Archive for the ‘This is Us’ Category

The perfect heartfelt gift – 20 minutes a day

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011
The Olsen

The Olsens

The perfect heartfelt gift – 20 minutes a day

My baby sister has been driving her siblings nuts this year as she prepares a special gift for our parents.

For the past few months, she’s been “encouraging” us to write down our childhood memories so she can add them to a photo book she’s creating. It’s a great idea – but also hard work. To me, it’s a time-consuming emotional process to go through your memories, put them down nicely on paper and share them with the world, or at least with the family.  But what better present could there be? You on paper for your children, parents and relatives.

I’d like nothing more than to have my siblings, parents, our only surviving grandparent and more of my extended family write their stories and share them. As I delve deeper into our family history I realize what great knowledge we hold in our minds. It all dies when a relative passes and has not recorded his or her memories, or caring relatives had not succeeded in prying out those memories. (more…)

WorldVitalRecords is now part of MyHeritage!

Thursday, December 1st, 2011

WorldVitalRecords is now part of MyHeritage!

Recently in November, the news was announced that World Vital Records had been acquired by MyHeritage We, at WorldVitalRecords, are very happy to be part of the MyHeritage family.  We’ve been busy communicating this exciting news across the genealogy community in the past 10 days. We shared our excitement and our plans for the future with our friends and partners, who were happy to learn about it.

Read the Techcrunch article about the acquisition here.

Picture – Celebrating a historical moment in family history  Gilad left and Yuval

What is MyHeritage? is the most popular family network on the web. On the website, millions of families around the world enjoy having a private and secure place to explore their family history, share photos and special family moments and keep in touch. With 38 languages supported, nearly one billion family tree profiles and 21 million family trees, and hundreds of millions of family history photos, MyHeritage is uniting families worldwide. To see a short video about the site, click here. Learn more about MyHeritage via their blog.

Anyone around the world can create a free family site on MyHeritage and enjoy the exclusive Smart Matching™ technology which compares the family trees on the website with each other, and reports matches. This technology is able to find long-lost relatives and make intriguing discoveries, allowing users to learn from each other. Among other features, members can design free beautiful family free charts and order professional poster prints to be delivered to family members as holiday gifts. MyHeritage also features a popular free genealogy software program, Family Tree Builder. Download it here.

WorldVitalRecords realized that becoming part of such a larger company like MyHeritage will enable us to join forces and resources, to become a bigger, better and more global organization.

What will happen next?

As stated by Gilad Japhet, CEO of MyHeritage: “Combining close to one billion family tree profiles on MyHeritage with WorldVitalRecord’s massive library of historical data delivers a perfect one-stop-shop for families looking to discover and share their family history.”

We expect – with our new global company – that we won’t only expand our reach but will also greatly increase our content library by adding to the already-rich data collections.
We’ll be working hard to bring you great content and we hope you will find treasures in our content library – which will help you enhance your family trees and share your family stories.

We’re also excited about the social nature of MyHeritage. This is a great fit for us! We bring content and MyHeritage brings excellent family trees with social features.

It is truly exciting that I can now invite my relatives from around the world to join with me in securely sharing our family photos, stories, history, recipes and even play games together, as we work to more closely to unite our family and, at the same time, upload and build on our family tree.

How will this affect current members of WorldVitalRecords?

Your accounts will stay the same and you can continue searching our databases as you’ve always done. Your membership does not change at all. New content will be added, so you will get much more for your current subscription, at no extra cost. In the next few days, we will be sending current WorldVitalRecords members a special offer to join MyHeritage. As we move forward and integrate trees with content, we’ll keep you informed about new benefits and capabilities.
We value our members, and we are delighted that your membership just became part of something much larger. As always, we are here to answer your questions at

The WorldVitalRecords team at MyHeritage

WVR Team
Picture – USA team
from the left – Back row – Justin, Ricky, Spencer
Middle – John, Paul H., Richard, Mark

Front – Christine, Paul B., Lindsey, Tara

Press Release

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

MyHeritage Acquires to Enter US Market

Significant move into US and addition of historical content mark major evolution for world’s most popular online family network.

