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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 have software groups and regional special interest 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

    • 29 June 2024
    • 10:30 AM - 12:30 PM
    • Via Zoom
    • 480
    Register

    Receiving your DNA 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.


    Skill level: Beginners

         Presenter: Melissa Hulbert    

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

    • 07 July 2024
    • 10:00 AM - 12:30 PM
    • Via Zoom
    • 13
    Register

    Christine will share her "Top 10" techniques for working with AncestryDNA. This session is ideal for those who are taking a first look at their AncestryDNA test or thinking about testing at AncestryDNA.

    Demonstrations and case studies will be featured in the session. There'll be plenty of time for questions. Reference material will be available after the session.

    This session is limited to 25 participants.

    This session will conducted on through Zoom and will not be recorded. Participants should be available at the advertised time.


    Skill level: Beginner

    Presenter: Christine Woodlands 

    • 30 August 2024
    • 9:00 AM
    • 31 August 2024
    • 5:00 PM
    • SAG Research Centre and Library, Level 2, 379 Kent Street Sydney
    • 16
    Register

    FACE TO FACE COURSE

    Would you like to investigate your family history but have no idea where to start or have you previously signed up to an online platform but felt overwhelmed by all the information available?

    The Society of Australian Genealogists, Australia’s oldest family history society, is excited to announce we will once again be holding a face to face intensive version of our "Beginners Practical Introduction to Family History” course at our library and research centre in Sydney as part of our  schedule of National Family History Month events.

    Over the course of two days you will learn about:

    • Key tools - family history software platforms, file organisation, research plans
    • Traditional records (document based) research – types of records, locating records
    • Electronic databases – Ancestry, FamilySearch, MyHeritage, Findmypast and more
    • Using maps in family history
    • Other resources such as Family History Societies, online forums and education options
    • Introduction to DNA research including legal and ethical considerations
    • Various ways to chart, share and publish your findings, including privacy and copyright concerns

    While the course will focus on records available in Australia, North America, the United Kingdom and Ireland we will also touch on locating records in other countries and the skills you will learn can be applied to researching ancestors from anywhere in the world.

    Lead Presenter: Vanessa Cassin, SAG Education Manager 

    Skill Level: Beginner

    Morning and Afternoon Tea will be provided.

    There will be a one hour break for lunch. Please bring your own lunch. There are also plenty of cafes close to the venue if you prefer to purchase something.

    To read SAG's Refund Policy for event registrations please click here

    • 28 September 2024
    • 10:00 AM - 12:30 PM
    • Via Zoom
    • 25
    Register

    Christine will share her "Top 10" techniques for working with AncestryDNA. This session is ideal for those who are taking a first look at their AncestryDNA test or thinking about testing at AncestryDNA.

    Demonstrations and case studies will be featured in the session. There'll be plenty of time for questions. Reference material will be available after the session.

    This session is limited to 25 participants.

    This session will conducted on through Zoom and will not be recorded. Participants should be available at the advertised time.


    Skill level: Beginner

    Presenter: Christine Woodlands 

    • 02 November 2024
    • 10:30 AM - 12:30 PM
    • Via Zoom
    • 499
    Register

    Receiving your DNA 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.


