Family History ACT

The Heraldry & Genealogy Society of Canberra Inc.


NEW! Valuable military research chapter in Family History for Beginners & Beyond (2020)

By Elaine Gifford

What do you expect of a ‘how-to’ book in the 21st century?

In particular, why would you read a chapter titled ‘Military Records’ if you don’t have professional service personnel in your ancestry or if you already know the main facts of someone’s death or service in a war?

Chapter 11 - Military Records

Here’s a surprise: the military chapter is worth reading just for its general interest even as it describes approaches for any researcher and expands possibilities for those already seeking military forebears.

The chapter integrates well with the whole book. Earlier chapters such as ‘Early Free Settlers’ have indicated the complementary role of military records which can provide both context and additional research portals for learning about one’s family. Then within this chapter one reads:

Collaborating – telling stories

The best way to understand the material you have collected is to start writing your ancestor's story – it soon becomes clear what doesn't make sense and where the gaps are. A story is a good way to start sharing what you have, and may whet the appetite for story telling among other family members.

‘Military Records’ presents a useful approach to military research in general. While the focus is mainly on Australian (and to a lesser extent, British) records, the introduction points out that grasping how one country kept and now makes available its mass of detailed records is a good start for exploring the military records of less familiar countries. Family historians are advantaged, we’re told, by military bureaucracy and its very thorough record-keeping.

The value of this chapter extends from its clear use of terms and abbreviations throughout the text and in a Military Glossary, to its dispelling of any narrow expectation of what may be gleaned from military research. There are also some surprising details. Did you know that in certain circumstances a British soldier could be allocated a new service number? The explanation of such matters could be just the breakthrough one needs.

Consistent with FHBB’s helpful layout, Further Resources at the end of the chapter has topic-related sections, including ‘Blogs and Forums’, ‘Newspaper coverage’ and ‘Pensioner Guards’, which together expand on the main text’s recommended research routes.

Any family historian is likely to learn some new approaches and to be encouraged by the broader horizons offered in ‘Military Records’.

Edition 16 of Family History for Beginners & Beyond (FHBB) is a book for 2020 and beyond. It is clearly and attractively laid out with appropriate illustrations and consistent format, and sits flat for easy reference. It assumes a computer and internet approach to family history complemented by research through books, travel and visits to relevant repositories and their experts. Collaboration and sharing by the many means now at our disposal is also emphasised.

There is an abundance of step-by-step guidance, tips, pointers, cautions, new approaches, resource ideas, up-to-date research information and some unexpected lines of enquiry. Both beginners and advanced family historians can expect to learn and to be encouraged in their endeavours.

This edition of FHBB has not only been extensively revised and updated, but has five new chapters – AUSTRALIAN LAND RECORDS, CHINESE AUSTRALIAN ANCESTORS, DNA (of course!), MILITARY RECORDS and WRITING YOUR STOR

Purchase your copy now and come away with an enlarged arsenal of potential leads to explore.