Thursday, 15 September 2016

3 Reasons to Use Archives Previous System Locations

A section of  the search room at Qld State Archives
Family historians make a note of source references so we (or someone else) can find an item again. There are 3 reasons why you should know the 'Previous System location' for records you use at Queensland State Archives, as well as the newer 'item ID' number.

  1. Typos and misinterpretation are less likely with Previous System location numbers. For example, the immigrant file for Agnes Adamson AITKEN is item ID 1111111. Its Previous System location is IMM/5. I know which one I am more likely to get wrong when I read it or write it!

  2. Even if there is a typo in a Previous System location number, the letters at the beginning often indicate the agency. With that, it may be possible for you to eventually find the record (perhaps with help from the archivist on duty). For example, IMM means Immigration Department; SCT means Supreme Court; CPS means Court of Petty Sessions; JUS means Justice Department; and so on.

  3. If the computer system crashes while you are in the Public Search Room, staff may be able to retrieve documents from the repository if you can quote the Previous System location, because it often indicates the shelf position. If you only have item ID numbers, you may have to give up and go home. I can always keep working because I know the Previous System locations for records that I've already located in the catalogue.

In the Queensland State Archives' catalogue (on the Internet and at the Archives), the 'Item Details' screen shows the Item ID and (if applicable) the Previous System location and Departmental numbers. The latter often point to a specific file in a bundle.

From your own experience at Queensland State Archives, what other tips can you share?

This post first appeared on

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Queensland's Missing Births and Deaths

The Queensland Pioneers Index 1829-1889 is an excellent genealogy resource that was published on CD-ROM by the Queensland Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages.

Listed below are fourteen entries that are on the CD but not in the online historical indexes.

Baptisms with details shown on the CD:
  • BAINBRIGGE Philip Parker, father Thomas, mother Sarah, 30 Jul 1828
  • CLARK Emmeline Cameron, father Thomas, mother Emmeline SANDERS, 28 Oct 1828
  • FERRIS Thomas, father John, mother Catharine, 15 Dec 1828
  • GUERD Mary Anne, father Thomas, mother Mary, 18 Apr 1828
  • ROBERTS William Henry, father Charles, mother Esther, 15 Sep 1828
  • STACE Robert Austen, father Austen, mother Susanna, 5 May 1820

Burials (these undated burials had '1800' in the 'year' field on the CD-ROM):
  • ARMS John
  • BELL
  • BELL (Mrs)
  • HARVEY Elizabeth Ann

Searches on the Registry's Web site require a date of 1829 or later. Perhaps that's why these entries no longer appear in search results. If the Registry replies to my enquiry about this problem, I will add a comment here.

(This post first appeared on

Friday, 15 April 2016

Queensland Births Index up to 1919

Image by 'africa',
Despite the fact that Queensland's Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages currently only lets you search for births up to early 1916 (due to its 100-year access restriction), there is now another way to find births up to 1919!

To the delight of those with family history research here, indexes to Queensland births registered up to and including *1919* can now be searched online at FindMyPast (that link takes you to the search page).

View the transcription there to get the exact date of birth plus parents' names including mother's maiden surname.

(This post first appeared on

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Passport Records

It's great to see more Queensland records being added to FindMyPast - for example, the indexes to passport registers 1915-1925 and passport registers and receipts 1926-1939. Most applicants lived in Queensland but some gave an interstate or overseas address including England, Canada, Papua, Ceylon, Fiji and China.

The National Archives of Australia and Queensland State Archives hold various series of passport records. They include:

  • Immigration Department: passport clearance register 1926-1935 (Qld State Archives series 7149; one item). This register gives the passenger's name, ship and date of arrival, State of disembarkation, ship and date of departure, passenger's reason for returning overseas, and whether he/she was planning to return to Australia. These records are indexed on FindMyPast.

  • Immigration Department: passport receipts 1930-1939 (Qld State Archives series 10222; thirteen items). These are duplicates of passport clearances issued to assisted immigrants. They give the passenger's name, ship and date of arrival in Australia. Some also give the ship and date of departure and how long the person expected to be away. These records are indexed on FindMyPast.

  • Passport registers 1915-1974 (National Archives of Australia, Brisbane Office). After the Passports Act 1920, Australian residents over sixteen years of age needed a passport if they left the country. This did not apply to those going to New Zealand, Papua or Norfolk Island. Others who were exempt included merchant seamen and defence force personnel on duty. The National Archives Brisbane Office holds passport registers 1915-1974 and various other records of people departing Australia. Some of those passport registers have been indexed. The Queensland Passports Index 1915-1925 is on FindMyPast. It is also available on CD from the Queensland Family History Society.

  • If a person 'vanished' (either temporarily or permanently), passport records are definitely worth a look. They can also reveal interesting information about overseas holidays or trips to visit relatives.

