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Civil registration (vital) records were created by the government and include births, marriages, and deaths. They are commonly referred to as vital records because they pertain to critical events in a person’s life. They are an excellent source of information for names, dates, birthplaces, marriages, and deaths. These records may also include divorce records.

For birth, death, and marriage records before civil registration, see the "Church Records" section of this article.

Contents

General Historical Background

The government of each colony or state began keeping civil registration records as follows:

  • Tasmania 1838
  • South Australia 1842
  • Western Australia 1842
  • Victoria 1854
  • Queensland 1856
  • New South Wales 1856
  • Northern Territory 1870
  • Australian Capital Territory 1911

At first, civil registration required the clergy to make copies of marriage, baptism, and burial records. These records are known as civil transcripts of church records. Because churches were involved in early civil registration, it is difficult to clearly distinguish between civil registration and church records. Later, about 1856, the responsibility for civil registration was placed in the hands of government employees independent of the church. Civil registration then required people to report all births, marriages, and deaths to a civil registrar.

Information Recorded in Civil Registers

When civil registration first began, there was no common standard of recording information, so the information listed may vary from state to state. Later records generally give more complete information than earlier ones.

Birth records may provide the following information:

  • Surname and forenames of child
  • Date and place of birth of child
  • Sex of the child
  • Multiple births
  • Surname and forenames of father
  • Age, birthplace, and occupation or rank of father
  • Maiden surname and forenames of mother
  • Place and year of marriage of parents
  • Age and birthplace of mother
  • Number and sex of previous issue, if deceased
  • Name, relationship, description, and residence of informant
  • Marriage records may provide the following information:
  • Surname and forenames of parties
  • Occupations and places of residence of parties
  • Ages and places of birth of parties
  • Marital status prior to the marriage
  • Date and place of marriage
  • Name of celebrant and denomination
  • Names of witnesses
  • Surnames and forenames of parents
  • Death records may provide the following information:
  • Surname and forenames of deceased
  • Date and place of death
  • Occupation, age, and sex of deceased
  • Place of birth and place and date of marriage of deceased
  • Length of residence in Australia and in what colonies, states, and territories
  • Name of spouse and names and ages of living children of deceased
  • Number and sex of issue, if deceased
  • Name and occupation of father
  • Maiden surname of mother
  • Cause of death and duration of last illness
  • Name of medical practitioner
  • Date and place of burial
  • Religion and name of minister or witness
  • Names of undertaker and informant
  • Residence and relationship or description of informant
  • Date and place of civil registration

Indexes to Civil Registration Records

Each of the several states in Australia have created indexes to their civil registration records. These indexes are on microfilm or microfiche and cover births, deaths, and marriages from the beginning of civil registration in the state to the present day. Where available, indexes can help you find your ancestor more easily.

There are also Pioneer Indexes on compact discs which index civil registration records and some church records. These indexes include the following:

  • New South Wales Pioneers Index, 1788–1918
  • The Federation Series:1899–1918] (part 2 of New South Wales Pioneer Index)
  • The Tasmanian Pioneers Index, 1803–1899
  • The Victoria Pioneers Index, 1837–1888
  • The Western Australian Pioneers Index, 1841–1905

These indexes are available in the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA; genealogical societies throughout Australia; and many local public libraries all over Australia. These indexes may or may not available at Family History Centers.

A compilation of most of these Pioneer Indexes was produced by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in a set of four compact discs entitled Australian Vital Records Index 1788–1905. It is available for purchase, except in Australia, through the Salt Lake Distribution Center, 1999 West 1700 South, Salt Lake City, Utah 84104-4233, USA and online http://www.ldscatalog.com,Vital Records Indexes.

Locating Civil Registration Records

Birth, marriage, and death records may be obtained from the state civil registration offices or archives in Australia.

Pre-civil registration records from many towns are in the various state archives and registrar general’s office. Many of these records have been microfilmed and are available at the Family History Library. However, for more recent records, and for those not yet microfilmed, contact the appropriate state archives.

If your request is unsuccessful, search for duplicate records such as church registers. For more information on church registers, see the "Archives and Libraries" and the "Church Records" sections of this outline.

The following are the addresses of civil registration offices where requests may be made:

Australian Capital Territory
Office of the Registrar General of Births, Deaths, and Marriages
National Mutual Centre, 4th Floor
Darwin Place
P.O. Box 788
Canberra City
Australian Capital Territory 2601
AUSTRALIA
Internet: http://www.rgo.act.gov.au/bdm.shtml

New South Wales
Office of the Registrar General of Births, Deaths, and Marriages
G.P.O. Box 30
Sydney
New South Wales 2001
AUSTRALIA
Internet: http://www.library.usyd.edu.au/subjects/government/austhist.html

Statistics on births, marriage and deaths are published by the Registrar General as follows:

  • Registration. Annual report from the Registrar General. 1856-1866
  • Vital statistics. 1867-1894
  • Annual report on vital statistics. 1895
  • Vital statistics 1896-1898
  • Statistician's report on the vital statistics on NSW. 1899-1900

These reports are found in section N.6 of the Colonial StatisticsIntroduction above. They can also be found in the Journals of the Legislative Council at G.NSW/J.

microfiche at MIC319.4/70 described in the

Fisher MIC       ARCHIVES Authority of New South Wales
929.394 The genealogical research kit
8 Sydney 1984 +

The research kit is a microform reproduction of selected NSW colonial archives, including Register of baptisms, burials and marriages, list of convicts 1788-1823.

