Note: Comment on establishing relationships, need for proofs, not just going onto Ancestry for 24 hours and proving you are related to William the Conqueror Joke: Records before Noah hard to document as lost in the flood
Some hobby genealogists have very large data bases, say 50,000 names. Family historians look at individual family members lives in fine detail, and family historians are more likely to become addicted Stories about employing professional genealogists. Eg British Naval Historian. Local Irish historical society Will use genealogist as the common term
Genealogy for beginners
Genealogy SA is the leading South Australian family
history and genealogy resource.
We aim to expand our South Australian collection,
to build our connections to family history resources
worldwide, and to improve access and services for
What is it and where did it come from?
Genealogy is the study of families and tracing their
lineage and history.
In many cultures the son’s identity related to his father
– “like father like son.” This often related to family
In middle eastern cultures the son’s identity related to
his father and also the extended male lineage - hence
the importance of knowing one’s ancestry.
Probably the oldest and most well known genealogy of
this sort is that of Jesus Christ in which his lineage was
traced back through King David all the way to Adam
The History of Genealogy
In feudal European countries Genealogy evolved to people
trying to prove kinship and relationships to rulers and
nobles, so as to confirm the legitimacy of any claims to
position, wealth and power.
In later times, as society evolved into classes, it became
important to demonstrate that a prospective marriage
partner came “from a good family.”
When Genealogy crossed the Atlantic to America, the
emphasis shifted to relationships to the “founding fathers’ –
the Mayflower descendants.
In Australia there is reverse snobbery – where prestige
attaches to convict descendants, or Ned Kelly’s family
Genealogists or Family Historians?
Genealogists focus on establishing kinship, and the
data of events, dates and places.
Professional genealogists may conduct research for
others, study wider populations, publish, lecture, or
be involved in data processing and IT
Hobby genealogists generally pursue their own
family history and ancestry. Some hobby
genealogists have family trees with tens of
thousands of “relatives”
• A family historian is interested in the family stories,
in what forebears did and when and why, who they
were and how did their lives unfold.
• Family historians usually complete their history and
find another pastime
• The hardest task for the family historian is to write
up and publish their history
• Why is family history research being popularised
through TV programs like “Who Do You Think You Are?”
• Why has Ancestry.com been expanding TV advertising
for its family history subscription website?
• Why is genealogy now such a fast growing and long
lasting hobby in many western societies?
• How can a hobby whose focus is dead people become
Big Deal for Baby Boomers?
• Genealogy seems to be an attractive hobby for baby
boomers, who don’t know much about their extended
families and previous generations, so those with time on
their hands are now taking the opportunity to catch up.
• Baby boomers have mainly experienced a nuclear family
environment rather than the extended family environment
of previous generations.
• They have been much more geographically mobile and lost
touch with other family members.
• TV and other electronic media have supplanted family
conversation, much of which in past times would have
involved family relationships and family issues.
Boomers and the Internet Bonanza
• Baby boomers are computer literate, internet savvy, and are
conditioned to seeking out information on the web.
• Genealogy’s increasing popularity is being fuelled by the
internet, with increased access to family history
information, and easier communication between more and
• A widespread expectation is that the baby boomer
genealogist will try and do as much as possible from home
using the internet, and will be prepared to spend money to
More Than the Family Tree
There is much more than births, marriages, and deaths.
• When did these events happen, how old were the people
concerned, what were the circumstances?
• Where did these events happen, why were the people there,
and if they moved somewhere else why, where to and how?
How and why are people connected to these places?
• What did these people do, their occupations, community
status, public service, and condition in society? Why and
how did these things happen, and how has it affected us
• What were their living conditions and lifestyles, and how did
community, national and world events impact on their lives?
The Core Data Set
Every event in a personal history can be described by a data set.
• Date and qualifier
• Place and qualifier
• Source Document
Starting Your Family History
Always work backwards from the known (which is yourself and what
you know) to the unknown (which is your forebears)
Talk to older family members – before they die. They will usually be
pleased to find someone taking an interest and be willing to share
information and stories. Document what you are told but don’t believe
everything. Memories can be incomplete, prejudiced, or just repeating
family folklore. Sometimes you will find confusion and contradictions
and conflicts. So maintain a healthy scepticism.
Seek to acquire family records, photos, letters and other documents.
Always try to get at least two separate sources of proof for each event.
Early on in your project think about how and to whom you want to
present your family history when completed. Don’t feel confined to a
hardcopy publication when you can include paper, photos, images,
video and audio, and publish on CD, DVD, or on the web. Make sure
you consider privacy, ethical and copyright requirements.
Family History Societies
People in a community with a common interest in family history
may join together in family history societies.
These are usually collaborative or cooperative ventures where
members help each other in:
Preserving local historical records particularly those relating to family
Collecting, collating and compiling family history information aggregates
(indexes) for their particular community.
Helping each other with research techniques and methods as well as
Using their experience, knowledge and skills to help newcomers.
By joining together increasing their ability to access information
from wider afield, eg through greater purchasing power.
Many society members enjoy the social aspects, the mutual
recognition and encouragement, the celebration of success, and
the sharing with others
The only South Australian state focussed family history Society, and the
largest in SA with about 2000 current members
Microfilm copies SA Births, Deaths and Marriages district certificates,
and indexes for these, plus newspaper records
About 3000 SA family histories
South Australian Cemetery records
Shipping lists and passenger records
Access to key subscription websites and through these interstate and
overseas BDM indexes, Census and other family history information