Society of Australian Genealogists …. the Beginnings

Most Aussies who’ve been doing genealogy for a little while will be familiar with the major genealogical societies in each state: QFHS, GSQ, AIGS, GSV, WAGS, GSNT, GST, SAGHS, HAGSOC and SAG. Today’s story focusses on the Society of Australian Genealogists in Sydney, which we commonly refer to as SAG.

While recently browsing on Trove (as you do on cold, almost-winter evenings), I came across the following article which tells of the beginnings of the Society …

the Sydney Morning Herald, 30 August 1932, p. 8

the Sydney Morning Herald, 30 August 1932, p. 8

So as you can see the Society of Australian Genealogists was formed way back in 1932. This made me go looking to see when the other state societies were formed, and here’s what I found:
1941 – Genealogical Society of Victoria
1964 – Heraldry & Genealogical Society of Canberra (also now known as Family History ACT)
1973 – South Australian Genealogy & Heraldry Society (also now known as GenealogySA)
1973 – Australian Institute of Genealogical Studies
1978 – Genealogical Society of Queensland
1979 – Queensland Family History Society
1979 – Western Australian Genealogical Society
1980 – Genealogical Society of Tasmania (now known as Tasmanian FHS)
1981 – Genealogical Society of the Northern Territory

A snippet from the above 1932 article states…

“Mr. H. J. Rumsey, said he was convinced that no country had more complete records from the time of its occupation by civilised people than Australia. Mr. Rumsey indicated the various sources of information available for research work, both in Australia and Great Britain … To help one another in genealogical study, Mr. Rumsey advocated the use of a card index system, so that members could be supplied with standard cards to record their investigation. Ultimately, he said, it was to be hoped that a genealogical reference library of their own would be formed, and that a small magazine, covering the activities of the society, and other general items of interest, would be published quarterly.”

Now fast forward two years to June 1934, and we read about the coming “Genealogical Exhibition” which they are holding …

Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners' Advocate, GENEALOGY. 14 june 1934, p. 6 2017

Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate, 14 June 1934, p. 6

To quote a portion from the above article it starts off with a little history of the society …

“It is the first society of its kind formed in Australia. One of the main objects is to create in individuals a personal interest in their own family histories, to encourage in them the study of the science of heraldry, and such other subjects as relate to personal genealogical research, and to give them every possible assistance in the collection of their own family archives.”
Then it gives details of the coming Exhibition …
“… holding a Genealogical Exhibition during the first week in July, and the assistance of all those who are interested in the history of their families … The exhibits will be limited to genealogical, heraldic, and other family matters, including pedigrees, portraits, wills, bookplates, family documents, diaries, family Bibles, and other books containing genealogical entries, coats of arms, crests, books of press cuttings relating to genealogy, articles of apprenticeship, marriage, licences, land grants.”

That would have been fun to attend, don’t you think?

Now fast forward another 83 years to 2017, and the Society of Australian Genealogists is still going strong, with over 4000 members from all round the world, and is totally moving with the times.

SAG have proved themselves to be one of the most innovative groups in Australia. Not only do they have a very spiffy website ( , social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter and YouTube), apart from having local meetings online, they also host webinars, have members only section on their site, run a bookshop, and have a number of Special Interest Groups (SIGs) for those who want to focus on something more specific such as writing, DNA, English research or a particular software program, all very valuable ways to keep a society active and members interested.

SAG is also the host society for the next year’s Australasian Congress. So from organising the big exhibition in 1934, to organising Congress in 2018, they’re still going!

I just wanted to say to the Society and their volunteers … you should all be incredibly proud of yourself for the many thousands of people you’ve helped near and far, over the years. And here’s to many more years of helping genealogists find their families! Awesome work guys.

2 Responses to “Society of Australian Genealogists …. the Beginnings”

  1. Carmel G says:

    Very interesting, thanks Alona.

  2. crissouli says:

    I have included your blog in either INTERESTING BLOGS or GENERAL INTEREST in FRIDAY FOSSICKING at

    Thank you, Chris

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *