In Queensland, birth, deaths and marriages are registered by the Queensland Registrar-General. For privacy of living people, there are restrictions on access to indexes and certificates.
Indexes are available for:
- births to 1919
- marriages to 1934
- deaths to 1964
These indexes are available in various formats:
- online search
However, the range of dates and information provided and searching capability differs between the formats and so there are advantages and disadvantages of using the different formats, which are described below.
The formal commencement of a Queensland register of births, deaths and marriages occurred in 1856. Prior to that there were church records and/or records held by New South Wales. The Queensland BDMs have incorporated all older church records relevant to Queensland, but these are far from a complete list of anyone who was born, married or died before 1856. Even after the introduction of mandatory registration, many people were fearful of government interference in their personal affairs and did not register events that they should have, or simply forgot to do so.
Registration numbers and codes
Indexes in Queensland do not include the location within Queensland. However, the registration numbers containing a "B" imply a Brisbane events. Note that the boundaries of Brisbane have extended over the years, so a family who remained at the same address might have their early BDMs registered outside of Brisbane and their later ones within Brisbane. In the absence of a "B", one can only conclude that the event occurred outside of Brisbane and the certificate will need to be purchased to obtain the location information.
Registration numbers include the year of registration. Generally the year of registration is the same as the year in which the BDM event occurred, but for events occurred late in one year, the registration may not occur to the following year. Although BDM events are supposed to be registered soon after the event, occasionally registrations are done many months or years later. In which case the year in the registration number is often quite misleading. Generally very late registrations are flagged with the code "LR" (late registration). Common codes used include:
- AIF - death occurred in the Australian Imperial Forces (World War 1) - usually the death occurred outside of Australia
- B - registration of a BDM in Brisbane
- LR - late registration - registration made "too long" after the event
- MAR - marine - an event that occurred at sea - normally marine events are registered at the next port of call and not necessarily the destination of the person involved
- MB - memorandum birth - a birth not formally registered but where the register entry is based on information provded by hospitals or doctors of midwives - if you order the certificate, you will probably get a lot less information than normal.
Some people report finding codes for which there is no official explanation.
The benefit of microfiche is that it covers the full date range above. The disadvantage is the limited searching capability. These are published in 5 year series (e.g. 1900-1904) for one event type: births, deaths and marriages. There are also some compilations:
- all BDMs to 1889 (Pioneer Index)
- all BDMs 1890 to 1914 (Federation Index)
Birth information contained in the index:
- surname of child
- given names of child
- father's name
- mother's maiden name
- date of birth (day, month, year)
- registration number
In the microfiche, the index entries are sorted by surname of child, then by given name of child.
Normally the surname of the child is that of the father. Therefore, the father's surname is generally omitted. If there is no father listed in the register (usually because the child is illegitimate), then the surname of the child will be that of the mother. If the child is illegitimate but the father's name is given in the register, generally the birth is indexed under both the father's and mother's surname. And in other complicated circumstances, multiple indexes are created to ensure that the entry can be found under any relevant surname. So if you are not finding a birth you expected to find, try looking under the mother's maiden name or, if she might have remarried shortly before or after the birth, the new married name.
Sometimes the index will show a married name for the mother. If this is the case, then it is usually copied direct from the register and purchasing the certificate is probably unlikely to reveal the mother's maiden name either.
Marriage information contained in the index:
- husband's full name
- wife's full maiden name
- date of marriage (day, month, year)
- registration number
The marriage indexes on microfiche are sorted by surname, then by given name. There are two index entries for each marriage, one for the husband and one for the wife. Thus a marriage can be found by knowing the name of either party.
Death information contained in the index:
- surname of the deceased
- given names of the deceased
- father's full name
- mother's full maiden name
- date of death (day, month, year)
- registration number
The death index on microfiche is sorted by surname of the deceased and then given name.Note that woman's deaths are registered under their married name if applicable; this makes it difficult to find the death of a woman if you don't know about her marriage(s).
There are 2 CD-ROMs available covering:
- up to 1889 (Pioneer Index)
- 1890 to 1914 (Federation Index)
The CD-ROMs hold the same information as the microfiche index (see above) with the big advantage that they are fully searchable. The big disadvantage with the CD-ROMs is the more limited date range compared to the microfiche.
The CDs can be searched using any field or combination of fields and there is support for wildcard searching (useful when there are spelling variants). In particular it allows you to find:
- the death index for a woman's whose married name is not known -search on her given names and one or both parent's names (if known)
- the marriage index for a woman where only the married name is known - search on her husband's surname and her given names
- all the birth and death indexes for the children for a couple - search on the names of one or both parents
There is an online site provided by the Qld Registrar-General.
The obvious advantage is that it is online. It covers a wider date range than the CD-ROMs but not as wide as the microfiche (births to 1914, same as the CD-ROM and marriages/deaths to 1929). However, the searching is less flexible than that of the CD-ROM. Also the date of the event is not returned with the online search, but the year can be more-or-less determined from the registration number (see above).
Warning. As at April 2008, the online site is relatively new and has already undergone a few changes to fix bugs. So care should be taken before drawing conclusions about not finding an index entry on the online site -- the entry may be there but the search may not have worked correctly. In particular the behaviour of the marriage search is a little strange, returning more results than it should have for the search query. Hopefully some of these problems will disappear as the site is further developed.
Birth, death and marriage certificates can be orderd from the Qld Registrar-General for a fee. Privacy of living people and the concern about identity fraud restricts the issuing of certificates. Very old certificates can be ordered by anyone but more recent certificates can usually only be ordered by the individual involved or close family members. You have to supply photocopies of documents such as your passport or your drivers licence to establish your identify when ordering a certificate. The rules for who has access to certificates are explained on the Registrar-General's WWW site.
There is no transcription service or other low cost way for family historians to obtain the information in the register other than to purchase the official BDM certificate.
Tip: Although historically a birth registration includes the date and place of the parents' marriage, this information is not included on birth certificates issued in recent years. That is, there is information available which is not disclosed to you. This is supposedly to prevent any discrimination against illegitimate children. However, if you add a note with your application for a birth certificate requesting that the details of the parents' marriage be provided, then usually you will receive this information on a separate sheet of paper (but not on the birth certificate). There is no extra charge for this, but you must explicitly request it.
- Queensland Registrar-General - information for family historians
- Online indexes (births to 1914, marriages to 1929, deaths to 1929)