PROVO, Utah & LONDON & TEL AVIV, Israel- MyHeritage, the most popular family network on the web, announced today the acquisition of This is MyHeritage’s seventh and largest acquisition since 2007. The purchase marks a significant move into the US market commercially and operationally, and will boost MyHeritage’s offering to families with the addition of a vast database of several billion historical records. With offices and staff in Europe, Australia and Israel, MyHeritage will now be adding its first US-based office in Utah, often cited as the family history capital of the world.

“We are delighted to join forces with the talented team in Provo to deliver meaningful value to families across the world,” says MyHeritage CEO and Founder Gilad Japhet. “Combining close to one billion family tree profiles on MyHeritage with WorldVitalRecord’s massive library of historical data delivers a perfect one-stop-shop for families looking to discover and share their family history”.

Founded in 2006, is a subscription service which provides access to a huge database of historical content, covering several billion individuals within census, birth, marriage and death records, as well as the web’s largest archive of historical newspapers. This content will deliver new insights and value to the 60 million people who have signed up on MyHeritage in 38 different languages, creating more than 900 million profiles in 21 million family trees.

When brought together under the MyHeritage umbrella, the company’s innovative Smart Matching technology will automatically match any of the new historical data to the relevant users’ ancestors and relatives within the family trees.

“Our team of family history veterans couldn’t be more excited about joining forces with MyHeritage”, said WorldVitalRecord’s CEO Paul Brockbank. “This acquisition creates new horizons in exploring family history. People will receive the opportunity to search the most comprehensive historical content sources and make exiting new discoveries; share this information with their close family and save it into their family tree. Combined under the leadership of MyHeritage, the service will continue to flourish and add more value to millions of families”.

MyHeritage Founder and CEO Gilad Japhet adds: “The establishment of a US base for MyHeritage in Utah, the international center for genealogical research, is an important milestone in our growth and brings about an exciting opportunity for the company and the families we serve. MyHeritage provides the perfect service to collect the family’s treasured archive to share and keep for future generations in a setting that is friendly and secure – and now we’re excited to top this off with vast amounts of content that will add more color and life to family trees. Through our powerful search engine and automatic Smart Matching technology we’ll find your mother’s yearbook, your great-grandfather’s will and your ancestor’s immigration record, leaving you with the time to marvel at, enjoy and share your family heritage. We’ll do that on a massive, global scale, as we live in a world that is smaller and more tightly connected than ever before”.

This is the latest in a series of strategic purchases by MyHeritage since 2007 which have included Pearl Street Software, makers of and the Family Tree Legends software; free family tree backup service; European family social network market leader OSN (Verwandt) GmbH; Dutch family network ZOOOF; British family network and Polish family network

The majority of the employees will join MyHeritage, based out of the company’s new US office in Provo, Utah: bringing the benefit of their collective expertise within the family history and North American genealogy market. The CEO of WorldVitalRecord’s Paul Brockbank, previously CEO of Logoworks and GM of Hewlett Packard Web Print Solutions, will play a key role in supporting the transition over the coming months and will later join the MyHeritage advisory board.

WorldVitalRecords founder Paul Allen, previously a co-founder of, and the popular “We’re Related” Facebook application, will not be part of the merger with MyHeritage.

In the short-term, MyHeritage will continue to operate, with the intention of achieving full integration within MyHeritage in 2012. With immediate effect and for an introductory period, loyal subscribers and users of MyHeritage will be entitled to discounts of up to 50% on subscriptions, and vice versa.

About MyHeritage

MyHeritage is the most popular family network on the web. Millions of families around the world enjoy having a private and free place for their families to keep in touch and to showcase their roots. MyHeritage’s Smart Matching™ technology empowers users with an exciting and innovative way to find relatives and explore their family history. With all family information stored in a secure site, MyHeritage is the ideal place to share family photos, and celebrate and preserve special family moments. The company is backed by Accel Partners and Index Ventures, the investors of Facebook and Skype. For more information visit

Searching for Sergeant Pinney

Friday, November 11th, 2011

I’m more interested in the stories of family history than in the genealogical data, but the data are often a good starting point for exploring the stories.

