Q.    Can I ‘do’ my family tree on the internet?

A.    Yes and no. A family tree is ‘grown’ through the progressive process of finding good evidence to connect one ancestral generation to the next. For example, indexes to some (not all) civil registrations (births, deaths and marriages) are available online and copies of those records can be ordered online. But, it is the exception rather than the rule that scanned images of those records can be downloaded online and without copies of such documents already existing in family held records, it will usually be necessary to obtain at least a few of these documents.

The internet today provides family historians with a growing number of the tools they might need to grow their tree.  However, it is rarely the case at present  that if anyone wishes to research their family beyond a few generations that they can do this solely on the internet –  unless of course they find someone else’s research of their family online and accept it as is. The real fun for family historians, is the detective work involved in reading original documents, finding the clues within and searching for proof – either true or false that will build on their knowledge. The internet may again then lead you to the location of relevant records – and so the cycle moves on.

Q.    Why can I not get a copy of most 20th century birth certificates in Australia?

A.    Privacy laws and national security considerations in Australia have in more recent years seen the various State registries more or less fall into line with each other over the availability of BDM records. This particularly effects birth records which generally need to have occurred more than 100 years ago.

Q.    Should I join a genealogical society or family history group?

A.    When beginning your family history you may have many questions or, not even know what questions to ask; this is normal and true for most of us when starting out. Researching your family tree is not always as intuitive as we might hope. Our ancestors did not considered the family historians among their descendants who might want to ‘look them up’ and were frequently lean with the truth or deliberately misleading when dealing with the authorities. The result, even in official documents may as a result take us up the garden path – possibly to nowhere – a ‘brick-wall’.

Societies and family history groups exist to help their members and others with their research. Except for the larger societies who may have a few paid staff most are run or heavily supported through the volunteer services of their members and all will have at some time been beginners and their guidance, special skills and expert knowledge can help you to move through the maze. These societies and groups may also run education programmes of lectures and workshops ranging from beginners sessions and online resources to holdings in libraries and archives or targeted special topics or localities.

Many are the family historians who have had a breakthrough on a brick wall in their research while discussing the problem over a cuppa in the tea room.

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