Beginning Researchers

Thank you for visiting our website.

NFHS has much to offer beginning Family History researchers. Many of our members have been investigating their family history for decades so are very experienced in solving the sort of problems that can cause difficulties for any family historian. Just as important is our wide range of resources that will help trace ancestors around the world. A membership of our Society might just save you money and it will certainly help you decide where best to spend your research dollars.

Note: Please understand that in undertaking an investigation into the history of your family, you may uncover information that will upset you or other family members. Historic articles in Trove may also provide shocking or gruesome details that would not appear in newspaper accounts today. 

Choice has reviewed various genealogy programs. While now some years old The Checkout program produced by the ABC outlines these considerations in an amusing but thought provoking way, so watch the clip and read about the various programs available before you make a final decision about your first genealogical moves.


You do not need a membership to any paid research site to investigate your family unless you want one. Did you know that Ancestry can be accessed from your local library if you have a library card?

Choice suggests some programs that can be used for free. They are My Brother's Keeper (for Windows) and Gramps (for Linux, Mac and Windows). Links to these two sites are provided so you can investigate further. Remember that any tree should be able to be downloaded to your computer family tree program from an online site or uploaded from your program to an online site in the form of a GEDcom which is a program that reads family trees (and nothing to do with GEDmatch which is connected to DNA).

Here are some things that new researchers should do before they spend any money. These suggestions cost nothing but are important first steps and they can be done immediately.

  • Talk to older members of your family and record them if they are agreeable.

  • Ask if someone in the family has already begun to investigate the family history. If there is someone, arrange to visit them. If not draw a simple family tree on paper and collect some known names, dates and locations.

  • Collect copies of family records as these are unlikely to be found online. They can be images, photocopies or just transcriptions (handwritten copies).

  • Collect and label any family photos held in the family. Share them within the family. 

  • Take a camera wherever you go and photograph records or images that can't be given to you to keep.

  • Keep a record of the location of any information that you found. You might need to check something.


There are many excellent and free websites to visit and any search engine will help you find more. 

We can show you how to effectively use the sites below and many others. (It is recommended that if you try to search any of these sites that you begin with JUST ONE SURNAME until you are familiar with each.) Many websites also provide good advice and strategies for family historians. Below are some suggestions but our Links page will show you more.


Family Search

NSW State Records and Archives

National Archives of Australia

NSW Births, Deaths and Marriages

Our members are our greatest resource and their varied experise may be the key to solving any difficult research problems so please consider visiting our rooms where our experienced volunteers can help you with your research.

Our courses are also available for non-members. There is a cost to the sessions and more information may be found on our 'How To ... ' page.