I recently began writing a biography of an old soldier I know. His adventures spanned four decades, from Vietnam to Afghanistan. In February 1969, he was on patrol with an infantry unit in Tay Ninh Province, Vietnam. He had a good friend in the unit, an exceptional sergeant who was widely admired as a soldier and as a person. The unit was ambushed, and his friend was fatally wounded as he attempted to save a comrade who was shot while returning from an outpost.

I had heard this retired soldier tell the story several times before, but I needed documentation. I was in the same position as someone wanting to research his own ancestors, but struggling to get enough of a foothold to begin.

My soldier friend had forgotten how to spell the hero’s last name, so we guessed. I searched in numerous databases for Sgt. John Penney, but didn’t find him. I tried every variation I could imagine. Penny? Penney? Pennie? Pene? Penne? I tried looking for every soldier named “John” on the Vietnam Memorial, but that’s such a tedious approach that it’s easy to miss something, which I did.

I needed a clue. Sometimes that’s all we need in our genealogy research: one more clue.

In one of our Sunday afternoon interviews, I thought I heard my soldier friend pronounce the name differently. This time the first syllable sounded more like “pin” than “pen.” I interrupted and asked, “Is it possible that his name starts with p-i-n, not p-e-n?” He thought it was possible.

Later, I logged into (where I work) and ran some more searches. Changing the vowel made all the difference. His last name was Pinney. I found him in the Vietnam Memorial Index, which gave me not only the location of his name on the Vietnam Memorial, but also his birth and death dates in 1942 and 1969; his middle name, Scott; his hometown, China Lake, Calif.; and other interesting information. Some of what the record said I already knew.

  • “Casualty type: hostile, died”
  • “Casualty reason: gun, small arms fire”
  • “Casualty country: South Vietnam”
  • “Casualty province: Tay Ninh”

Moments later, I found him in a U.S. database of Vietnam casualties, which added a few details:

  • “Religion: Protestant”
  • “Marital status: married”
  • “Body recovered: body recovered”

I added his death year to my WorldVitalRecords and tried again. This time I found a slightly blurry photo of a smiling soldier who could have been on a recruiting poster. I learned that he served with Company C, 12th Calvary, First Cavalry Division, and that he is buried in Desert Memorial Park in Ridgecrest, Calif. Finding the photo alone made me want to cheer or weep, or both. Eventually, his unit information will allow me to look up unit records and learn more.

For curiosity’s sake, I looked in the Social Security Death Index, a common starting point for finding Americans who died anytime after 1940. He wasn’t there, but not everyone is. I found nothing relevant in our large newspaper collection, so I decided it was time to google.

A Google image search led me to the same photo I had just found. This time it was at a Web page with dozens of photographs from his unit, titled “Photographs of Vietnam 2/12 Cavalry Company C.” Another photo shows Sgt. John Pinney crossing a narrow bridge on a bicycle.

I also found a Sgt. John Pinney Memorial Pool in California and some short remembrances from people who knew him before and during his Army service. These confirmed what my soldier friend had often said: People don’t come much better than John Pinney.

Then I logged into Facebook. It wasn’t 48 hours before I had found and contacted Pinney’s son and grandson. The family confirmed what I suspected from the remembrances I had found: The story of John Pinney’s heroism was mostly unknown to his family and friends. I’ve since shared the story with the family; it’s the sort of story a family — especially a son — should hear. But before I did that, I did something else.

I found these records a few days before Pinney’s birthday in early May. I decided that telling my soldier friend of the discovery could wait those few days. Meanwhile, I put the photos and memories I had found into a two-page document and printed it in color. On my way to work on the morning of Pinney’s birthday, I stopped by a local grocery store for a piece of birthday cake. With it and the document, I was ready to knock on my soldier friend’s door.

I think I woke him; he was a bit groggy when he answered the door. I said, “Good morning! Do you know what today is?”

He stared and shook his head.

“I found John Pinney this week,” I said, “and today’s his birthday. Happy John Pinney’s birthday!” I handed him the cake and the document, and told him I had to hurry to the office.