    Skill level: Beginners

         Presenter: Melissa Hulbert    

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

Past events

02 June 2024 ONLINE WORKSHOP: Avoiding Scams & Staying Safe Online
25 May 2024 ONLINE WORKSHOP: Managing & Organising Files
24 May 2024 IN PERSON WORKSHOP: Managing & Organising Files
24 May 2024 IN PERSON WORKSHOP: Working with Photos & Images
22 May 2024 ONLINE WORKSHOP: Working with Images & Photos
22 May 2024 IN PERSON WORKSHOP: Working with Photos & Images
22 May 2024 IN PERSON WORKSHOP: Avoiding Scams & Staying Safe Online
20 May 2024 IN PERSON WORKSHOP: Managing & Organising Files
20 May 2024 IN PERSON WORKSHOP: Avoiding Scams & Staying Safe Online
03 February 2024 WEBINAR: First Look at AncestryDNA
13 January 2024 WEBINAR: Beginners' Introduction to DNA
04 November 2023 WEBINAR: Introduction to MyHeritage DNA
28 October 2023 WEBINAR: Beginners' Introduction to DNA
07 October 2023 WEBINAR: First Look at AncestryDNA
15 September 2023 WORKSHOP: Using search engines
01 September 2023 WORKSHOP: Using search engines
01 September 2023 WORKSHOP: Getting Started With & Using Zoom
11 August 2023 COURSE: Beginners Practical Introduction to Family History
19 July 2023 WEBINAR: First Look at AncestryDNA
13 July 2023 ONLINE WORKSHOP: All about cloud subscription apps
30 June 2023 WORKSHOP: Using search engines
30 June 2023 WORKSHOP: Getting Started With & Using Zoom
27 May 2023 WEBINAR: Beginners' Introduction to DNA
28 March 2023 WEBINAR: First Look at AncestryDNA
09 March 2023 COURSE: Beginners Practical Introduction to Family History
21 January 2023 WEBINAR: Beginners' Introduction to DNA
14 January 2023 WEBINAR: Introduction to MyHeritage DNA
09 January 2023 WEBINAR: First Look at AncestryDNA
20 November 2022 WEBINAR: First Look at AncestryDNA - NSW & ACT Association of Family History Societies Raffle Prize
29 October 2022 WEBINAR: Beginners Introduction to DNA
31 August 2022 WEBINAR: First Look at AncestryDNA
12 August 2022 COURSE: Beginners Practical Introduction to Family History
04 July 2022 WEBINAR: Introduction to Blogger - Telling your family story
25 June 2022 WEBINAR: Beginners Introduction to DNA
24 May 2022 WEBINAR: First Look at AncestryDNA
09 April 2022 WEBINAR: First Look at AncestryDNA
16 February 2022 COURSE: Beginners Practical Introduction to Family History
29 January 2022 WEBINAR: First Look at AncestryDNA
18 January 2022 Webinar: Legacy Family History Software for beginners
13 January 2022 Analysing Your Ancestry DNA Results
08 January 2022 WEBINAR: Beginners Introduction to DNA
07 December 2021 WEBINAR: First Look at AncestryDNA
27 November 2021 WEBINAR: UK Census Overview
02 November 2021 WEBINAR: Follow Up Meeting: Introduction to Blogger - Telling Your Family Story
23 October 2021 WEBINAR: Beginners Introduction to DNA
12 October 2021 WEBINAR: First Look at AncestryDNA
21 September 2021 WEBINAR: Introduction to Blogger - Telling your family story
10 July 2021 WEBINAR: Beginners Introduction to DNA
15 May 2021 WEBINAR: DNA Research Group - Beginners
12 May 2021 Analysing Your Ancestry DNA Results
06 March 2021 Family Tree Maker Beginners Course
20 January 2021 Analysing Your Ancestry DNA Results
16 January 2021 WEBINAR: DNA Research Group - Beginners
10 October 2020 WEBINAR: DNA Research Group - Beginners
25 July 2020 WEBINAR: DNA Research Group - Beginners
23 May 2020 WEBINAR: Family history software & charting – Family Tree Maker & Legacy
23 May 2020 WEBINAR: Family history software & charting – Introduction
30 April 2020 LECTURE: Convict records in the NSW State Archives
30 April 2020 WEBINAR: Convict records in the NSW State Archives
18 April 2020 GROUP: Legacy Software Users Group
04 April 2020 WEBINAR: DNA Research Group - Beginners
04 April 2020 FREE LIBRARY TOUR: Where do I start at the SAG library?
01 April 2020 WEBINAR: Putting your family history online
19 March 2020 LECTURE: Deciphering handwriting
12 March 2020 FREE RICHMOND VILLA TOUR: What's in the SAG archives (MIDAS)?
26 February 2020 FREE LIBRARY TOUR: Where do I start at the SAG library?
08 February 2020 GROUP: Family Tree Maker AM session
23 January 2020 FREE RICHMOND VILLA TOUR: What's in the SAG archives (MIDAS)?
18 January 2020 GROUP: Legacy Software Users Group
18 January 2020 FREE LIBRARY TOUR: Where do I start at the SAG library?
11 January 2020 GROUP: DNA Research Group - Beginners
07 January 2020 WEBINAR: Reviewing your research - get past that roadblock in your tree

Can't find what you're looking for? Search here ...

LOCATIONS

Library - 2/379 Kent St, Sydney NSW 2000                       

Offices/Archives - 120 Kent St, Sydney NSW 2000 (Also our postal address)


Gadigal Land

Location map

See our hours of opening for each building.

NSW Charitable Fundraising No. CFN/26276

CONTACT US

+61 2 9299 5151 Library (during opening hours)

+61 2 9247 3953 Office            


Email

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