Starting to research family in Australia?

OpenClipart-Vectors / Pixabay

The following are the questions from the chat.

  1. What key records and resources do you use regularly when researching Australian ancestors?
  2. Have you found immigration records for all your ancestors who came to Australia? Suggest tips for finding immigration records.
  3. Have you found Family History or other Societies helpful with your Australian research? How did they assist with your research?
  4. It’s Census time! How do you overcome the fact that Australia did not keep census records (other than those very early ones)?

If you like keeping records using spreadsheets, Pauleen has a fantastic one listing hundreds of places to find information on family.

My most recommended website to start your search

CoraWeb began by an Australian genealogist prior to Google being about. A website which has links to hundreds of family history resources for both Australia and overseas.

Large Australian repositories:

National Archives of AustraliaGetting started then use their guides to find out more about their collections

State archives – most archives or record offices have instructions on how to search, what collections they have and how to cite any records when using in blog posts etc

Australian National University – includes Pacific Research Archives and Noel Butlin Archive Centre – business and labour records

National Film and Sound Archive – including interviews, songs etc

National Library of Australia – Getting started, applying for a library card to use with e-resources

Magazine article from WDYTYA about researching Aussie heritage

Researching your Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander heritage

State Library of Western Australia – has great family history section

Queensland Family History Society has some fantastic links

Overseas repositories with Australian records:

Ancestry – Australian collections online

FindMyPast – blog post listing some Aussie records they have, list of record sets for Australia and New Zealand

Family search – their wiki with Aussie records, list of records they have

Newspapers 

Ryerson Index – death notices from papers and recently digital papers – mainly NSW

Trove – newspapers and gazettes – great for helping fill in gaps and telling stories of your ancestors but also check out other categories in Trove

Other useful websites

Find and Connect – orphanages, children’s homes and institutions

Cyndi’s List – based in USA but has a section on Aussie records

Judy Webster has links to many Australian resources

Andrew wrote about resources in New South Wales

ElasticComputeFarm / Pixabay

Comments from the chat regarding immigration, census and societies:

For German immigration to Australia in 19th century you must look at Jenny Paterson’s articles in Burwood FHS’s journal Ances-Tree. Combined with Kopittke indexes they’re gold.

My top tip is check passenger lists at departure AND arrival ports. I know that it’s often said that only arrival ports kept records, but this is not universal. I’ve find out outgoing passenger lists on FindMyPast & matching incoming lists for Fremantle at NAA

I agree Brooke. Depending on the years, lists for ports stopped at en route back to Oz. I also use the PROV records for inbound & outbound unassisted pax to compare it’s assisted immigration lists. Board Immigrant Lists have more detail than Agent Immigrant Lists which are what’s online.

Good tip Brooke @BrookeWooldy I found immigration records from point of departure for Scotland and with more info than we would have here

I found them on Scotlands People Brooke. They have some for those escaping the highland clearances

Land records in Victoria include a huge amount of information incl letters and personal info

I think land administration records come in useful here too….land was often granted as part of the migration package.

a lot of cemetery records have been indexed by societies, so check out the source when you’re looking at the Big Genies and see where the records came from.

I think not having census records encourages us to move beyond just one record set and learn more ways of discovering information.

I think we all just accepted that we had no census records Pauleen and when we got back to England or Scotland where they do it was a bonus!

What about the information found in Australian Wills? They can give a huge amount of information.

And sometimes property deeds eg those available on the List in Tas. I was thrilled to find a trust deed which listed all the children in birth order including my ggf for whom there is no birth/baptism record

And I was only trying to find out when he had to sell his land!

Some Wills are amazing Jennifer. But others are just plain boring unfortunately. I love the Will writers who wrote pages and pages and listed everything and everyone!

Electoral rolls are Australia’s answer to the Census. Of course its not as good as the census but beggars can’t be choosers. Post Office Directories can be very helpful too.

as frustrating as it is to have very limited availability of early census data, we have the benefit of electoral rolls which occurred more regularly and with women able to vote earlier. Also post office directories can be a help.