My friend is a tough, macho Special Forces guy, so I’ll respectfully omit what I saw in his face before I hopped down from his front porch and zoomed off to work.

There are great stories behind the names, dates and places in our genealogy, stories that can make a difference in the lives of the living. But perhaps a better moral for my tale is that patience and persistence sometimes really can lead to that one elusive record, which leads to the next record, which leads to the next. Suddenly, there’s a cascade of information, where an hour or two before (and after weeks or months of searching) there was none.

There’s still more to do. Veterans tell me that if John Pinney’s story can be properly documented, he might be awarded a well-deserved, posthumous Bronze Star for valor, or maybe even a Silver Star.

It seems like a worthy cause. No doubt, I’ll be learning a lot more about military records on the way.

David Rodeback manages content production and online marketing for in Provo, Utah, and blogs in his spare time. pages go ad free

Saturday, October 1st, 2011 Goes Ad-Free

As of October 1, 2011 will be ad free!  Many thanks to our loyal subscribers and partners for your support. You have made it possible for World Vital Records to get to the point where we no longer need to bring in additional revenue through advertisements on the website.

In place of ads in the margins, we will utilize this space to bring research tools to our customers. Some tools you are already familiar with which are live on our site, and more such tools that we are working on now. Including, but not limited to:

  • Recent Searches
  • Popular Collections
  • Related Collections
  • And more to come….! is now home to a collection of over 4 billion names which make it a great resource for genealogy finds when you run into a brick wall. When you are looking for rich content to add to a family history or the historical context to help fill in the gaps look no further. Search for those missing genealogical records in the 4 billion names on our site. Our Tombstone, Newspaper, and Historical Map collections are growing by the day and are already some of our most impressive collections.

Again, thank you for your support.  We are listening to your suggestions and working hard to add content and valuable features to our site. We appreciate your partnership with us in this and aim to make your genealogy finds more meaningful and your experience more enjoyable each and every day.

Paul Allen Webinar – How to use and get the most out of and

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

Register for our free webinar – Exploring and – Friday, September 16

Listen to this article. Powered by

PaulAllen recently celebrated its 5th anniversary. Founder Paul Allen and his team of genealogy developers have been building a “one-stop-shop” for genealogy records and family history information by aggregating records from numerous sources. Today, WVR has nearly 5 billion names in more than 50,000 databases from nearly 50 content partners around the world.

This webinar is for 1) those who want an overview and comparison of these services without having to buy anything and 2) current subscribers to or who want to learn more about the resources already at their fingertips. Of course, no purchase is necessary to learn about these services, but if you’ve been considering new ways of finding your ancestors, this webinar is for you. Paul Allen is the founder of both and, and has quickly become known as the unofficial Google+ Statistician.

The live webinar is scheduled for Friday, September 16, 2011 at 2PM Eastern U.S., so register today to reserve your virtual seat. Registration is free but space is limited to the first 1,000 people to join that day.


About the presenter

Paul Allen is the Founder of and and has quickly become known as the unofficial Google+ Statistician. His expert use of posting in Google+ features, stats and using his own insider tricks have helped to make a huge impact on the initial success of Google+. Those who are part of Paul’s Circles have already benefited from his expertise.

Add it to your Google Calendar

With our brand new Google Calendar button, you will never forget our upcoming webinars. Simply click the button to add it to your calendar. You can then optionally embed the webinar events (and even turn them on and off) into your own personal calendar. If you have already added the calendar, you do not have to do it again – the new webinar events will automatically appear.

Webinar time

The webinar will be live on Friday, September 16, 2011 at:

  • 2pm Eastern (U.S.)
  • 1pm Central
  • 12pm Mountain
  • 11am Pacific/Arizona
  • 6pm GMT

Or use this Time Zone Converter.

Here’s how to attend:

  1. Register at today. It’s free!
  2. You will receive a confirmation email containing a link to the webinar.
  3. You will receive a reminder email during the week prior to the webinar.
  4. Calculate your time zone by clicking here.
  5. Click on the webinar link (found in confirmation and reminder emails) prior to the start of the webinar. Arrive early as the room size is limited to the first 1,000 arrivals that day.
  6. Listen via headset (USB headsets work best), your computer speakers, or by phone.

