16 December 2016

40 of my Favourite Genealogy Indexes and Sources

I love using (and indexing) 'neglected' records that are great for overcoming brick walls in family history. Here are some that I find especially exciting. Don't take too much notice of headings that refer to a particular area, such as Queensland. Most of these sources have information about people from all over the world. You may be surprised to find your ancestors or their siblings mentioned in records held in distant lands!

Links open in a new window.
  1. Hospital Admission Registers. These superb records are usually more informative and more accurate than certificates. Sometimes they are the only surviving source with immigration details. Links lead to pages with source descriptions plus the names of over 12,500 patients (many born overseas).

  2. Croydon Hospital admission registers 1888-1925. In the 1880s-1890s about 70% of the patients were born in Britain or Ireland. Smaller numbers from elsewhere (especially interstate and overseas mining areas) were also admitted to this North Queensland hospital. The records include the period of the local goldrush.

  3. Brisbane Hospital Patient Records. Some patients were from other areas (Cairns, Charters Towers, Adavale, Tambo, Goondiwindi, Stanthorpe, Maryborough etc). There are four separate lists of names from admission registers and patient charts. Admission registers for Brisbane Hospital are even more informative than those for Croydon.

  4. Missing Friends records. The people sought include emigrants, missing relatives, eloping daughters, wife/child deserters, women who abandoned a child, missing beneficiaries of wills, suspected bigamists, etc. Stage 1 of the index is online (spread over 3 pages, with about 8,000 names yet to be added).

  5. Mental Asylum records. If someone vanished, or if children were not raised by their mother, check mental asylum records. Many patients (including children) were only in an asylum very briefly, so you may not know about it. Insanity files often have more information about the relatives than about the patient! This is an on-going index.

  6. Goodna Asylum case books. Mental asylum case books are different from insanity files.

  7. Court of Petty Sessions records. These have details of complainants and offenders, especially in minor cases. There are various types of CPS records. Indexes include some for Queensland, Victoria and Ireland.

  8. Police Gazettes. These are an excellent source for family history, with information about offenders, victims of crime and many other people. Notices may give biographical data, immigration details, a physical description, and clues for further research in other records.

  9. Police Watchhouse records (people arrested and victims of crime). Offences range from serious to minor, including 'being a neglected child'. This page explains the genealogical value of the records, with links to lists of names for various districts.

  10. Prison Records. Many people were imprisoned for minor offences such as having no lawful visible means of support. There are different types of prison records, and many are indexed. They include records for North Queensland, St. Helena (Queensland), New South Wales, Victoria and Ireland.

  11. Records that name the father of an illegitimate child. If his name is not on the birth certificate, there are other places to look. I've indexed sixeen record series (dates range from 1858 to 1950) and indexing is on-going.

  12. Will Books. Wills for many people from other States and countries are included in New South Wales will books. Click 'Learn more' above the search boxes to find out more about the collection, and read my personal search tips.

  13. Passport Records. There are records for people who were emigrating, or returning to their home country, or going overseas on holidays. I've updated the description of some passport records in Australia and added links to sites for other countries' records.

  14. Statements by witnesses called before Queensland Government Committees. The witnesses were ordinary people from all walks of life (publicans, miners, labourers, seamen, farmers, graziers, railway employees, civil servants, etc). Two indexes are online (1860-1901 and 1902-1920).

  15. Ryerson Index. Extracts from death and funeral notices, and a few probate notices and obituaries, in Australian newspapers. A great way to find exact death dates if you can't get them from Registrar-General's indexes.

  16. Yorkshire Collection. The largest online collection of Yorkshire records! I've had great success with this, and millions more records (including images of original parish records) were added in 2016. Search each record set separately. Highlight/copy the results list, paste it into a spreadsheet, study the results, then view any images that may be relevant. Look at the transcription too, because it usually has the source citation.

  17. National Probate Calendar. This includes people from all over the world, so don't be put off by its official title (Index of Wills and Administrations, England and Wales). For 1858-1966 and 1973-1995 the most powerful search options are on Ancestry, but to search other years or order copies of wills, use the Government site.

  18. Civil Service Evidence of Age records. There is information about people from around the world (including 654 from Australia and New Zealand) although the records are primarily British. I've found exciting details (especially for people whose birth was never registered) in images in this record set. Click the right arrow to see the next related image, which is often a baptism record.

  19. British Nationals overseas. There are separate indexes for births, marriages and deaths (including deaths at sea). While researching my British ancestors and their siblings, I was surprised to find births and marriages in China and Canada.

