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40 of my Favourite Genealogy Indexes / Sources
I love using (and indexing) 'neglected' records that are great for overcoming brick walls in family history. Many have information about people from all over the world. You may be surprised to find your ancestors or their siblings mentioned in records held in distant lands!
These are some of the indexes and other resources that I find especially useful for researching families in Australia, the United Kingdom and Ireland. I updated the list in Oct 2020. Links open in a new window.
- Hospital Admission Registers. These superb records are usually more informative and more accurate than certificates. Sometimes they are the only surviving source with immigration details. Links lead to pages with source descriptions plus the names of over 12,500 patients (many born overseas). Note, in particular, the index to Croydon Hospital admission registers, which include the period of the local goldrush. In the 1880s-1890s about 70% of patients were born in Britain or Ireland, with smaller numbers from elsewhere, especially interstate and overseas mining areas.
- Mental Asylum records. If someone vanished, or if children were not raised by their mother, check mental asylum records. Many patients (including children) were only in an asylum very briefly, so you may not know about it. Some insanity files have superb information about the patient's relatives, and case books usually give reasons for admission and/or medical details.
- Old Age Pension records 1908-1909. The records include many people who were not on electoral rolls. Before you check the list of names (over 9,200 applicants, born worldwide, including many whose application was rejected), read the explanation of who was eligible for the pension.
- Files about repayment of fares 1929-1955. People signed an agreement, promising to repay the cost of a fare (usually interstate or overseas). This period includes the Great Depression, when many people travelled great distances in search of work. The list of names may include your relative who 'disappeared'.
- Police Gazettes. With information about victims of crime, offenders and many other people, these are a superb source for family history. Notices may give biographical data, immigration details, a physical description, and clues for research in other records.
- Court of Petty Sessions records. These have details of complainants and offenders, especially in minor cases. There are various types of CPS records. Indexes include some for Queensland, Victoria and Ireland.
- Police Watchhouse records (people arrested and victims of crime). Offences range from serious to minor, including 'being a neglected child'. This page explains the genealogical value of the records, with links to lists of names for various districts.
- Prison Records. Many people were imprisoned for minor offences such as having no lawful visible means of support. There are different types of prison records, and many are indexed. They include records for North Queensland, St. Helena (Queensland), Victoria and Ireland. Some New South Wales prison records are on Ancestry.
- Genealogical Index to Australians and Other Expatriates in Papua New Guinea. This covers a wide range of records, and it includes transcriptions of some that no longer survive.
- Registers of Maintenance Payments to Deserted Wives/Children. These often provide clues about men who 'vanished'.
- Trade Union Records. This collection has membership records for Australia, Belgium, Canada, Channel Islands, England, Germany, Gibraltar, Ireland, Isle Of Man, Malta, New Zealand, Rhodesia, Scotland, South Africa, Spain, Turkey, USA and Wales. Occupations include railway staff, carpenters, joiners, cabinetmakers, woodworkers, lithographic artists/printers, designers, engravers, boilermakers, iron shipbuilders, etc. Australian branches include Adelaide, Ballarat, Bathurst, Bendigo, Brisbane, Broken Hill, Charters Towers, Fremantle, Geelong, Hobart, Ipswich, Kalgoorlie, Leeton, Mackay, Melbourne, Mildura, Mount Morgan, Newcastle, Perth, Port Augusta, Port Pirie, Sydney, Townsville, Wollongong and others.
- Passport Records. There are records for people who were emigrating, or returning to their home country, or going overseas on holidays. I've included links re passport records in Australia and some other countries.
- Border Crossing Records. Thousands of Australians and New Zealanders are among those who crossed international borders between Canada, the USA and Mexico. Various series of records are on Findmypast and Ancestry.
- Ryerson Index. Extracts from death and funeral notices, and a few probate notices and obituaries, in Australian newspapers and on some funeral directors' websites. A great way to find exact death dates if you can't get them from Registrar-General's indexes.
- Trove. A free website with digital images of newspapers and other National Library of Australia resources.
- Queensland School Pupils Index. Compiled from school admission registers (in which you may find exact birth dates from less than 100 years ago), and published school and local histories.
- Statements by witnesses called before Queensland Government Committees. The witnesses were ordinary people from all walks of life (publicans, miners, labourers, seamen, farmers, graziers, railway employees, civil servants, etc). The index covers 1860-1920.
- National Probate Calendar. This includes people from all over the world, so don't be put off by its official title (Index of Wills and Administrations, England and Wales). I usually search the index for 1858-2019, then go to the Government site to order a digital copy of the will/probate record, which currently costs just £1.50 (it used to be £10.00). For 1858-1995 only, if you already know an exact death date, you may prefer to search at Ancestry.
