If you’re researching Australian ancestry, you more than likely know about the Ryerson Index, and just how valuable it is. 

But just in case you’re not familiar with this website, it is a free site that contains indexes to death notices appearing in Australian newspapers. The date range covered starts with the 1803 Sydney Gazettes and goes through to newspapers published within the last week or so. The Index also includes many funeral notices, and some probate notices and obituaries.

The project all began when Joyce Ryerson offerd to give “some” Sydney Morning Herald death notices to the Sydney Dead Persons Society,  which she had saved so that they could index them. The “some” turned out to be an almost complete run from 1986 to 1999. And it has simply grown from there, and now is the now most comprehensive index to death notices and obituaries in Australian newspapers, currently listing 6.75 million of them! 

The following is a note that the Ryerson Index team put on their Facebook page last week when they officially turned 20, and I wanted to share it with you.


Twenty years ago today, on Saturday 10 October 1998, Ryerson was born. It didn’t have such a catchy name then, being known as the Sydney DPS Indexing Project, and only included the Sydney Morning Herald and the Daily Telegraph. These papers were indexed by just seven indexers – six doing one day each week of the SMH and one doing the DT.

Importantly, it was decided that the site would be free to access, and 20 years on, it remains free, supported by generous donations from our users.

A look at the stats on our Update History page shows just how far we have come in 20 years, to now have 6.75 million records from 343 different papers. It took us almost 7 years to reach one million records, another 4 years to add the second million, but since then we have consistently added an average of a million records every two years.

We are particularly pleased with the fact that more than 4 million of these records are not to be found elsewhere on the web – they relate to deaths occurring in the past 30 years, which are embargoed by all the state BDM websites.

The 150 or so people at Ryerson (indexers, looker-uppers, and data gatherers) are all very proud to be associated with a site which has become one of the ‘go-to’ sites for Australian genealogical research.
We all hope that you continue to have success in your research, aided by The Ryerson Index.
— The Ryerson Committee and Members


While Joyce Ryerson, passed away in 2012, at age 95, her legacy well and truly lives on through the Ryerson Index. Each and every volunteer should be proud of their contribution in making this happen, and for reaching 20 years.

The team here at Gould Genealogy are a big fan of this site, and we would like to send a BIG CONGRATULATIONS to the Ryerson team and their volunteers. Thankyou for all the incredible work you do. You have helped make millions of Australian records far easier to find for everyone.