Some want to trace their ancestors for curiosity’s sake. Others want to know more about their ethnic background. Sometimes looking into your family can provide additional benefits as you may get benefits and scholarships from organizations or governments if you are a member of a special group.
Whatever your motivation, genealogy research can be fascinating but a laborious task as you might have to pour over many records to get answers. But if you’re motivated and raring to go, we’ll get you started with tips, databases and helpful websites to discover their journey and where they settled.
Here is a simple guide to help you jumpstart ancestor research in Australia:
#1 Get A Starting Point From Your family
- Keep yourself as a starting point and work backward to fill in familial gaps by memory. Note your family tree down to understand which generation of your family you need to research on
- Obtain family records such as photographs, journals, letters, or memoirs.
- Collection official records of births, deaths, and marriages
- It is a good practice to make copies of your collected records (a ‘master’ copy and a ‘researching’ copy) of your original documents.
#2 Look Beyond your family
- Join genealogical societies in the areas your ancestors resided. Most of them provide access to resources, records, publications, and links to organizations either for free or at a nominal cost. Some might direct you to experts who can help you with your research.
- Go through publications on family history research. The publications listed below can be useful:
- Tracing Your Family History in Australia: A Guide to Sources by Vine Hall & Nick
- Unofficial Ancestry.com Workbook: A How-To Manual for Tracing Your Family Tree on the #1 Genealogy Website by Nancy Hendrickson
- The Everything Guide to Online Genealogy: Trace Your Roots, Share Your History, and Create Your Family Tree (Everything®) by Kimberly Powell
- Visit libraries. You can always ask the staff to point you to the right resource. Most libraries feature a Newspapers and Family History zone. If you’re lucky, you might get your hand on microfilm or electronic resources like electoral rolls, convict records, passenger lists and indexes of births, deaths, and marriages.
#3 Visit the National Archives
For the uninitiated, The National Archives of Australia is a Government agency that collects, preserves and provides access to important Australian Government records. Their records include immigration, migrant hostels, alien and POW registrations, naturalisation and military service. They have branches in each capital city where you can access records for free.
#4 Online Resources
With so much information available on the internet, tracing your family history is now easier than ever. The below digital records and archives can help you fill in the blanks about your ancestors:
- Trove – http://trove.nla.gov.au
Created by the National Library of Australia, this resource stores over 450 million records including journals, pictures, newspapers, diaries, letters, music and video and archived websites.
- Ryerson Index – http://www.ryersonindex.org
The Ryerson Index has indexed date of over 3 million deaths, funeral, probate and obituary notices from Australian newspapers.
- Familysearch – https://www.familysearch.org
FamilySearch is the most popular genealogy organization in the world and is covers almost all countries. However, since it has been around for over 100 years, they have excellent records on Australia.
- Australian War Memorial – http://www.awm.gov.au
The War Memorial has information relating to the military service of individuals in Australia. If you believe that your ancestor served in the army after 1860, you may find records in their collection. The private records collection includes private papers, letters, and diaries of non-government organizations and individuals. DNA Testing
#5 DNA Testing
While DNA tests will not be able to pinpoint on the individuals who were your ancestors, it can trace your lineage through time, determine family connections precise geographic detail and find your DNA matches. Many services have cropped up in recent times that provide DIY-kits upward of $300.
Now that you’ve your begun your journey into building your family tree, show it off! Build a visually-rich timeline on the MyLife App with our ‘My Family History ‘ feature share your research with your family.