The blog post has been written to accompany the Journeys into Genealogy interview with Natalie da Silva of the Genealogical Society of South Africa (GENZA), where we discuss researching South African ancestors, what resources are available, church, state and the records of different societies, name changes and where records are located, wills and estate files, immigration, business records, monumental inscriptions, hospital records, South African libraries and archives plus her recommended reading. Many of these are not available online.
Tips from the interview
- Ask within your family for existing records/information.
- This article is a good starting point for research https://www.ancestors.co.za/family-history-beginners-guide-family-history
- Write to the National Library of South Africa as they have a list of all published books some of which are family histories.
- Check South African societies such as The Huguenot Society of South Africa and Catholic History Bureau.
- Check newspaper articles on sites such as Trove (although this is an Australian website, they do mention people who went to South Africa, e.g. those who died in one of the wars there).
- Consider doing a DNA test with a site such as Ancestry.com to trace living cousins who may have access to family records.
- Consider employing a local researcher to access archives which have not been digitised.
Natalie’s final tip is to “work from known to unknown”
Natalie’s Recommended Resources
- www.familysearch.org has lots of records relating to South Africa
- eGSSA.org electronic records
- Genza.org website of the Genealogical Society of South Africa
- identitynumber.org a paying site which covers voter’s rolls, death notices etc
- gendatabase also a paying site which covers voter’s rolls, death notices etc
Selected books and articles on researching ancestors in South Africa
- The 1820 Settlers by Lynn Bryson
- The Story of the British Settlers of 1820 by H Edward Hockley (1957)
- SA Genealogies an A – Z of all South African names (for digital copies of a particular surname write to “Hendrik Louw” <firstname.lastname@example.org> President of the Genealogical Society of South Africa)
- Aided Immigration from Britain to South Africa 1857-67 by Esme Bull
- Genealogies of old South African Families by De Villiers & Pama (for digital copies of a particular surname write to “Hendrik Louw” <email@example.com> President of the Genealogical Society of South Africa)
- For Men must work – an account of the German immigration to the Cape with special reference to the German Settlers of 1857 and German immigrants of 1858 by EG Schnell
- British Residents at the Cape 1795-1819 by Peter Philip
Several of the above books are available second hand from sellers such as abebooks.co.uk
Consider joining the Genealogical Society of South Africa
If you would like to find out more and join the Genealogical Society of South Africa please visit genza.org.za. There are also local groups you can join for each state (more info on the GENZA website)
Listen to Natalie’s podcast interview here: https://journeysintogenealogy.co.uk
If you have any tips for researching South African ancestors please leave them in the comments below.