IN JUNE 1981, the first meeting of the South Gippsland group of the Genealogical Society of Victoria was held in the Old Council Chambers, Leongatha.

Last week, they marked its 40th anniversary with a celebratory afternoon tea.

A detailed history of the society was revealed after going back through the beautifully handwritten minutes, including many familiar names amongst those who worked hard to establish the Leongatha group.

The inaugural meeting was well attended, with the following members present: Robyn Miller, Jim Miller, Len Hanks, Norma Hillis, Jack Hulls, Barbara Challis, Michelle Jones, Richard Lester, Ellen Lyndon, Don Lyndon, Louise Martin, John Murphy, Helen O’Brien, Ted Hattam, Shirley Clarke, Jennifer Chitty, Jenny Christensen, Margaret Spokes, Melinda Wildes, Debra Williams, Karen Bush, Frank Robinson and Joan Lehmann. Apologies were received from Mr and Mrs Harry Bennett of Moe, Graham Tuff and Allison Gibbons.

The first elected office bearers were: Robyn Miller – president, Jennifer Chitty – vice-president, Joan Lehman – secretary, and Shirley Clark – treasurer.

Fees were 50 cents per person per meeting and at the second meeting, a $1 joining fee was introduced.

Amazingly, after 40 years, inaugural office bearers Joan Lehman and Jenny Chitty, together with Rosemary Abbey, Marg Pegler and Faye Marshman who joined in the first few years, are still valued and active members.

The South Gippsland Genealogical Society and Leongatha Historical Society are based in the historical Mechanics Institute in McCartin Street, Leongatha.

The South Gippsland Genealogical Society welcomes anyone interested in exploring their family tree and have excellent resources to assist you along the way.

Just be warned… it’s addictive!

They recently moved from evening to day meetings, now held at 1pm, on the third Monday of each month.

The president is Fay Boag and secretary is Heather Stone.

For more information, email