How to build a family tree

Family5 min read

Enjoy bringing history to life by uncovering your own personal family tree

Have you ever had the urge to build your own family tree but felt daunted by the overwhelming task at hand? If so, there’s no need to put it off any longer – there are many wonderful benefits to piecing together your family’s history, so we’ve put together a guide to help you get the ball rolling.

Why build a family tree?

Studies have shown that the people of the Mediterranean live longer lives and it’s not just down to the food they eat and their active lifestyles. Mediterraneans tend to spend more quality time with their family and friends from whom they get support.

Diving in to discover your family’s past is an incredible journey to undertake with your family members. Uncovering the stories of who we are and where we come from brings family units closer together and nourishes us and our children with a clearer sense of identity and a stronger sense of belonging.

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First things first – bring the family together

The key to any successful family tree is to begin by tapping into the knowledge, memories and resources of your immediate and extended family. Older generations such as great-grandparents, grandparents and grand uncles and aunts will play a vital role in filling in missing links as you begin to trace your family tree further and further back.

Hold a big family get together where everyone brings photos, letters, heirlooms and official records. Exchange stories and memories (recording them is a good idea) to help further illustrate the colourful and fascinating personalities of your ancestors along the journey.
Start growing the tree

Once you’ve collected as many facts and documents as possible from your family members, you can then start charting and branching out your family tree together. This can be done simply on paper starting with the latest information and working backwards, or you can use online tools and apps such as ancestry.com.au to construct the tree digitally and also access, store and organise important records and findings.

Aside from featuring names on your family tree, you may also like to include birth and death dates (where applicable), marriage dates, job titles, birthplaces, hometowns and a photo of each person.

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Tips for watering the tree

If you find there are still some missing bits and pieces in your family’s story, you can help your tree flourish by seeking assistance from other sources. Accessing state records (for example, Queensland State Archives resources), as well as visiting local and state libraries to look through records, census and newspaper archives (scan the obituaries and wedding announcements) may help you fill in the gaps.

The National Library of Australia also has a massive collection of resources called Trove, which is accessed online. Another great tip is to consider spelling variations of family names during your search, as they may have been changed over time or recorded incorrectly – especially when it comes to older, handwritten letters and documents.

Get started today  

So, along your journey there will be laughs, tears and potential discoveries of surprising connections to people, countries and places – places you can then visit as a family to reconnect with your history while continuing your own unique family narrative into the future.

So why not gather your nearest and dearest round today and take the first steps on a family adventure with a real difference? Get as many loved ones involved as you can muster, why not entice them by also hosting a family lunch on the same day, and remember to enjoy the ride – together!

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