Born & Bred Historical Research

Do you want to know more?

Born & Bred Historical Research – Client Insider l Canny Group


It’s not often you find a young lady who loves searching through dusty old archive books and uncovering mysteries that lie within the public records and in the history of long lost ancestors.  Phoebe Wilkens has a knack for finding any hidden skeletons in the family closet and she isn’t scared to start digging into your family history to find the answers that you have been looking for.

It’s not just family history and finding missing pieces of the historical ‘puzzle’ that Phoebe has been doing since 2014 – the range of research that Born & Bred Historical Research offers includes individuals, legal practices, businesses and historical groups and societies.  The research includes simple and in-depth family trees, family history research, obtaining copies of public historical records, digitisation and comprehensive research of organisations or agencies, oral histories and family narratives, presentations, scanning and digitising of slides and photographic negatives just to name a few.

With over 12 years of experience in history, research and writing, Phoebe wanted to turn her passion and love for history and being a detective into a service that could help others find out about their own history.  Celebrities such as Delta Goodrem, Shane Jacobson and Patti Newton have had been helped with uncovering their family history by Born & Bred Historical Research on the hit television show “Who Do You Think You Are?” and there is no chance of Phoebe slowing down any time soon.

Apart from the obvious… In your own words, what is Born & Bred Historical Research?

We are a small business that was born out of a love of historical research and a passion for unlocking hidden mysteries.  We are a bespoke, personalised family history research service specialising in building family trees, digging deep into family histories, breaking down “brick walls”, and building, property and business history.  We also help professional services such as legal, accounting and conveyancing teams with a range of research services.

We are a professional family history service and here to help the history-curious people discover the truth about their past, and in turn, share that knowledge with future generations.  We’re here to help find your people and tell their stories.

Tell us the story, your story, of how your business came about/to life + how long have you been up + running for?

Born and Bred Historical Research was established in 2014 and was born out of a passion for genealogy and a love for researching families and finding those skeletons in the closet (and coaxing them out).

I have always been intrigued with the past – some would call me an ‘old soul’ – and was fascinated learning about weird, wonderful and intriguing ancestors, the myths and legends that surrounded them and discovering their stories.  I have always loved leafing through old photographs and records that tell stories about my family.

The passion and intrigue has been there since before the business was established and there’s something that piques my interest in everyone’s story (and their ancestors’ stories).

Everybody has something, what do you love about your job?

I love being able to dive deep into a family and help to solve those mysteries that may have been niggling at someone for a long time.  It’s a real privilege to be able to dig into the depths of a family and someone’s ancestors and discover a narrative that made someone’s life – how and why they got to be where and who they are.

Aside from (we’re assuming) an obvious love of getting buried in dusty old records + trying to find skeletons in families closets, what made you want to go into having your own historical research business?

I had been working in the public service in a great tole that was ALL about “dusty old records” and helping others with their queries.  However, after years of sitting in the windowless depth of the archives, low on the supply chain and having little autonomy to be able to assist researchers, it only seemed like a natural (and somewhat terrifying) progression to establish my own business.  I have always seen myself working for myself – and not “for the man” – and after some great advice and support, Born and Bred Historical Research was born.

Dare we ask… what have been the top three things that you were not expecting to find when it came to historical research?

No one day is the same when it comes to historical research.  Some days you are smashing down any “brick wall” in your way, and other’s you’re smashing your head against that same “brick wall”.

I think there is a perception that history and historical research can be really dry and boring when in actual fact, the opposite can be true (says the historian…)/. I have found scandal, intrigue and tragedy.  I have also found strong-willed individuals and little tidbits of information in some of the most mundane or bizarre records.  There will never be the opportunity to view or find absolutely everything we are looking for, but I will sure try in the meantime.

There’s a lot of competition out there for the industry that you’re working in… *cough cough**, what sets YOU apart from this only platform that seems to be a household name?

We are a personalised family history service, a service that is there end-to-end, from the brief right through to the chronicle.  Ancestry is a great resource and I use it all the time for records that once upon a time would have only been available on the ground in a little parish church over the other side of the world and inaccessible.  However, Ancestry is not the be-all and end-all.  While they give you access to these records, they don’t tell you HOW to use them.  It’s all well and good to find something with an ancestor’s name on it.  But is it the right ancestor?  What does the record mean?  How do you interpret it?  Why does it exist?  What was happening in the world or community at the time that might have had an impact as to why that record exists?

And then there is the ease of creating a family tree on Ancestry without verifying your information.  It can be like throwing a bunch of darts on a board.  They don’t all land on the bullseye.  And if you have it wrong, then you can guarantee that people who have taken your tree and shared it as their own without verifying the information and perpetuating the myths and mistakes forevermore.

What are some of the little joys that you bring to those that have entrusted you with their family history?

Some of the biggest joys for our clients is the discovery of something as small as a date of death for an ancestor, which may seem meaningless, but means the most to some people.  It could be that last missing puzzle piece that helps a family answer a question that has been plaguing them for years.

We’ve seen clients gain a better understanding of an ancestor’s actions or reasoning behind doing something.  Or longstanding family rumours and shame be quashed and ancestors be vindicated for something that may have at one point been swept under the rug.

Sometimes what we discover in our research can help close emotional doors for many people.

What does a day in your shoes look like when you’re digging deep into the past?

Every day is completely different depending on what our clients are hoping to find out about their family history.  Often, we will take all of the facts that the client knows about an ancestor or family and plot them onto a timeline or family tree and discover where the holes and discrepancies may lay.  This may then lead us to search and identify records that we need to view in archives and repositories, which could hold the answers, or lead on to more records (or more questions).

Once we have done the research, trawled through any archives and records we may need, then we analyse what we have found and produce a report or family tree.

What do you consider a good day at work for you?

Every day is a good day!  But the best days are those where we find what we are looking for (and maybe more) and can solve those family history mysteries.

Every business needs an adviser… Who do YOU turn to for help at Canny Group and with so many accountants Geelong has on offer, why Canny Group?

Amanda and the team at Canny Group have been lifesaving when it comes to all things accounting, financial, business and legal.  They are a Geelong institution and always go above and beyond answering all of my questions (no matter how big or small they are), and have helped me immensely since establishing Born and Bred Historical Research.

What kind of support have you received from Canny Group since joining forces with them as your accountant?

The support from the team at Canny Group has been immeasurable and all-round.  They will answer the most basic or trivial of questions, as well as give advice and support on a range of other matters.

Looking into your “Born & Bred Historical Research crystal ball”… What do you see the future looking like for you + your business?

Have you got a crystal ball?  I would really like one of those for some of the trickier research questions I have.

I see Born and Bred Historical Research continuing to help all of those history-curious people out there with their queries – no matter how big or small.  Uncovering more about those who came before us and telling their stories.

How do I get in contact or find out more about the services you offer?

You can get in touch via email at or on 0402 682 329

Check out our website at or find us on Facebook and Instagram

Phoebe sits at a wooden table with different family trees muted in front of her in different artwork options.  Wearing a brightly coloured dress with a white backdrop of the walls you can also see a brown chesterfield couch and a big stamp on the wall with a kookaburra on it.Phoebe holding two war medals in white protective gloves whilst sitting on a bench seat along a verandah.  Phoebe is wearing a muted orange tone dress with a lovely white floral print, you can see two silver bangles on Phoebe's wrist and her watch on the other.Phoebe standing on a verandah holding a white large sized frame with a family tree inside of it, wearing a long flowy muted orange dress with a white print on it.  In the background you can see green grass, and a tree in the foreground at the front of a muted grey weatherboard house.

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