Wolfgang Sievers, Children playing in front of Hamersley Iron housing in Tom Price, Western Australia, 1974, nla.cat-vn3308495

Family History Month

August is Family History Month and what better time to trace your family history than while you’re spending so much time with them in lockdown (or just have been)!

The Library's collections offer a wealth of resources to the Australian family historian. To help you get started on your own family history research, we’ve put together an online Family History Research Guide with resources, tips and strategies. 

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Family History Tips

To celebrate Family History Month this year, we’re highlighting material from the Australian Joint Copying Project (AJCP) in a series of family history tips.

Recently digitised and freely available to view on Trove, the AJCP is a collection of over 10,000 microfilm reels relating to Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific. Dating from 1560 to 1984, the material is drawn from the National Archives of the U.K. 

Keep an eye out for new tips throughout the month, as we update this page and share them on social media!


Family History Tip #1 

The journals of Royal Navy Medical Officers 1816-1856 provide a fascinating account of the voyage of convict transports. As well as notes on sicknesses and cures, surgeons occasionally jotted down reports of weather, conditions on board the ship, and the occasional scribble about something on the horizon that piqued their interest. You might even encounter an ancestor sitting (patiently) in the waiting room. 

You can also learn more about this collection in our blog post, Shipshape: Convict ship surgeons' journals

Family History Tip #2 

Wanted: butcher, baker, cabinet maker! 

With no convict labour force, South Australia lured skilled and semi-skilled emigrants from the British Isles with the promise of free passage, abundant work, and the dream of one day buying land. 

From 1836-1840 over 9,000 hopefuls, eager for a sea change, applied for free passage to South Australia. By December of 1840, over 5,000 emigrants and their families made their way south before funding for the scheme dried up! 

You can now view the Register of Emigrants: Labourers: Application for a Free Passage to South Australia 1836-1840 on Trove. 

Details found on the register include name, age, place of residence in the U.K., trade or profession, whether married or single, number of children, as well as additional remarks (such as if the applicant has been ‘recommended’ or sponsored).

Family History Tip #3

Did any of your Irish ancestors come to Australia as convicts? Maybe they were a pro-independence insurgent or a petty criminal sent to Australia for stealing a duck. Perhaps they sent a petition begging to be set free – or to be transported sooner. You may even have an ancestor who voluntarily braved the seas to re-join a beloved felon sent to the colonies.

These and thousands of other examples can be found in the Irish transportation records. Now digititsed, these registers were originally microfilmed and donated by the Irish government (with thanks to Chartlann Náisiúnta na hÉireann/the National Archives of Ireland).

What’s on this month

Old ute truck carrying newspapers. sign on truck says This reo runs & picturial's converys lastest election figures

Fairfax Corporation, Sun newspaper truck filled with newspapers, Sydney, c.1920, nla.obj-157549226

Looking to enrich your family history research? 

Register for our two-part learning webinar, Newspapers for Family History: Upgraded Troveon the 26 August.

In this free webinar you’ll discover upgraded Trove and what it has to offer for your family history research. In the second part of the webinar, you’ll also learn how to make collaborative lists in Trove, and add tags and notes to the items you find (very handy for keeping track of all the family history treasures you are bound to uncover!)