Fisher MIC       NEW South Wales Registry of Births, Deaths and
929.394 Marriages
1 NSW Registry of births, deaths and marriages
pre 1956 to 1905.
Sydney: W and F Pascoe 1982-

Northern Territory
Office of the Registrar General of Births, Deaths, and Marriages
G.P.O. Box 3094
Darwin
Northern Territory 5794
AUSTRALIA
Internet: http://www.bdm.nt.gov.au/

Queensland
Office of the Registrar General of Births, Deaths, and Marriages
P.O. Box 188
Brisbane, North Quay
Queensland 4000
AUSTRALIA
Internet:http://www.liswa.wa.gov.au/qldguide.html#Births[1]

South Australia
Principal Registrar of Births, Deaths, and Marriages
Department of Public and Consumer Affairs
G.P.O. Box 1351
Adelaide
South Australia 5001
AUSTRALIA
Internet: http://www.ocba.sa.gov.au/bdm/history/index.html

Tasmania
Registrar General of Births, Deaths, and Marriages
G.P.O. Box 875 J
Hobart
Tasmania 7001
AUSTRALIA
Internet: http://www.caslon.com.au/registersnote1.htm

Victoria
The Government Statist Registry of Births, Deaths, and Marriages
295 Queen Street
P.O. Box 4332
Melbourne
Victoria 3001
AUSTRALIA
Internet: http://www.slv.vic.gov.au/collections/genealogy/index.html

Western Australia
Registrar General of Births, Deaths, and Marriages
Oakleigh Building
22 St. George’s Terrace
Perth
Western Australia 6000
AUSTRALIA
Internet: http://www.liswa.wa.gov.au/fhistwaind.html

Records at the Family History Library

The Family History Library has microfilmed very few Australian civil registration records because the government has placed restrictions on public access to these records. By law, personal application must be made to the various state archives for copies of the certificates.

To find civil registration records in the Family History Library, look in the Place Search of the Family History Library’s catalog at http://www.familysearch.org/Eng/Library/FHLC/frameset_fhlc.asp under:

AUSTRALIA, [STATE]- CIVIL REGISTRATION

There may also be information under:

AUSTRALIA - CIVIL REGISTRATION INDEXES

Archive offices may have inventories and guides that describe the record keeping systems and available civil registration records in Australia.

See AUSTRALIA - ARCHIVES AND LIBRARIES   section of this article.

Medical Records

Medical records for Australia include hospital and asylum records, infectious disease registers, and annual alphabetical lists of invalids. Of particular genealogical value are the registers of hospitals and asylums. These registers usually include the patient’s name, sex, age, marital condition, residence, occupation, and religion. Other details may be listed, such as the patient’s admission and discharge dates, cause for admission, death date (if the patient died while in the hospital or asylum), place of origin, ship and port of arrival, and miscellaneous remarks. Some medical records have been indexed.

The following source provides information about hospital and asylum records in Australia and where they are deposited:

Vine Hall, Nick. Tracing Your Family History in Australia: a guide to sources. Second Edition. Albert Park, Victoria, Australia: North Vine Hall, 1994. (Family History Library Call Number 994 D23v.)

The Family History Library has collected some medical records and indexes to medical records, including those for hospitals and asylums. These records are listed in the Place Search of the Family History Library Catalog under:

AUSTRALIA- MEDICAL RECORDS

AUSTRALIA, [STATE]- MEDICAL RECORDS

AUSTRALIA, [STATE], [TOWN]- MEDICAL RECORDS

Indexes, where available, are listed by Place Search in the Family History Library Catalog under:

AUSTRALIA, [STATE]- MEDICAL RECORDS - INDEXES

AUSTRALIA, [STATE], [TOWN]- MEDICAL RECORDS - INDEXES

Orphans and Orphanages

Orphans are children who were either parentless or homeless because the parent(s) could not care for the child. Hundreds of orphans were sent to Australia from the British Isles. Details about these orphan immigrants can be found in ship passenger lists. For further information on ship passenger lists, see the "Emigration and Immigration" section of this outline.

There are several types of Australian records about orphans including orphanage registers, school records, apprenticeship records, and charitable relief office reports. For more information about orphanage school records, see the "Schools" section of this outline.

Orphanage registers give detailed information about each orphan, including name, age, parent(s), ship of arrival, religion, and remarks (such as death date, discharge information, and whether apprenticed). Many of these records are indexed.

Orphanages in Australia date back to almost the beginning of the British settlement. Orphanage records in Australia can be found in national archives, state archives, and other local repositories and libraries. See the following for a list of orphan and orphanage records in Australia and where they are deposited:

Vine Hall, Nick. Tracing Your Family History in Australia: a guide to sources. Second Edition. Albert Park, Victoria, Australia: North Vine Hall, 1994. (Family History Library Call Number Call Number 994 D23v.)

The Family History Library has collected some records relating to orphans and orphanages. These records are listed in the Place Search of the Family History Library Catalog under:

AUSTRALIA - ORPHANS AND ORPHANAGES

AUSTRALIA, [STATE] - ORPHANS AND ORPHANAGES

AUSTRALIA, [STATE], [TOWN] - ORPHANS AND ORPHANAGES


 

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