August is Family History Month. In conjunction with this special occasion, this week the Blayney Chronicle takes a close look at the Blayney Shire Local and Family History Group.
The Blayney Shire Local and Family History Group was established on February 19, 1992 by a group of eight people concerned that there was a need for such a group.
Their aim remains the goal of the group today.
The Group promotes the research and collection of records and documents of the family history of individuals and also the local history of the Blayney Shire, complementing the work of the villages' historical groups, particularly at Carcoar and Millthorpe.
The Group meets on the second Wednesday of each month at 10am in the Blayney Library.
During meetings, members discuss reports on projects, areas of local concern and provide advice with research.
There are also occasional guest speakers such as Professor Robin McLachlan from Bathurst who spoke on Australians in the Klondyke Gold Rush.
The Group's archive has an extensive collection of books and documents on family and local history stored at Blayney Library - there are more than 1000 items in total.
The archive boasts reference books, parish maps, photographs, books, documents relating to the Shire, or families associated with it.
It is open for research during library hours.
The Group swaps journals with other history groups in NSW and these are also filed at the library.
Their research team receives two to three enquiries each week.
They focus on research for people who contact the Group regarding local history or family's who once lived in the are.
Examples have included the family of Thomas Davis, the first postmaster in Blayney, Graham Lupp from Bathurst, who is writing a book on Bathurst-based architects and builders, the Blayney Citizen's Cup and applying for a Royal Australian Historical Society grant on behalf of Craig Bratby for his book on John Vane.
The main projects undertaken by the Group in the past have been Boer War soldiers from the district, cemetery transcription of headstones in all shire cemeteries, finding pioneer families for inclusion in a register, Blayney War Memorial gates - a history and the Blayney Lime Kilns.
Current and ongoing projects range from World War I soldiers from the Shire - 1,134 names on a database but not all are identified to photographs from schools and Blayney town, especially the business area, an oral history program, the Boer War memorial lamp post and a transcription update at the Blayney cemeteries.
The Group visits State Records at Kingswood around two to four times each year. Documents are photographed and brought home to be indexed and eventually kept in their collection at the Blayney library.
Their list of publications are the books 'Dear Mother' Boer Soldiers, Pioneer Register - Settlement to Federation and the latest, Blayney Limekilns, on sale at the Information Centre and Blayney library; the CD Transcriptions of Headstones in local cemeteries and the journal Blayney Diggers, which is issued three times a year to members.
Group displays have been held at market days, the Blayney Show, Carcoar Hospital Museum, Blayney Festival, IGA, History Week 2013 in the Uniting Church Hall in conjunction with the Camera Club - focus on Adelaide Street, a pop-up display vacant shop next to Blayney Real Estate supporting the Blayney Town Committee for the Blayney Show and Textures of One, NSW Heritage Week and Anzac Day.
They organise workshops for members on research with library resources of using the internet, while members also attend courses put on by the Sustainable Collections Project of Orange, Cabonne and Blayney councils.
The Group has also joined in with Orange Historical Society workshops, Cowra and Bathurst Family History Group seminars and the Local Government War Memorial forum in Sydney in May 2013.
Other activities on the list have been Boer War Day, where the Group held two joint services with the RSL, this year they had a display in IGA and they attended meetings with the RSL and RFS on the restoration of the Blayney War Memorial Gates.
The Group has held a number of special functions and activities in the past, namely hosting various people on special interests such as an Oral History representative from the State Library and Tim Whitford in 2012 on the Lost Soldiers of Fromelles; the first Blayney Cemetery Walk during Heritage Week in April, sharing stories of some of the occupants.
Their last meeting each year is an "away" trip with a Christmas lunch to follow.
Some past destinations have been Rockley, Bathurst, Trunkey and Duntryleague in Orange.
At present, the Group is concerned with the need for a dedicated history centre at the library with archival storage and exhibition space - put simply, they are desperate for more room.
They are also concerned with the deterioration of graves in the cemeteries, especially Blayney.
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You can help the Group by providing information for their projects, currently WWI, supporting their displays, donating books, photographs and newspapers, either relating to family history or local organisations, for example minute books on families from the area, or make them available for scanning.
Most importantly, do not throw anything out.
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The Group has affiliations with the Blayney Tourist Information Centre, Blayney Shire Council Cemetery Forum - with two representatives, Central West Libraries, Central West Chapter of Museums Australia, Sustainable Collections Project of Orange, Blayney and Cabonne councils and state-based genealogical groups.
- An information stall for Family History month will be held on Thursday, August 28. Some publications will be available for sale.