Assembling a family tree can be a daunting task, especially as we are so often faced with more questions than answers. As long as you know how to harness the many resources at your disposal, uncovering your roots can be a rewarding and fascinating experience. Here are some tips to get you started.
Start with the basics
Assembling a family tree can be a daunting task, especially as we are so often faced with more questions than answers. As long as you know how to harness the many resources at your disposal, uncovering your roots can be a rewarding and fascinating experience. Here
are some tips to get you started.
Delve into the mysteries of your own generation using the insights of your living relatives before working backwards to tackle bigger question marks. Simplify the process by writing everything down that you already know. This will help you to better visualise gaps and missing information, while steering you in the direction of potential answers.
Use your network
Talk to the people you’re close to, and find out as much as you can about their lives. Family members already known to you can help you make contact with farflung relatives who you don’t know so well. Approach these conversations thoughtfully; be sure to ask lots of ‘who’, ‘how’, and ‘why’ questions, and above all, listen.
As of 2011, 26 per cent of Australians were born overseas, and a further 20 per cent had parents who were born overseas, making our society one of the most multicultural in the world. This means it’s likely you won’t have to dig back very far at all before your investigation takes a turn overseas, so familiarise yourself with foreign online resources you may need.
Follow a paper trail
Public archives can provide vital glimpses into the lives of our ancestors. It’s a good starting point to consult local newspaper archives for births, deaths, and marriage notices.
We live in a wonderfully connected world, but sifting through the internet’s inexhaustible supply of information can be laborious and exasperating. To narrow down the results of your online digging, try to include as much unique detail – especially names and places – as possible in all search queries.
Paid subscription to various genealogy websites provides access to online records, and can give you some of the best hints about your heritage. Birth and death certificates are the bureaucratic bookends of someone’s life, and they provide vital clues as to what happened in between.
Above all, stay inquisitive, resourceful, and persistent!