Using Find My Past for Aussie and NZ research

As a lot of Aussie and NZ research relates to our ancestors from England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales, a great database to use is Find My Past. But there are also lots of Aussie/NZ records on the database.

12019 / Pixabay

What Australian and NZ records have you found helpful on Find My Past?

Reasons why I like the site, + ways in which it’s better than the opposition: bit.ly/2Hxp1Ad. I’ve had a subscription for over 10yrs & I use it constantly.

Ooh so many records to choose from. I probably have found the electoral rolls the most useful (our Census substitute) but there are lots of others e.g. school records and railway records. Check out QFHS datasets on FMP here findmypast.com.au/content/about-…

Being busy at work my FMP membership lapsed so have to use library versions when I need it. Checked my saved images and winners are AUS and NZ results are passenger records.

When using FMP I found it useful to help locate NZ BDM information or Electoral Rolls. From what I remember they have a large variety of the less usual databases / lists so a check of the catalogue confirmed this. Thinking I better join up again.

Haven’t used @findmypast very much but now I have dad’s family there from early 20th century, I will certainly look at their records more carefully.

I have found FMP invaluable for both Australian and NZ research – Birth, death, marriage, Qld Schools, NSW Govt Gazettes, Wills, Military Records, Convicts, Pioneer records and more.

I’ve had a FMP subscription for ages but haven’t used it as much as I could have until recently. I’ve found a huge amount of information there. Electoral rolls and QFHS records

I have tended to use FMP more for English research until recently Jennifer but I have been exploring the Australia/ NZ records more recently. Having a tree on FMP helps and hints are fairly accurate

Sometimes a bit freaky when you get an email saying ” we know you were searching for Mr X, you might be interested in this” LOL

It just means that the records come to you so to speak via hints which I find more accurate than on other sites

I get those all the time after I have found a record on the 1881 Census, usually one of the other Census records. Their cookies must be rather good.

I haven’t yet had a sub to FindMyPast. I use it mainly for the 1881 Census (which is free) for my @WikiTreers profiles. Once I finish my projects, I plan to take a sub for a time to see what I find.

I have been a bit more focused on UK records on FMP lately but am interested to hear what others have found useful for Aus and NZ

The birth, marriage and death indexes are great, plus the electoral rolls and military records – these are my go-to record sets. The sheep returns are another fab resource, and @findmypast has a few more than Ancestry. Pays to check who has what.

I haven’t seen the sheep returns Maggie but with quite a few sheep farmers in NZ in the past (South Island) I will now have a look

For NZ records I use BDM Online, Ancestry for Electoral Rolls, Wilson Collection, Papers Past, Archway, etc. I don’t know what they have that I can’t access elsewhere.

I spent all weekend diving into FMP They have many more records than I realised and some more unusual records. I found lots of information I hadn’t previously come across

Queensland Licences, Qld Land Records and Qld Early Pioneers has been really helpful for my Qld research

I’ve just discovered a Queenslander in the family. He bought up many pastoral leases so I’ve been looking into FMP land records. So much info there

I sometimes find if you cannot find something another site might help. Especially when indexing/ transcription errors have occurred. With electoral rolls different sites index different dates and other years are image view only so multiple sites can help.

I just dial up the Electoral Rolls and go looking. Amazing who I find. I am looking at the originals, so no transcription errors.

There’s a few niche record sets there, good to have a look through.

FMP has 340 AUS and NZ record sets. findmypast.com.au/search/histori…

I have found the Queensland school pupil indexes really helpful in tracing families that moved around

I discovered my grandparents knew each other as young children through Qld school records

Cemetery transcriptions on FMP are a bonus!

More SA records on FMP than the others, in particular I like the search for the electoral rolls and SA Govt Gazettes, also has emigrants applying for free passage to SA not available elsewhere

I’ve found convict/prisoner records on FMP helpful. It’s always good to remember that convict admin made multiple copies of prison, court, shipping records. Look at them all. There are slight differences ie more information.

I think the first time I used FMP I found the 1928 passenger list for my grandmother’s migration to Australia.

I discovered NZ jury records on FMP this weekend past. I found the NZ Women’s Suffrage records fascinating.

ArtsyBeeKids / Pixabay

Do you have a family tree on Find My Past? Are the hints useful and accurate?

Helen Smith has written a great article on using @findmypast for Australian research: findmypast.com.au/blog/family-re…

No I don’t. I mainly use it for searching

Yes but only a teeny weeny one. Because it is so tiny and the info so thin there aren’t many hints. I need to work on this area. Sigh. So many trees to maintain…..