When I visit the reading room in Hobart Library to do research, I always ask have they got a file out the back on the family I want. Files contain replies from archivists to questions from their clients often prior to digitization.

naturalisation records can help with learning where your ancestors came from. An important difference from USA is that they only apply to non-British immigrants, so you won’t find Irish there.

Many societies are help people doing research in Australia especially when you see the records, books, index’s and loads available though I would add that the personal touch of someone that knows the resources, Australian research, etc is a fairy godmother.

societies have helped me with archives that contain other people’s research. It often has to be checked, but it contains clues.

Check for indexes on local societies where ancestors lived, read the newsletters/magazines issued by local societies

I don’t have any First Nations ancestry so all my Australian ancestors had to come from somewhere else, so my no.1 resource is shipping records: free & convict.

Remember the days when we would write to a person who had researched our family and include a self addressed envelope with a stamp? Seems so long ago now

Consider checking the crew list and not just the passenger records when looking for people.

Great tip Fran I’ve found a few on the crew list including an absconder when they arrived in Australia

I’ve had quite a lot of success with Biographical Database of Australia with my pre 1840’s arrivals – a lot more records added in recent years

Some of the early hospital records have all sorts of fascinating info like the ship they came on, who is their “next of kin” etc. Of course Murphy has his say and the one you want might not have survived.

I found a troubling statement in a Children’s Home Index, and followed up on Trove. Horrific abuse was all retold from a courtcase in the newspaper. I haven’t shared the info with many.

Sometimes it is OK to share hardship and horrible events so that we can better understand our ancestors social context and lives. You could leave out names so it is about the history and not the person. Mind you depends on what exactly happened.

Knowing about the event did help understand the person- but leaving out names wouldn’t be an option in explaining it really. I have got the info on file but am so wary of sharing it.

I can understand your reluctance to #Share. Once something is said it’s not possible to ‘unsaid’ it. Alternatively, knowing information about our #ancestors even when extremely difficult to process can help us understand our own place in the world.

I have found Family History Societies to be invaluable. I visit them whenever I am travelling to an ancestral place. Local History Societies are equally valuable resources along with libraries

Fran has mentioned that Trove also has references to people who moved across the Ditch to NZ or back. Worth the NZers looking at Trove as we should with Papers Past.

most of the State libraries have a list of suitable resources for their state such as this one in SA slsa.sa.gov.au/collections/fa…

many indexes were developed by volunteers from societies and archives. In my research I’ve always found interesting things to learn about immigration by attending classes. Listening to and learning from others is a big help. Academic books are helpful too.

military, war service;, churches attended and donations made; hospital, asylum and orphanage records; court & jail records; govt and police gazettes; petitions.

Yes don’t forget our wonderful military records. The Australian War Memorial even has battalion diaries online

MichaelGaida / Pixabay

I have also found local history societies great too. I have paid for some research particularly when newspapers haven’t been digitised on Trove. Local libraries often have great local history rooms too and volunteers to help.

@FamilySearch is one of the main sources I use for passenger records. Although a google search for records groups or individuals have indexed can help find some travellers.

Libraries and especially their Local Studies sections are such an important resource Alex! One I use frequently (when they are not in Lockdown)

I am interested in the answer to Q2 because I am yet to pin down immigration records for some of my husband’s Australian immigrants

Have you checked the immigration records at PROV for entry to Australia? prov.vic.gov.au

Found loads of information on Trove, NSW State Archives, Ancestry.com.au, Archives NZ and more recently the British Newspaper Archive. Also death certificate transcriptions were helpful as they often give the “years in the colony”.

