Saturday, 30 April 2011

Orphanage records now accessible

Some children, though not actually orphans, were admitted to an orphanage because parents or other relatives could not take care of them. This often happened if the child was illegitimate or when a parent was ill, imprisoned or in an asylum. Many orphanage records give the reason for admission, parents' names etc.

Some Queensland orphanage records have recently been opened to the public. The following records are now available in Qld State Archives ArchivesSearch (check periodically in case more are added):
  • St. Vincent's Home (Nudgee): Index to admission registers 1866-1905, and admission register 1866-1908.
  • Diamantina Orphanage and Receiving Depot: Index to admission registers 1865-1905, and admission registers 1865-1908.
  • Meteor Park Orphanage (Neerkol), Rockhampton: Admission registers 1885-1909.
  • Industrial and Reformatory School for Boys: Admission register 1871-1906.
  • Industrial and Reformatory School for Girls, Toowoomba: Letterbooks of the Superintendent 1881-1895.
If you are looking for more recent records, see the Brief Guide to Orphanages and Children's Homes.

My book Tips for Queensland Research has advice about indexes and records for Townsville, Mackay and Rockhampton orphanages.

'Failing to contribute to support of children in an orphanage' is one of the offences mentioned in Police Station summons sheets. Children charged with 'being a neglected child' are mentioned in police watchhouse charge books.


  1. Thank you for this post, some really useful information here. I have ancestors in Queensland where I lost the thread, shall have a look and see if I pick it up again in an orphanage.

  2. Paul Crewe02 May, 2011

    I can't thank you enough for this Judy. I found my FUNK family in the orphanage - 2 young boys and 2 young girls were admitted on 5 June 1875 after their mother died in Roma in April. The only one to survive was my G Grandmother as the other 3 died of Scarlet fever on 25 & 26 June. What a terrible story.

  3. Paul, thanks for sharing your success story. It's nice to know that my blog is useful! This may not be relevant, but there are entries for 'John FUNK' in indexes to Supreme Court probate files (wills), naturalisations and land selection files. They are all at Queensland State Archives.

  4. my mother and 5 siblings were placed at nudgee eldest 13 -8 mclady children can i access their files

    1. Anonymous, if you are looking for recent orphanage records you need to read the Brief Guide to Orphanage and Children's Home Records.

  5. Judy I used these files recently to find the father's name for some 2nd cousins whose father was in Nudgee. They had asked me to see what I could find, back before the files were opened. There are truly sad stories contained in the one line summaries.

    1. You're right about the sad stories. Many of my clients have asked me to try to identify the father of an illegitimate child, and although there are many potentially useful sources, in some cases the orphanage records have been the easiest to search.


  6. I am writing to you re my grandfather, Norman Rawlings b. 1908 in Qld. He was a Forgotten Aust - shunted from place to place, parts of it horrible.
    Whilst alive, as an older man, he tried so hard to find the details of his family - the govt told him there were no records.
    This was a lie.
    There are records.
    We've been through the most unbelievably heartbreaking process trying to get information on who our family is.
    We've made numerous applications under the Right to Information Act and been refused and carried through the whole appeals process.
    It's a joke - I asked the spokesman who phoned me on behalf of the Asst Right to Information commissioner how many people were successful with their applications and she told me 'none'.
    What a joke, make everyone pay, make everyone go through the protracted process then just blanket refuse everyone rather than consider applications on a case by case basis.
    How dare the government deny us our heritage!!


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