Getting Started in genealogy in Australia


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© 2001 Janet Reakes

Rule 1

Don’t try to trace your connection down from some historical figure you may be told you are related to.
Always start with yourself and work backwards.  Interview EVERYONE in the family and see what documents and photos you can obtain or copy.  Be careful with family stories, they tend to be sugar coated and sometimes connect the wrong event to the wrong person or generation.  In my foundation book, The A to Z of Genealogy, I have cross-referenced the various entries.  Interviewing Relatives is cross-referenced with Lies and Date Discrepancies!

Rule 2

Remember to record all women as who they are when they are born, not by their married name.

Rule 3

Don’t be a chauvinist – your father’s line is only a twig, not a tree.  The name you are born with falls either way of the wedding ring.  Many babies born before marriage are recorded under their mother’s maiden name.  Always remember your mother's line is more accurate than your father's.  Think "Mother’s baby! Father’s maybe?"  After all, your father’s line is only as good as your mother tells you.

Rule 4

Trace the lines of least resistance, those that are not German if you can’t sprechen zie deutsch, those that are not Irish if you want instant success.  Do the easy ones first, i.e. those who are born where they said they were born.

Rule 5

Don’t look for a marriage date nine months before the birth of the first child.  Many children were born within a few weeks, months or hours after and before the parents were married.

Rule 6

You will need to check the indexes to Births, Deaths and Marriages for the appropriate State and look up your ancestors' entries.  In some States the reference numbers means cheaper certificates.  Death certificates may be informative in Australia but they are the least correct.

Rule 7

Get organised from day one.  You’ll be killing a lot of trees with the paper trail you’ll be gathering.  Get the correct stationery or computer program to handle recording the data you will be collecting.  A good starting combination is my book How to Trace Your Family Tree and Not Get Stuck on a Branch (Hale & Iremonger publishers) plus a genealogy software program, for those who are computer literate.

Rule 8

Make sure you take good notes stating what you read, when you read it and whether it held any information crucial to your search.  This will save duplication of genealogy and keep you organized.

Rule 9

Check to make sure someone hasn’t already traced your family tree. You can search through a series of books called the Genealogical Research Directory (GRD).  These are annual publications showing who is tracing whom in the family tree.   They can be found at most genealogical libraries and major council libraries.  The Internet also provides a wealth of sites for free advertisement of names you are researching.

Rule 10

Lastly, invest in TV dinners and takeways, you won’t have the time or inclination to cook, garden or do anything but dig up your roots.  As one husband bemused, "I used to have a wife until she started genealogy."

Some Useful Web Sites

Newbies’ Guide to Genealogy & Family History

Cyndi's List  great gateway to genealogy


UK Contact Page

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See What can you expect to see on Certificates?

See BDM Certificates, Costs and Online Searches

Some, or all, of the following can be searched at Libraries and Genealogy Societies

Pioneer Index 1788-1888 (Births, Deaths and Marriages)  CD-ROM
Federation Index 1889-1919 (Births, Deaths and Marriages) CD-ROM
Between the Wars 1920-1945 (Marriages and Deaths only) CD-ROM

Births, Deaths and Marriages 1870-1902 microfiche
Deaths 1824-2004 Part 1 CD-ROM

Pioneer Index 1829-1889 (Births, Deaths and Marriages) CD-ROM
Federation Index 1890-1914 (Births, Deaths and Marriages) CD-ROM
Births Index 1890-1919 microfiche
Deaths Index 1890-1964 microfiche
Marriages Index 1890-1939 microfiche

Births 1842-1906 and 1907-1928 CD-ROM
Deaths 1842-1915 and 1916-1972 CD-ROM
Marriages 1842-1916 and 1917-1937 CD-ROM
Births 1842-1928 microfiche
Deaths 1842-1970 microfiche
Marriages 1842-1937 microfiche

Pioneer Index 1803-1899 (Births, Deaths and Marriages) CD-ROM and microfiche
Federation Index (Births 1900-1919, Deaths and Marriages 1900-1930) CD-ROM
Births 1900-1905 microfiche
Deaths 1900-1919 microfiche
Marriages 1900-1919 microfiche
Tasmania Collection of Records (baptisms 1830s-1950s) CD-ROM

Pioneer Index 1837-1888 (Births, Deaths and Marriages) CD-ROM and microfiche
Federation Index 1889-1901 (Births, Deaths and Marriages) CD-ROM and microfiche
Edwardian Index 1902-1913 (Births, Deaths and Marriages) CD-ROM and microfiche
Great War Index 1914-1920 (Births, Deaths and Marriages) CD-ROM and microfiche
Death Index 1921-1985 CD-ROM and microfiche
Marine Births, Deaths and Marriages 1853-1920 CD-ROM
Marriage Index 1921-1942 CD-ROM and microfiche

Pioneer Index 1841-1905 (Births, Deaths and Marriages) CD-ROM
Marriage Index 1829-1896 (brides and grooms cross-referenced) CD-ROM
Death Index 1906-1980 microfiche
Marriage Index 1906-1965 microfiche

Other Indexes available
Argus Newspaper Victoria Index of Births 1914-1931, Marriages 1931-1941 CD-ROM
Bounty Immigrants to NSW 1828-1842 CD-ROM
Immigration to Victoria 1852-1879 CD-ROM
Inquest Index Victoria 1840-1985 microfiche
The Paracensus of Australia 1788-1828 CD-ROM
Victorian Divorce Index 1861-1900 microfiche
Victoria Federal Referendum 1899 CD-ROM
Victorian Sands & Kenny's Melbourne Directories 1857-1861 CD-ROM


NZ Marriages 1836-1956 CD-ROM
BDM Indexes pre-1900 microfiche
BDM Indexes 1901-1990 microfiche
BDM Maori Indexes 1911-1961 microfiche

Search BDMs online

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Janet Reakes helped thousands of people because she believed

"A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle."

Her web site is maintained in her memory by genealogy friends who share that belief.