My great aunt died in an asylum. There was a report in the paper. Even stranger, another woman with the same name also died in the same asylum. Difficult working out which one was which.

most of my ancestry is from England, however some distant relatives did move to Australia, after finding B/M/D records the first place I check is @TroveAustralia Trove is just so valuable esp for Family Notices and other unexpected articles

I’ve found that most of my families inquests have been reported in the newspaper so def check Trove

most of the State libraries have a list of suitable resources for their state such as this one in SA slsa.sa.gov.au/collections/fa…

Trove, Ancestry.com.au, NSW Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, local libraries, state libraries of QLD and NSW, NSW State Archives, British Newspaper Archive, NZ Archives, family history certificate transcribers, pers. comm. with family members

Immigration. Inquest files, Land records, Trove, Victoria birth deaths & Marriages, Linc Tasmania, Wills, PROV (Vic archives), Ancestry, FindaGrave, just to start with a few

Worth nothing that for deaths where there was an inquest, the person’s name may not have been registered in the civil death registers.

That’s interesting. For any particular state or the whole country? I was told by NSW that they did not keep the inquest documents so I was unable to research my great grand fathers brothers death in NSW via the inquest. I have the death date from announcements.

Trying to remember but I think that’s correct Fran. Each state archive can have different types of documents preserved, News stories are generally fairly reliable when it comes to legal cases.

thanks for mentioning libraries and personal communication – both very important.

Link to Libraries Tasmania, use the family history portal and also the archives portal. In each of those there are more portals to check libraries.tas.gov.au/Pages/Home.aspx

Link to Tasmanian Names Index from Tassie libraries.tas.gov.au/family-history… Click on right, put in search area name you are looking for

Tasmanian Names Index TNI includes BMD up to 1900, convict records, wills, arrivals, departures, health and welfare, some employment records

most of my immigrants were convicts or free settlers in the 1840s or thereabouts. info found on the TNI online

I was lucky to find my ancestor in an Equity Case in which the defendant referred to him by name, gave his occupation, and said they’d known each other in Bavaria.

ooh immigration records – yes quite a few. Mostly in Queensland through State Archives. My father did very well finding some down in Victoria too. From memory convict records or death certificates might record the ship they came out on. Gravestones too.

I have found all but 1. George Kunkel was a swimmer it seems. Immigration records NSW and Qld, PROV immig for comparison, Immig Deposit Journals (IDJs), Board lists show more detail. Disposal lists, Trove and diaries for the journey.

I discovered a great aunt had died on the Ryerson Index. No one had told me!

Ryerson is fabulous for pinning down those who’ve died in more recent years! And then the notices themselves will give descendants and married names for daughters.

I use electoral rolls, immigration records, directories, church archives, convict records, newspapers, telephone books among others. Some I find online and others are at archives and libraries

Readers: What are some of your favourite Australian sites to use for research?

 

Crowdsourcing and NFHM2021

Fantastic topic for #ANZAncestryTime chat especially with National Family History Month in August.

Free-Photos / Pixabay

What do you think is crowd sourcing in relation to Family History?

Genealogists or family history type groups helping each other and working together for a common cause

Excellent definition Sue – succinct and yet comprehensive 🙂

For me it’s about asking for support for a collaborative project

I put a callout on the blog for guest bloggers to write about our shared family members. Maybe that’s crowdsourching? Btw I didn’t get anyone take up the offer

Some societies use guest bloggers to write posts weekly eg @gsq Yet another type of crowd sourcing. gsq-blog.gsq.org.au

Curious fox website curiousfox.com

I’m a member of a number of FB groups, occasionally I will ask for help when I’m stuck but I usually ask for help on How I can find the info I’m looking for so I can find it rather than ask someone else to find the info for me

There’s nothing like making the discovery yourself, that to me is what #genealogy is about plus you learn on how or where to find what your looking for

help from Ireland Reaching Out is a type of crowdsourcing where locals who know the place help researchers from afar.

Morning! Not sure that I can contribute a lot to the topic today but you’ve just quoted the one example I could think of. #ANZAncestryTime Although @duchas_ie also uses crowdsourcing and this can also be a great assistance to 20thC #FamilyHistory research – just ask

Also digitisation has overtaken some earlier indexing. Of course correcting Trove texts and adding to lists fits this category as well.