That is the problem isn’t it Alex. I tend to update more my Ancestry tree then if it gets much larger than the FMP tree and I don’t have time to tend to those and family Tree Maker

No, too much else on my to-do list which I want to finish this year (not only genealogy). Then I hope to do so

I have a tree on FMP and so far the hints I get are really accurate. I like how they put the % of accuracy and you can start with those that are most accurate.

Not really, but I accessed FMP for free thru my local library for last 18 months (thanks covid) & find the search results much easier to scan than Ancestry. Miss it. Time to take out my own sub

Yes I have an old tree. Never had problems with the hints that I can remember although I try to focus on what I am researching and often leave hints.

I have several trees on Findmypast. This weekend I uploaded my Living DNA results to FMP as well

I have found the hints on Findmypast to be far more accurate than on other sites. But a tedious process saving them

Yes, I have 2 trees on FMP. Generally the hints are fairly accurate (not always) except in the case of hints from other people’s tree which can be ‘hit and miss’

I have a couple of family trees on Findmypast – at the moment they’re mostly for fishing on brickwalls, and the hints have generally pretty good. I need to build the trees up more to take better advantage.

Passing on to our England & Wales Interest Group that are talking about the 1921 Census tomorrow. With regard charges of £2.50 for every record transcript and £3.50 for every original record image. Does this mean if you want both it is £6?

Feeling a right geneabunny at the moment. I uploaded a tree to FMP in March of this year and completely forgot about it. Just looked and there are hints and hints and hints

I have just realised you can filter your hints so you only get census or BDM – makes it easier to add to just one person

I find it time-consuming to go through them, but occasionally there are hidden gems! I don’t mind them, just ignore till I have time to review them

I have family trees on FMP – I like the idea of fishing in all ponds and hence FMP is not necessarily as my starting point but it is an essential element and I like all the record sets on FMP – I’ve been learning about Scottish records in particular this year

Fishing in all the ponds is a good idea. I think that’s why I added my tree to FMP. Just don’t know why I completely forgot about it,

I like searching across as many sites as possible when I can’t find someone. Found my 3x ggrandfather in 1841 census on FamilySearch, not on the other sites.

165106 / Pixabay

Which other countries on FMP are especially useful when researching? Why? What is unique to FMP?

Tbh my research is very UK focussed so I’d probably use English and Welsh records the most. Census and bdm records would be my focus. I think the 1939 Register is unique to FMP yes?

They had it first, but now available on Ancestry as well. FMP have the address search which is very useful.

I have found FMP very useful for most of my ancestors as many come from Essex, London and Cornwall. From memory Census and BDM for these areas are good.

Ireland is my other country apart from Australia. Occasionally England and I like the digitised newspapers.

Thinking that the British Newspaper collection means I do need to rejoin. I never seem to have time to get to the library.

I LOVE the English records on Findmypast. They are wonderful. Image quality for census records is superior too in my opinion and fewer transcription errors

Over the last few months I have been all over those Catholic registers – Diocese of Southwark, and Scotland. Such a huge help in tackling some brickwalls, absolutely love love love them!

Plus great for Irish records, and the British newspaper collection.

I have also used the 1939 register to trace descendants from common ancestors in England to sort out DNA matches. That has been most useful.

I find 1939 useful for this purpose also. Having a household, even if they are hidden does help.

I use for English #FamilyHistory research a lot. Sometimes for US records too but limited compared to Ancestry

I think the other records on FMP would be more useful so the newspapers is a bonus. I just worry I am missing out on learning about their lives by sticking to BDM, dry facts and dates.

The 1939 Register on FMP has my g uncle listed as Rex Hoyes correctly while Ancestry has him transcribed as Rose Hayes. transcription is important for finding things

One of my best Irish newspaper finds was the death notice for my GGG grandfather Robert Fagan. It also said American papers please copy. Explains some of those DNA matches

chillla70 / Pixabay

What functionality on the Findmypast website have you found helpful when researching? What would be on your wishlist for the future?

I like the advanced searching where you can list another person’s name in the census. Useful for common name families.

hmmm I suspect it is easier to do a broader search on census documents on FMP rather than Ancestry i.e. I think you can search by address rather than just name but I may be barking up the wrong tree here.

I seem to remember that when you searched I documents you had already reviewed were marked. It saves rechecking the same record. If this is not available then it is the improvement I would like to see. Icons for downloaded and attached to a person.

