Vital records—records of births, marriage, and death—are the basic building blocks of family history research, and this database features some of the most comprehensive indexes available of historical Australian birth records. These indexes were created by Australian registrar's offices after civil registration of births, marriages, and deaths became law in the mid-19th century. Exactly when civil registration took effect varied by colony or territory as follows:
- Tasmania — 1838
Western Australia — 1841
South Australia — 1842
Victoria — 1853
New South Wales — 1856
Queensland — 1856 (before 1856, see NSW)
Northern Territory — 1870 (1856–1863, see NSW; 1863–1870 see SA)
However, these dates do not reflect the earliest dates for Australian birth records. Church records predate civil registration, and as registrar's offices assumed responsibility for registration, they requested copies of earlier church records to incorporate into their collections. Thus, this database includes indexes that may go back even further for the following colonies:
- New South Wales — 1788
Tasmania — 1803
Queensland — 1829
Victoria — 1836
While these collections make up some of the most important indexes of early Australian birth records, they are not necessarily 100 percent complete—compliance to registration laws, of course, varied, and Australia’s vast distances complicated most any record-keeping effort. In this collection records are available for the following span of years:
- New South Wales — 1788-1910
Northern Territory — 1870-1910
Queensland — 1829-1910, 1915-1919
South Australia — 1842-1922
Tasmania — 1803-1910
Victoria — 1836-1910
Western Australia — 1841-1905
Searching the Records
Because some later colonies, territories, and states grew out of earlier ones, their history comes into play when searching for vital records. For example, you would look for your Northern Territory ancestor in New South Wales from 1856 to 1863 and South Australia from 1863 through 1870.
These records are indexes; they do not include images of actual birth records. They can be searched by: name, birth year, birthplace, father’s name, mother’s name.
The index may also include birth date, registration year and place, and page, volume, entry, and registration number.
With the information from the indexes, you can order a copy of the record from the appropriate registry office. While these records vary in the information they contain, depending on when they were created, you might find:
- Birth date
- Parents’ names, ages, and birthplaces
- Year and place of parents’ marriage
- Number and gender of prior children or mention of multiple births
10 Jun 2021: Additional records created though database improvements.