at Parliament House until retiring in 2012. He has had an interest in history in general since grade 9, way back in the ‘70s, and in family history since around the start of the new millennium when his parents started their researches into their families. His ancestry includes Cornish, English and German. Phil joined the SAGHS Council in 2022 and chairs the IT Committee, making use of IT technical and management experience gained during his working life.
Gilbert joined the society in 1982, and has been a member of the council 1989-2019, and 2020 to the present.
In August 1982 Beryl joined SAGHS as a volunteer transcribing passenger lists for BISA 1836-1885. She became a SAGHS member in September 1983 and continued her interest in family history for a reunion in 1986, then continuing as a volunteer with data-entry and checking entries for publication in South Australians 1836-1885.
From 1989 she worked with the team of volunteers extracting, deciphering, checking and indexing Births, Deaths and Marriages made available for public research since 1997. When the SA Districts of BDM closed in 1991-1992 she worked with Gloria Stewart’s team of volunteers indexing, checking and filming District registers which have been returned to repositories across SA. This subsequently lead to the publication of her book South Australian Registration Districts of Births, Deaths & Marriages for which she drew maps to identify each BDM District and the history of their holdings of District registers available for research.
In May 1994 she joined the SAGHS Research Team to assist with finding records and information about families as requested in the many letters received. When emails rather than letters were received with research requests, Beryl was appointed SAGHS Research Coordinator in October 2004 after Jean Bray retired. Due to her work on District BDM records she was made a Fellow of SAGHS in 1998. Beryl joined SAGHS Council in 2002 and was appointed Vice President from 2006 to 2020. In 2017 she received Life Membership of SAGHS and a Premier’s Certificate in 2019 in recognition for outstanding volunteer service.
Research Co-ordinator - Beryl Schahinger
Public Officer - Graham Jaunay
Journal Editor - Heidi Ing
Returning Officer - Meryl Stephenson
Carolyn Wass commenced working with not-for-profit volunteer based organisations in 2013, building on her wealth of experience in marketing and business administration. In September 2022, she commenced as General Manager with Genealogy SA following one and a half years of employment as Memberships Officer.
Katrina McKinlay is the Librarian at Genealogy SA. She has worked in libraries for over 30 years, including the University of Adelaide and the Department of Defence. She found her dream job 2 years ago, combining her two passions, libraries and genealogy here at Genealogy SA.
Katrina has been involved in researching her family tree for many years. It all started as a child, wandering around cemeteries and visiting older relatives with her parents. As she got older, she quizzed her parents about their research and picked up where their research left off, adding more and more interesting tales to their stories.
Nicola has a broad range of experience in many areas relating to family history and family connections. She has worked in both Government and Not for Profit organisations over the years and is excited to be in a role that will help and support people on their journey towards discovering more about their family.
Communications and Member Engagement Officer
Gemma comes to Genealogy SA with fifteen years of experience in public libraries, and she brings a passion for connecting communities with the information they need.
The Research Team is available for contact on Mondays and Fridays.