Australian Genealogist Keith A. Johnson Elected a Fellow of the Society

It is with pleasure that we announce that high profile Australian genealogist Keith A. Johnson, AM, FSG, FSAG, FRAHS, has been elected a Fellow of the Irish Genealogical Research Society.  The formal, public announcement of his election would have occurred at the IGRS Annual General Meeting in London on Saturday, 9th May, but due to the Covid-19 health crisis that event has been postponed.

Keith Johnson, AM, FSG, FSAG, FRAHS, FIGRS

In announcing this award IGRS Chairman Steven Smyrl said “Keith has had a long and distinguished career in genealogy and he has been to the forefront of developments in the field in Australia for decades. He is the 92nd person to have been honoured with the Fellowship of the IGRS in its 84-year history.  He is the sixth Australasian (and fifth Australian) to be so elected, following Andrew Clifford (New Zealand, 1995), Rosemary Coleby (2005), Nick Reddan (2006), Lindsay Bellhouse (2009) and Terry Eakin (2012).

Keith Johnson became active in history and genealogy circles in the early 1960s, joining the Royal Australian Historical Society [RAHS] and the Society of Australian Genealogists [SAG]. Subsequently, he joined the IGRS in 1983.

Since 1980 he has been involved in publishing, originally in print but more recently online.  His first significant publication was the Census of New South Wales, November 1828, which he edited with Malcolm Sainty.  In partnership with Malcolm, he founded the Australian Biographical & Genealogical Record [ABGR] in 1982, an ambitious project to build a biographical database of everyone born or arriving in Australia from 1788 to 1900 (including Aboriginal people).  Through the ABGR they published various muster lists for the early colonies in Australia.  In 2006 they set up the Biographical Database of Australia [BDA]  – – a non-profit project, now online, which continues the work of the ABGR.  Keith is Vice-President of the BDA Board.

Chairman of the IGRS Awards sub-committee, Paul Gorry, said “Over a period of a quarter century, the work for which Keith Johnson (working with Malcolm Sainty) has been most widely known internationally is the editing of the annual Genealogical Research Directory.  Published from 1981 to 2007, the GRD provided an opportunity for family historians to connect with others throughout the world with shared research interests.  Before the internet made such contact possible in different ways, the GRD was unrivalled in genealogy.”

Keith Johnson’s long and distinguished career in genealogy has been acknowledged by various prestigious honours.  He is a Fellow of both the RAHS and the SAG, as well as the Society of Genealogists (London).  In 2003 he was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM).  In 2006 he and Malcolm Sainty were awarded the Annual History Citation from the History Council of New South Wales “for outstanding achievement and contribution to history and genealogy in Australia for over forty years”.


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