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Communities, Sport and Recreation

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Lilian Delsa Watson

Tasmanian Honour Roll of Women logo
Lilian Watson

Awarded for service to Cultural Heritage

Born: 31 July 1932

Died: 10 March 1996

Entered on roll: 2009


Family history gives a lot of people a lot of pleasure...when you learn about history you understand yourself better. (Lilian Watson, 1995)

Lilian Watson was born in Queensland in 1932. She moved to Tasmania in the 1950s and it was here that her interest in family history developed. This interest grew into the formation of the Tasmanian Family History Society, an organisation used by thousands of people to trace their family history.

Lilian was married and had six children. Despite heavy family commitments, Lilian’s knowledge of genealogy was such that she became a well-known national figure whose expertise was sought by many.

In 1973, Lilian became accredited as a Genealogical Researcher. A few years later, Lilian organised a meeting under the umbrella of the Melbourne-based Australian Institute of Family Studies. The first Genealogical Society of Tasmania was formed in 1980, with Lilian the founding President.

From 1978 to 1998, thousands of Tasmanians benefited from Lilian’s tutoring of family history through Adult Education. She also wrote a series of books, became a regular contributor to the Tasmanian Ancestry journal and wrote a weekly column for The Mercury.

In 1980, Lilian led a campaign which resulted in the release of Tasmania’s pre-1900 birth, death and marriage records, the first such release in the English speaking world. Another major achievement instigated by Lilian was the transcribing and recording of all headstones in Tasmania.

Lilian’s achievements have been recorded in The World Who’s Who of Women, and family history awards have been named in her honour. Lilian was awarded the first Fellowship Award of the Genealogical Society of Tasmania, becoming one of only four recipients of the Society’s highest honour.

Lilian Watson passed away in Hobart on 10 March 1996. In 2001, the Genealogical Society of Tasmania became known as the Tasmanian Family History Society Inc. Since its formation, it has achieved a membership of 7,000. This is Lilian’s legacy.

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