For a relatively young country Australia has an incredibly colourful history, and the records can provide amazing detail not only into how your own family lived, but also of how society used to be
We've put together a guide to finding your Australian ancestors in our records. As well as the usual building blocks of Birth, Death and Marriage (BMD) records, we've taken a look at a collection or two you're sure to be less familiar with…
BMD records are crucial for anyone starting their family history journey. Search our Australia, Births and Baptisms, 1792-1981, Australia, Marriages, 1788-1935, and Australia Deaths and Burials, 1816-1980 records to get started with your research.
Census records should be your second port of call. Our collections include the first Australian Census, News South Wales, 1828 Census Householders' Returns. In it you can find both settlers and convicts, with biographical information such as their religion and the number of cattle they owned. You can also search the Northern Territory Census dating from 1881 to 1921 and the 1841 South Australia Census.
The ultimate resource for Australian emigrants, the Passenger Lists leaving UK 1890-1960 provide details of anyone leaving to find a new life 'Down Under'.
If your relatives dabbled in criminal behaviour, you might just find them in the Victoria Prison Registers, which can give you details of their crimes and sentencing, as well as various biographical details. You might even get to check out their mugshot - one for the mantelpiece!
While only a small percentage of the records are those of convicts, the England & Wales, Crime, Prisons & Punishment, 1770-1935 records can provide a great resource for finding huge amounts of information on the court cases and sentencing of your convict ancestors.
Due to the circumstances that surrounded the arrival of most newcomers to Australia from British colonies, crime related records are a fantastic resource for tracing Australian ancestors. Containing over 188,000 records, Australia Convict ships 1786-1849 is one of the best sets. It dates back to the ships of the First Fleet and includes the details of some of the earliest convict settlers in New South Wales. As well as that, we have a huge amount of convict records filled with incredible details, such as the conditional and absolute pardons and applications to marry collections.
We have a huge collection of military records, including the Australian Military Forces WW2 Missing and Prisoners of War and Australian Imperial Force Nominal Roll 1914-1918. It's worth remembering a lot of Australian soldiers also appear in our other world records, such as the World War II Prisoners of War collection.
Sometimes the best things come in small packages, and this can certainly be said for some of our Australian social history records. With everything from Letters from Victorian Pioneers and the incredibly detailed Aldine History of Queensland, New South Wales and South Australia, to pastoral directories and almanacs, a quick look through the records can provide you with an incredible insight into life through Australia's history.
This is just a small sample of (often overlooked) records you can find in our Australian record collection. Take a look now and see what you can find.