  20. Trade Union Records. This collection has membership records for Australia, Belgium, Canada, Channel Islands, England, Germany, Gibraltar, Ireland, Isle Of Man, Malta, New Zealand, Rhodesia, Scotland, South Africa, Spain, Turkey, USA and Wales. Occupations include railway staff, carpenters, joiners, cabinetmakers, woodworkers, lithographic artists/printers, designers, engravers, boilermakers, iron shipbuilders, etc. Australian branches include Adelaide, Ballarat, Bathurst, Bendigo, Brisbane, Broken Hill, Charters Towers, Fremantle, Geelong, Hobart, Ipswich, Kalgoorlie, Leeton, Mackay, Melbourne, Mildura, Mount Morgan, Newcastle, Perth, Port Augusta, Port Pirie, Sydney, Townsville, Wollongong and others.

  21. Helen Harris's Historical Indexes. There are references to people from all over the world; and for research in Victoria (Australia) this site is a must. Indexes include missing people; wife/child deserters; criminal case files; Infant Life Protection Act indexes; Victoria Police; women lecturers; etc.

  22. Alphabetical Index to Newspaper Cuttings 1841-1987. Most of the records are for New South Wales, but a few are from Queensland. The cuttings are mainly for marriages and deaths, but a few are for births or the 1811 census.

  23. Victoria Coastal Passenger lists 1852-1924. They include people travelling locally and those from overseas, and they cover the goldrush years. Images of original documents are online.

  24. Passenger lists. Passengers en route to other ports (eastern States etc) are included in this indexed collection for 1897-1963 ship passenger arrivals, crew lists, air arrivals and quarantine lists for Fremantle, Western Australia.

  25. Queensland Burials and Memorials. This database includes indexes to headstones in many Queensland cemeteries and lone graves, plus records of seven funeral directors. The total time frame covered is 1820-1996. Be sure to read 'Learn more' and 'What information can I find'.

  26. Old Age Pension records 1908-1909. The records include many people who were not on electoral rolls. Before you check the list of names (over 9,200 applicants, born worldwide, including many whose application was rejected), read the explanation of who was eligible for the pension.

  27. Historical Photos or Sketches of People (from public records that most people overlook). Photos/sketches are accompanied by information that is superb for family history. More names will be added as indexing progresses.

  28. Billion Graves Cemetery Index for Australia and New Zealand. Each entry has a transcription with a link to an image of the headstone with GPS details. Without this index I would not have found my great-grandfather's grave, which is in a country cemetery with several sections separated by bushland.

  29. Miscellaneous Australian Certificates Index. All names on the certificates have been indexed (the deceased, the child born or baptised, the bride, groom, relatives, witnesses, undertaker, minister, doctor, midwife, district registrar etc.)

  30. Society of Australian Genealogists manuscript collection. Family papers, unpublished research notes, pedigrees, photographs, certificates etc from Australia and overseas. Searchable catalogue with over 55,000 files and still growing! Without this I would never have traced my WEBSTER family in London.

  31. Index to Sydney Benevolent Asylum records 1857-1900. Many people from interstate are in these records. Some went to Sydney to 'hide' the birth of an illegitimate child.

  32. Great Western Railway Shareholders. The image often has death/burial details, occupation, address, names of other parties, marriage date etc. Although most events relate to residents of England and Wales, the shareholders, executors, beneficiaries and others include people from Scotland, Ireland, Australia, and other countries.

  33. Queensland Government Gazettes. They contain a vast amount of historical and genealogical information about ordinary people. Before you do a search (1855-1905), scroll down on that page and read 'Learn more' and 'Search tips'.

  34. Nurses and Masseurs registered in Queensland. Some were working interstate or overseas. In addition to the list of names, see 'Other Suggestions' near the bottom of that page.

  35. Women Granted Protection Orders. This page lists names from a Queensland Justice Department register of protection orders (one of many unusual sources that I've indexed).

  36. Toowoomba Regional Council: Deceased Search. This covers nineteen cemeteries in the region. Search results link to headstone photos if applicable. Use this site to find death dates that are too recent to be on the Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages website.

  37. Undertaking Files 1929-1955. An 'undertaking' was an agreement to repay the cost of a fare (usually interstate or overseas). This period includes the Great Depression, when many people travelled great distances in search of work. The list of names may include your relative who 'disappeared'.

  38. Gregson and Weight Index to Funeral Records 1972-2010. Records of funeral directors on Queensland's Sunshine Coast have details of burials and funeral services that took place not only in Australia but also in New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Fiji, Sweden, Greece, Hungary, Austria and the Netherlands.

  39. Indexes for Queensland Genealogy. This list includes other indexed sources that I recommend. Some are online; others are in libraries or other record offices.

  40. Postems on FreeBMD. This shows how you can use Postems on free civil registration indexes for England and Wales to get extra details or contact distant relatives.

I hope you find those sources as useful as I do. Feel free to share success stories or other suggestions via the comment form below.

(This post first appeared on http://genie-leftovers.blogspot.com/2016/12/40-of-my-favourite-genealogy-indexes.html.)


  1. Thanks Judy - shared link with my FHG.

  2. Judy, you just made my research a whole lot easier. Thx!

    1. I'm so glad to hear that you found something helpful in this list.


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