South Africa Finding Town of Origin
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The FamilySearch moderator for the South Africa is Daniel Jones.
- 1 Finding the Town of Origin
- 2 Important Tips
- 3 Search Home Sources
- 4 Emigration Questions to Ask Relatives
- 5 Search Genealogies Compiled by Others
- 6 Indexed Records Created in South Africa
- 7 Records of the Country of Destination
- 8 Records to Search Created in the United States
Finding the Town of Origin[edit | edit source]
In order to research your family in their "old" country, it is essential that you have identified the place where they came from. You must know the city, town, or parish that they came from.
Important Tips[edit | edit source]
You must also know enough about the ancestor to positively identify him in the records. Dates (even if they are approximate), places, and familial connections are key to helping you decide if a person you find, who has the same name as your ancestor, really is your ancestor.
- Do you know the name of his/her parents?
- Do you know his/her birth, marriage, or death date or can you calculate an approximate range of years to search for his/her birth, marriage, or death?
- Do you know the name of the spouse? Did they marry before or after coming to the United States?
- Do you know the names of any of his/her siblings?
- Do you know the names of any children born in before the family emigrated?
Search Home Sources[edit | edit source]
Thoroughly go over all home sources available to you, including family history papers, copies of records, pictures, old letters (i.e. with an old address), family bibles, journals/diaries, copies of vital record certificates and church records, memorabilia etc. Interview extended family and close relatives as well as former neighbors--all of which may prove very helpful in gathering as much knowledge about an ancestor as possible.
- Collecting Previous Research by Others Part One: Home and Relative Sources
- Gather Family Information
Emigration Questions to Ask Relatives[edit | edit source]
Find the oldest living relatives that you can and ask them:
- What do you know about our first ancestor to immigrate? (open-ended)
- Have you ever heard mention of towns in South Africa where the family lived?
- Do you have contact with any relatives in South Africa?
- Do you have contact with other branches of the family in other countries?
- When _____________ came from South Africa, did he travel with other family members?
- Do you know when _________________ arrived and which port city?
- Did _______________ever become a citizen?
- Did_________________fight in World War I or II?
- When they first came, were there already family members here who they joined?
- Did_______________ever mention their parents in South Africa?
- Were they Catholic?
- Do you have any old letters or postcards from South Africa family?
- Do you have any pictures of family members in South Africa?
Search Genealogies Compiled by Others[edit | edit source]
- Collecting Previous Research by Others Part Two: Online Family Tree Collections
- Collecting Previous Research by Others Part Three: Digitized Books
- Collecting Previous Research by Others Part Four: FamilySearch Wiki Tools
Indexed Records Created in South Africa[edit | edit source]
Make Sure You Found the Correct Entry for Your Ancestor[edit | edit source]
- Make sure the person you found in South African records left South Africa. Look for them in marriage and death records of the same vicinity. See whether they have children a generation later in the vicinity. These things prove they remained in South Africa and would rule them out as your ancestor.
- Match any other relationships. If you already know the parents' names, spouse's name, and/or siblings' names, make sure they match the parents' names, spouse's name, and/or siblings' names of the person you are considering in the South African records. The parents and grandparents will usually be listed in birth records found in church records or civil records. Search for siblings' birth records and any marriage before leaving South Africa in the same index.
- Study all available entries for that name born at the same approximate time, not just the first possible match you see.
- Consider the coverage of the database you are using. Does it cover all of South Africa? Or could there be many other records not covered that could hold your ancestor's record. For example, if the database is for just one province, there are 110 other provinces which could have your ancestor's record.
- Make sure the details you have learned about the person after they immigrate have no discrepancies with the person you found in South African records.
South Africa Records Databases to Try[edit | edit source]
- South Africa Guided Research
- South Africa Civil Registration, government birth, marriage, and death records are available online for many provinces from the early 1800s to the early or mid-1900s. These records can name grandparents in addition to parents, and towns for residence and/or birth for both.
- There may be some South Africa Church Records online.
- See South Africa Emigration and Immigration for records of South Africans immigrating, including some online digitized records and indexes.
- See South Africa Online Genealogy Records for other databases that might hold clues.
Records of the Country of Destination[edit | edit source]
- Church Records: If your ancestor immigrated to a European or a South American/Hispanic country, church records can be detailed enough to identify a former residence or birthplace in the home country. These countries, unlike the United States, had state churches. In many countries, these state churches were used by the country to keep birth, marriage, and death records. Even though your ancestor was born in his former country, he may have married, and certainly died in his new country. Marriage and death records can state birthplace.
- Civil Registration: Eventually, most governments began keeping birth, marriage, and death records. These tend to be quite detailed. Again, if your ancestor was possibly married and certainly died in their new country, those records can state birthplace.
- Citizenship Records: If your ancestor became a full citizen, those records probably name birthplace and former residence.
- Online Genealogy Records: See Online Genealogy Records by Location and find the online genealogy record page for your country to see other indexed collections that can be consulted.