If you are or if you live in the area, you might like to visit the East Gippsland Family History Group (http://home.vicnet.net.au/~egfhg/)

at 21 Morgan Street, Bairnsdale on Saturday afternoon 12 March 2011. Their library is open that day from 10am to 2pm.

At 2pm I will be speaking on the “Story of Susannah Nicholls through the collections of the State Library of Victoria and an update on researching family history at the State Library of Victoria”.  There is no charge for non-members to attend the talk.

The records of Susannah Nicholls, mainly consisting of a series of letters back home to her family in England from just before her arrival in 1922 until her death in 1929 are held in the Australian Manuscripts Collection of the State Library of Victoria (MS12127).

After Susannah and her family (husband Will and children Margaret and John)’s arrival on the ‘Beltana’ in 1923 they settle at Pearcedale where Will becomes headmaster at the local school. The first letter from Susannah to her older sister Olive written in December 1922 is full of excitement about their new life ahead in Australia.

“…We have broken out in a fresh place! The die is cast and we have decided to take advantage of the new Empire Settlement Act and Emigrate to Australia…

…we hope to make a start in a new country with opportunities for the children they can’t get here…”


Photograph of Susannah Nicholls from MS 12127, 1927 at Pearcedale

The remaining letters back home, written once in Australia are a wonderful record of the family’s daily activities, their involvement in the local community, combined with the ups and downs of everyday life in a new country, sometimes poignant  but always honest and reflective.

Find out more about Susannah at my talk if you happen to be in Bairnsdale on Saturday 12 March!

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