Australia - Victoria

Researching in Victoria, Australia

I subscribe to the RSS feed to Randy Seaver’s blog Genea-Musings, as I find this blog is updated the most regularly, and it has a lot of helpful tips and ideas.

Yesterday, I saw his Best of the Genea-blogs 1 March to 7 March 2015 post, and became interested in the post:   Has Ancestry Dot com Made Us Lazy As Researchers? by Christine Woodcock on the Scottish Genealogy Tips and Tidbits blog.

In her post she says. “And Scottish documents are some of, if not THE best for providing genealogical data”.

After researching records from a number of different countries, I agree that Scottish documents are some of the best for providing genealogical data, but I have found the records kept here in Victoria, Australia are also very good for genealogical data.

To begin with, the information on our birth, death and marriage certificates is the most comprehensive in terms of genealogy data.

A birth certificate will give the name of the child, the date and place of birth, the sex of the child, the father’s name, age and occupation (rank or profession), and birthplace, the date and place where the parents were married, and their previous issue, the mother’s name and maiden surname, age and birthplace, and the name and residence of the informant, and their relationship to the child.

The marriage certificate lists the date and place of marriage, and for both the bride and groom, their names, condition (if widowed, the date of previous spouse’s death), number of living and deceased children, birthplace, occupation (rank or profession), age, usual residence and present resident, father’s name and occupation and mother’s name and maiden surname, names of witnesses, the religion, and the name of the minister.

Our death certificates are particularly helpful, if the informant knew enough about the deceased.  A death certificate in Victoria, since the inception of civil registration in 1854, contains: the name of deceased, date and place of death, age and occupation, cause of death, father’s name and occupation, mother’s name and maiden surname, date and place of burial, name of the informant and relationship to deceased, name of the undertaker, minister or witnesses at burial, place of birth and length of time in Australia, place of marriage(s), age at time of marriage(s) and spouse(s) names, names and ages of children.

Here in Victoria, there are 3 main repositories that contain the majority of records for an ancestor (or relative) that lived in Victoria

Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages – for birth, death and marriage certificates since civil registration began in 1853, and some of the earlier church records.

State Library of Victoria – for local histories, electoral rolls and directories, newspapers, birth death and marriage indexes, cemetery registers, probate and inquest indexes

Public Record Office, Victoria – for immigration records, Education department records, Railways records, Land records, Wills and Probates, Inquests.

Many of these records are now available online – birth, death and marriage indexes are available on the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages website, for a nominal fee, and historical certificates can also be downloaded from the website, after payment of a fee.

Electoral rolls and directories are available on subscription sites such as and

The Public Record Office website has the immigration indexes online, and also has the indexes, and original images, as part of a subscription.

The Public Record Office website has indexes to wills and probates, as well as digital images prior to 1924.

The Trove website has digital images of a number of historical newspapers not only from Victoria, but for the whole of Australia.

The Australian Cemeteries website gives details of where to find records from cemeteries around Australia.

While the birth, death and marriage certificate are generally enough to fill out the basic genealogical data, the other resources can help give more information about their lives.  Also, using the birth, death and marriage indexes in conjunction with cemetery records and newspaper articles can often provide enough genealogical data without the need to obtain the original certificates.  Death notices can provide information not only for the deceased’s children, but the children’s spouses’ names, and names of grandchildren.

The one resource we are lacking in Australia is census information.  Although directories and electoral rolls rolls can provide details regarding residences and occupations, these only apply to adults, and in the 1800s generally only males.  Also, as no ages are given, if there is more than one individual with the same name, it is hard to determine which individual the record applies to.  Census records do make it easier to trace the movements of a family.