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How do I research my family history?

Researching your family history can be a wonderful hobby but it is worth learning how to do it well, so that you don’t end up researching the wrong families!

The process of researching your family history involves collecting evidence from government and church records and other documents which demonstrate how people are related to each other. You start with yourself and find documents that demonstrate who your parents are, then you look for documents that demonstrate who their parents were – and you work backwards in time. As you do this, you also collect stories about your family and hopefully photos and other memorabilia.

Finding the right documents and evidence is the challenging part, because it varies by location and documents can sometimes be scarce. Interpreting the documents can also be a challenge.

The Society has been helping people trace their family history for over 85 years. We collect documents and other resources in the library and archives for you to use, and hold classes to teach you how to research. Check out our events calendar for what’s on.

While there are a lot of materials online through sites such as Ancestry, FamilySearch, Findmypast and government websites, not everything is available online. Libraries such as ours are still a very important place to visit if you are researching your family history.

To record your family history and the progress of your research, most people use family tree charts and some people find family history software is useful. We sell charts and workbooks, and we have software groups which meet regularly to provide support. Their meeting dates are in the Upcoming Events section.

If you would like to start researching your family history, visit our library and talk to one of our volunteers. They would be happy to help you get started. We also run courses for beginners, which you will find in our events calendar.

Image: Candelo Church of England, Candelo NSW, SAG Manuscript and Image Collection, Item 5/588

We recommend the following events if you are just starting out with your family history:

Upcoming events

    • 12 May 2021
    • (UTC+10:00)
    • 19 Aug 2021
    • (UTC+10:00)
    • 16 sessions
    • Your Place!
    • 0
    Join waitlist

    Need help with starting to solve your DNA dilemma's? Have you tested with Ancestry DNA and want to understand how to work with your results?

    Join Christine Woodlands and other members of the SAG DNA Discussion Group for a 16 week course designed to assist you to understand the information you can glean from your Ancestry DNA matches.

    The course will be made up of four modules and consist of a mixture of presentations, live demonstrations, case studies and discussion groups.

    The course will be presented online using the GoToMeeting platform.

    Further details of the four modules can be found here by clicking here

    You must have access to results from an Ancestry DNA test to undertake this course.

    • 10 Jul 2021
    • 10:30 AM - 12:30 PM (UTC+10:00)
    • Your place
    • 499
    Registration is closed

    Receiving your test results is an exciting time but it can quickly become confusing. This session will look at the different types of tests available, which one is right for you and which companies do these tests. We will look at some basics to help you understand and interpret your matches and there will be plenty of time for questions so you can start finding those new cousins!

    This is an online session using the ZOOM platform.

    It will NOT be recorded due to privacy reasons, so you should only book if you can attend live.

    Skill level: Beginners     Presenter: Melissa Hulbert    

    Note: Members need to be logged in to the site to make an event booking.

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Our Research Centre is at 2/379 Kent St, Sydney.

Our office is at Richmond Villa, 120 Kent St, Sydney.

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See our hours of opening for each building.


Call : +61 2 9247 3953


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