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!


  1. Judy is there likely to be much more information than what is on the death certificate?

    1. Yes, and in many cases the details in hospital records are more accurate because the subject supplied them. Maybe I've misunderstood your question, because I thought my post answered it. If you are wondering what details are on a death certificate, see the Frequently Asked Questions page on my Web site.

    2. Sorry I wasn't very clear. I have a death certificate (1899 Qld) for a man I am fairly certain is the brother of my great great grandmother. His name was William Kelly and according to cert he is buried at Longreach Cemetery. I do know there was another William Kelly who is buried there too.
      My blog post at explains it all. If he matches the William Kelly in your records I'll order it from you.

    3. Kerryn, unfortunately it doesn't work like that. This is what happens: (1) I get the reference number from my index; (2) I travel to the Archives in Brisbane, (3) I order the original register, which is sometimes hardcopy and sometimes on microfilm; (4) I search through it to find the relevant entry, and (5) I make a copy and send it to you. If I did (1) to (4), then studied the register entry to see whether it matched details you supplied and sent you a 'yes' or 'no' report, that still takes a long time - and genealogy is how I earn a living, so naturally I have to charge a fee for my time. Fees are explained on the Web page where you find a name (and I think 'KELLY William' would be on multiple pages). Alternatively (for some hospitals, but not Cooktown) you can get the source reference from my published indexes (available in many libraries) or from FindMyPast and then visit the Archives in person (or find a volunteer) to do the search. Sorry, but that's how it works!

    4. Once again I'm afraid it looks like I've worded my query badly, sorry Judy.

    5. Judy, when we consider the time involved (and the hourly rate charged by professional researchers), I think your fees are very reasonable. And what about the HUNDREDS of hours it took you to index the hospital records (which in many cases are almost impossible to read)?! I often saw you slaving away in the public search room, and we should all be eternally grateful that you created these indexes and made it so much easier for us to find a needle in a haystack!

    6. Kerryn - no need to apologise - I'm obviously just not on the same wavelength. :-) My brain is a bit fuzzier than usual because (on top of everything else that's going on in my life) I'm struggling to pack up and move house. Anonymous - thank you very much for your kind words and encouragement.

  2. Hi Judy, I am sure you have had other nominations, but thought I would let you know that I have nominated you for the "One Lovely Blog Award",
    cheers, Di

    1. Thank you Diane - I really appreciate that. I have previously received (and passed on) the 'One Lovely Blog' award, and my nominations were listed on pages linked from my 'Awards' page (one of the tabs above this post).


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