Next Step in How To Do Family History

Now that we have looked at the basics of gathering information. And started to organise it in a legible manner. It is time to look at the next steps to take.

Lets take a moment to review what we have done so far.

1. We have gathered the information we have in the house and sorted it into the various types of information we have, e.g. certificates, (birth, death, & marriage), newspaper items, achievement certificates, and lets not forget the photo’s you may have discovered.

2. Entered the information either manually or electronically into Pedigree charts and or Family group Sheets.

3. Organised your photo’s in either an album or scanned them into your computer and either placed them into a Family History file and or attached them to the individual files in your computers family history program.

So now that we have done all the above we need to decide what to do next. If we look at the information that we have compiled we may find that there are holes in the information we have on various members of our family. So how to fill in the missing information then?

A good source of family information is your extended family, Aunts, uncles Grandparents, and on the rare occasions great grand parents. Below is a copy of a guide given to me by Elaine Van Gamert, Director of the Baulkham Hills Family History Centre of the Church of Jesus Christ Of latter Day Saints


How to Interview a Relative.

1. Schedule a time in advance. This gives everyone a chance to prepare.

2. Prepare a list of questions beforehand and either share them with your relative, or give them an idea of what you want to cover.

3. Bring several notepads and pens to the interview. If you plan to make a recording, be sure to have a tape player, microphone, extra tapes and batteries.

4. Take good notes and make sure you record your name, the date, the place the interview is being conducted, and the interviewee.

5. Start with a question or topic that you know will elicit a reply, such as a story you have heard them tell in the past.

6. Ask questions which encourage more than simple “yes” and “no” answers. Try to elicit fact, feelings, stories and descriptions.

7. Show interest. Take an active part in the dialogue without dominating it. Learn to be a creative listener.

8. Use props whenever possible, Old photographs, favourite old songs, and treasured items may bring memories flooding back.

9. Don’t push for answers. Your relative may not wish to speak ill of the dead or others reasons for not wanting to share. Move on to something else.

10. Use your prepared questions as a guideline, but don’t be afraid to let your relative go off on a tangent. They may have many things to say that you never thought to ask!

11. Don’t interrupt or attempt to correct your relative, this can end an interview in a hurry!

12. When you are done, be sure to thank your relative for their time.


1. Put your relative at ease by telling them that they will have a chance to see and approve of anything that you write before you share it with others.

2. Keep the interview length to no more than 1 to 2 hours at a stretch. It’s tiring for you and for your relative. It is supposed to be fun!

3. Consider preparing a thank you note to your relative for their cooperation.

(In relation to step 3 of the above guide you might want to also consider videoing the interview as well, especially if it is an older relative).

Keep in mind that every person you interview is an individual and your approach in your interview with them is different to any other interview, as are the questions you will ask them.

Okay folks have fun, and let me know how you do.


New Discovery

While I have been continueing to merge my mixed upPaf files I often come across interesting connections between my wifes family and my own.  This time however I came across a connection in my own family.  It turns out that members of two branches of my family joined the australian navy and served on the same ship, in different capacities. One was a commissioned officer and the other was a non-commssioned officer. I present  Petty Officer William Reginald Devine Smith

William Reginald Devine Smith  Born on 9th Aug 1916. Joined the navy in 1934. He served on the HMAS Sydney and was promoted from Leading Seaman to Petty officer in July 1941.  He was among the 645 crew who were lost when the HMAS Sydney was sunk by the german cruiser Kormoran off the coast of Western Australia on 20th November 1941.

  (Photo credit :- National Archives of Australia)