Christmas Greetings! There are numerous ‘best of’ lists but rarely do they include Australian websites. This list reflects my own interests but I would welcome suggestions and would love to make it a Top 100 list.
Some websites fitted more than one category, especially the State archives and libraries as some of them have very active access and digitisation programs. However I have only included them in one category so be sure to explore the whole site and not just the section I chose to feature.
Lists are in alphabetical order as it was too hard to prioritise! Have a safe and happy festive season with family and friends and check out this list if and when you need time out for you. Enjoy!
Archives & Libraries
Some really interesting material here if you have an interest in early Sydney especially the Old Sydney Burial Ground.
Great site for World War One dossiers (digitised and free access) and immigration post 1900 plus other records that might surprise people. Their Fact Sheets help to suggest further ideas for research.
TROVE is the new way to search the NLA’s collections all at the same time – changing the way we research. Bring it on!
A sentimental favourite (I worked there on two occasions in the early 80s and again in the early 90s) – great photographs, oral history and manuscripts. Check out the State Library of Queensland while there too.
A wealth of information here on a wide range of subject areas but I particularly like the Trade Unions and Women links. I just have to slip in some URLs here Australian Trade Union Association and Australian Womens Archive Project. There’s another two categories of websites – perhaps I need a bigger list?
Births Deaths & Marriages
Official BDMs free to search, and you can purchase online for $28 instead of the standard fee of $37
Searching of official BDMs is online and free but you can’t order online, you need to print and mail the form, cost $34
Official BDM indexes are not online but the South Australian Genealogy & Heraldry Society have some very useful death and burial indexes and a new transcription service for BDMs.
Again another State where the official BDM indexes are not online. This database can be quite useful but do read the introduction carefully as the Archives do not guarantee their accuracy.
Official BDMs are online, free to search but can’t be ordered online. Cost $31
This allows a search for all those buried in Brisbane cemeteries and it’s free and easy to use. Includes Bald Hills, Balmoral, Brookfield, Cedar Creek, Hemmant, Lutwyche, Moggill, Mount Gravatt, Nundah, Pinnarook, South Brisbane and Toowong.
Includes Springvale Botanical Cemetery and St Kilda Cemetery. Free and easy to use.
Includes Guildford, Karrakatta, Midland, Pinnaroo and Fremantle. Free and easy to use.
This collection of headstone and memorial photos relates to cemeteries where there are no online lists of names. Compilers are based in Brisbane which explains the area covered. They try to photograph all memorials at a site and transcriptions are generally limited to genealogical information.
Includes Cambridge, Cornelian Bay, Derwent Valley, Eastern Shore, Huonville, Kingston, Moonah, Mornington and Southern Midlands. Simple to search and free.
Tasmanian convict records have been digitised and are online free of charge. Not the easiest to use but you can still see the images without travelling to Hobart.
Convicts to Australia: A Guide to Researching Your Convict Ancestors – a really useful place to start with convict research.
An interesting illustrated look at the convict system, mostly on the First Fleet.
Useful indexes and finding aids for anyone with convict ancestors in NSW and Norfolk Island.
Useful introduction to indexes and finding aids for WA convicts.
Digitised Records & Online Indexes
Simply the best for anything military in Australia. Also think we could have a Top Ten Australian military sites category without too much thinking. Maybe that category next time?
Did you know that you can register with the NLA for subscription based eResources and have free access to a range of databases eg London Times 1785-1985, one of my favourites. 157 resources under Genealogy alone so check it out!
Another sentimental favourite as I was part of the move into digitisation of records. PROVguide 23 lists online indexes, databases and digitised records. Don’t miss the free digitised wills and probates from 1841-1925. Also check out PROV’s online catalogue Access the Collection (ATC).
Yes another old workplace and sentimental favourite but has wide range of indexes online and a copy service if you can’t visit.
Western Australia post office directories 1893-1949 are digitised and free. Great for anyone in WA. POD’s for some of the other States can be found in the Pay To View sites below.
A useful listing of cemeteries in Australia and whether online or not.
Another NLA resource but useful to find a library within Australia and also useful to find which libraries hold a particular book. Pathways to Australian Information are really good for discovering what collections are out there. Serendipity plus!
A useful list of archives in Australia including government, school, religious, business, sport and university archives. The Society is in the process of updating the Directory.
An Australian gateway site for tracing family history.
A USA based gateway site with an extensive category list which highlights a wide range of resources and links for Australia.
Genealogy and Family History Societies
(This was a tough category so I have opted for the places I have lived and been a member plus where I did the Diploma of Family Historical Studies. It also has six entries not five as I have a rule that I join the major societies where ever I live and if there are two in that State, I join both. Plus I usually have friends in both.)
Based in Melbourne, has a range of members services and resources for website visitors.
The usual members services plus a useful Directory of Links to Australia, UK, NZ and USA.
Has an online bookshop, a range of interesting resources and services and a members only section including GIN (Genealogical Index of Names) with nearly 4 million entries. Some of the latter can also be accessed via Find My Past (see below in Pay to View).
As well as the usual members services, the Society has a useful and interesting database relating to the Boer War.
Has an online bookshop, the usual members services and is a commercial partner with World Vital Records Australasia (see below in Pay to View).
A range of interesting resources and services to members and the casual website visitor including an online bookshop. SAG is a commercial partner with Find My Past (see below in Pay to View).
Immigration & Shipping
Has some very useful research guides including the Vaughan Evans Digital Library and online copies of Evan’s indexes to the Illustrated Sydney News 1853-1889; Illustrated London News 1842-1891; and Australasian Sketcher 1873-1889.
Another one of my personal favourites as Lenore has similar interests to me – shipping, women, military etc. Browse the whole site but don’t miss Ships Logs and Journals Aust & NZ.
This is another Perth DPS project and worth a look.
This site is compiled by the Ballarat & District Genealogy Society and has some interesting and out of the ordinary links. Well worth a look.
Passenger lists have been indexed directly into their online catalogue . Not the easiest to find on their website so I have given a direct link to it as well as the home page.
Newspapers and Photographs
Argus Online (Index)
This is an index online to the Argus (Melbourne) for 1870-1879.
Absolutely magic site for digitised copies of Historic Australian Newspapers 1803-1854, a work in progress – I have found so much just by using keywords already.
This is a useful listing of newspapers online, including contemporary newspapers. Very good if you want to find a newspaper or advertise or place an article in an existing newspaper. Not to be confused with the Historic Australian Newspapers site above.
Search a wide range of cultural institutions for illustrations and photographs. So easy and free. Find that elusive photograph of your ancestor’s ship.
This is an index to contemporary death notices and obituaries in Australian newspapers. Over 2 million entries and 168 newspapers.
Pay to View Sites
Australian collection includes convicts, electoral rolls, immigration, directories etc. Subscription based with a range of payment options.
The only pay to view the indexes online site in Australia. You can also order certificates online and receive digital copies.
Find My Past (FMP)
Not easy to find Aussie content but any Australian society who had contributed data to the Federation of Family History Societies Family History Online , which was taken over by Find My Past in 2007 has content in FMP I believe. If anyone can enlighten me on how this works for Aussie content, it would be appreciated.
Relatively easy to identify content State by State and very good for Queensland as QFHS is a commercial partner.
I should have a 5th Pay To View here but I have covered the main ones I use and I did slip 6 into the Genealogy & Family History Societies category so to keep it at 5o websites I am leaving this blank. At least that’s my story.
The above list is my frequently used Top 50 Australian websites but I could easily add another 50. I would be interested to find out what others think and use. In fact there could be quite active debate on this topic.
Perhaps the next list will be a Top 100 Australian websites!