Friday, 15 April 2016

Queensland Births Index up to 1919

Image by 'africa',
Despite the fact that Queensland's Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages currently only lets you search for births up to early 1916 (due to its 100-year access restriction), there is now another way to find births up to 1919!

To the delight of those with family history research here, indexes to Queensland births registered up to and including *1919* can now be searched online at FindMyPast (that link takes you to the search page).

View the transcription there to get the exact date of birth plus parents' names including mother's maiden surname.

(This post first appeared on

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Queensland Passport Records

It's great to see more indexes from Queensland State Archives appearing on FindMyPast. A recent addition is 'Queensland Passport Registers 1926-1939'.

Description on FindMyPast as at 12 March 2015

The description on FindMyPast currently says, 'The records show... reason that the vessel was leaving, whether it was returning...' - and (elsewhere) - 'ship and date of departure as well as the time it was expected to be away'.

That's wrong!  (UPDATE: I mentioned this to FindMyPast and they fixed it promptly.)

The records actually show the passenger's reason for returning overseas, whether he/she was planning to return to Australia, and how long he/she expected to be away.

I've used these records many times; and when clients ask about passport records for people leaving Queensland, my answer is:

Queensland State Archives do hold a few records relating to departures. They include:

Immigration Department: passport clearance register 1926-1935 (series 7149; one item). This gives the passenger's name, ship and date of arrival, State of disembarkation, ship and date of departure, passenger's reason for returning overseas, and whether he/she was planning to return to Australia.

Immigration Department: passport receipts 1930-1939 (series 10222; thirteen items). These are duplicates of passport clearances issued to assisted immigrants. They give the passenger's name, ship and date of arrival. Some also give the ship and date of departure and how long the person expected to be away.

Other passport records are held by the National Archives of Australia. This is an extract from my book Tips for Queensland Research:
After the Passports Act 1920, Australian residents over sixteen years of age needed a passport if they left the country. This did not apply to those going to New Zealand, Papua or Norfolk Island. Others who were exempt included merchant seamen and defence force personnel on duty. The National Archives Brisbane Office holds passport registers 1915-1974 and various other records of people departing Australia. Some of those passport registers have been indexed by the Queensland Family History Society as 'Queensland Passports Index 1915-1925'. Most applicants lived in Queensland but some gave an interstate or overseas address.

If a person 'vanished' (either temporarily or permanently), passport records are definitely worth a look. They can also reveal interesting information about overseas holidays or trips to visit relatives.

NOTE!  The transcription on FindMyPast is a useful finding aid, but it does not include all details, so it is essential to get a copy of the original records from Queensland State Archives. If you can't do that in person, the Archives will supply copies for a fee, as explained on FindMyPast (scroll down to 'ordering copies'), or you could use my professional services.

A British source that may be of interest is the Index to Register of Passport Applications 1851-1903.

(This post first appeared on

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Lifeline Bookfest

Brisbane Bookfest - part of one of the three halls
(photo by Judy Webster)
Books relevant to family history are lurking in secondhand shops, markets and book fairs. One of the best places to find them is at a Lifeline Bookfest.

Bookfests are held at various times throughout the year in Brisbane, Bundaberg, Gold Coast, Ipswich, Mackay, Maryborough, Rockhampton and Sunshine Coast.

The Brisbane event is held in January and June each year, in the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre at South Brisbane. It's on right now and continues until 26 Jan 2015.

There are three separate halls: 'High Quality (prices as marked)', '$1 Section' and '$2.50 Section'.

Within each hall, books are arranged by category (Australiana; History; Biography; Reference; Paperback Fiction; Hardback Fiction; Children's; Humour and Oddities; Literature and Classics; Textbooks; Travel; Health; Science Fiction; Art and Music; Cooking; Computers; Hobbies; Sport; Gardening; Religion; Foreign Language; Vehicles and War Craft; Animals; Penguins and Pelicans; Economics; Sociology; Philosophy; Science). Each section also has magazines, stationery, videos, CDs, cassettes and records.

You may want to stock up on stationery items such as ring binders and lever arch files, which sometimes cost less than a dollar.

The real treasures for family historians are usually in the Australiana and History sections. Look for books about the history of regions, towns, schools, churches, businesses and organisations, and published family histories.

The Reference section has atlases, street directories, medical dictionaries, and sometimes unexpected items like a complete set of The Public Acts of Queensland 1828-1936.

With luck, you may find some of the titles listed on 'Suggested Reading (Genealogy and History)'.

Another money-saving tip? If you are on a very tight budget, wait until the last day when the (already affordable) prices are usually reduced.