- Will Books. Wills for many people from other States and countries are included in New South Wales will books. Click 'Learn more' above the search boxes to find out more about the collection, and read my personal search tips.
- Brisbane City Council Cemeteries Search. The Council manages twelve cemeteries and three crematoria. Cemetery sites like this can reveal death dates that are too recent to be on the Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages website.
- Toowoomba Regional Council: Deceased Search. This covers nineteen cemeteries in the region. Search results link to headstone photos if applicable.
- Queensland Burials and Memorials. This database includes indexes to headstones in many Queensland cemeteries and lone graves, plus records of seven funeral directors. The total time frame covered is 1820-1996. Be sure to read 'Learn more' and 'What information can I find'.
- Gregson and Weight Index to Funeral Records 1972-2010. Records of funeral directors on Queensland's Sunshine Coast have details of burials and funeral services that took place not only in Australia but also in New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Fiji, Sweden, Greece, Hungary, Austria and the Netherlands.
- Dern Index (published on CD-ROM by David and Julie Dern, c1999). This index summarises the main details on headstones in some Queensland cemeteries. If the CD is not in your local library, check whether the Queensland Family History Society has added it to their members-only online resources.
- Helen Harris's Historical Indexes. There are references to people from all over the world; and for research in Victoria (Australia) this site is a must. Indexes include missing people; wife/child deserters; criminal case files; Infant Life Protection Act indexes; Victoria Police; women lecturers; etc.
- Passenger lists to Australia 1897-1963. Passengers en route to other ports (eastern States etc) are included in an indexed collection (on Ancestry) for 1897-1963 ship passenger arrivals, crew lists, air arrivals and quarantine lists for Fremantle, Western Australia.
- Index to Sydney Benevolent Asylum records 1857-1900. Many people from interstate are in these records. Some went to Sydney to 'hide' the birth of an illegitimate child.
- Sydney Anglican Parish Registers 1814-2011. Baptism, burial, confirmation, marriage and composite registers. When I can see an image of the marriage register, I don't need to buy the marriage certificate!
- Alphabetical Index to Newspaper Cuttings 1841-1987. Most of the records are for New South Wales, but a few are from Queensland. The cuttings are mainly for marriages and deaths, but a few are for births or the 1811 census.
- Government Gazettes. They contain a vast amount of historical and genealogical information about ordinary people. Many Government Gazettes are on Findmypast. Read 'Search tips' (if they exist) before you search.
- Civil Service Evidence of Age records. There is information about people from around the world (including 654 from Australia and New Zealand) although the records are primarily British. I've found exciting details (especially for people whose birth was never registered) in images in this record set. Click the right arrow to see the next related image, which is often a baptism record.
- Great Western Railway Shareholders. Although most events relate to residents of England and Wales, the shareholders, executors, beneficiaries and others include people from Scotland, Ireland, Australia, and other countries. The image often has death/burial details, occupation, address, names of other parties, marriage date etc.
- Historical Photos or Sketches of People (from public records that most people overlook). Photos/sketches are accompanied by information that is superb for family history. More names will be added as indexing progresses.
- Records that name the father of an illegitimate child. If his name is not on the birth certificate, there are other places to look. I've indexed many different record series, and more names will be added in the future.
- Missing Friends records. The people sought include emigrants, missing relatives, eloping daughters, wife/child deserters, women who abandoned a child, missing beneficiaries of wills, suspected bigamists, etc. Stage 1 of the index is online (spread over 3 pages, with about 8,000 names yet to be added).
- Yorkshire Collection. The largest online collection of Yorkshire records! I've had great success with this, and millions more records (including images of original parish records) have been added in recent years. Search each record set separately. Highlight/copy the results list, paste it into a spreadsheet, study the results, then view any images that may be relevant. Look at the transcription too, because it usually has the source citation.
- London Metropolitan Archives collection. Indexes and images of parish registers for most of the Greater London area (which includes parts of Middlesex and Surrey), plus wills, school and electoral records, etc.
- British Nationals overseas. There are separate indexes for births, marriages and deaths (including deaths at sea). While researching my British ancestors and their siblings, I was surprised to find births and marriages in China and Canada.
- Society of Australian Genealogists 'Manuscript and Image Collection'. Family papers, unpublished research notes, pedigrees, photographs, certificates etc from Australia and overseas, with a searchable catalogue. Without this I would never have traced my WEBSTER family in London.
- Postems on FreeBMD. This shows how you can use Postems on free civil registration indexes for England and Wales to get extra details or contact distant relatives.
See also 'Other indexes for Queensland Genealogy'. Some are online, and others are in libraries or other record offices.
I've spent over 35 years learning about (and indexing) original records, and I share my knowledge in many ways. If my Web site has helped you, please say 'thanks' by making a donation to my collection for charity. Use this PayPal button or other payment methods.
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Updated 16 Jun 2021.
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