New South Wales Newspapers
Using the State Library microfilms, the National Library of Australia has a major digitisation project underway making the historical newspapers available online.
The Sydney Dead Persons Society began indexing death notices in the Sydney newspapers. This project has grown into the Ryerson Index which now (July 2013) indexes death notices and obituaries in 222 newspapers and has over 4,000,000 entries.
Finding a Newspaper
State Library of Australia
If you are looking for a newspaper which circulated in the area where your ancestor had a connection, the place to start is the State Library of New South Wales catalogue. This will tell you:
- Title including any other titles used during its publication life
- Publication place, publisher and dates including any suspension of publication or missing issues
- Physical description
- Reproduction (if any)
- Previous or successor publications
The subject listing will be hyperlinked and enable you to find other publications circulating in the same area. The entry may also have a reference to "Ferguson":John Alexander Ferguson Bibliography of Australia (1941-1969).
Wikipedia hosts two incomplete but substantial and growing lists of newspapers in New South Wales, one of English language titles and another of community language publications.
The list of English language newspapers gives:
- Newspaper title
- Place of publication ( Town or Sydney Suburb)
- Whether the place of publication is in the Sydney region
- Whether the title is current or defunct
- Years of Publication
National Library of Australia
Sir John Alexander Ferguson (1881–1969) was a prolific collector of Australian books, periodicals and other Australiana. The National Library of Australia began acquiring his collection by gift and purchase. The Library began digitising early Australian newspapers in his collection and placing them online in the Australian Periodical Publications 1840 – 1845 project.
This project has now been outstripped by the on-going Newspaper Digitisation Program undertaken by the National Library of Australia in collaboration with the Australian State and Territory libraries. This includes titles from the first Australian newspaper in 1803 and, generally speaking, ends on 31 December 1954 which is the public domain cutoff date under Australian copyright law. However, the project has negotiated with certain copyright holders to include issues after that date.
The Ryerson Index is an index of death notices published in current Australian newspapers. The Index also includes some funeral notices, probate notices and obituaries. It says of itself that the "the index itself cannot by definition be considered a primary source of data, but is purely a research aid to direct the researcher to the original source of a notice."
To search, you must enter a surname and may also add a given name or name, a location name, a year range, or a newspaper name. There is no fuzzy searching nor use of wildcards but the given name field will search on truncated names. For example, "Mar" will find Mary, Mark, Rose Marie etc. but searching for "SMIT" in the surname filed will only find SMIT and not SMITH etc.
The Index is the work of volunteers and began as a project of the Sydney Dead Persons Society. As a result, as it says of itself, its "strength lies in notices from NSW papers - including in excess of one million notices from the Sydney Morning Herald alone. However, the representation from papers from other states continues to grow, with additional papers being regularly added, so that the Index can now truly be considered an Australian index."
Sydney GazetteThe Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser was the first Australian newspaper published from 5 March 1803. At first it was an official organ of the colonial Governor carrying proclamations and orders but, as the colony matured from open prison to civil society the newspaper escaped from under Government censorship. It ceased publication in 1842.
The Sydney Morning HeraldThe Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) has been published since 1842 and a predecessor title, the Sydney Herald was published from 1831 to 1842. It is one of the few titles to have circulated throughout the state. Legal notices which were required to be published in a newspaper circulating throughout the state were usually published in the SMH.
- The Sydney Herald (NSW : 1831 - 1842) at NLA Trove
- The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954) at NLA Trove
- The Sydney Morning Herald and The Sun-Herald Archives, 1955-1995 published by the newspaper publisher; covers issues from 1 January 1955 to 2 February 1995; subscription required to view full text including library subscription.
- Fairfax Newsstore published by the newspaper publisher; covers the period from 1995 when the SMH established an online presence as smh.com.au.
- The Sydney Morning Herald Index compiled by the State Library of New South Wales from 1 January 1988 to 30 June 2005.
FamilySearch.org has an 'Alphabetical Index to Newspaper Cuttings 1841-1987. A wiki article describing this online collection is found at:
- Australia, New South Wales, Alphabetical Index to Newspaper Cuttings (FamilySearch Historical Records)
- Australian Transcriptions, miscellaneous newspaper transcripts from Australia, Grevilles Post Office Directory of NSW 1872, and Penrith District Dispensary Registers 1847 - 1860.