In NZ there’s the 1893 suffrage petition database nzhistory.govt.nz/politics/women… you are able to contribute a short bio

this event (Twitterchat) is an example of crowd-sourcing n’est-ce-pas?

I would argue that the 2 ancestryhours we participate in are a type of crowdsourcing as well.

There is CSI: Crowd Sourced Indexing available to genealogy societies and special interest groups for indexing their records. It is a free, web-based program I saw at #RootsTech a number of years ago. csindexing.com

The new versions of Rootschat email groups that I m a member of are definitely crowdsourcing with lots helping find info for someone with a question – mainly Tasmanian groups

not used crowd sourcing that much. I have a few FB groups for each of my family groups, in asking questions but hit and miss. Used wikitree but find mistakes.

Perhaps something like hawkesbury.net.au/claimaconvict/… where you can not only claim a convict but also contribute information about them

A great result of crowdsourcing is FreeUK Genealogy @FreeUKGen with lots of volunteers

asking and receiving help on social media, platforms that provide input e.g text correction on Trove, transcription sites so many examples. i’ve had folks improve photos just by asking

I suppose that putting cousin bait out there on my blog could be crowdsourcing

I guess @BillionGraves would be another example of crowdsourcing yes?

using social media & message boards to assist both on and offline. Years ago a helpful person on Rootschat looked at some Welsh records for me, long before they were online.

Left a message on Rootschat 4 years after original post. Got a response and person was able to give me information about my Turnbulls Borders area of #Scotland going back to 1700s 😲 ❤️message boards / #Facebook groups / #Twitter threads opportunity to ask questions & #giveback

Another great example of crowdsourcing is @WikiTreers. From the growing well sourced trees to special challenges, the make use of the crowd to advance trees and familyhistory knowledge.

I had to google the definition “enlisting the services of a large number of people, either paid or unpaid, typically via the internet”…. So basically getting a group of genealogists together and seeing what unfolds! Hehehe.

Crowdsourcing is when a community helps to research such as on @WikiTreers

Indexing for @FamilySearch is one of the big uses for crowdsourcing in #familyhistory. At the other end of the spectrum is individuals asking for help on social media such as Facebook Groups.

I think it can be a number of things like when I go “Hive mind – what’s a good TV show to watch?” – it can be asking your peeps for help or advice or it can be transcribing a graveyard together.

Devanath / Pixabay

Discuss your crowd sourcing experiences from helping an individual’s research through to large indexing projects. (Or do you avoid crowdsourcing?)

Asking the crowd for help with getting material from paid for genealogical sites or free I think is wrong. There are copyright restrictions and these should be followed.

Yeah that irks me. Like, I’m paying this large sum money because I’m using their website for the research I am doing. And copyright copyright copyright. So many of them have free trials or a month payment if you don’t want to fork out more $$$

Or join a society, go to a library or @FamilySearch centre, etc. There are so many places you can source stuff than elect to break copyright.

I’m a contributor to both @IrelandXO and @duchas_ie The former involves helping individuals with their research and the latter involves transcribing the Irish schools’ folklore project from 1930s. I’ve also assisted individuals on other sites

I was very excited to be able to help with this using my knowledge of the excellent resources of bda-online.org.au

I’m about to start a crowdsourcing project during the Christchurch Heritage Festival in October, which I can’t tell you the details of yet… But stay tuned…

so far, only recently starting using social media for crowd sourcing, which have pointed me in the direction of new resources, especially with overseas research. Only started blogging which might help others in the future

there are lots of ANZAC sites that crowd source data on specific soldiers and war memorials.

The Online Cenotaph – Auckland War Memorial Museum is an example of that

Years ago I went to the research room. Probably my first exploration into checking out archives. A bit more specialist than the local library. With so much online I am wondering if the research room still exists. Could not see about it with a quick online check.

