The importance of original records

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The importance of looking at the provenance of records. AAGRA’s code of ethics states “ARTICLE IV : In undertaking research, members must try at all times to examine the original, rather than printed sources, and avoid, so far as possible, the misquotation of documents or the citing as authoritative of any questionable source.”

This blog post from the Ancestry Insider looks at the transcription of a record through seven generations of copying. In each generation of copying changes, and thus errors, were introduced.

Some records are indexed, for example birth, death and marriage records, but you learn much more from reviewing the original certificate than merely perusing the index.

Not all records are available on-line. There are many many kilometres of records to be reviewed in various archives.


Official files in the Written Records Section of the Australian War Memorial, Canberra, January 1945.

What is a record agent and why do I need one

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A Record Agent specialises in the research of specific records and/or the holdings of specific archives.

AAGRA, the Australasian Association of Genealogists and Record Agents, has accredited record agents around Australia and in New Zealand.

If you cannot get to one of the offices of the National Archives of Australia ( ) or the State archives or state library and there are records you want to review but they are not on-line, our record agents should be able to help you. They can locate the record and transcribe information or take an image of the file (if permitted).

You can expect that record agents accredited by AAGRA will be familiar with the collections of the archives and state libraries and be able to efficiently locate and retrieve records for you.

The charge for retrieval will differ depending on whether you are able to cite the reference numbers or if you are looking for a more general search of the records held. AAGRA members set their own fees.

You can find a listing of members at:

Victorian Archives Centre North Melbourne: location of the reading room for the Public Record Office Victoria and the National Archives of Australia Melbourne
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