The group with a whole lot of history

Broken Hill Family History Group

The Broken Hill Family History Group (BHFHG) is the place to go to uncover accurate information about long lost family and friends from the town and surrounding communities.

Formed in 1976, BHFHG volunteers continue the painstaking task of transferring data from local newspapers to computers, and they’re calling out to the younger generation to help to keep the history of the region alive.

Secretary of the BHFHG, Jenny Camilleri, received an OAM in 2017 for her 39 years of voluntary dedication to collecting and correcting records.

“Many records were put on the internet without correcting any of them. Several years back, before the girls took over doing the cemetery [data entry], I added 4500 names by going through the local newspapers. And before Trove came along, the ladies transcribed the local newspapers by hand – both the Barrier Miner and the Barrier Daily Truth,” Ms Camilleri told us.

“All of our records are in index file in alphabetical order and they’re not going on the computer because they’re more accessible to people coming to Broken Hill looking for family. It’s a lot easier when they’re looking for a precise name on a particular family,” she says.

“We’ve got over 12,500 mine employment photos and records of the men that worked on the mines, which are on a computer database, and we’ve got numerous school records, but a lot of the church records are non-existent because they closed and were sold to private buyers,” said Ms Camilleri.

“We’ve got data on deaths, marriages, births, naturalisations, including records for Aboriginal, Chinese and Afghan residents.”

In 1924, 18 out of the 69 hotels around town were decommissioned.

“We’ve got a lovely collection of records on the town’s pubs, but I don’t know why so many were delicenced in 1924. We’d like to find out.”

Stepping into another room full of folders, Ms Camilleri said, pointing, “And here we have records of cemeteries and undertakers, over there are shipping records, our pedigree charts, maps, and the Regional Advertiser which was an early little magazine. And there’s the war section, the police section and over there we’ve got the family history records that people have donated, which are currently being put onto a computer.”

At 85, Judith, one of the group’s more senior cemetery researchers told us, “We need somebody who’s going to come behind us because it’s not a quick job. We’ve got to keep the group going.”

With around 40 members, 18 regular volunteers continue to hold the fort, but Ms Camilleri is calling out for more computer literate members, especially younger people who can continue to keep these very well-preserved and accurate records alive online for future generations to access.

For a small fee, a BHFHG member will search people or places of interest for you. You’re welcome to drop into the office from 10am to 2.30pm Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday at the ground floor of the Crystal St Railway Station for a chat and to browse through the records. The group encourage anyone with old photos or records of any kind to take them in to be scanned or stored. Donations are also welcome.

For more information, call Ms Camilleri on 8088 1266 or 0419 861 153 or email [email protected]

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