I have FMP open and there are features I haven’t used or didn’t know were there. I tend to be focused on searching and have not been using FMP as effectively as I could. #ANZAncestryTime More on the to do list!

I think that because we have used the archives and local FHS here in Australia we tend to forget about online records Shauna

I love the address search on the censuses and the 1939 register. Also that every search field is optional – was great to search on just occupation when I was looking for a missing jeweller!

For house history research the address search on the censuses is invaluable #ANZAncestryTime (taking into consideration that street numbers can change)

Hans / Pixabay

Great comments:

Worth signing up to Findmypast’s newsletter – they always publish new or updated record sets on Fridays. Sometimes there’ll be nothing applicable to your family research, but sometimes there is!

I find these types of updates useful for my society FB posts. It means I can quickly see new AUS or NZ records.

Thanks for this great discussion about FMP tonight. I’ve learnt lots and am looking forward to trying out all your hints and tips into action

Readers: Have you used FindMyPast for your Aussie or New Zealand research? Did you find something unusual?

 

Using census records

Only two more posts to catch up on after this one where we chatted about census records on #ANZAncestryTime.

congerdesign / Pixabay

Which Census records have you used? Any preferred repositories and why?

Have helped a friend using the Canadian census as well

I’ve used them recently for early Ontario immigrants and tracing them forward then a Google map their change of locations.

freecen.org.uk The aim of FreeCEN is to provide free internet searches of the 19th century UK census returns.

Scottish, English census records, I usually access at FMP or Ancestry. I prefer FMP’s search capabilities & transcriptions NSW colonial musters are great for convicts & early settlers.

I’m just looking at the US Census records for 1900 and as I hover over the column the detail comes up in a text box making it easy to read

1828 NSW census tip: there are 2 copies on Ancestry. The TNA record set is much easier to read than the Aussie record set

the best repository of transcriptions of England and Scotland census is Findmypast and Ancestry with England’s images on both sites but Scotland’s images are only on Scotland’s people. Family Search for the US

Have looked at some of the children’s census in 1826-1828 from CSO records I think.

I have used Scottish, English, Irish & US Census! I love the Scottish and US ones. The 1939 UK register is really good too

Every where that has Census records and I need to do research – Scotland, England, Ireland, USA and the States. I use FreeCen as it has better transcriptions and FamilySearch, otherwise Ancestry which has dreadful transcriptions.

Early NSW colonial census, English census – both from Ancestry – I struggle with American as my 2 x gt gd dad was from Albany Upstate New York – some records challenges there

I’ve used census.nationalarchives.ie for Irish records and FMP, Ancestry, FamilySearch for others. I prefer FMP because the search is more intuitive and seems to have “smarter” fuzzy logic

census records from Ireland, England, Wales, Scotland, US, Canada (and, I think, Argentina)

Mainly used English, Scottish and Irish census records, and dabbled a bit in Canadian ones. My go to sites are usually Findmypast, Ancestry, NAI, but also found FamilySearch and The Genealogist useful on occasion to find those ones who get mistranscribed

I use Ancestry and Find My Past the latter is more up to date for 1939 register Canadian census is on the Archives site and have used it

Capri23auto / Pixabay

How have census records helped your research and added to ancestors stories? Any interesting, unsuspected or rare finds?

I think one of the most interesting things I found was the extent to which people were mobile during the 19 century, including return migration from abroad. Changed my understanding of emigration as a permanent move. Also family structure temporarily disrupted

One of my East Clare families had migrated to USA, then back to UK then to Oz. Another set had parents in Scotland.

People were surprisingly mobile! I love the households that have children born in different places.

Me too Maggie and some of the birthplaces indicate a military involvement which might otherwise be unknown

I found a little local census for Carrick on Suir in Ireland which was useful. Just one year early 1800s I think

I once found a census the minister had done for all the people in his parish, same religion or not. Very frank comments on them. Can’t remember now where it was exactly but somewhere in Northumberland.

There’s one for 1840 for my home parish Pauleen – shows some of my RC ancestors were recorded as “Protestant” at the time but also the townland where my GM was born was once known by her maiden name 🙂

Why did the townland name change? Do you know?

I’m not sure it was ever a formal townland name, just a place name. It has two other “official” names, one is the townland name, the other is almost a “field name” within the estate to which it was attached

The most difficult thing I find in Census records is grandchildren staying with grandparents or uncles and aunts and working our who they belong to

I love following a person or family through the different censuses. Just snapshot, you can miss important stuff, but gives a good idea of change over time. Follow a career or family structure as new members come or go. Address up or down market.

