The Internet has been nothing less than revolutionary for genealogists and family history enthusiasts. Researching your family history used to require a lot of time and a lot of leg work. With each passing year more and more records and archives are being digitised and made available online. It is no longer necessary to travel across the country or across the globe to access records relating to your ancestors – much of it is now right at your finger tips.
Where To Start?
This is the obvious question – how do you get started researching your family. You can start from anywhere in your family tree but most people will start with their grandparents or their great grandparents. If you have the opportunity to speak with some of your more senior family members then definitely do that as they can often provide you with information about family members that have passed away and some good starting points for your research.
I remember when I first looked at researching my family in the late 1990’s. My grandparents had all passed away so I looked at some resources that were online at that time. Back then the search facilities were quite limited and the only records available were very basic details that were little more than a reference to a record on microfiche. To get the actual records you had to travel to the state archive. I really didn’t have the time to be travelling back then so I very quickly gave up.
When my interest in family history was re-kindled around 2006 the whole online landscape had changed. There were many websites devoted to family history and millions of records were being digitised every year.
I can’t stress enough the importance of joining an online community where there are thousands of people researching thousands of family trees. My personal favourite is ancestry.com.au (they also have ancestry.com in the USA and ancestry.co.uk in the UK). They have one of the biggest online communities and are very active in making millions of new records available every year. They are also very innovative in the facilities and records they provide to assist you in tracing your family tree. Their records include census records, birth death and marriage records, divorce records, military records and ship passenger lists.
I also use the service at Myheritage.com. It’s a little pricier than Ancestry.com if you want to access their 6 billion records, but it’s also very popular so I’ve found quite a lot of people on there researching various branches of my family tree.
Ancestry.com has a very active form at boards.ancestry.com. They are categorised alphabetically by surname and can be very useful in finding information and other people who are researching the same surnames that you are researching. There is also a very active searchable online forum at Rootschat. They have forums related to specific geographic areas as well as forms for genealogy beginners.