Genealogy Introduction

This is a general guide to tracing your family's genealogy in South Africa.

I found this info sometime ago on the Internet, but did not make a note of who prepared it, how old it is, or if it has been subsequently updated. I therefore cannot guarantee that the information is still valid and up to date, all the contained links are correct, or if they actually work. So please don't hold me responsible if you land up in Internet Hyper Space. I am however using some of these in my own research where neccesary, and if I find a poor link I will update it accordingly.

If you do happen to find a bad link or invalid information, please e-mail me, or place the details in the visitors book to enable me to find the correct info and update it. My apologies to the original author - I really cannot take any credit for this.

Genealogy is the study of the descent of families and persons from an ancestor or ancestors, while Family History applies to biographical research into one's ancestors. A Genealogical study creates a skeleton of the family and family history puts flesh onto the bones of the family.

There are of course accepted standards and norms for doing genealogy properly, regardless of where in the world such a study is undertaken, and this section aims at providing you with a basic understanding of what these standards are, and so enable you to do your own study correctly. If correctly undertaken, genealogy is a richly rewarding and pleasantly addictive pastime or hobby, at least to the person concerned.

To begin, you should first detemine what it is that we want to achieve. You need to develop a plan, with a goal or an objective at the outset.

Perhaps most importantly genealogical research has to be conducted logically, step-by-step, gathering information in such a way that the answer to one question provides a clue to the next question and so on. This is called the logical genealogical process.

We next need to to understand that genealogical research is time consuming and can cost money. Very few people are lucky enough to have their own family history, pedigree or genealogy handed to them on a plate. By the same token one shouldn't lose sight of the fact that we are a composite of a great many other families, any one of whom may have been researched before. Be sure to check other research that may have been undertaken by someone else.

Another very important point to remember is that records should be maintained of all sources of information. One doesn't want to have to redo previously conducted research with the added costs and time taken to obtain the information for a second time. Ensure that you continually maintain your source information.

Information gathered is kept on specific types of charts and forms, and more recently of course on computer. Information about our families can be obtained in a number of different ways from a number of different sources broadly categorised as Informal Sources, Formal Sources and General Sources. It makes sense therefore to record your source.

Also ensure that you use a correct methodology.

Finally one needs to be aware of a number of general factors concerning dates, surnames and the like, as well as where to obtain information in this regard within South Africa. Find these details in the additional notes section.

It only remains for me to wish you "good hunting" in tracing your elusive ancestors.