Records at a Glance: Australia

By Sunny McClellan Morton Premium

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Business records
Look for small business license applications, bank ledgers and attorney’s files.
  • Small business license applications listed in Government Gazettes for each state
Cemetery records
Available items include burial or undertaker records, gravestone transcriptions and cemetery plot maps.
  • Gravestone transcriptions in regional libraries, archives and libraries
  • Australian Cemeteries
  • Cemeteries in Australia edited by Martyn C.H. Killion and Heather E. Garnsey
Censuses and population musters
Musters were taken annually beginning in 1788. National censuses since 1911 are only for statistical use.
Church records
Church records are an excellent source for tracing Australians prior to civil registration.
  • Church records are kept locally; find parish directories at regional archives, libraries and genealogical societies
  • Some church records and indexes on microfilm at the FHL
Civil registrations
Early ones are civil transcriptions of church records. Government-run civil registers began about 1856. Earlier records are less complete.
  • Few records are microfilmed due to privacy restrictions; request copies from civil registration offices or state archives
  • A few early records on microfilm at the FHL
  • State indexes on microfiche and CD are available from state registrars; some are searchable at state websites
  • Pioneer Indexes for early settlers by colony are on CD at Australian libraries and genealogical societies
  • Australian Vital Records Index at FamilySearch
Convict records
These include convict indents (lists of ship arrivals), pardons, certificates of freedom, tickets of leave and other records kept by jails or penal colonies.
Alphabetized city directories of adult residents and tradesmen, and 20th-century telephone directories may contain maps or listings of churches, cemeteries.
  • Searchable index to directories from 1830 to 1900 at FamilySearch
  • Microfilmed directories spanning the early 1800s to 1984 at the FHL
  • Electoral rolls A census of eligible voters published by each state during election years, held by state archives or libraries
Immigration records
Besides convict records, look for passenger lists and paperwork relating to bounty immigration and other assisted immigration. Originals at national, state and local repositories
Military records
Check service and eligibility records, muster and officer rolls, personnel files, pay and pension records, regimental account books, and records of leave. Microfilmed copies at the FHL
  • Some British records on FHL microfilm. Search British military records at national archives; click on Records, then Looking for a Person.
  • Search Australian military records at the Australian War Memorial and regional genealogical societies.

From the March 2011 Family Tree Magazine