While Australia doesn’t have the long history that England does, or the population that America does, the interest in family history and genealogy is constantly growing, and with it comes the availability of more records … mostly online.
I have compiled this list of ‘must-visit’ sites for those who are researching Australians, and have chosen to focus on ‘Australia-wide’ sites only. I will say that there are some fabulous one-state sites out there, but they deserve their own blog post sometime, so have been omitted from this list.
Please note this list is purely my opinion only, and I’m sure that I left out another 10 more more that should have been listed – but they’ll just have to wait for another day.
They’re listed in no particular order other than alphabetical. But in I think they’re ALL worth at least a look if you haven’t visited them, or a revisit if haven’t visited them recently.
AUSTRALIAN CEMETERIES – http://www.australiancemeteries.com/
This website contains the largest collection of Australian cemeteries together on a single site. Firstly divided into state, then alphabetically each cemetery advises if it is Online data, a Look-up, a transcripts, and has headstone photos.
AUSTRALIAN NEWSPAPERS – http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper
Many thousands of Australian newspapers (old and current) have been digitised, and can be viewed and searched online through the National Library of Australia’s website.
AUSTRALIAN WAR MEMORIAL – http://www.awm.gov.au
The War Memorial’s collections contain a wealth of material relating to the military service of individuals as well as units. If you are trying to track down information about relatives who served in any of the conflicts in which Australia has been involved since the 1860s, you can search their collections. The photograph collection includes individual and group portraits of military and support personnel, allied and enemy soldiers and local civilians, and scenes of the Australian homefront. The private records collection includes private papers, letters, and diaries of non-government organisations and individuals. And the film, sound, art, heraldry, and technology collections are also useful sources to check.
CONVICTS TO AUSTRALIA – http://www.convictcentral.com
While not everyone in Australia is decendended from a convict, many are, and the “Convicts to Australia” site is a great place to start your search. This website is intended as a guide to inform those just starting as well as the more experienced researcher. Being a ‘work in progress’, the site is being added to regularly.
CORAWEB – http://www.coraweb.com.au
While this is not a website that contains records as such, Cora’s website is an Australian genealogy gateway site, a place to find other sites to go to. This site has 1,650+links arranged in 48+ categories all to do with Australian genealogy.
FAMILYSEARCH – https://www.familysearch.org
FamilySearch is the largest genealogy organisation in the world, and is actually world-wide in it’s coverage. But I have listed it here as it does have some very valuable records available relating to Australia. Just as background, for over 100 years FamilySearch have been gathering, preserving, and sharing genealogical records worldwide. Previously available through their Family History Centres around the world, these records are now being made available online. In all seriousness, genealogy would not be where is it today without FamilySearch.
HERITAGE AUSTRALIA – http://www.heritageaustralia.com.au
Heritage Australia is created to celebrate Australia’s history and heritage. You will find a feast of articles on an ever-increasing range of topics and themes, as well as an enormous amount of information on historic places, events, news and book releases, as well as a directory listing societies, groups, museums etc.
NATIONAL ARCHIVES OF AUSTRALIA – http://www.naa.gov.au
The National Archives of Australia holds many millions records in which you might find information about your ancestors. This is the place to come if your family members served in the Australian armed forces or if they migrated to Australia during the 20th century, you may also find business records.
PICTURE AUSTRALIA – http://www.pictureaustralia.org
On Picture Australia, galleries, archives, museums and libraries across Australia and overseas combine to provide access to over 1.8 million images, all fully referenced and all fully searchable by name, topic, collection or other criteria. [Update 2014: Picture Australia is now incorporated into the NLA’s Trove]
RYERSON INDEX – http://www.ryersonindex.org
The Ryerson Index is a website which has indexed over 2,800,000 death, funeral, probate and obituary notices from Australian newspapers. [Update May 2016: the Ryerson Index now has almost 5.5 million entries online]
THE SHIPS LIST – http://www.theshipslist.com
The Ships List website will help you find your ancestors on ships’ passenger lists. They also have immigration reports, newspaper records, shipwreck information, ship pictures, ship descriptions, shipping-line fleet lists and more; as well as hundreds of passenger lists to Canada, USA, Australia and even some for South Africa.
TROVE – http://trove.nla.gov.au
Created by the National Library of Australia, with over 119 million records currently referenced, why wouldn’t you search here. Covering Books, journals, magazines and articles; Pictures and photos; Digitised newspapers and more; Diaries, letters, and archives; Maps; Music, sound and video; Archived websites; and About people and organisations. One search on Trove searches all categories, and you’re bound to find some records you didn’t know existed. [Update May 2016: the NLA’s Trove now has 486 million records on their website]