Kia ora, Pou Maumahara Memorial Discovery Centre replaced the old Armoury on Level 2 in 2016. The public are welcome to use the published resources and contribute to #OnlineCenotaph aucklandmuseum.com/war-memorial/o… We are happy to answer any questions

Another crowdsourcing opportunity is Scottish Indexes which is getting support from indexers .

I have just this week begun to transcribe records for @scottishindexes This is my first time transcribing

I was transcribing Naval records for the TNA there for a second too last year.

Just started my first page @scottishindexes They’ve given me so much in past 18 months – 11 free 8 hour conferences. I felt the need to payback a little

Another site I’ve been able to contribute to collection.nelsonmuseum.co.nz/explore collection of digitised glass plate negatives. Identified photos of gg-gparents

a bazillion years ago when I started I helped @GSQPresident with indexing deaths during JAn-June 1916. You can imagine given WWI. I suspect no one has ever looked at them

never underestimate how much you’ve helped dear Pauleen. I think that’s the tragedy is that much of the work is unseen/unrecognized and yet used all the time.

Like some software recognises the developers it would be nice to recognise the workers by adding to digital documents people that helped.

I suspect many people using #ancestry or #findmypast don’t realise the indexes have been created by societies as they don’t read the source info

I have made connections and found people who emigrated using @WikiTreers

I get family info requests on my Irish and Dorfprozelten blogs which helps others

I use FreeUKGen sites @FreeUKGen and have donated to them did start transcribing years ago but did not carry on

and I imagine to a degree that’s what @LostCousins might be all about too, yes?

I suppose a recent/continuing experience is being part of a Facebook group for my Gill ancestors and helping write up a document of all the descendants on my line from my 4x G Gparents down & assisting others with writing their line.

good result from crowdsourcing here 3 different versions of one photo enhanced by Rootschat folks after I asked for advice on FBook – see post below

Not a big crowdsourcing person. Really a lack of time as I work full time. I think it is a great idea although some of the questions I see on social media asking for help could be solve with a google search. Not sure they are lazy or what.

yes someone complained about that on my facebook knitting group today but I think it is just people want to hear from a human not a machine where they can find stuff or what they should be using.

I love transcribing Tassie convict records but usually get the person to type out what they can first, then I help with the unknown bits.

I reckon some of the best crowd sourcing that has happened has been during the UTAS course – by sharing assignments for everyone to read, I got some excellent advice/feedback from other students. (Only shared after assignment had been marked – Ed)

I am very busy on @WikiTreers but have previously transcribed for Family Search

Just today I have a comment on my latest post suggesting I have the age and time period out by a decade – love that input!

I agree I get all sorts of unexpected info and requests from my blog

I love it when people make contact through the blog when if they recognise their ancestor in my post

geralt / Pixabay

Have you any plans or suggestions for celebrating National Family History Month in Australia & NZ?

I attended the opening talk by Zoom with @HicksShauna and plan to attend the closing one with @fiona_memories. Our group is running a talk with Shauna via zoom also.

Where do you find out about all these talks, etc?

good point Brooke. I think we should have some kind of national calendar like the NFHM calendar AFFHO did but for all the time. There is conferencekeeper.org/event-submissi… but I suspect a US focus.

Great idea – another thing we need a volunteer to upkeep? NZSG has an events calendar. Perhaps AFFHO could have n annual calendar. genealogy.org.nz/Events-Calenda…

Sharn’s talk was so amazing. I really do wonder at the value of having bricks and mortar if we are safer using zoom. It was always so hard to get people to use the library anyway – I think our efforts now need to go into digitizing as much as we can.

Hoping to get to a family history day next Saturday. Wellington Region #FamilyHistory event (combined Wgtn branches of NZSG)

Might see you there, Jane. I’m selling raffle tickets in afternoon.

ah raffle tickets. The funding lynchpin of many a society 😉

Auckland and Christchurch Family History Expos. Launching a new Plan to Publish online course plus some new guides to help with publishing and sharing your research.

