Starting to Research your Family Tree

This is based upon a Facebook Post I have done as I keep getting asked by my friends how I started my research and what they can do to start theirs.

I keep getting regular requests from people who want to know how to do their own research for their family tree. So I thought I would go through the basics over time on FB. If anyone wants to ask questions please do. Otherwise the goal will be to write up something once or twice a week which anyone following along will be able to use to trace their family tree in Australia. If things are going well and we get beyond Australia so be it, but for now this is just going to be about Australia.

So the first and most important thing that everyone who does any Family History tells you is to start with yourself. So the idea is to write down what you know about yourself and then work backwards.

For example- before I did my family tree I knew where I was born, when I was born, who were my parents and a few other little bits and pieces. I then dug out my birth certificate and found a couple of interesting bits and pieces. The first of those was that my parents lived around the corner from where I now live at the time I was born and it was also really interesting to find out what my fathers occupation was at the time I was born.

From here I wrote up just a summary, sort of like a CV of my life. One day I will write that up but for now just bare bones is a good start. The thing is that things we think of as boring and not very important now are things that your children will one day want to know. Like which schools you went to. These things are actually really hard to find when you are researching families at a later date. What about all of those jobs you have had over the years? Most people have had quite a number but records will only ever show one or two. What about some of the things that you did as a child?

Once you have finished with yourself if you have any parents or grandparents around ask them about themselves. Video them if you can or record their voices. I have recordings of the voices of three of my Grandparents. This is one of the most amazing things that I have from them. Each time I hear their voices I learn things that I had not heard or remembered before.

So, for anyone playing along at home- what did you discover about yourself or your family when you asked them a couple of questions? Don’t give me anything that is really personal but I would love to hear what things people learn from their families.
Where did you go to school, have you written that down somewhere for someone? Did you go to just one school or a number of different schools? What did you do over the holidays? What was your first job? What other jobs have you had since? What are your favourite things to do for recreation and relaxation- keep it clean. 😉

Did you study at University, or TAFE or both? If so what did you study.

Then tell me something about your parents. The best thing about family trees is not just knowing your ancestors, they are just names. The best thing is knowing something about your family members, finding the stories, finding out what life was like for them. Start with you and your parents then we work backwards starting with the documents.


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