Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Pioneers & Suffragist was awarded a Commendation at this years Victorian History Awards
The presentation took place at the Edge Theatre in Federation Square on Monday 21st October. 

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Pioneers & Suffragists is available in three locations in Colac as well  directly from the authors.

Cow Lick Bookshop at 86 Murray Street Colac, Ph 52321072

Blanes Newsagency 164 Murray Street Colac, Ph52314602

Colac & District Family History Group Inc
COPACC  - Rae Street Colac

Monday, 4 March 2013

ABC Ballarat with Steve Martin

Monday 4th February - Interview with Steve Martin on the ABC Ballarat morning show.

The invitation to be guest speakers at the Ballarat Soroptimist's International Women's Day dinner also prompted an opportunity to be interviewed on Ballarat ABC radio about Pioneers & Suffragists. Stephen told his favourite story of Mary Job whose husband came to Australia before her with a view of establishing himself then sending for the family. The tale takes an interesting twist when she got wind that he had perhaps taken an Australian wife and started afresh.  What followed is in the book..

Being interviewed on radio was a new experience for both of us, but talking about the book came easily.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Abbotsford Convent - Melbourne Book Launch

Stephen and I had the absolute pleasure of meeting 101 year old Doreen O'Rourke (nee Meehan), who attended the Melbourne launch of "Pioneers & Suffragists" at the Abbotsford Convent on Saturday, accompanied by her nieces, Jo and Bernadette.
Doreen is a grand-daughter of Catherine Meehan, one of the women featured in the book. She was 20 years old when her grandmother, a pioneer of the Beeac area, passed away.

Saturday, 3 November 2012

A huge thank you to everyone who was able to make it to the launch of Pioneers & Suffragists in Colac on the 18th August.  It was a fantastic day and the feedback about the day and the book has been really wonderful – and is still coming in.  I have included some of the comments below.

 Stephen and I are pleased to announce that the first edition has completely sold out and we will soon be releasing the 2nd edition – with some extra photos, stories and information.

We have been asked to have a Melbourne release of the book and it will be held at the beautiful Abbotsford Convent on the 24th November at 2:30.

As you are possibly aware, the Colac Otway Shire subsidised the first edition of Pioneers & Suffragists, enabling us to sell it for $35.  All future editions will cost $45 each. As a special offer for anyone attending the Melbourne event, books will be able to be purchased on that day for $35.

If you were unable to make it to Colac, or have some family members who might enjoy learning about these amazing women and hearing some of the untold stories uncovered during our research, we would love to see you there.
The event will be held in the "Linen Room" at the convent between 2:30 and 4:30, $15 per person with a lovely afternoon tea included.
Contact me on for further information

