Get started with your family history

Be organised

  • Keep really detailed records citing where you got the information and enter it all into a research log
  • Keep copies of registration documents or other information you find
  • Focus your search – only one person or family at a time
  • Record your unsuccessful searches, this will help you to keep track of what you have already researched

Start with yourself and work backwards

Talk to your relatives

  • Ask questions about your ancestors and relatives. Write down what they say, including dates even if it is a rough estimate of the event
  • Collect documents or take digital pictures of records, such as official birth, marriage and death certificates that are still kept by your family
  • Don’t forget personal correspondence, diaries, wills etc as these can be full of useful information

Locate the records

  • Work out what kind of record you are looking for
  • Many birth, death and marriage indexes are searchable online or are available at your library
  • From these indexes you will be able to obtain the record number of the birth, death or marriage registration. You will need this if you wish to obtain a copy of the original record
  • Work your way through the family history guides

What else can I learn?

Once you have the birth, death and marriage records for your family, you may wish to flesh out the family history by obtaining information such as:

Where else can I look?

Join a local genealogy society

Tasmanian Family History Society members are eager to offer guidance and encouragement to beginners

Need a chart?

Handy Hints

  • When searching, it is tempting to put in as much information as possible. It is often better to put in less information. If you get too many results, add more information.
  • Spelling used in early records can be flexible. Names can be misspelt or spelt in different ways. Sometimes people change their names.
  • When trying to read difficult handwriting, compare the letter or combination of letters with a word you know. FamilySearch has help online for reading old handwriting.
  • Never assume a family relationship with someone just because they have the same name.
  • Many records may have similar information. If you’re looking for a birth but can’t find it in the official government registration, there may be something in church records or a newspaper. An address that is not in the electoral rolls might be in the post office directories.

There are standard ways of showing relationships on a family tree

  • married couples  ‘m’  or  ‘=’
  • births   ‘b’
  • baptisms  ‘bap’
  • deaths   ‘d’
  • burials  ‘bur’
  • funerals   ‘f’