Welcome to the Ancestry Academy…

September is here and children all over the country are heading back to school. It’s the perfect time to dig out your pencil case and do some learning of your own – in the Ancestry Academy! Whether you’re a new starter or a top set whiz kid, this week’s lessons will help you develop your family history skills and make brand new discoveries.

Friday, Second Period, Foreign studies

Overseas records: Scouring the globe

Travelling ancestors may have crossed the boundaries between nations. But many of you will have entire branches of your family trees that remained in a foreign land. Use the overseas equivalents of key UK records to discover their stories.

Teacher’s note: Our global records are available to Worldwide members. You may need to upgrade your membership to complete these lessons.

Too easy? Join the Top Set
Take the advanced lesson

New starters

For some countries, such as the USA and Canada, we have actual censuses. For others, you can use other national records to make similar discoveries. We’ll look at how you can move through the generations in Australia.

Imagine we know our grandfather was Reginald Rimkus, born in Australia in 1904. How far can this information take us?

  1. Too easy?

    1Let’s start with the Australian Electoral Rolls, 1903-1954. Because Rimkus is an unusual name, you can just enter Reginald’s full name and click ‘Search’. You’ll get four results between 1936 and 1943 that look right – these are probably all for our relative. There are two from different subdistricts in 1937, suggesting Reginald moved house between the two records.

  2. Too easy?

    2Click on the ‘View Image’ icon for the 1936 result to see the original record. Scroll through the list until you find Reginald’s name. You’ll discover his full address and his occupation – labourer. Even more exciting, there’s someone else listed at the same address: an Annie Rimkus. It looks like this is Reginald’s wife.

  3. Too easy?

    3You can now search for Reginald and Annie’s marriage record in the Australia Marriage Index, 1788-1950. Each person is listed individually, rather than as a couple, so use Reginald’s full name, then select Spouse under ‘Family Member’ and type ‘Annie’, and click ‘Search’. There’s one obvious match, which reveals they married in Queensland in 1929. Annie’s maiden name was Byrne.

  4. Too easy?

    4Next, find Reginald’s birth record using the Australia Birth Index, 1788-1922. We know he was born in 1904, so you can use the year as well as his name. Again, one result is clearly right, showing he was born in Queensland. Interestingly, or annoyingly, only one parent – Bertha Mary – is shown. This suggests the father had left or even died.

  5. Too easy?

    5It makes sense to look for a father in the Australia Marriage Index, 1788-1950. We’ll assume Rimkus was Bertha’s married name. So, enter the name ‘Bertha’ in the main box, then use the surname Rimkus for the Spouse under Family Member. The results aren’t what you’d expect. Bertha married a Peter Mackman – but it was in 1918, long after Reginald was born, and Rimkus was her maiden name. It looks like we’d have to do a lot more digging to find Reginald’s dad.

Start your homework
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Too easy? See how you do in the Top Set
Take the advanced lesson

Finished all the tutorials? Now take the test


Alongside the birth and marriage indexes, we also have the Australia Death Index, 1787-1985. See if you can find Reginald’s death record. What year did he die in?

Note down the answer and keep it safe – you’ll be tested on your responses later today!



Monday's free period

Prize Draw 1

Family Tree Maker

Win 1 of 10 copies of our latest software

Be one of the first people to get your hands
on the new and improved version of our award-winning family history software. It comes complete with improved integration with your Ancestry.co.uk account, advanced charts and reports, interactive timelines and maps, and many more great new features.
We have ten copies ready to be won.

Enter the prize draw

Closing date 30th September

Tuesday’s free period

Prize Draw 2

WDYTYA? magazine

10 subscriptions up for grabs

Trace your family's past and discover your roots with Who Do You Think You Are? magazine. Brought to you by the team
behind BBC History Magazine, and the
official companion to the successful TV
series, WDYTYA? magazine's features
range from military to social history, telling
the stories of ordinary and extraordinary people and how they used to live. We have ten subscriptions to give away.

Enter the prize draw

Closing date 30th September

Wednesday’s free period

Prize Draw 3

Worldwide Memberships

Win 1 of 5 annual memberships

Our worldwide membership provides everything you need to trace your family history around the world. Scour the globe
with unlimited access to our entire library
of over 7 billion records, plus guaranteed access to all our new releases. We have
five annual memberships to give away.

Enter the prize draw

Closing date 30th September

Thursday’s free period

Prize Draw 4

National Trust passes

Win 1 of 50 pairs of tickets

We’re working with the National Trust to preserve our nation’s history, and help you uncover your family’s place in it. To
celebrate our partnership, we’re giving away 50 pairs of day passes to the National Trust property of your choice. Don’t miss the
chance to experience the history of Uppark, see the beauty of Fountains Abbey, or visit another of the Trust’s 350 properties.

Enter the prize draw

Closing date 30th September