• Sources of UK Records

    Most of the records hat we have had to access in tracing our ancestors have come from England, Scotland and ireland. 
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    The Secrets under grandma's bed

    Family documents are an important source of information.  They may be well filed and organised, or you may come across them in shoeboxes, in cases on top of wardrobes or buried in old chests of drawers.
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    Bringing old photos back to life

    Old photographs are delicate objects. If they haven't been preserved properly, it is likely that they will have incurred some damage between the time they were taken and now.
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    Network of family members

    Use a Family and Home Information Sources Checklist as a guide to sources of information you might find in your home or the home of a relative.
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  • Scottish Records

    If you’ve got Scottish ancestors then you’re in luck because Scotland is a world-leader in providing family history information online.
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    Irish records

    If your ancestors are Irish, you might need to become a good detective.  Better still, if you can, talk to your Granny! She'll start you off in the right place.
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    Family History for Beginners

    DIY for you to trace your own family history.
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    Locate your first primary source

    The most important sources are eye-witness and official documents.  The best first Primary Source is your grandparent's death certificate. It's a Gold Mine!!
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  • How to trace your ancestors

    Getting started is the biggest hurdle. Here's an easy guide to get you going.
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    Collecting evidence

    The best place to start collecting evidence is with the family. Especially the elders.
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    Bigger than you think

    Be warned. Once you start you'll be hooked forever! I had to learn to eat the elephant one toenail at a time.
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    Record keeping

    It's important to have some sort of order and indexing method for keeping your family records.  If not, you'll never be able to out the pieces of the puzzle together.
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The first step is to commence your family tree chart.

Print (photocopy enlarging if necessary) and then complete a "Pedigree Chart" for yourself. This will have you at the bottom and then work backwards, generation by generation. You will need two copies of the chart if you are doing both your own and spouse's families. Always use capitals for SURNAMES, as sometimes they can be confused with given names.

The first chart should be your own.

On this first chart;

  1. Start with yourself at Number 1. (add in your spouse's name)
  2. Your father (No. 2) and mother (No. 3)
  3. The four sets of grandparents and so on.

Then proceed to make 'Family Group Record'  this is where you start with the parents and add in all the children.

Create your hard copy and electronic files. Remember, electronic files should reflect the contents of your physical files and vice-versa.

For my hard copy files and original documents, I use a filing cabinet, with hanging files in which are dividers, one for each surname in alphabetical order. In the hanging files are acid-free folders, one for each generation. All documents are in acid-free plastic sleeves. Keep a copy of any original document. Do not carry around the originals.  They should be kept in a very safe place.

My electronic files are created in Ancestry.com.au and sunchronised with Family Tree Maker on my desktop.  Family Tree Maker produces my charts for me. I print them and file them in my physical filing system along with any source documents that I have.  I download any source documents that I can from the online records and print them as well as store them in the electronic files.


  • Always file your lists under the SURNAMES.
  • Women are always recorded under their maiden name. Though when looking at census records (like 1881 and 1901) work out whether the couple was married then - if they were, they will be under their married name.
  • Remember that research can usually only be done on folk over 100 years old. If you do not know someone's age estimate it (but mark it as an 'estimate only') - it usually works on average that the age at marriage is 25 for males and 20 for females.
  • Marriages are usually 1-2 years before the birth of the 1st child
  • BACKUP all your electronic files and keep a copy off-site or on an external drive that you can grab on your way out of the house in case of emergency.


News Flash

Convict Ancestors Case Study now available.

Edmund (Ned) Collins 1817-1862

There is a purpose to our research

    "You are our living link to the past. Tell your grandchildren the story of the struggles waged, at home and abroad. Of sacrifices made for freedom's sake. And tell them your own story as well — because[everybody] has a story to tell." George H.W. Bush
In a complex, mobile society like ours, life's tapestry gets shredded. The continuity of our lives is ripped by transience and fragmentation. Community is fragile, torn, scattered. Our need to examine and to share our stories is vital--for our own mental health, for our relationships and our cohesiveness in community, and for the good of a future that can learn from our past.Dolly Bertholot

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