I like the fact you can make changes to the census records for spelling of names that have been mis transcribed

Using the Scottish census records I’ve been tracing my unmarried GGGGM from one sibling’s home to the other (1841-1881) This is where FAN approach came into its own. If I didn’t know the sister’s married name, I’d have thought GGGGM was staying with strangers

I found some of my Irish family members move around quite a bit in Scotland, between various households – can be really useful when dealing with common names, having Aunty Winifrid popping up in a household at census time

the census info is full of info, place of birth and often all family members. 1911 is particularly useful for how long couple married, how many kids born and how many are alive. US census indicate immigration info.

As we don’t have good census records for Australia since 1901, so I rely on the the Electoral Records as a substitute and I have found these invaluable – too many times to list here

I agree with you KerrieAnne. The electoral roll up to 1980 on Ancestry, but recently I was at a local history society and they had the 2000 electoral roll there!

Major libraries will probably have up to the latest rolls – at least, they do in NZ. Online access up to 1981 only.

I went to the electoral office and searched the current electoral roll for cousins that we had no contacts for a family reunion – yay for middle names – found every-one I needed. Had to search one by one though so not a quick exercise

I have discovered which ancestors were on poorhouses and which attended schools using English census records

Census records have helped confirm relationships and occupations many of the neighbours are relations

Solon Bowden was deaf. The census showed he was in a school for the deaf. What surprised me was that his sister also was, suggesting a genetic cause. The census also gives the suspected cause for all the children living there.

Finding my great grandmother’s sister in an England census with her birthplace as Ireland and her birth date was the final piece of evidence I needed to link her into the family as suspected from a DNA match.

I think finding a birthplace is probably the most useful feature of any census record Margaret. It is crucial information. That and other family members staying with them

I have a lot of those with the Scotland Census records. Children staying with grandparents. Families living next door. They are sometimes the only records I have for the older members.

Most of my discoveries are nothing really special though I remember my very early census finds for both my maternal and paternal family seemed really exciting at the time. It was finding family members that I knew nothing about, children that had died young, first spouses, etc. It was good to find out about them.

When building back pedigree charts for DNA matches, often need to use census records. Has helped in a few of dad’s lines in Canada

Couldn’t do without census records! Have been a goldmine for my research, especially with my Irish families moving to Scotland.

My husband’s Roberts ancestor from Spitalfields turned up in the Americas – there was also a surname change in England before he emigrated – census records from Ancestry from Americas & UK helped me to work it out

Census can help to find missing ancestors and other relatives. My 3x GGfather was a census enumerator. I couldn’t believe it when I first found his comments about the area at the end of the census

Welllll, I discovered my 2x Great Aunt Jeannie had 3 more illegitimate kids thanks to Scottish census records, which also led me down a rabbit hole in finding her death. It all started with a census record.

I had an Irish family named Martin who disappeared before the 1910 US Census. I found them in the 1900 census by searching first names. Turned out they were Polish names Koniescka

DariuszSankowski / Pixabay

What strategies or methods do you use to find people in census records and how do you record the information you find?

with Irish people in census in particular, I use a very flexible understanding of “facts” provided, especially age! 🙂 Knowing how collections/databases are organised is also really important. As for recording, excel, and local maps are really useful

when looking for a female who may of married and you cannot find a marriage or too many to choose from, I search the census by first name only along with year of birth give or take a couple of years and birthplace, then check those with marriages

I have a spreadsheet I use when doing census research. Work through families over the census years. Interested finding out about changes in residence including children leaving home. Then try to track their location.

I like to do this also Fran. Sometimes you find interesting connections between people. I found an ancestor living with a family and in it was a daughter who became his wife

Usually search one census at a time, work my way back. For extended families, I’ll set up a spreadsheet, track ages across census years, cross off census years before birth & after death, ensure I cover every household member in the years they were living.

Strategies I use to find records include checking pages nearby locations on close pages by looking forward and back for more family, trying alternative names, looking for the same location as last or next time census.

If I can’t find one member of a family I will try another. Sometimes a name is mistranscribed in the index. Sometimes the age is incorrect (I had one where 59 was read as 39). I’ll try several sources in my search.

I find FreeCen to have the best transcriptions, but their coverage is not complete even for 1841. And they correct very promptly when asked to check. I use the Scotlands People Index a lot too.