I strongly advise you to bring a suitcase on wheels, as books soon get heavy when you are browsing. Local street parking is limited and fills very early. Undercover parking is available, but it costs about $16. You can travel by train to South Brisbane station or by bus to the Cultural Centre bus stop.

To find out more about Lifeline Bookfests in Queensland, use the links on the Brisbane Bookfest Web page.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Queensland Customs House Shipping Index 1852-1885

CD case (Qld Customs House Shipping Index)
"Queensland Customs House Shipping 1852-1885 Passengers and Crew" is an exciting new index compiled from Brisbane Customs House records (Shipping Inwards Series J715) held at the Brisbane Office of the National Archives of Australia. It is a vital resource for genealogists and others who are researching merchant mariners or passengers from Europe to Queensland.

Note that this index includes over 90 voyages that are not in the Queensland State Archives online index.

Most voyages were to Brisbane, but there are a few from Brisbane to an overseas port. The ships sailed from Batavia, Boston, Dundee, Glasgow, Greenock, Hamburg, Hong Kong, Liverpool, London, New York, Newcastle on Tyne, Plymouth, Queenstown, Singapore, San Francisco, Sydney, the South Sea Islands and Southampton. (Queenstown is the old name for Cobh, the port for Cork, Ireland.)

For some ships there are two lists, one prepared at the time of departure and another on arrival. Some of the records are for ships that carried passengers but were not specifically migrant vessels.

Each person's entry may include name, title, age, sex, marital status, occupation, nationality, whether passenger or crew, and comments.

The index is available on CD-ROM from the Queensland Family History Society.

Monday, 15 September 2014

Year 5 blogiversary: 'Top 10'

Image by Mister GC (
To celebrate the fact that this blog turns five on 16 Sep 2014, I will highlight one post from each of the ten categories that I use.

BDMs (births, deaths & marriages):
Free Certificates in Archives Files

Hidden treasures:
SCHOLEFIELD and CHARLES: Birth Certificates in Land Files

Index to Funeral Records 1972-2010

My family:  nothing recent in this blog, but see...
Postems on FreeBMD

Children in Mental Asylums

C is for Cooktown, Croydon and Cunnamulla

Hospital Admission Registers as a Source for Family History

Lifeline Bookfest (Thrifty Thursday)

Names Missing from Immigration Index

My Web site has moved

If you are wondering why I don't post here very often... have a look at my other genealogy blogs (a total of nine!)

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Hospital Admission Registers as a Source for Family History

Brisbane Prison Hospital admission register
A typical hospital admission register
Hospital admission registers provide a solution to many genealogical dead ends and brick walls!

People born in the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Europe, America, Canada and other parts of the world appear in Queensland hospital admission registers. Biographical details supplied by the patient are often more complete and more accurate than those on certificates. A hospital register is sometimes the only surviving source of information about the ship on which a person arrived.

Many people spent time in a hospital far from their home. This applies especially to Brisbane (a large hospital capable of handling difficult cases), Cooktown (with many miners and sailors from ships in port) and Croydon (people came here from everywhere during the local gold rush).

The registers for Brisbane General Hospital, Brisbane Prison Hospital, and hospitals at Burketown, Cooktown, Croydon, Ingham, Muttaburra and Roma, are printed volumes with space for these details:
  • name
  • date admitted
  • age
  • birthplace (town, State/county and country)
  • occupation
  • religion
  • ship of arrival
  • how long in the colony
  • last place of residence
  • marital status
  • place of marriage, at what age, and name of spouse
  • names and ages of children living; number and gender of children deceased
  • father's name and occupation
  • father's present residence if living (or 'father dead')
  • mother's maiden name
  • disease or reason for admission
  • date of discharge, or date and cause of death
  • remarks (which may include medical history, social circumstances etc.)

Some Brisbane registers also give details of employment, wages, other sources of income, other wage-earners in the family, property, membership of clubs or benefit societies, and names and addresses of relatives or friends.

Note the provision for ship of arrival, place of residence, marital status, and father's present residence - details not found on a Queensland death certificate.

A few hospital records exist for other towns such as Mackay and Toowoomba, but they are less informative.

Dates of surviving registers and where to find them, plus thousands of names from my indexes to hospital records, are on my main Web site. Even if you don't think your family were ever in Queensland, follow this link to check the lists of names from Queensland hospital admission registers. Many people have been surprised by what they've found!

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Queensland Genealogy News (BDMs, seminar, records)

(1)  Queensland Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages can now supply more death certificates as images, with 1939-1953 being added to the list. The Registry has also extended 'available births' to 1914, 'available marriages' to 1939, and (after I contacted them to point out the mistake on their Web page) 'available deaths' to 1984. (See also 'Free Certificates in Archives Files'.)

