Australia

Alternatives to censuses in Australia

Amy Johnson Crow has just started a series 31 Days to Better Genealogy.  Day 3 focuses on censuses.

Here in Australia, we don’t keep censuses.  Our equivalent to censuses are directories and Electoral rolls. Directories are available from the 1800s, but only a few Electoral rolls are available prior to 1899.  Directories were generally for those conducting a business, so very few women are listed, and the Electoral rolls only show those that were eligible to vote.  Both the directories and electoral rolls only show the person’s name, their residence (or place of business in the case of directories), and the occupation, so these records are not as comprehensive as census records.

Fortunately, our birth, death and marriage certificates provide enough information to be able to verify relationships.  The death certificates in Victoria are particularly useful (if the informant knew the family), as they list the deceased’s parents name, including mother’s maiden name and father’s occupation, the age when married and place of marriage, spouse(s) names, and children’s names and ages, as well as place of birth, and even how long the deceased had lived in Australia, given an approximate date of immigration for those born overseas.

There are also indexes for births, deaths and marriages that are available in a number of formats and locations.  Each state has a birth, death and marriage registration office, where all the records for the state are held.  Here in Victoria, the records prior to 1851, when the area was still part of New South Wales, are available in both the Victorian Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, and New South Wales.   Most of these registration offices also have the historical indexes available online, and all except Victoria provide these free (for more details, I have set up a resource page for Australia Births, Deaths and Marriages).

In my post yesterday about timelines, I showed the chronology for my 2x great grandfather Alfred Docwra.  In reviewing both the events section, and his notes, I noticed that I have not included the directories I have found him in.  This means I now need to go through my notes, and add these details to my family tree.

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