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.
To celebrate Australia Day, 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 records, we've taken a look at a collection or two you're sure to be less familiar with…
1. Births, Deaths and Marriages
Birth, Death and Marriage 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 form the backbone of your research.
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.
3. Passenger lists leaving the UK
The ultimate resource for Australian emigrants, the Passenger Lists leaving UK 1890-1960 provide details of anyone leaving to find a new life in the land Down Under.
4. Victoria prison registers
If your relatives dabbled in criminal behaviour, you might just find them in the Victoria Prison Registers, which can give you a glimpse of their mugshots, details of their crimes and sentencing, as well as various biographical details.
5. Prison records
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. They also include plenty of personal details, as the story of David Millie Arnot illustrates…
6. Australian convict ships
Containing over 188,000 records, Australia Convict ships 1786-1849 date back to the ships of the First Fleet and include the details of some of the earliest convict settlers in New South Wales.
7. Military collections
Findmypast has 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.
8. Social History
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 the kinds of records you can find in our Australian record collection. Why not take a look to see what you discover?