We look forward to seeing you all there! Content Updates Recap

Tuesday, September 6th, 2011

Here are the highlights of new content added to and over the past few months.  Over 120 Million new Names added.

Content Update

Content Update

Death and Disaster – Have a Data Backup Plan

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011

The US had a major earthquake yesterday….It covered major territory though thankfully it did not cause major damage.

Between that and the passing of a grandfather these have me thinking a lot about data preservation.
My Aunts and Uncles have been clearing out the house that was left behind and passing along family trinkets, heirlooms and mementos. Interestingly enough the most sought after possessions are Grandpa’s books, journals, photos.

In preparing for the impending death of my Grandmother several years ago I spent many days and hours with her in front of a scanner where we fed thousands of photos through a scanner that was big enough and smart enough to automatically feed, save and name thousands of pictures. We had the troublesome task of babysitting the scanner to make sure it all worked out all right and though we never got around to sorting the now digital copies of the pictures at least we have several copies at different homes around the US serving as back up copies.

Having see an earthquake and a funeral happen in the same week makes me want to go home and scan my own big box of photos – I’ve actually already done this once before but it was several computers ago. I think I have them on my external hard drive as well but need to go home and find out if for sure they are safe.

You never know when a disaster, death etc. will occur so it’s best to at least get a copy of them onto a computer or external drive. Perhaps a digital copy saved to an online storage company, cloud based, would also be a good idea.

The trinkets are fun to have but the data, photos, writings etc. are priceless and I’d hate to see those disappear due to simple lack of preparation.  Of course all of us also have bills, memories, journal and just random memorabilia in paper format that really should be scanned and sorted digitally.  Along with a 72 hour kit it would be pretty easy to include a jumpdrive or even and external hard drive of 1 Terra byte or more fairly inexpensively nowadays.

Scanners – I used an older Cannon Scanner that accepted a stack of around 40 – 60 photos possibly more.
I have since thrown it out as it wore out.

I have not been and am not really in the market for a new scanner that does multi-feed – depending on if I can find my digital photos collection or not I may be soon.

Here is one at that may do the trick….I am not sure though so make sure to read up on these first.

If anyone knows of any nice scanners that can do a great job with multipage scanning please post links in the comment thread.
By the way – with these scanners you can sometimes scan old negatives and get photos from those as well.

Paul Allen Analyzes Census Data to determine Google Plus User Counts

Monday, July 11th, 2011

How many Google+ users’s Paul Allen has been using Census Data to determine the growth of Google+ and a lot of people are talking about it.   A Google news search revealed 290 related articles in the past few days.  Using Census Data Paul has estimated that somewhere around 4.5 million Google Plus accounts now in use.   He is expected to release a new estimate today.

I asked Paul this morning if he was still expecting the 4.5 million and he just smiled and said it was now looking to be over 6 million – he’ll let us know.  I assume we’ll find out via his Google+ Account.

At FamilyLink we are very excited about Google Plus.   From creating Family and Surname circles to sharing Genealogy information via your posts much like a blog Google Plus is opening new doors to link Families together.

More Engagement

Paul Allen also sees much more engagement in Google Plus than in other social media worlds.  The reason – I have not asked him but I would imagine its due to the circles.  If I am working on planning an Olsen Family Reunion I can create a circle for this – Olsen Reunion – place all the right people in this circle – start the discussion and it stays within that group – on topic. There are no distractions as there would be in other realms.  In G+ we can stay on topic – have a video hangout – and work toward the reunion in a synchronized way.  Sure we may have tangents but the fact is everyone there is in the circle for the same reason

I for one am extremely excited that I can now put my wonderfully and random chatty nieces, nephews, and kids in their own circle which I can read or ignore at will and in the meantime have genealogists around the world in another circle where I can learn and share the latest and greatest Genealogy information – not mixing the two completely unrelated news streams – a wonderful thought indeed!

