Cemetery records often give more information than church burial records and may include the deceased’s name, age, date of death or burial, birth year or date of birth, and sometimes marriage information. They may also provide clues about an ancestor’s military service, religion, occupation, place of residence at time of death, or membership in an organization. Cemetery records are especially helpful for identifying ancestors who were not recorded in other records, such as children who died young or women. They may also give clues to finding more information. In Australia, the first cemetery is reported to have been in Sydney in 1788.
To find tombstone inscriptions or burial records, you must know where an individual was buried. Clues to burial places may be found in funeral notices, obituaries, church records, and death certificates. Individuals were usually buried in a church, community, or private cemetery near the place where they lived or died. Cemetery locations may be found on maps of the area. For information on maps, see the article about Maps. As well, AusCem showing all known Australian cemeteries, with geolocations.
Australian Cemeteries is a gateway site to all known Australian cemeteries. Organised be state, it may provide links to contact information, online data, home pages, look-up volunteers, undertaker's data, transcript links, headstone photographs and maps, if available, for each cemetery listed. Various types of cemetery records are available on http://www.coraweb.com.au/cemetaus.htm.
Often, this information has been transcribed, indexed, and published and is found in manuscripts and books in libraries and archives. The Family History Library has copies of some of these books.
Transcriptions of tombstones can also be accessed via the Internet.
They are linked to Australian State websites.
South Australia has a separate website: http://www.interment.net/aus/sa/index.htm
Be aware that large cemeteries are transcribed in sections. Be sure to look to see if the transcription you are using is of the entire cemetery or just a section.
The following is a directory of transcribed cemetery inscriptions:
- Killion, Martyn C. H., and Heather E. Garnsey, Editors. Cemeteries in Australia, a register of transcripts. Third Edition. Sydney, N. S. W., Australia: Australasian Federation of Family History Organizations, 1994. (Family History Library Call No. 994 V34m.)
Burial records and plot books (cemetery plans) kept by cemetery officials are especially valuable when trying to find an ancestor who could not afford a gravestone or monument. The records and books are usually held in the cemetery’s administration office or by the local council or church.
Sexton’s records, or register books, list the deceased’s name, date of death or burial, and plot number or description. Plot books and cemetery plans give a diagrammatic description of a cemetery. Each grave is shown by number with the name of the person buried there. These records may have been transcribed and listed in alphabetical order. By examining the original plot book or cemetery plan, rather than relying on alphabetized transcripts, you may find relatives buried in adjoining plots.
Unique to Australia are two types of burials: lone graves and station burials. Because of the vast distances between settlements, many people who died en route to other localities were buried where they died. These types of burials are known as lone graves. Many of these lone graves have been located, and the known information has been transcribed and collected.
Many burials were on stations, which are small settlements on large tracts of grazing land. These burials were generally limited to family members or workers at the station. Station burials were on private ground, and seldom was burial information transcribed, except in a published family or local history.
When death and burial records are difficult to find, contact a local library, historical society, or historian. They may have the records you seek or can help you locate obscure family plots or relocated cemeteries. For information on archives and societies, see the "Archives and Libraries" and the "Societies" sections of this outline. Also, local genealogical periodicals often publish sexton’s records and transcripts of tombstone information. For information on periodicals, see the "Periodicals" section of this outline.
The Family History Library has copies of some cemetery records, compiled or published tombstone inscriptions, and some burial records. These are listed in the Place Search of the Family History Library Catalog under:
Additional Cemetery Records Sources may be by adding a State and/or Town to a Place Search.
AUSTRALIA, [STATE] - CEMETERIES
AUSTRALIA, [STATE], [TOWN] - CEMETERIES
Indexes to cemetery records are listed in the Place Search of the Family History Library Catalog under:
AUSTRALIA - CEMETERY - Inventories, registers, catalogs
(Family History Library Call No. 994 V33m and Microfilm 496749 Item 8)
AUSTRALIA, [STATE] - CEMETERIES - INDEXES
AUSTRALIA, [STATE], [TOWN] - CEMETERIES - INDEXES