When I can get back on the computer, re start my blog!!! Dormant since 2018.


I have joined in with @luvviealex #NFHM2021 Blogging Challenge to blog every week or more often in August


Am doing two talks at Rosny Library – will probably be half hour talk then hour and a half to do practical stuff from the talk

I’m going to a talk at my local Family History Society. This will be my first visit

The opening talk to Family History month in AUS & NZ discussed the future of #familyhistory societies. What role do you see societies playing in the future?

you can now have a speaker in London give a talk to a society in Cheshire watched by someone in America that’s the one good thing to come out of the last two years, but like archives, if we don’t use family history societies they will disappear

I really like locality chats eg run by #DevonFHS for a gp of Parishes, sharing real local knowledge, alongside FB for questions between chats. #RyedaleFHG have informal Zoom chat (how to peel a banana to detailed FH questions/sharing finds informally – is great too.

I have used #familyhistory societies in the past, and can be useful as they have inside knowledge of counties and towns, particular maps. They do need be more involved with social media.

#future very much depends on members/committees keeping up to date w/ #technology, making their resources available #Online / in #Digital format, changing mindset from pull to push ie as much if not more online teaching content & resources as #f2f engagement

Check out Part 1 of podcast from last week between Andy of @AFHpodcast & Margaret from @FHSofCheshire – who discuss the benefits of #FamilyHistory societies. Well worth a listen Link – amateurfamilyhistory.com/2021/07/28/epi…

Personally I think local Societies need to be more interactive with all members do combined meetings about local topics

Even still, a lot of online sessions are held during work hours. I usually sign up If it has a watch later option, but I always forget to watch it later.

And more flexible timing. I know I could only go at weekends or evenings when I worked and had a family at home.

very true. And if we got younger presenters that might suit them better anyway.

I (Alex) think more user-generated content is essential and I think that has been part of SAG’s success with Friday afternoon chats. I have been so impressed with members’ contributions.

The issue though is how many societies we can afford to be members of. How do you weigh up which to keep, which to join, which to leave?

I expect value for money especially when your already a subscriber to several other websites, plus other costs involved in buying Certs etc, #genealogy is not a cheap hobby and some people should not expect it to be freely given either

I’ve never been able to get myself into the society thing. Maybe because I’m younger? I’m not sure. Joining a society just hasn’t spoken to me. I love the online fam history groups – Maybe they could have a fb group if they don’t already.

My English ancestors come from 20 English counties but I’ve never really considered joining a Society mostly due to cost of joining so many, I would follow them on Twitter/Facebook so I could keep up to date with news from the Society’s

excellent point which I hadn’t considered before. You just can’t afford to join every society can you ? But Facebook is free 🙂

And don’t forget ancestorian.com That is free too

At least with following Society’s on FB/Twitter if I see a post made by the relevant society I can comment or send a message and make enquiries

I would join societies for areas my ancestors are from if I knew joining would be useful. If it’s not going to be helpful, why bother?

Which means that #FamilyHistory societies need to MARKET themselves. What is the value proposition for joining a society? (My idea of becoming a marketing guru for FH societies keeps growing 🙂

Agree, I think the majority of members are retired or have a lot of time. Often only open few hours during the day while others working. They can be useful but again hit and miss

The successful societies will weigh up the costs of going online with the number of members they may attract subs will reflect this

Local Societies know the peculiarities of their area and history useful for researchers from afar they need to promote this

completely agree Hilary. The most successful posts for QFHS Facebook page are about the local projects we have indexed or digitized.

Societies need to adapt to changing social & economic conditions. Change takes time to implement and requires planning. Might be too hard for many organisations when they might not have the skills to succeed at adapting.

In order to survive Societies need to encourage younger people and involve themselves more with social media

Societies need to upgrade websites and start getting younger people into their ranks

Blog posts

Carmel – Using photo enhancement as crowd sourcing,

Alex –  Genealife in lockdown challenge intro, Sum up after the challenge,