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Gathering Information

Personal and family sources of information
A member of the family may be in possession of an old family Bible. Often records of family births, deaths and marriages were entered on the special pages of family Bibles. Not all family members may be aware of the Bible’s existence, so ask each relative in turn if they have knowledge of such a Bible.

Do not be put off if one member of the family tells they know nothing about their parents because they never talked about their childhood. This is not necessarily so. Sometimes daughters were better informed than sons, probably because daughters worked in the home with their mothers and grandmothers and there was more opportunity for talking and sharing memories.

Be sure to explain why you are gathering the information, and what you intend to do with it. If you intend to publish a family history, you are required by law to show the person the information you will be printing on them. (Privacy Act 1993)

Suggested questions you can ask on your visits ‑ take several visits to ask all the questions you may have:

  • Full names (including maiden name), date and place of marriage including the actual church where the ceremony was performed and where the reception was held.
  • Full names, dates and places of births and the church where baptisms were performed.
  • Full names, dates and places of deaths and the places of burial or cremation.
  • Enquire about newspaper cuttings relating to the family, such as birth, marriage or death notices, obituaries, civic honours, silver weddings, golden weddings, and similar newsworthy events.
  • What schools did family members attend, during which years?
  • Did family members own property or businesses, and if so, what was the trade name of the business, where was it located and when was it founded?
  • What were the occupations of the adult family members?
  • Did any family member serve in the armed services and if so, which service and regiment. Which war and when and where did they serve? Were they awarded service medals? Where are they buried?
  • Were any ancestors born outside the British Commonwealth? If so, there may have been naturalisation documents.
  • Enquire about old passports. They are useful for family information and include a photograph

Charting Hints

  • To avoid confusion, always use the same format when recording information.
  • Print clearly and always use BLOCK CAPITALS for surnames.
  • Use a woman’s maiden or birth surname, not her married surname.
  • Days and years should be expressed as day, month and year. Use numerals for the day, the month as Jan, Feb, Mar, etc. Write June in full to avoid confusion with Jan, always write the year in full so there can be no confusion with the century. (1720, 1840, 1950, 2002)
  • If the exact date is not known but the year can be calculated, this can be shown as c1883 or similar c. = circa = about, it is applicable to dates only).
  • On the Record of Ancestry Sheets, list your male ancestors against the even numbers and the female ancestors against the odd numbers.
  • When compiling charts. use ink for proven facts and pencil for details still to be proved. Against each proven fact be sure to note the source of the information. Unless a source is given your work cannot be regarded as authentic.

A Family Group Sheet should be compiled for each married couple on your Pedigree chart. Group Sheets can be coded using the numbers from the Record of Ancestry to easily identify the couple’s place in the family tree. For example your paternal grandparents would be numbered 4 and 5. Downlaod a copy of the Family Group Sheet and Pedigree Chart .

Use a genealogical computer program to transfer and record all the family details and stories you gather. 

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