Getting Started

Three practical tips for those just starting their family research.

Getting started with your family history can be a bit overwhelming. Follow these three basic tips and you'll avoid some of the common traps that beginners fall into.

Start with Yourself

  • Work backwards through each generation.
  • Work from the known to the unknown.
  • Interview relatives, particularly those older than yourself.
  • Write or talk to family members.
  • Ask them about family names, where the people lived, when and from where they emigrated.
  • Some records may be held within the family; e.g. letters, school yearbooks, wills, photographs, birth, marriage and death certificates.

Keep Records

  • Write down what you find and where - you may want to go back at a later stage. For example:
    • What institution?
    • Which collection of records?
    • What volume and page number?
    • Which microfilm reel?
  • Record the sources you have searched, even if the results are negative.

Chart Your Progress

  • Various family history charts recommended by the New Zealand Society of Genealogists can be downloaded from their website.
  • Many genealogical computer programs are now available. A local genealogy group may be able to advise you on the pros and cons of the various programs.