Click the 'person icon' for member login below or to view your profile. 
(Or the 'boxed arrow' if using a mobile device)

Log in

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

    • 20 Jan 2021
    • (UTC+11:00)
    • 6 May 2021
    • (UTC+10:00)
    • 17 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

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

    • 6 Mar 2021
    • (UTC+11:00)
    • 10 Apr 2021
    • (UTC+10:00)
    • 3 sessions
    • Your place
    • 5

    The Family Tree Maker Beginners Course is a three part online course. Part 1 Getting Started on 6 March, Part 2 Key Features on 27 March and Part 3 Publishing and Syncing on 10 April. All sessions will be recorded, so you can attend live or watch the recordings at your convenience.

    Part 1 - In this session you will gain an understanding of the software’s basic structure. You will learn how to navigate the unique toolbars, menus, and windows as well as set date and label preferences to view your information. You will enter information and learn how to add a basic source template.

    Part 2 - In this session you will gain an understanding of the software’s use of Sources, Places and Media functions and menus. You will learn how to how to add sources with different file types and using Places options as well as recording places correctly, finding places that no longer exist and a broad understanding of maps and geographical names. You will enter information and learn how to add a media to source template and use that source for multiple fact types.

    Part 3 - In this session you will gain an understanding of the software’s use of Publishing and Websearch functions. You will learn how to how create Charts, Report and Books including how to use filters, the privacy and ethics of sharing. You will also learn how to Backup and compact your Family Tree Maker files.  You will learn how to Sync your Family Tree Maker software with the Ancestry platform.

    The course is aimed at those wanting to start using family tree software. It is not suitable for people who regularly attend the FTM User Group.

    Skill level: Beginners     Presenters: Lyn Hudson-Williamson and Cheyne Wright

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


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

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

Location map

See our hours of opening for each building.


Call : +61 2 9247 3953


© 1932 - 2019 Society of Australian Genealogists | Privacy Policy |  Website Design : Advance Association Management

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software