    NOTE!  The transcription on FindMyPast is a useful finding aid, but it does not include all details, so it is essential to get a copy of the original records. Queensland State Archives will (for a fee) supply copies of records held there, as explained on FindMyPast (scroll down to 'ordering copies'), or you could use my professional services.

    For other countries, these links take you to lists of passport records on:

    (This post first appeared on

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Lifeline Bookfest

Brisbane Bookfest - part of one of the three halls
(photo by Judy Webster)
Books relevant to family history are lurking in secondhand shops, markets and book fairs. One of the best places to find them is at a Lifeline Bookfest.

Bookfests are held at various times throughout the year in Brisbane, Bundaberg, Gold Coast, Ipswich, Mackay, Maryborough, Rockhampton and Sunshine Coast.

The Brisbane event is held in January and June each year, in the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre at South Brisbane. It's on right now and continues until 26 Jan 2015.

There are three separate halls: 'High Quality (prices as marked)', '$1 Section' and '$2.50 Section'.

Within each hall, books are arranged by category (Australiana; History; Biography; Reference; Paperback Fiction; Hardback Fiction; Children's; Humour and Oddities; Literature and Classics; Textbooks; Travel; Health; Science Fiction; Art and Music; Cooking; Computers; Hobbies; Sport; Gardening; Religion; Foreign Language; Vehicles and War Craft; Animals; Penguins and Pelicans; Economics; Sociology; Philosophy; Science). Each section also has magazines, stationery, videos, CDs, cassettes and records.

You may want to stock up on stationery items such as ring binders and lever arch files, which sometimes cost less than a dollar.

The real treasures for family historians are usually in the Australiana and History sections. Look for books about the history of regions, towns, schools, churches, businesses and organisations, and published family histories.

The Reference section has atlases, street directories, medical dictionaries, and sometimes unexpected items like a complete set of The Public Acts of Queensland 1828-1936.

With luck, you may find some of the titles listed on 'Suggested Reading (Genealogy and History)'.

Another money-saving tip? If you are on a very tight budget, wait until the last day when the (already affordable) prices are usually reduced.

I strongly advise you to bring a suitcase on wheels, as books soon get heavy when you are browsing. Local street parking is limited and fills very early. Undercover parking is available, but it costs about $16. You can travel by train to South Brisbane station or by bus to the Cultural Centre bus stop.

To find out more about Lifeline Bookfests in Queensland, use the links on the Brisbane Bookfest Web page.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Queensland Customs House Shipping Index 1852-1885

CD case (Qld Customs House Shipping Index)
"Queensland Customs House Shipping 1852-1885 Passengers and Crew" is an exciting new index compiled from Brisbane Customs House records (Shipping Inwards Series J715) held at the Brisbane Office of the National Archives of Australia. It is a vital resource for genealogists and others who are researching merchant mariners or passengers from Europe to Queensland.

Note that this index includes over 90 voyages that are not in the Queensland State Archives online index.

Most voyages were to Brisbane, but there are a few from Brisbane to an overseas port. The ships sailed from Batavia, Boston, Dundee, Glasgow, Greenock, Hamburg, Hong Kong, Liverpool, London, New York, Newcastle on Tyne, Plymouth, Queenstown, Singapore, San Francisco, Sydney, the South Sea Islands and Southampton. (Queenstown is the old name for Cobh, the port for Cork, Ireland.)

For some ships there are two lists, one prepared at the time of departure and another on arrival. Some of the records are for ships that carried passengers but were not specifically migrant vessels.

Each person's entry may include name, title, age, sex, marital status, occupation, nationality, whether passenger or crew, comments, ship, year and port of departure/arrival, etc.

The index is available on CD-ROM from the Queensland Family History Society. It is also online at FindMyPast. Some given names are abbreviated in the records, so you may need to search for an initial or an abbreviation (eg, 'Chas' for Charles). Searching is free at FindMyPast. To see transcriptions you need either pay-as-you-go credits or a one-month or twelve-month subscription.

(This post first appeared on

Monday, 15 September 2014

Year 5 blogiversary: 'Top 10'

Image by Mister GC (
To celebrate the fact that this blog turns five on 16 Sep 2014, I will highlight one post from each of the ten categories that I use.

BDMs (births, deaths & marriages):
Free Certificates in Archives Files

Hidden treasures:
SCHOLEFIELD and CHARLES: Birth Certificates in Land Files

Index to Funeral Records 1972-2010

My family:  nothing recent in this blog, but see...
Postems on FreeBMD

Children in Mental Asylums

C is for Cooktown, Croydon and Cunnamulla

Hospital Admission Registers as a Source for Family History

Lifeline Bookfest (Thrifty Thursday)

Names Missing from Immigration Index

My Web site has moved

If you are wondering why I don't post here very often... have a look at my other genealogy blogs (a total of nine!)

