The State Library has many services to offer family researchers. Free tours and workshops, handouts and subject guides are available to help the journey of discovery. Western Australian material is housed in the J S Battye Library of West Australian History on the 3rd floor. The Genealogy Centre, also on the 3rd floor has resources from Australian States and Territories and other countries, particularly Britain and New Zealand.
For novice family researchers, the Western Australian Genealogical Society Inc (WAGS) Volunteers are in attendance in the Genealogy Centre on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 9.30am to 1.00pm. Staff are available to assist with research, login and access. Computer access for research in the Genealogy Centre is available from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm.
The Library's collection includes birth, marriage and death indexes, convict records, directories, electoral rolls, newspapers and passenger lists. These collections are available to help answer research questions such as when someone arrived in Australia, when someone was born, married or died, where someone lived and what they did for a living. Photographs of your ancestors or of where they lived or worked may also be found.
Tips and Resources for Family Research
There are introductory handbooks and family history journals available. Try searching our catalogue with the keywords 'genealogy handbooks' or browse the shelves in the Genealogy Centre. Websites that may be useful are Web Sites for Genealogists by Cora Num and Australian family history and genealogy selected websites by the National Library of Australia. The most comprehensive international family history gateway is Cyndi's List a categorized & cross-referenced list of genealogical research sites with online links.
When undertaking family history research begin with yourself and work backwards. Start by writing down everything you already know about the family and map out a rough family tree. Collect together material which can help with your family tree. Items which you may already have at home include certificates, photographs, diaries, letters, medals, family bibles, wills and other legal documents. Talk to relatives and record their memories. Remember, though, that family stories may not be entirely factual and will need to be confirmed. Decide how you are going to record all the information you find. This can be on paper, in a family history software program or a combination of the two.
Its useful to remember to always check surname variants when researching, e.g.. Sherwood, Shearwood, Sharwood and try to focus on one area of your family tree at a time. Once you have found information, make a record of where you located it, as you might have to return to your original source to verify something. Also record unsuccessful research sources, as this will reduce the chances of repeating the same work further down the track. If possible confirm facts from a second source at every stage. Always photocopy certificates and important documents and leave the originals in a safe place.
The collection houses material in printed format, on microfilm, microfiche, CD-ROM and also provides PCs for access to the Internet and databases. Material on microfiche and microfilm can be scanned and printed, emailed or saved to your thumb drive using the ST200X scanners.