Thank you again for your interest and support.  The stories about these wonderful pioneering women continue to inspire.
Excerpts from Some of the feedback from the launch in Colac and the first edition of Pioneers & Suffragists
May I congratulate you and Stephen again for you excellent project on the women’s suffrage petition. I will enjoy reading the book more thoroughly than just a flick through at a friend’s place.
Well done.
Look forward to catching up again at another event perhaps.
Congratulations to you and Stephen on years of research culminating in a wonderful book that will be treasured by families for generations to come. Congratulations too on a lovely book launch. It all went perfectly. You must both still be sailing on a high
Just to let you know your book has been a great success with my family.  My oldest granddaughter was very impressed and excited to learn about her great, great, great grandmother.  I hope you have had great success with the sale of your book.  Thank you so much for including me in your research for these wonderful women.  My boys tell me that they now know where I get my persistence from.  I raised the 5 boys on my own and I am happy to say that they are all good men.  Those that are married with children are great fathers and my oldest son is a bachelor and a thorough gentleman.  Wishing you every success in your future endeavours.
Again, congratulations on your book 'Pioneers and Suffragists'.  You and Stephen should be extremely proud of your work.
 the book has arrived - it is really amazing!  Congratulations!
 I have just shown it to my friend who is a guide at the Old Treasury Building in Melbourne.  This is where the original petition is on display.  She was more than excited to see the book.  Would you mind if I gave her your contact details?  She is very interested in the introduction by Clare Wright and has contacted the Secretary, about how very well it is written introducing the story of the petition.
Wow, merrill thankyou so much. I will take the information to my 91 year old grandma who can remember alice most days :) Amazing, thankyou
Inspired by your talk last night I sat down and did some more searching of the petition and, whilst I have to confirm it, I suspect I may have found a grandaunt who signed in Ballarat.  Yeehaa!!
I have just received your gorgeous book, with thanks.  Many and huge congratulations on such a stunning achievement.
I am at presently in WA at my sons having just left a daughters in Adelaide,the reason for my email she is absolutely stoked that some of our ancestors signed the suffragist petition ,she desperately wants to purchase a copy of the book
We all enjoyed the event, and admire the book very much - it is really a beautiful work, both in scholarship and production.
just letting you know i received my book last week. So interesting to learn about all these different women who had a hand in changing history
Hi Merrill – the book arrived today.  Wow – fantastic job!  Amazing how much information you’ve gathered about so many women.  Also interested to have a bit of information about the times they lived it.  I’ve shown it to my children but at 1, 3 & 6 they are a little young to appreciate it, looking forward to sharing it with them in years to come.
Congratulations on organising such a wonderful weekend! It was certainly well worth coming down from Canberra. I am really enjoying the book and piecing together so many family connections. The weekend was also a great chance to meet some relatives who I might never have come across...thanks for bringing us all together with a common interest!
Hello Merrill and Stephen,  Our copies of your book arrived, and we are enjoying tracing things about our family [Maxfield] connections that we had no knowledge of. It is a much larger book than we expected, and so full of facts, what a project you both took on. We also watched the Utopia Girls, and found it filled in a lot of details. It has been very interesting to find out some history that we knew nothing about,and to have a family connection with.
Merrill, Just to let you know the 2 books have arrived in great condition. Oh boy what a lot of work you have put into this, now I have to set aside some time to read the book.
The book is wonderful!! You and Stephen have done a superb job of telling the stories of these amazing inspiring women. I love the way they leap out of the pages as such individual women and although they shared the same "time" in their lives their own unique personal circumstances and backgrounds were portrayed with so much respect.
I am now back home after spending some time in Colac with my Uncle.
A 'BIG' congratulations to you both on your amazing book. I have found so much in it that connects to my family, it has blown me away. Four years of very hard work....Wow !
What a great weekend for the launch of the book, great speaker, launch, delightful afternoon tea, super organized set up. Many comments & connections. Once again a very big thank you from me for all your hard work and an excellent read of the women who gave us the right to vote.   
I would like to congratulate you & Stephen on a very successful launch of the Pioneers & Suffragistes Book.  I am enjoying reading about all these Pioneer women.  So many familiar Family names in the Colac & district.  It was a very enjoyable afternoon, the Speakers & the afternoon tea Wow!!
 Diana and I had a enjoyable weekend and would like to thank you and Merrill O'Donnell for the great work in publishing Pioneers & Suffragists. Until you contacted the family I did not know a lot the subject.
Congratulations on a great weekend. There is lots of interesting info in the book.
What a great day it was last Saturday - great keynote speaker, charming chairwoman, passionate authors,  and a very big and enthusiastic audience.  Colac did itself proud!  I tried to get to you to inscribe my book but the queue seemed to be getting bigger not shorter in fact I wondered whether you were still sitting there signing by the time I caught the evening train to Melbourne!
Congratulations to you and Stephen on years of research culminating in a wonderful book that will be treasured by families for generations to come. Congratulations too on a lovely book launch. It all went perfectly. You must both still be sailing on a high.
I hope you're recovering from yesterday's excitement! It was a wonderful day and the book is magnificent- congratulations.
we had a wonderful time today at your book launch.  thanks for your dedication and hard work.
My wife and I loved the book launch at Colac, amazing when you think of unmade roads, lack of any meaningful transport, young children and other family responsibilities.
We found it very enlightening.  Searched out and met two of my Mother’s first cousins.
Congratulations! It is hard to imagine how wide the results of your work will be.  I think of future research, family reunions..


Saturday, 25 August 2012

It has been a week since the book "Pioneers & Suffragists" was launched and the first edition is almost sold out. Letters and emails have been arriving all week from descendants who travelled to Colac to be part of the celebrations. Thankyou for all of the positive feedback.
So many people have discovered that they are actually related to more than one of the women featured in the book and have new information to add to their family research.  Many are seeing a photograph of their ancestor for the first time.

Authors of "Pioneers & Suffragists" at the book launch in Colac on 18th August 2012.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Guests at the launch of "Pioneers & Suffragists"
Dr Richard Evans (centre) with authors Merrill O'Donnell & Stephen Brooks at the launch of Pioneers & Suffragists
Saturday 18th August, the book "Pioneers & Suffragists" was launched in Colac. Over 300 people, many descendants of the women featured in the book, travelled from interestate and throughout Victoria to attend the event. On Saturday night 125 people attended a celebratory dinner.

The book, which was launched by Dr Richard Evans from Deakin University is a result of four years of research and thousands of letters, emails and phone calls to descendants. Photographs were obtained of more than 200 of the women.