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Family History Starter Guide: Writing your family history

For those new to family history and the State Library of South Australia collection, or for those needing a few tips and tricks

Writing your family history?

Man writing at a dressing table c. 1925 (B 47672/49)

Many people begin a family history because they want to ensure their family stories are preserved for future generations - whether or not they aim to write a book.

The State Library attempts to collect all South Australian published family histories. We also try to collect family histories about South Australian families which have been published interstate, overseas. 

To find if the Library has a copy of a family history connected to your family: search our catalogue by subject, then enter the surname you are searching and the word 'family'. 

You could also try other libraries including Genealogy SA and the Society of Australian Genealogists.

Books about family history writing

Copyright and writing your family history

When writing your family history it is likely that you will want to use photographs, newspaper articles, or other material which may be in copyright. 

The links below provide general information about family history and copyright.

Copying and publishing

If you decide to publish your family history and decided to use images from the State Library, or need to know more about copyright, publishing and ordering copies from our collections, read:

Acknowledging your State Library of South Australia Sources .

Legal deposit

To ensure books and other published works are preserved for future generations, the Australian Government has legislation which obliges publishers to provide one copy (free of charge) to the State Library of South Australia. (Libraries Act, 1982, s. 35)

If you compile a book or other publication, post a copy to the library, or simply bring it to the Information Desk.

Olive Talbot c. 1920 (PRG 1555/7/1)

Storing your information

Recording your family tree

Whether you plan to publish your family tree or not, you may like to record your information on a computer program or database capably of creating family trees and pedigree charts. Gould Books at St Agnes (SA), who specialise in genealogy products, may be a good place to start looking. 

For basic charts and forms you can print out why not go to the Home tab above and check out the 'Forms and Charts' box.