Just starting your family history? We have some handy tips you can follow to find your ancestors.
1. Write down what you know from your family
Prepare an Ancestry Chart (also known as a Pedigree Chart) and fill in the names of family members beginning with yourself, including the dates and places of birth, death and marriage of each person.
Compile Family Group Sheets for each couple/family you are researching, showing full details with sources.
Ask your extended family for information to help fill in the gaps. Search for items such as photographs, birth, death and marriage (BDM) certificates, diaries, school records, family bibles, etc., which various family members may have kept.
There are 3 ways of preparing an Ancestry Chart or a Family Group Sheet:
- Generate it from your genealogy software and save it as a PDF.
- Download a blank form, print it, fill it in by hand, scan it, and save it as PDF or JPG.
- Download a blank form, enter the details into the PDF, and save the PDF.
You can download a blank Ancestry Chart here: Blank Ancestry Chart
You can download a blank Family Group Sheet here: Blank Family Group Sheet
An example of an Ancestry Chart can be found here: Sample Ancestry Chart
An example of a Family Group Sheet can be found here: Sample Family Group Sheet
2. Search for Australian records
Many indexes to births, deaths and marriages are now online. Libraries and family history societies usually hold further information. Purchase copies of certificates from the relevant Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages. Death certificates of your immigrant ancestors will help you to find their parentage and their birthplace. Remember to check spelling variations of names and places.
Extend your research to electoral rolls, directories, cemeteries, schools, hospital and shipping records, naturalisation records, phone books and online databases.
Meet with fellow genealogists and attend talks on special topics relating to family research by joining local family history groups in the areas where your family lived as well as your state genealogical society
3. Investigating overseas records
Once you have the birthplace of your immigrant families you can then search overseas resources. The Genealogical Society of Victoria (GSV) may provide access to indexes and/or copies of:
- Parish records
- Memorial inscriptions
- Gazetteers and directories
- Probate, wills and death duties
- Journals from local family history societies
And much more... see the GSV library catalogue and indexes.
We also provide access to some commercial databases for free within our library e.g Ancestry™, findmypast™, TheGenealogist™, British Newspaper Archive™, and MyHeritage™.
Plus we are a FamilySearch™ affiliate library with access to to nearly all of the restricted image collections
For further research assistance check out events, as we provide a wide variety of talks, classes, seminars and discussions that are open to anyone interested in family history.
Also look at How we can help you by using our Research Service and /or visiting our Library