A few weeks ago we welcome the Federation of First Fleeters to the Library to give them an overview of some of the online resources available. You might find it useful too.
One of the principal sources of information when tracing convict ancestors is the State Records Authority of New South Wales. This is the access point to their Guides and Finding Aids and their online indexes. Many of the most popular records are held in microform by libraries such as ours so once you find the reference you can visit the library and examine a copy of the original record. Increasingly State Records is digitising some of these; the most exciting to date is the digitisation of some of the shipping records.
The National Archives of Australia is also an excellent source of information for later arrivals.
The State Library of NSW has developed a series of research guides to help clients work through their vast collections. Of particular interest to family historians are those for convicts and shipping.
The Australian Newspapers service allows access to historic Australian newspapers digitised as part of the Australian Newspapers Digitisation Program. This database is being added to on a daily basis and includes the Sydney Gazette and the Sydney Morning Herald. Put aside a good few hours to play with this on-line!
The Ryerson Index to contemporary Birth Death and Marriage Records is a great way to track ancestors and their look up service is an example of how family historians help each other. Do not be fooled by the word contemporary as there are a range of dates in here.
Another favourite is the Australian Cemeteries Index, a searchable data base. It initially concentrated on cemeteries in regional NSW but is now expanding Australia wide. One of the really great things about this database is that there are images of many of the headstones so you can see it for yourself and read any additional information.
It is always a plus if you can discover pictorial material relating to your family and where they lived or worked. Many of the sites already listed will have image collections ie National Library, State Library, State Records, National Archives and local libraries. There are some overlaying search engines such as Picture Australia but many collections are stand alone databases and many more are not digitised at all.
The same goes for maps though NSW Parish maps can be found at the NSW Land and Property Management Authority’s website