Researching family history keeps getting easier
There are all sorts of reasons as to why we feel the urge to trace our genealogy. Regardless of why, how we research the family tree continues to get easier as technology propels ancestral research into the future.
Why is genealogy research important?
For some, genealogy research is deeply personal because it may be a way to find, reach out and connect with biological relatives. For others, it may be to understand hereditary conditions for health related reasons.
For many of us, researching our ancestry is driven entirely from curiosity. Tracing family origins can give us an inkling of hope that we’ll uncover a fascinating link to fame or fortune; or uncover family stories to shock and awe at our next family gathering.
Popular Australian documentaries such as ‘Who do you think you are?’ are inspiring the desire to tap into history to explain the present.
The number of easy to access resources and tools readily available make it easier than ever before to get some deeper insight into family trees.
Let’s get you geared up for some fascinating family research!
DNA testing to unlock the family tree
As technology pushes ahead and the popularity of DNA testing increases, it is now affordable to order a DNA test kit to reveal a deeper analysis of your ancestral origins than written records can take you.
A DNA analysis can help to confirm that you’ve been following the right branches of your family tree, or to help fill in gaps that have been slowing down your research.
The process involves ordering the DNA testing kit online. The kit is sent to you in the mail, along with instructions and a pre-addressed envelope. You then simply follow the instructions and take a cheek swab or a saliva sample and mail it back to the laboratory for analysis.
The analysis is usually emailed back to you – although some laboratories offer a paper certificate - and stored in a growing database of people around the world doing exactly the same thing. You may then be able to choose to opt in to connect with family you didn’t know you had!
There are a number of laboratories offering DNA tests including the popular ancestry.com – AncestryDNA.
Trace family history online to uncover invaluable family treasures
As we gathered around the table for a Mother’s Day afternoon tea with family, I read out an extract straight from a copy of The Weekly Times dating back to 1929. It was a letter from our 9 year old ‘great Pop, Pop and Dad’ published by a ‘Dear Queen Bee’ column about his love of feeding his pet magpie and his two pet pigs. There was a hush around the table, and then a progressive shaking of heads in how close it brought him back to our table.
This snippet of an undiscovered childhood insight into our beloved Pop came straight from popping his name in to the ‘Search’ field of the National Library of Australia – http://trove.nla.gov.au/.
Here is a list of just some of the fantastic online resources to explore:
- National Library of Australia Trove: includes digitised newspapers; diaries; letters; images; photographs; music; maps; Government Gazettes and much more. Explore http://trove.nla.gov.au/.
- Australian War Memorial Family History: includes a wealth of material to help research the service and wartime experiences of relatives who served in Australia's military forces during conflict. Explore https://www.awm.gov.au/people/roll-search/all/.
- Ancestry.com.au: one of the most popular family tree building websites. Some features are free, but most are only available via a paid subscription. Explore http://www.ancestry.com.au/genealogy/.
- State Library of Victoria: includes newspapers, letters, diaries and manuscripts, maps, passenger lists, photographs, illustrations and electoral rolls. Explore http://www.slv.vic.gov.au/explore/family-history-resources.
Storage and sharing of valuable family history stories
Note taking apps such as Evernote (https://evernote.com/) provide an efficient and organised way to store your research and then share it.
In one online location, you can store your complete family history including hyperlinks to online records, photographs, audio, video, letters, certificates and any other treasures you uncover.
Consider interviewing family members that are great story tellers and storing audio or video recordings and treasured family photographs and records. An app such as Evernote then allows you to grant family members access to all that you have discovered, so that your family history continues to be passed on to the next generation.
Local historical societies, libraries and local historians are a rich source of family history
Regardless of all the advancements in technology, local historic societies, historians and libraries continue to be rich sources of local and family history.
You’ll find passionate historians as keen as you are to uncover some family stories with you.