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How to Get Started in Family History Research

Getting Started

Parkdale Library is the centre for Family History Research at Kingston. The Kingston Family History collection is among the best in Victoria available for public access. Consisting of approximately 1100 items including books, databases, magazines, CD ROM s and microform or microfiche the collection covers a wide variety of materials.

You will also have access to Parkdale Library's dedicated Family History Room with specialised equipment including computers with access to a number of genealogy subscription databases, and a microfiche reader that allows you to print or save records to a USB device. If you need help getting started we have a team of experienced volunteers that can help you with your research.

Page image credit:
Family / Group photo. [Photograph]. Retrieved from Encyclopædia Britannica ImageQuest. https://quest.eb.com/search/109_151433/1/109_151433/cite

How Do I Start?

This video has some useful tips for you on how to get started on your research: https://familysearch.org/gettingstarted

  1. Start with what you know. Do you know your parents names, birthdates and birth places? What about your grandparents or great grandparents? Select a single surname, individual, or family with which to begin. Following one family line helps keep your research on track.
  2. If you have older family members ask questions, they may have documents like a family bible, letters, diaries, photographs and certificates.
    Do try and substantiate family stories with official documents.
  3. Begin from all the known facts and work backwards. Make sure you check the accuracy of each source. Keep a record of all your research.
  4. Obtain a blank pedigree chart. You can use the chart to record family relationships. You can download a free chart from Family Search http://broadcast.lds.org/elearning/fhd/FS/en/GetStarted/images/pedigree.pdf or through Ancestry Library edition which is available on all Library computers http://www.ancestrylibrary.com/download/charts. Geneanet lets you add your Family Tree to their website for free. http://en.geneanet.org/
  5. Begin researching documents. You can start by googling your surname to see if anyone else has done any research on your family.
    You are looking for Vital records which are records of life events, births, marriage Licences and death certificates.
  6. Visit the Family History room at Parkdale Library to begin your research.
  7. Remember less is more. Sometimes by entering a full name you can miss the right record. For example James may have been written as Ja, Jms or J. Allow for spelling variants when searching, this may bring up records that sound like the name you are looking for.
  8. Be very careful with original documents, make copies and leave the originals in a safe place. Never lend your original copy.

Family History Volunteers

Staff are only able to offer minimal assistance with your Family History Research. However we do have experienced volunteers that can help you start your search and make suggestions for the appropriate resources for you to use to continue on.

You can see a volunteer at Parkdale Library at the following times:

  • Fridays (except the second Friday of the month) 10:00-1:00

You can make a booking on a Genealogy computer during these times by ringing 1300 135 668.

Please note our Family History Volunteers are not available during January.

Family History Classes

Throughout the year, Kingston Libraries run introductory classes to help you get started with your genealogy research. Check with library staff for available class times and further information.

Book Resources

The library has a wide range of book resources to help you with your research. Some of the books are how to manuals and others are more specific to a region, time or people group.

How our ancestors died : a guide for family hist&hellip; / <nobr>Wills, Simon<nobr> Solving genealogy problems : How to break down '&hellip; / <nobr>Davis, Graeme.<nobr> The family tree detective : a manual for tracing&hellip; / <nobr>Rogers, Colin<nobr>

Family History Magazines.

The Library has a number of Family History magazines that can help with your research.

Family History eLibrary List

All Genealogy databases have to be accessed within one of Kingston Libraries’ 9 branches.

Find My Past dot com dot au

You can search records from the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Pacific Islands and Papua New Guinea and World records. The range of records includes census, civil registration, parish records, immigration, probate, military and much more. New records are added constantly. You can access this database on any of the libraries' public computers or Wi-Fi across 9 branches. Kingston Libraries provide free access to a number of Findmypast's historical records. Please note that the Newspaper Records are not included in our subscription.


Complementing the extensive CDROM genealogical collection at the Parkdale branch, this online database has international coverage for England, Scotland and Wales, plus USA and Canada. Note: Ancestry can be accessed at all Kingston branches by using this link but cannot be accessed from home.

For more information on the resources available please see Family History Resources

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