Beginning your search
*For information on the changes to our services see About the Family History Unit
Have you decided to trace your family history but are unsure where to begin? Below are some suggested steps to help you get started with your family history research
As with all family history research, a good idea is to start with a blank family tree and fill in as many names as you can. A good way of filling in the blanks in your family tree is by searching the Birth, Death and Marriage indexes and certificates.
The names and information in your family tree can then be used to search indexes and other resources relating to Indigenous people and families. For more information on Indigenous family history resources see Resources.
Below are some more tips to get you started with your Indigenous family history research:
Write down what you know about yourself and your heritage.
- Your parent's names or nicknames? Where and when were they born?
- Your grandparent's names or nicknames? Where and when were they born?
- Do you know your grandparents' parents names?
- Do you know the names of your parents' or grandparents' brothers and sisters?
Work back through certificates
- Each state has a Births Deaths and Marriages (BDM) Registry or Department
- You can apply for your own Birth or Marriage certificates
- You can apply for the certificates of your parents, grandparents, great-grandparents etc. If they are alive, you will need their permission. For more recent births, deaths and marriages you may be asked to show proof of your relationship to the person who the certificate relates to.
What area was your family from?
- Finding about the town or area that your family is from can be helpful. It is useful to know about the time and place where your family lived.
- For example, was there an Aboriginal mission, reserve or station in the area? Were particular types of employment associated with the town? For example, was it a mining town or might your family members have worked on a pastoral property? All of these may be possible sources of family history information and records.
- Contact the local historical society of the town your family is from
- Family history, genealogical and historical societies often have resources such as cemetery transcriptions and church records which may contain information on your family. You can pay a small fee for their research time or become a member for approximately the same price.
Think about what records people might kept about your family
- For example; Army records, employment records, school records etc.
Think about the spellings of names
- There are sometimes differences between birth names and the names that people are commonly known by. It is also worth remembering that names may not always be spelt correctly on certificates and other records
Think about other people in your family
- Brother and sister lines go back to the same parents
- ousins go back to the same grandparents.
Check if any other family members have been doing their own searching
- These days the internet makes it easier to connect with other people who are searching the same family as yourself. A word of caution though: remember that just because something is on the web does not necessarily mean it is fact. Always verify your information, if possible, no matter what the source.
Read about family history research
- You may like to borrow a “how to search your family history” book from your local library. Another useful resource is our brief guide to Indigenous family history research.
Do one family line at a time