Researching your family history

My research checklist

In previous posts, I have summarized my previous methods of organizing my research, how I finished off 2019, and my plans for 2020.  In an earlier post, I shared the index I had set up for my previous research (at least for the documents, I still haven’t indexed my old research notes).  Since the 1 January 2020, I have been using this index to add the birth death and marriage information from the documents on my index to each person in Legacy Family Tree, starting with the “official” documents.

Once I have worked through all of these documents, I then do further research, to fill in the gaps in the birth death and marriage information, and to also find additional records to add to my family tree at a later date.  I then go back to the documents from family members last of all, to fill in any information I don’t already have.

This is my checklist for when I am researching each person, to find sources that provide birth, death and marriage information.  At this stage, it is mostly based on records from here in Victoria, Australia, since this is where my immigrant ancestors ended up, and where most of their descendants have lived.

Websites

BDM Vic

Trove

Ryerson Index

Herald Sun Tributes

FamilySearch

Find a Grave/Billion Graves

Individual cemeteries

DVA’s Nominal Rolls

Australian War Memorial

National Archives Australia

Public Record Office Victoria

Google Search

State Library of Victoria Government Gazettes

Each week in my Thursday Tips posts, I will be writing about each of these websites.  Last week I wrote about the Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages in Victoria, which I have abbreviated to BDM Vic.  My process is to check each of these sites in turn.

BDM Vic

First I check whether I have the birth, death and marriage certificates for the person.  If so, I can skip the BDM Vic step.  If not, then I’ll check if the event would be included in the historical indexes.  If not, then I’ll skip that event, but if so, I’ll search the historical index on the Births Deaths and Marriages Victoria website to find the entry for that event, and add the information from that entry to my family tree.

Trove

The next step is to check Trove. Although I will be primarily searching for family notices, I will also see what else the site has for the person I am researching.  If I find a lot of articles, or other items, for a person, I’ll pick a few to download now, and make a to-do item in my family tree to come back and have a closer look at the other articles/items, to see if there are more that I want to download for my family history.  Since newspapers from 1955 are subject to copyright, after that date, I’ll use other resources to find newspaper articles.

Ryerson Index

Although this is only an index of the death/funeral/probate notices, this is useful as I will then know where to look to find the original articles.  I have found an entry for my sister who died in 1957 on this index, as well as my brother-in-law who died last March (2019).  I have found entries from the Shepparton News and Bendigo Advertiser, so the index covers more than just papers from the capital cities.

Herald Sun Tributes

If I find an entry on the Ryerson Index that mentions articles from the Herald Sun, I’ll then go to the Herald Sun Tributes site to find the original articles.  This paper is for Melbourne, and the Tributes covers from around 2002 to the present.

FamilySearch

Since FamilySearch has indexes for Find a Grave and Billion Graves, and the Inquest index and Probate index from the Public Record Office Victoria, I’ll check FamilySearch first, to see which sites I don’t need to search, and which ones I do.

Find a Grave/Billion Graves

Since I will have already checked the index on FamilySearch, I will only go to these websites if I know there is a memorial.  I will then download the details from these websites, including any photos and other media attached to the memorials

Individual cemeteries

Since the individual cemetery websites may have more/different information than the Find a Grave or BillionGraves memorials, or there may not be a memorial at all, I will also search for a website for the cemetery.  I generally use Google to search for the cemetery, but I also have a section on my family tree website where I have set up an index of cemeteries around Australia.  This index is primarily for Victoria, but I do have some information for other states.

DVA’s Nominal Rolls

I use this site to search for a record for people who served in the military.  So far, I have only found records from World War Two, but these rolls include more information than the index on the National Archives of Australia website.

Australian War Memorial

This site also has information about people who served in the military.

National Archives Australia

Amongst its collections this  site has military records from World War One, World War Two and Naturalization records.  These are  just a few of the collections the National Archives has.  I use the name search to search for any records that might be available.  Sometimes for a common name you’ll need to know exactly what you’re looking for, so that you can refine your search.  In searching for my husband’s ancestor Hans Hansen’s naturalization record, I had the date of his naturalization from family records, which helped me to find his entry.  Ancestry.com.au has a collection Victoria, Australia, Index to Naturalisation Certificates, 1851-1928, which can be useful to narrow down your search for Naturalisations in Victoria, since you are able to add more information to this search form, as well as being able to narrow your search to Victoria.

Public Record Office Victoria

The main collections useful for finding birth or death information are the Probate and Administration Files, Wills, Inquest Deposition Files, and Immigration records.  Since there is a global collection search, you will also pick up any other records that might be available.  Some of the records are available online, but others you will need to order to either view at a reading room, or pay a fee for copies to be sent to you.

Google Search

Sometimes just searching for the name on Google can result in records that you might not have known to look for.  I found the bankruptcy notices for my mother-in-law using Google, as well as a Government Gazette entry for my sister.

State Library of Victoria Government Gazettes

As I mentioned, I found a Government Gazette for my sister on Google, and that led me to add the State Library of Victoria Government Gazettes to my research checklist.   The State Library of Victoria website has the Victorian Government Gazettes, with links to the Commonwealth Government Gazettes on Trove, and other Government Gazettes at the National Library of Australia.

The above aren’t the only resources available, but they are the main resources I use that are available online, and are free to search (in some cases a fee is charged to obtain the original records).