We invite you to follow the Google Plus accounts of  Paul Allen Mark Olsen Dan Lawyer Kari Harbath as we work to expand what we can do in the Family History world via Google Plus.

Paul Allen

Paul Allen G+Account

Value in Australian Records

Friday, July 1st, 2011

My name is Kari Harbath. I am the Social Media Analyst for and

A little about myself- Even though I am married, work full time and am a full time student, I still try to make time for genealogy when I can! I am a beginning genealogist and (lucky for me) most of my genealogy research has been accomplished by my ancestors.

I enjoy learning the latest tips and tricks in genealogy and family history. I also want to help incorporate genealogy information into the Social Media world. Various social media outlets like Twitter and Facebook are perfect venues to spread the word about genealogy.

When it comes to finding out about my ancestors, I particularly enjoy researching newspapers to find out where my ancestors lived and what life was like for them.

My lineage has been traced back to Chief John Ross, of whom I’m a 13th descendant. I embrace the fact that I am related to a major chief of the Cherokee Nation. That finding alone has made my genealogy research and family history experience very exciting!

I will be contributing to this blog by posting informative articles and pieces of information that may help genealogists regardless of their experience. I look forward to creating discussions as an outgrowth of new content we have on our site.

For my first post, I have found this article from the Everton Genealogical Helper- “Did Your Matilda Waltz in Australia?” and currently own all electronic rights to the Everton Genealogical Helper articles. I hope you enjoy reading this classic article that you will not find access to anywhere else!

Did your Matilda Waltz in Australia?

By Judith Eccles Wight, AG

Fourteen hours (fifteen-and-a-half, if I count the flight from Salt Lake City to Los Angeles) is a long time to spend in an airplane. As I reflect back on that long uncomfortable flight, I cannot fathom how a branch of my County Cork, Ireland Damery family survived an approximate twomonth voyage to the same destination -Australia in the mid 1800s.

Beginning in 1788 Australia became home to millions of immigrants from the British Isles. The earliest settlers were convicts and military men who were sent to a penal colony established at Sydney Cove. Approximately 160,000 British Isles convicts were sent to Australia over the next 80 years when, in 1868, the practice of transporting criminals stopped.

Four years after the first penal colony was established, free settler immigrants from the British Isles arrived. This vanguard opened the door to future waves of immigrants who came as free settlers and assisted passengers. The discovery of gold during the 1850s brought over a half-million immigrants to the island. The lure of cheap property, unlimited employment opportunities, and later quick wealth made this country the chosen destination of people from all over the world but primarily from Great Britain and Ireland.

Count yourself lucky if members of your ancestral family made this journey. Australian records are some of the finest and most complete that I have encountered in my many years of research.

Australian record keepers produced a wide variety of records, many of which contain very complete details about its population. Among the best are the records of civil registration, church, and cemetery including tombstone inscriptions, probate, immigration, and institution. Unique and detailed records were also kept of convicts.

It is necessary to understand the background of this country before one can research its records. New South Wales (hereafter referred to as NSW), which at one time consisted of approximately half the continent, was the first colony to be formed. In 1825 Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania) was separated from NSW. In 1831 the western part of the continent that was not included in NSW became Western Australia. South Australia was created in 1836 followed by Victoria (1851), Queensland (1859), and Northern Territory (1911 this area had been previously annexed to South Australia from NSW in 1863). Thus, many of the records you may need, depending on the time period, may be found in NSW as well as in the state in which your ancestor/ relative resided.

Thanks to the efforts of thousands of volunteers, the Internet has proven to be fertile ground for people researching their Australian ancestors. Special mention must be made of the Dead Persons’ Society that promotes an interest in genealogy via the Internet and produces and distributes genealogical indexes and other research tools. This grassroots organization began in Melbourne in 1992 and has since spread to all other Australian states and New Zealand.

What follows is an overview of some of the key Australian records used in genealogical research and a description of what might be found in these resources.

Civil registration of birth, marriage, and death

As seen in the table below, there is a wide disparity in the time period when civil registration records were kept by the individual states. Information contained in these records also varies by place and time period.

