Researching in Tasmania

Clker-Free-Vector-Images / Pixabay

My family have been in Tasmania since the 1830’s when my ancestors arrived as either free settlers or convicts. This means I have used a lot of  family history resources from this state of Australia. This post is going to be about the sites I have used the most to help tell the stories of my ancestors in Tasmania.

Libraries Tasmania

This is my number one site. It includes the Tasmanian Archive and Heritage Office (TAHO) resources as well as the Tasmanian Names Index. There is also a guide to all records found on both TAHO and the family history page. You can also use the how to search page for the Tasmanian Archive records. The library has a blog showing the newly digitized items and it has a great list of categories to help filter the records.

There are also some digitized indexes found online that are not part of TAHO records or TNI. Libraries Tasmania also has their own YouTube channel with some videos on particular topics relating to history.

But if researching a person and their family then the Tasmanian Names Index (TNI) is the best place to start. There have been some recent improvements on this site so a librarian has written a blog post explaining ten ways to boost your searching of the TNI.

Convicts in Van Diemens Land

Again first place is the convict records as part of the TNI at Libraries Tasmania, where you search by the convict’s name or the ship they arrived in. Their convict portal page also includes links to other websites within Australia and the rest of the world.

Female convicts in VDL also have another database which has recently been updated. But there is also lots of information about the convict institutions, ships used as well as freedoms etc in the other tabs on the website.

If convicts brought children with them on the ships, many would be put in the orphan schools. Search by child’s name or mother’s name.

Pexels / Pixabay

Trove newspapers

Once I have found the basics of birth, marriage, death and family I try to begin adding to their stories. This is where Trove newspapers website comes in very handy. Tasmanian newspapers on Trove are available from about 1803 through to mid 1950s at the moment. There are many newspapers specific to certain areas of Tasmania but they might cover only certain years. Make sure you check out their help page as there is more than just newspapers on Trove.

The List

If looking for information on land grants and properties, the go to place is the List and the tab LISTMap. This is run by the Tasmanian Government and allows you to overlap maps to look at where land grants might be at present time. There are many other things on the database so check out all the tabs.

Online newspapers not Trove

The library have also digitized some newspapers for Tasmania that are not available on Trove. Takes more to search these as they are not indexed. TO find them go to main page for Libraries Tasmania, and in search area put Tasmanian newspapers, then when they appear, filter on left to online.

BDMs in Tasmania

First step is the Tasmanian Names Index where these are available free of charge up to about 1900. Family search has more up to about 1912. The Tasmanian Federation Index found at the main library in Hobart has records up to about 1930. To check the index, go to Libraries Tasmania website, then family history portal and on right hand side is “Need help, ask us” where you can ask for help with specific requests for information from the Tasmanian Federation CDROM.

If you want to order a more recent certificate then you do this through the Justice Department website and here are the fees charged.

Skitterphoto / Pixabay


My first place to go for cemetery information is Millingtons which covers many of the large cemeteries in the Hobart area. If looking for cemeteries from other places around Tasmania, I then check out the Libraries Tasmania cemetery page to check which records are online. Many Tasmanian councils have records for their local cemeteries.

Readers: What are other important websites you use to gather information when researching Tasmanian ancestors?

Please read the comments as other family historians have added more websites to use.

Using maps in family history

Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Katherine H via Compfight

Our second lecture this week was on the value of using maps in family history. I am very inquisitive regarding where my ancestors came from, so am always using Google Earth to pinpoint locations. As mentioned in the notes though, there can be some problems with place names and locations in the 21st century compared to those in the 19th century and further back.

This lecture was by Imogen Wegman who is a PhD candidate at UTas and is a landscape historian. Here are my notes.

Who do you believe?

  • The records or family knowledge or heirlooms
  • Using a map might help prove, disprove the information you have gathered

Place names

  • sometimes towns straddle borders
  • often change or move counties
  • often spelt phonetically until 1850’s
  • remember dialects or accents might change sound of name – use this British Library site to help with these
  • important to use map of the time period you are searching
  • also check landowners in lots of locations


  • often change – parishes, regions, counties
  • current English counties established since 1974
  • since 19th century, maps are more consistent and reliable
  • during war, borders change, eg what was Poland might now be Belarus

Looking for maps

When searching on internet, use keywords such as

  • historical maps county name
  • digitized maps county name
  • also check for enclosure (landowners names) and tithe maps
  • UK – ordnance survey map – National Library of Scotland

Places to find maps online – this list copied from the course Map Collections page – thanks to Imogen

For Australian searching

Trove Maps

Land Information Systems Tasmania (LIST) Map

NSW: Historical Land Records Viewer

Queensland: Mapping Research and History

Northern Territory: Historic Map Index

South Australia: Map Sites

Victoria: Land

Western Australia: Maps Online

(None are known for the Australian Capital Territory.)

University of Melbourne Map Collection – Geographic Links
This is a collection of Australian and international links.

United Kingdom and Ireland

National Library of Scotland (including England Ordnance Survey)

The Irish Ancestral Research Association: Maps


My Readers: Are there any other map collections you know of that might be useful for family historians? Maybe American or European collections?

If possible include the URL in your comment and I will then add to this post as a link for others to use.