(2)  Genealogy seminar, Brisbane, Sat. 1 Feb 2014 (Broncos Leagues Club, Fulcher Road, Red Hill). Four main presentations by renowned international speakers Chris Paton and Thomas MacEntee (both of whom I have heard and can recommend), plus short presentations by local and sponsoring partners, an exhibition, and special offers and hundreds of dollars worth of prizes. The four main talks are 'Irish land records', 'Scottish inheritance records', 'Building a genealogy research toolbox' and 'You use WHAT for genealogy? Wonderful uses for unusual tools'. You can book for the morning, afternoon or full day. Click here for more details of this seminar or here for other presentations by Chris and Thomas in Canberra, Melbourne, Adelaide, Hobart, Sydney and Perth.

(3)  New records available at Queensland State Archives include Caboolture Divisional Board / Caboolture Shire Council rate books and valuation registers.

(4)  My weekly posts in the '52 Weeks of Genealogical Records' series will include many tips relevant to Queensland research.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Improved Searches for Births Deaths and Marriages (Queensland)

The Queensland Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages has today (16 October 2013) released an improved version of its search engine. Features include:
  • It is no longer necessary to enter information in the 'Last name' field. You can leave that blank and just enter the person's first name, the first name of their father or mother, or any combination of these. You can also use the wildcard feature on all of these search fields.
  • Mother's maiden surname is once again shown in results for death index searches. (This wasn't mentioned in the press release, but I was pleased to see it. We've been waiting a while for that to be fixed - see 'Maiden Names missing from Qld death indexes online'.)

In the field labelled 'Mother's first name', you can enter the first name plus surname to narrow down the results, but beware of spelling variants.

Now that you can omit the surname:
  1. Enter 'father's name + mother's name' to find deaths of daughters whose married surname you do not know.
  2. That technique may also find:
    • previously unknown siblings
    • events registered under weird spelling variants.
  3. Enter 'mother's name' only to find illegitimate births.

You will find that some illegitimate births are registered under multiple surnames. In this example the birth is registered under DREW, DENMAN and SOLWAY.

The birth of Cyril Richard, son of Eliza Ann Drew, is registered under three surnames - Drew, Denman and Solway.
Some illegitimate births are registered under multiple surnames
My main Web site has an index and advice for family historians who are trying to identify the father of an illegitimate child. I have also created a mini-guide, Researching Illegitimate Children.

Did you know that Victorian birth, death & marriage indexes are now on FindMyPast?

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

My Web site has moved

Find local, interstate and overseas folk using Queensland's historical records

Please spread the word...

Judy Webster's Web site has moved!

The site has advice and indexes that help genealogists to research local, interstate and overseas folk by using historical records. The emphasis is on unusual sources that are superb for problem solving.

Features of the new site include:

  • 135 pages, and more than 53,000 names (including tens of thousands of people from other States and countries, especially the UK, Ireland, Germany, Scandinavia and New Zealand) from Judy's indexes to original records in Queensland State Archives.

  • Additional names from certificates, headstones, church plaques, published local histories, etc.

  • Tips on how to research 'black sheep of the family' and people who 'vanished'.

  • Unusual sources that are superb for problem solving (including records of asylums, hospitals, Police, Justice Department and Courts).

The site is now easier to use, with a different font, a new 'main menu' navigation bar, and 'breadcrumb' navigation links. Many pages have a section called 'Other Suggestions'. Before using the customised search box, read the search/navigation tips.

The new Web address is

Please update your bookmarks and ChangeDetection settings, and notify family history groups, genealogy mailing lists etc.

Can't find a death? Maybe he/she died overseas. Check indexes on FindMyPast.
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Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Maiden Names missing from Queensland death indexes online

I recently (Sep 2013) sent this question to the Queensland Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages:

'Since your recent changes to online historical indexes, the mother's maiden surname has disappeared from many death index entries. Why is that, and will the matter be rectified in the future?'

Their reply was (I quote):

'If the Mothers maiden name (or Parents names) had been included on a Death Certificate than it will also be included on the historical index. Any details and information included on a Death Certificate does vary and is dependent on the amount of information provided by the Informant at time of death. All details we have are included on the index.'

Umm... WRONG!

Example 1 (death of Frederick William STEVENS, 1882):

Queensland Registrar-General's Pioneers Index 1829-1889 (on CD-ROM) shows the mother's maiden surname (GIBSON), but the online index at does not.

Example 2 (death of John PERRON, 1911):

Queensland Registrar-General's Federation Index 1890-1914 (on CD-ROM) shows the mother's maiden surname (BERBACCI), but the online index at does not.

I sent this information to the Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages. Their response was:

'We are aware of this and it will be rectified in the new release which will be in October.'

My main Web site has more tips about Queensland BDM indexes and certificates.
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