I use my census check form to keep track of families. It’s great as I can use it and file it away to keep track of my research. memoriesintime.co.nz/products/censu…

I use census records to eliminate who was NOT an ancestor when they had common names. I find every birth and then trace each person through the Census records to eliminate wrong people

Are there any tips for 1841 census in Hunter Valley NSW – sometimes I find it a struggle as people who should be but aren’t?

I find Ancestry very difficult to find many people because of the large number of errors in the indices. I correct frequently. FreeCen is always my first port of call.

I have used that often. An older person with a different name is the mother’s parent. A Census recently had the married daughter, the other was the long lost daughter of my gggrandfather living with her aunt after her mother’s death (wrong spelling).

UK Census online info ukcensusonline.com/census/faq/

Always good to check the date collection info here familysearch.org/wiki/en/Englan…

often look at next page of census, often locate other ancestors by accident. Findmypast and ancestry have most powerful search engines but transcriptions errors show up in both so have to use wildcards.

Check out people of a different surname living with a family. They are often family members and can lead to finding marriages etc

usually update each person’s profile in my offline tree which is uploaded to ancestry every so often.

Census records make me use maps a lot more to find out which towns are close to others in case family is in both

If I can’t find one member of a family I will try another. Sometimes a name is mistranscribed in the index. Sometimes the age is incorrect (I had one where 59 was read as 39). I’ll try several sources in my search.

I have tried looking for other family if I struggle to find someone or using alternative spellings found someone born Counthorpe Lincolnshire as Countesthorpe Leicestershire

I search for a person using name variations if possible and then search the whole town or village not just the result page

I add Census records to the profiles I write on @WikiTreers I can use those to show information about the family and what they were doing. I add them to my private tree on my computer. I add them to my nephew’s tree on Ancestry. #ANZAncestryTime

A surviving fragment of the England Census for 1821 (transcribed by volunteers) enabled me to identify a 4GGF in my tree.

kropekk_pl / Pixabay

Some countries have no, or little, census data that is available to research, including parts of New Zealand & Australia. What alternatives can provide similar data?

Electoral rolls and directories in NZ, land valuation records in Ireland. Newspapers can also be useful to fill in those gaps.

Electoral Rolls. I use those all the time for my NZ research. The early rolls are very useful for working out when someone immigrated to NZ and where they settled. Only available on Ancestry and not all indexed. I often turn the pages to see who is there.

I have found many children using the electoral rolls that can’t be found any other way. Living at home with the parents. Used them to confirm the address my parents lived at when they were married. Same for my aunts. Found my father living with his sister.

Also on FamilySearch, and some on Findmypast, though I tend to use Ancestry in the first instance.

always worth remembering that the archives will have their state electoral rolls and in Qld they’re annotated with where the person has relocated.

I have used Ancestry’s records for issuing of Mining Licences around Glen Innes Emmaville for Chinese Tin Miners in our family network

I’ve used land records, parish census, city/county directories and jury lists/electoral registers for a very limited understanding of people’s lives in 19/early 20 C. Wills/memorials can also sometimes be useful to reconstruct families

Early almanacs at least in Tas often included directories. Earliest in the Tasmanian Almanack published by my ancestor Andrew Bent in 1825

Government Gazettes on trove can also be useful in place of census data and I have also found advertisements in newspapers listing all the voters in a town – eg Grenfell & Toowoomba

NZ jury lists helped me locate a 4xG Grandfather who had left Sydney for NZ without his wife and kids. He had form for this sort of behaviour.

Military records for WW1 and WW2 can also help

Voters lists and directories are helpful for Australian research instead of census

Irish Griffith Valuations have been wonderful for finding my Irish ancestors

I’ve had great success using Griffith’s and then the subsequent Cancelled/Revision books. Love those records!

I would use NSW BDM records where there might not be census records or to augment electoral rolls

Newspapers can be useful where they have petitions, addresses to politicians etc all signed by people in a particular district. Also local valuation rolls for rates in newspapers or govt gazettes

Government Gazettes on trove can also be useful in place of census data and I have also found advertisements in newspapers listing all the voters in a town – eg Grenfell & Toowoomba

At the @FamilySearch Wiki they say there are still some Maori census data available. Looks like Salt Lake City trip to the library required. familysearch.org/wiki/en/New_Ze…

 

Blog posts relating to census

Jennifer: the census registrar,

Helen: Solon Bowden,

Sharn: Census records,

Sue: Where is Isabella?, I’m confused, John Davey 1, John Davey 2, Garshooey,

Readers: What interesting detail have you found in a census record?