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Researching family history is fun and rewarding.

When I first began building my 'Family Tree' about 25 years ago, I must be honest, ... I did it the hard way.

I had scraps of paper, notes and a few photos in no order whatsoever and with no idea of what to do with it all, it seemed a hopeless task. So hopefully, I'll be able to describe how I went about researching my family tree on the chance that it will inspire others to also give it a try.

Once I had decided that I was really serious about family research, I thought it best to join the Australian Genealogical Society in Sydney. They were dedicated people, but they had few resources back then to assist them, however it was a real education in learning how to slog it out.

In those days, there were no computer records or Internet as we know it today. Very brief information was held on 3 x 5 cards, some Registers which had names, but no access to Births, Deaths or Marriages; some Shipping Registers which you needed to 'book' in advance; a few records which displayed grave inscriptions; and then, if you were lucky to get access to a micro-film reader for an hour, and you also knew what you were looking for, you may be fortunate to come up with one or two pieces of information. Sometimes nothing!

However, it was lucky I was younger then, so I had time on my side and I had a lot of patience. So, I began with my immediate family and relatives by sending them a letter with a blank 'Family Information Form' which asked them to complete their dates of births, deaths and marriages; plus anything they felt was interesting.

Within three weeks, I had a stack of completed family forms, which I had to put in some sort of order. I decided to keep each family form in a loose leaf folder and then I drew up a family 'Tree' for each group, which was governed by the 'Male' in the family who would continue the 'line'.

This worked pretty well for a couple of years, and then I decided I would track down all the family who had lived in Australia. At this point in time, I decided to use a computer and bought some software which I thought I could use and transcribed about 100 records onto it.

Then I found the standard of the reports it produced was very limited. So, I changed it for "Expert Personal Roots" for Windows 3.1 and started all over again. This time I had a system I felt comfortable with, because it allowed me to produce reports for each member of my family, whenever they wanted one. So it served the purpose at the time.

When Windows XP PRO was released, I thought it best to upgrade my family history software to something more reliable, and I now use Family Tree Legends which is an easy program to use. I saved the old files into Gedcom format and then imported them into my new software. It now works fine and it produces excellent reports.

In 2001 I found a company that taught 'dummies' like me, how to use a computer, how to use the Internet and how to design your own website; plus web-hosting for a year and it only cost me US$100. This company was and they still operate today.

As a result, I have been able to teach myself how to build this very same website you are looking at today.

Now I am able to 'surf the net' and find information in a few minutes, which in the past took me years to find.

I have found the experience extremely rewarding. I have also 'met' over the Internet, so many fantastic and helpful people with similar interests.

So, don't do it the hard way. If you don't have a computer to do your research ... use the one at the Library. Build up your information and when you decide that you are really serious about it, then make a decision to get your own computer, and if you are really serious see how easy it is to build your own website.

I commend this as a worthwhile and rewarding hobby to you!

-  Roy Burnell


Some Tips and Pointers

Remember, most everyone have two family names: your father's, but also your mother's. Don't feel you must restrict your research to just your paternal family tree either.

Don't try to compile the whole family tree in one sitting. A good place to start is with your Grand-Parents (Four family names), their children, your immediate family, your children and their children; to whom they were married and their parents. Be aware that people may have more than one spouse or children may have been adopted and they may end up with different surnames.

Also most Municipal Libraries have Genealogical Records and contacts with private organisations or Historical Societies who can assist you. 

As you acquire information from various sources, you will need a suitable place to store them. I've found a computer is ideal. A good word processor to store the bulk of the information and the Internet to access the sources.  Use the various 'Search Engines' to help you speed up the process.

Find a suitable software program that will allow you to record the individual details of each person, as well as, to be able to link spouses, children and parents together automatically. Look for one that will enable you to print out Ancestor, Descendant, Family and Tree Reports.

The use of the internet speeds up the whole process. Join a 'genealogy' group such as "Genes-Reunited" where other people with similar interests will contact you with information about your family. All you do is upload your database via a Gedcom file to their website. It is so easy and can be very fruitful.

In summary, your family research will take time, so be patient and most of all, be open-minded about what you will find. You never know the hidden secrets your ancestors have carefully guarded. Only since April 2005 when I visited Tasmania myself, I found seven (7) convicts in my own ancestoral family. What an amazing discovery this was, particularly when I walked through the home where my great grandparents had lived in Hobart over 100 years ago. A special moment !

Best wishes and happy researching !!

- Roy Burnell  


Some Links to Use

Recently, I found a great source for researching which is ideal for those who may have family information stored in their computers. It is called "Genes Reunited" which allows you to submit your family tree to their world-wide website and in turn, you receive notification from other genealogists if family-members match or sometimes a 'missing' person will be discovered. It's a great system of using many people to help complete your family 'Tree'

This method speeds up the process immensely. Click on the link below to see how it works.

Also listed below are other 'links' to interesting genealogy web-sites which I have used from time to time in the course of my research. Try them for yourself and good luck !

Genes Reunited



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