Finding information about you and your family can be difficult:
As a first step find as much information as you can:
Make at least one copy of your original documents. Keep the originals in a safe place and use the copies, as you can't afford to lose them.
The sort of information that will assist organisations to help you include:
A number of organisations support people seeking to link up with family and community. These include:
The link-up organisations, for example, undertake research on behalf of Indigenous people who were removed from their families. Of course, you can do your own research with the assistance of the organisations that hold the records.
You should be aware that records may hold material that is of a sensitive or distressing nature. At the time the records were created, much of the language used was racist and offensive. Also, remembering the past and finding (or not finding) information in the records about family members can be very stressful. Link-up organisations and counselling services can provide emotional support.
For information about organisations that can provide general assistance, see Chapter 3.
You can approach government and non-government organisations that hold records yourself. They can assist you to search the records they hold and can suggest other avenues for research.
The National Archives of Australia and the Northern Territory Archives Service have name indexes to certain records relating to Northern Territory Aboriginal people. These index entries can point to files that provide information about a person or family. The files can provide further leads to be followed up. For example, a file might indicate that the person was in a children's home run by a church organisation. By using this guide, you can find the contact details for the church organisation or library that holds, or might hold, the records of that children's home.
The Genealogical Society of the Northern Territory and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints can also provide advice on undertaking family history research. There are various publications available on family history research that you might find through your local library. For example, Lookin for Your Mob: a guide to tracing Aboriginal family treesby Diane Smith and Boronia Halstead (Aboriginal Studies Press, Canberra, 1990), which may contain out-of-date contact details and other information but still provides a useful overview of the steps involved, the types of records available and a family tree chart.
A map and a list of homes and missions where Aboriginal people have lived, including where records are held, possible locations and dates of other records, are included Chapter 4. If you know where the person you are researching lived, the list will help you decide which record-holding organisation to approach.
If you are looking for information about a person who has lived outside the Northern Territory, a number of publications and websites can assist you. For information about them, see Appendixes 3 to 7. Some children's homes outside the Territory where groups of Northern Territory children were sent are listed in Chapter 4.
If you are looking for information about a non-Indigenous relative, the basic processes are the same as those for looking for an Indigenous relative, that is, you start by gathering information within your family, getting together everything you can about the people you are researching – beginning with yourself and working back by generations.
In the case of non-Indigenous relatives, you will be looking at some different records, for example, you will be interested in birth, death and marriage certificates for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous relatives. However non-Indigenous relatives may have migrated to Australia so passenger arrival and migration records held by the state archives and, for the 20th century, the National Archives would be relevant.