• Date: 30/01/2017
  • Cemetery: GMCT Home

Delving into your family history can often uncover intriguing stories – and some surprises! Genealogy enthusiast David Down from Friends of Coburg Cemetery has some pointers on how you can start researching and documenting your own family tree.


1.  Start by writing down what you know.

Make a copy of a standard blank ancestry chart and sketch out your family tree, starting with you at the left and filling in names and places, and dates of birth, death and marriage of parents and grandparents.

Extend your information by filling in family group sheets for your extended family. You can then ask your family if they have additional information to help fill in the gaps in your family tree.

2.  Ask your family if they have information to help fill in the gaps in your family tree.

Obtain useful addresses of relatives including close and distant cousins, uncles and aunts.

Search out useful documentation such as photographs, birth, death and marriage (BDM) certificates, diaries, school records, family bibles and other items which family members may have kept .

3.  Try consulting Australian birth, death and marriage certificates.

Indexes to the records are available online, at your local library or at family history societies.

Purchase copies of certificates from the various state registrars of births, deaths and marriages. Remember to check spelling variations of the names you are researching. Some fees may apply to access records.

4.  Hunt for information in places you may not have initially thought to look.

Harness your inner detective: Check electoral rolls, directories, cemeteries, school rolls, hospital and shipping records, phone books and other published (or unpublished) family histories.

Remember to write down the results of all your research in a notebook or into a family tree computer program. You will find reasonably priced software programs for your computer by searching the internet.

5.  Use family history and genealogy organisations as a support.

You may like to join the Genealogical Society of Victoria or your local family history society. It can be a great way to meet with fellow family history enthusiasts and obtain help with your research.

6.  Enjoy your research!

Don’t leave your research to gather dust. Instead, preserve your family treasures and write up your research results for the enjoyment of future family members.



David Down is a volunteer historian and member of Friends of Coburg Cemetery.

Friends of Coburg Cemetery is a group focused on the preservation, conservation and appreciation of Coburg Cemetery. The group holds regular events and working bees and aims to protect and preserve the cemetery and its rich history.

You can use GMCT’s deceased search to search for records of your loved ones interred at GMCT cemeteries. You may also find our History and Heritage page useful in your research.