- Ancestry makes exploring your genealogy easy.
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- Start with your family tree
- Finding free family history records of Australian ancestors
Ancestry makes exploring your genealogy easy.
When did my ancestors come to America? Where did they come from? What were conditions like in Europe and in America when they immigrated? What were their experiences as immigrants? There are many ways to find the answers to these questions.
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The primary resource for most genealogical research in the United States is the National Archives and Records Administration NARA , and every year more documents and records are being made available online. There are also many websites that offer access to ship's manifests and passenger lists some are totally free and some charge a minor fee , and there are libraries specializing in genealogical research. Due to Ellis Island's connection to immigration, we have tried to provide some basic help for those who are just beginning their research.
Before you search the records, begin by gathering as much information as possible from sources within your family.
Try to identify the names of particular immigrants, the date and location of their arrival in the United States, their port of departure overseas, and their age at immigration. Ask your relatives what they know and see if they have any old documents that might provide information, such as birth, marriage, or death certificates; steamship tickets; naturalization papers; a family Bible; or photos that can help identify people and narrow down dates.
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Start with your family tree
Ship Manifests: Throughout most of U. The United States began requiring ships to provide copies of their manifests to the Federal Government in Many earlier passenger lists still exist, but the records before are not complete. Several free and fee-based online genealogical databases are available, including Ancestry. Tip: To manage your family tree on the go, choose a software program or online database that has a companion mobile app, such RootsMagic or Ancestry.
Professional genealogists are seasoned detectives: They look for clues, notice patterns, conduct research, and collect data to methodically solve mysteries and uncover family histories. And, like detectives, these ancestry experts know that some of the most valuable clues in any quest often are hiding in plain sight—at home. Smolenyak suggests focusing your hunt in the attic, basement, and drawers where photos, documents, and personal correspondence may be stored.
Items with dates are especially helpful. Family memorabilia to look for and photograph if you do not have permission from the owner to take the item include old pictures, military records, diplomas and report cards, and of course diaries, postcards, and letters.
Finding free family history records of Australian ancestors
Explain what you are doing and why, invite them to participate, and respect their wishes for how any item you discover will be handled, copied, or stored. Plus, if you treasure hunt first and interview second, you will have artifacts to talk about with your relatives.
enter Asking them to identify people or places in old photos, for example, can be a catalyst for stories and leads. Start by asking questions about your parents, grandparents, and, if possible, great-grandparents and beyond that will reveal foundational knowledge.
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Basic information to ask about includes full names and names of siblings, birthplaces and birthdates, locations or even addresses of family homes, nationality and ethnic background, occupations, education, military service, and where relatives are buried. If a relative appears hesitant or outright refuses to share specifics about a certain event or person, move on to another topic.
By speaking with multiple relatives and following up with your own research, often you can fill in the blanks without upsetting or alienating anyone. New resources, services, and options are added regularly on popular genealogy sites including FamilySearch. Browse the FamilySearch catalog of genealogical materials including books, online materials, microfilm, microfiche, and publications , and request a free loan to the closest Family History Center typically at a public library where you can view the items in person.