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]
To Puchase CDs and books of indexes of original documents from State Records NSW at Kingswood go to our website. There are many unusual records that you may not think to search and now they are indexed which makes it much easier to find those elusive ancestors.
newspapers will be gone in 5 years time ,no more newsagents,everything will be online.wait and see.
i still enjoy sitting down and reading the paper ,i hope this never goes,
Genealogy & History News is no exception to this rule!
Picture Australia since 2012 is now in Trove
Picture Australia now in Trove
The National Library has integrated Picture Australia into its award-winning free discovery service Trove. Plans to create a single business directory service were…
Trove [… contains over 386,856,008 Australian and online resources: books, images, historic newspapers, maps, music, archives and more …
Family Search has an extra s in their URL https://familysearch.org
This is not a free website you have to register and then pay a subscription. Absolutely not free.
The Australian Cemeteries Website is not a free website you have to register and then pay a subscription. Absolute rubbish FREE!
Vicki, the Australian cemeteries website IS totally free, but if you click on any of their adverts (top, bottom, or sides of the screen), they take you to a different site, and yes you’re likely to have to pay. I even saw an avert titled “Australian Cemeteries – click here” and it took me to the Ancestry website, which of course is a pay site. But trust me, the Australian Cemetery one is still free, so you may like to revisit it, because it really is good.
These are all fantastic site’s but I think you should make it a bakers dozen (13) and include Australians Cemeteries Index http://austcemindex.com/ Which is also totally free and one of the best Cemetery Sites available. 🙂 Just Sayin !!!
Alona, the correct address for the Ryerson Index is http://www.ryersonindex.org, not .com.
And we’ve moved on considerably from 2.8m entries – we’re now over 5 million!
I really need to know which sites are really free as I can’t afford to pay anything towards this project in reacerching my family history . I need answers despretly I have grand children with medical problems and I’ve been told to go back in the history and find out.
Linda, all of the above sites are totally FREE. But it depends on what information you are after, and what country (and era) you are researching as to what you’ll be able to access. If you need further information email me at email@example.com with more details.
I am searching for the family of of my great grandfather who emigrated to Western Australia at the start of 20th century. The lady in question was called Lizzie Daniels she married Edwin Daniels but they had no children. However Edwin’s brother married Esther and they had 2 daughters Mabel and Winnie.
Winnie’s name was Fitzpatrick, she had a daughter called Rae. I have a photograph of Rae signing the register following her marriage on9th April 1966. They resided in west Australia.
The British part of the family came from Stoke On Trent Staffordshire UK.
My mother is in her 80’s and desperately wants to know what happened to them. Please help if you can.
Please help me contact our Australian branch of the family. They are descendants of my great grandfathers sister Lizzie Pitchford. Her sister in law was called Esther Daniels and she had a daughter called Winnie. Winnie’s name was Fitzpatrick and she had a daughter called Rae. Rae married on 9th April 1966. I have a photograph of her signing the register.
Please help as my mother who is now in her 80’s would like to contact them. They lived in west Australia. The uk family reside in Stoke on Trent , Staffordshire.
is a fantastic free site
Hi Julie – are you still needing help? If so I suggest you try the ‘West Australian State Library’ (on-line) it has an ‘Ask a Librarian’ service – they will check their many records including electoral rolls (past & present) and newspaper death notices. We have compulsory voting here – so they’ll be found.
magnificent points altogether, you just won a new reader. What would you recommend in regards to your post that you just made some days in the past? Any positive?