Family History ACT

The Heraldry & Genealogy Society of Canberra Inc.


By Barbara Moore

One of the most rewarding benefits of being a member of our Society is the wonderful opportunity to visit the library at Cook and just browse the bookshelves. The collection holds over 14,500 books, both Australian and overseas, many of which are there to assist you write your own family story. Not only are there books to help create a family tree but many that will “add flesh to the bones” as it were, putting the family in context, exploring the history, geography and social environments of the time and place from where our ancestors came, and where and how they lived after arrival. Many are rare and long out of print books unlikely ever to be digitalised. The library has its own unique system of classification of material that makes it very simple to locate books.

Two particular areas of importance are the local history and the family histories sections. The library holds over 300 Australian local histories, some quite large but some just a few pages, produced by local councils with a wealth of information and many not available in the NLA. These books are housed by State (AN) and then 8 plus the last three numbers of the postcode, eg. AN8.630 for Cooma and surrounding areas.

There are almost 700 family histories (A4/…) all of which have been donated to the library by the author, family member or interested person, many of them with informative bibliographies. Just browsing the shelves or searching the catalogue by subject will bring up the main places where these families lived. Who knows? They could have been neighbours to your family.

If you are passionate about books, and particularly genealogy and history books as I am, why not come to Cook during the pandemic and spend time just perusing some of the books in the collection. Books can readily be taken from the shelf and read but, once handled, are quarantined for 24 hours before being returned to the shelf.