Tasmania 1838
South Australia 1842
Western Australia 1842
Victoria 1854
Queensland 1856
New South Wales 1856
Northern Territory 1870
Aust. Capital Territory 1911

The first “civil registration” records were kept by the clergy. These civil transcripts of church records include baptism, marriage, and burial records. Eventually the responsibility of recording civil registration was assigned to government officials who kept records of birth, marriage, and death. Details you might find in civil registration records include:

Birth records Full name of the child date and place of birth


Full name, age, birthplace, and occupation of the father

Full name, age, and birthplace of the mother

Marriage records Full names, occupations, places of residence, ages, places of birth, and sometimes names of parents of the bride and groom

Marital status at the time of marriage date and place of

date and place of marriage of the parents

By whom married and denomination (if a clergyman) of the celebrant

Names of witnesses

The Australian Vital Records Index (AVRI) CD is an index to the 1788-1905 (the date varies by state) vital records of NSW, Tasmania, Victoria, and Western Australia. This index can be consulted at the Family History Library, is available in many of its Family History Centers, or can be purchased by individuals through the website.

Many Australian states have produced their own CD indexes to vital records that are more detailed and sometimes far later than the AVRI. In fact, it is possible to put families together just by using some state’s indexes. The Family History Library has these state indexes. They are restricted for use at this Library. NSW and Victoria have searchable databases to their civil registration indexes on the Internet.

For more information about Australian civil registration records including links to several databases, see

Church records

As with civil registration records, the dates when church records were kept also varies from state to state.

New South Wales 1788
South Australia 1803
Tasmania 1803
Queensland 1829
Western Australia 1829
Victoria 1837
Northern Territory 1911
Aust. Capital Territory 1911

Information found in church records varies by denomination. Records are not always centralized; some are still in local custody but most are deposited in repositories.

Cemetery records and tombstone inscriptions

Cemetery records and tombstone inscriptions often include information about places of birth, names of parents, and other details of the descedants. Transcriptions of many cemetery records and extractions of tombstone inscriptions may be published or listed on the Internet.

Probate records

Probate files often include death certificates of the testators. In the case of people who died without issue, property is usually left to other relatives, many of whom still resided in the country of origin including Great Britain and Ireland. It is not uncommon for solicitors in these countries to take depositions from surviving heirs. Details from these depositions are usually included in probate files. The 1911 probate record of Michael Bradshaw, a bachelor farmer of Finch Hatton near Mackay in Queensland, named as heirs brothers in Western Australia, Queensland, and Victoria; a brother in Glengar Doon, Co. Tipperary; a married sister in Coolhawn Doon, Co. Tipperary; and a minor niece and two nephews (including their ages) of his deceased sister in Victoria.

Immigration records

Depending on the circumstances that brought an immigrant to Australia, shipping records may contain a great deal of information about the passenger. Ones dealing with convicts, bounty passengers (people recruited from the British Isles by Australian colonists), and assisted immigrants usually contain more information. Lists of paying passengers who carne through their own means are usually less detailed.

Not all passenger lists survive. Many of the extant records have either been published or indexed. For example, the National Archives of Ireland has a searchable database of Irish convicts who were sent to Australia between 1788 and 1868. See

Records of institutions

Hospitals, orphanages, banks, schools, and other Australian institutions often kept extremely detailed records of their inmates, students, and/or customers. For example, a Geelong (Victoria) hospital admission book lists the name, sex, age, marital condition, occupation, place of origin, and last place of residence of each patient; date of the admission and discharge; date of death (if they died in the hospital); reason for admission; result of treatment; how long the patient had been in the colony; the name of the ship of arrival if an immigrant, and the port of entry. Another example is the ledger book of the E.s. & A. Bank ledger held by the Shoalhaven Historical Society Inc. in NSW. The entry for James Ingram reports that he was a 45-year-old farmer who was born in 1819 in County Donegal, north of Ireland, he was a resident of the Kangaroo Valley when he opened the account about December of 1894, he arrived in Australia about 1884, and that he was 5′5″ tall, his top lip was shaven, and he had a beard under his chin and around the side of his face.