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Hospital Admission Registers as a Source for Family History

Brisbane Prison Hospital admission register
A typical hospital admission register
Hospital admission registers provide a solution to many genealogical dead ends and brick walls!

People born in the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Europe, America, Canada and other parts of the world appear in Queensland hospital admission registers. Biographical details supplied by the patient are often more complete and more accurate than those on certificates. A hospital register is sometimes the only surviving source of information about the ship on which a person arrived.

Many people spent time in a hospital far from their home. This applies especially to Brisbane (a large hospital capable of handling difficult cases), Cooktown (with many miners and sailors from ships in port) and Croydon (people came here from everywhere during the local gold rush).

The registers for Brisbane General Hospital, Brisbane Prison Hospital, and hospitals at Burketown, Cooktown, Croydon, Ingham, Muttaburra and Roma, are printed volumes with space for these details:
  • name
  • date admitted
  • age
  • birthplace (town, State/county and country)
  • occupation
  • religion
  • ship of arrival
  • how long in the colony
  • last place of residence
  • marital status
  • place of marriage, at what age, and name of spouse
  • names and ages of children living; number and gender of children deceased
  • father's name and occupation
  • father's present residence if living (or 'father dead')
  • mother's maiden name
  • disease or reason for admission
  • date of discharge, or date and cause of death
  • remarks (which may include medical history, social circumstances etc.)

Some Brisbane registers also give details of employment, wages, other sources of income, other wage-earners in the family, property, membership of clubs or benefit societies, and names and addresses of relatives or friends.

Note the provision for ship of arrival, place of residence, marital status, and father's present residence - details not found on a Queensland death certificate.

A few hospital records exist for other towns such as Mackay and Toowoomba, but they are less informative.

Dates of surviving registers and where to find them, plus thousands of names from my indexes to hospital records, are on my main Web site. Even if you don't think your family were ever in Queensland, follow this link to check the lists of names from Queensland hospital admission registers. Many people have been surprised by what they've found!

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Queensland Genealogy News (BDMs, seminar, records)

(1)  Queensland Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages can now supply more death certificates as images, with 1939-1953 being added to the list. The Registry has also extended 'available births' to 1914, 'available marriages' to 1939, and (after I contacted them to point out the mistake on their Web page) 'available deaths' to 1984. (See also 'Free Certificates in Archives Files'.)

(2)  Genealogy seminar, Brisbane, Sat. 1 Feb 2014 (Broncos Leagues Club, Fulcher Road, Red Hill). Four main presentations by renowned international speakers Chris Paton and Thomas MacEntee (both of whom I have heard and can recommend), plus short presentations by local and sponsoring partners, an exhibition, and special offers and hundreds of dollars worth of prizes. The four main talks are 'Irish land records', 'Scottish inheritance records', 'Building a genealogy research toolbox' and 'You use WHAT for genealogy? Wonderful uses for unusual tools'. You can book for the morning, afternoon or full day. Click here for more details of this seminar or here for other presentations by Chris and Thomas in Canberra, Melbourne, Adelaide, Hobart, Sydney and Perth.

(3)  New records available at Queensland State Archives include Caboolture Divisional Board / Caboolture Shire Council rate books and valuation registers.

(4)  My weekly posts in the '52 Weeks of Genealogical Records' series will include many tips relevant to Queensland research.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Improved Searches for Births Deaths and Marriages (Queensland)

The Queensland Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages has today (16 October 2013) released an improved version of its search engine. Features include:
  • It is no longer necessary to enter information in the 'Last name' field. You can leave that blank and just enter the person's first name, the first name of their father or mother, or any combination of these. You can also use the wildcard feature on all of these search fields.
  • Mother's maiden surname is once again shown in results for death index searches. (This wasn't mentioned in the press release, but I was pleased to see it. We've been waiting a while for that to be fixed - see 'Maiden Names missing from Qld death indexes online'.)

In the field labelled 'Mother's first name', you can enter the first name plus surname to narrow down the results, but beware of spelling variants.

Now that you can omit the surname:
  1. Enter 'father's name + mother's name' to find deaths of daughters whose married surname you do not know.
  2. That technique may also find:
    • previously unknown siblings
    • events registered under weird spelling variants.
  3. Enter 'mother's name' only to find illegitimate births.

You will find that some illegitimate births are registered under multiple surnames. In this example the birth is registered under DREW, DENMAN and SOLWAY.

The birth of Cyril Richard, son of Eliza Ann Drew, is registered under three surnames - Drew, Denman and Solway.
Some illegitimate births are registered under multiple surnames
My main Web site has an index and advice for family historians who are trying to identify the father of an illegitimate child. I have also created a mini-guide, Researching Illegitimate Children.

Did you know that Victorian birth, death & marriage indexes are now on FindMyPast?
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...