Convict records

Needless to say, it was very important to keep detailed records about the convicts who were sent to Australia including the names, birth and marriage information, and physical descriptions. As sentences imposed by courts were served, convicts, through good behavior, could earn tickets of leave, certificates of freedom, and pardons. Convict indents are another record source; these were created when convicts arrived in Australia on transport ships.

Other resources

The key genealogical sources previously discussed are just some of the many records that are useful in tracing immigrants from the British Isles and Ireland who settled in Australia. Other readily available records that should be utilized in your research include:


Annual statewide post office directories are especially useful for locating people in rural areas. Some occupations published directories of people engaged in these occupations.


Newspapers contain notices of birth, marriage and death, obituaries, business notices, probate notices, and other information. Many Australian newspapers have been indexed. One of the more unique newspapers is the Police Gazette, which reported details about escaped convicts as well as crimes that were committed and personal details (e.g. births, marriages and deaths, promotions, and removals) about people involved with policing the country.

Compiled sources

Most Australian states have major collections of records containing family information. Some of these collections have been published such as The Pioneer Register. This series includes details about people who carne to Australia before 1820. Other collections consist of name indexes to various records. Three examples are the Thomas Davies Mutch Card Indexes (NSW records from 1787 to 1828), the Rogers Queensland Index (includes records from 1859 to 1984), and the Australasian Genealogical Computer Index (indexes records for all states that are deposited with the Society of Australian Genealogists and other archives).

Internet resources

There are extensive Internet sites that contain searchable databases and other genealogical information for Australia. Some of the records that are found on the Internet include tombstone inscriptions, indexes to shipping lists, civil registration indexes, obituaries of people who died in the Melbourne Hospital, lists of people found in directories, names of voters, and indexes to people who witnessed marriages.

I am impressed with the work done by Cora Num (see Websites for Genealogists at Num has compiled an extensive list of Australian resources including links to records found on the Internet. To find a Dead Persons’ Society in the area where your family settled, do a key word search for this organization and look at the various places that are listed for the Society.

Other Australian Internet resources can be found on and http://

Fact Sheets summarizing information about various genealogical sources found in the National Archives of Australia can be accessed on the Internet at Click on “Publications” then on “Fact Sheets,” and finally on “Genealogy.”


Frost, Lenore. Searching for Mary Ann: Researching Women Ancestors in Australia. Privately published by the author, 1994. Available through Lenore’s Virtual Bookshop at lenorefrost/bookshop.html.

Lea-Scarlett, Errol. Roots and Branches: Ancestry for Australians. Sydney: William Collins Publishers Pty Ltd, 1979.

Research Outline: Australia. Salt Lake City: Family History Department, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1999.

Vine Hall, Nick. Tracing Your Family History in Australia: A Guide to Sources. 3d ed. 2002. (ISBN 1 86404 384 9). For more information about this book see www.vinehall Many states have published a genealogy how-to book for their region. Several of these are listed in Research Outline: Australia.

The title of this article is a play on the song title Waltzing Matilda. Interesting historical information about this song including background information about the poet, where in Australia it was written, and a definition of the words (Matilda is not a person) can be found at people/Roger.Clarke/WM/#Ver.

Judy Eccles Wight was born in Los Angeles and graduated from Brigham Young University (history major, English minor). She is an accredited genealogist specializing in Irish, Scottish, and Australian research; British Reference Consultant at the Family History Library from 1990-2001; director of the Sandy, East Stake Family History Center from 1997-2000. Judy has lectured at numerous historical and genealogical conferences throughout the United States and in Canada and England. When not working or writing, she enjoys spending time with her family, remodeling their home and a mountain cabin retreat, traveling, reading, and listening to music. She is founder, past president, and forever board member of Ulster ProjectUtah, an ecumenical peacemaking organization that brings Catholic and Protestant teens from Northern Ireland to various established centers in the United States.

ASSOCIATED Australian Databases on and

Over 1,000,000 Names in our Australian Newspaper Index Collection-

Over 700,000 Names in our Queensland, Australia, Electoral Roll 1949-