Access to archival records have dramatically increased in recent years with many agencies and volunteer groups digitising documents and images and sharing them online with the public. Here are a selection of the best genealogical sources and repositories specific to Tasmanian family history research. These records are freely available to the public. To follow the link, please select the highlighted text.
Registration of birth, deaths and marriages commenced in 1839 in Tasmania, the first Australian colony to take over the function previously conducted by Churches. Libraries Tasmania provides online access to birth, death and marriage records as well as censuses, convict and prison records, marriage permissions, arrivals and departures, inquests and probates. Libraries Tasmania holds birth, death and marriage records up to 1900. This online database supersedes LINC Tasmania,
The FamilySearch website provides access to Tasmanian birth records from 1900 to 1912. FamilySearch is a genealogical website maintained by the Church of the Latter Day Saints. It is free to use and also includes civil registration of baptism, birth, marriages, death and burials in Tasmania from 1803 to 1933 found at the following link: https://familysearch.org/search/collection/2125029. At first, civil registration required the clergy to make copies of baptism, marriage and burial records in Tasmania. These records are known as civil transcripts of church records. Because churches were involved in early registration, it is difficult to clearly distinguish between civil registration and church records. About 1856, the responsibility for civil registration was placed in the hands of government employees independent of the church. Civil registration then required people to report all births, marriages and death to a civil registrar (source: FamilySearch Wikipedia).
Details of current cemeteries can be located in several ways. One such site is the BillionGrave index. Records are patchy and incomplete at best, however, it is one of few that provide free online cemetery records. The other alternative is the now defunct eHeritage website, which provides a list of headstones. The website is no longer updated, however it is still available online. See the following link: http://eheritage.statelibrary.tas.gov.au/. Commercially available genealogy websites usually have comprehensive cemetery records, but it doesn't come for free. The alternative is to utilise the Ancestry library edition at one of Libraries Tasmania libraries or Online Access Centres. To access FindMyPast, you must be in one of the following Libraries Tasmania libraries: Hobart, Launceston, Burnie, Devonport, Glenorchy, Kingston or Rosny. This is also the case with electoral rolls. Online access to Tasmanian electoral rolls is provided through Ancestry (library edition) from 1914 to 1954 and FindMyPast, 1934 and 1943 only. Most cemeteries or council operated cemeteries situated in the northwest of Tasmania do not hold online cemetery records. There are, however, a few exceptions such as the Stanley Burial Ground. In 2011 Ian Middleton visited the cemetery and photographed all legible headstones, which is now available at the following link: http://austcemindex.com/?cemid=877. This website also holds records for other cemeteries, but again, it is patchy at best. Other similar burial records can be found at the Latter Day Saints (LDS) FamilySearch under search engine portal, Miscellaneous Records 1829-2001 at https://familysearch.org/search/collection/1935075. This portal also includes records from correctional institutions, court records, emigration and immigration records, hospital records, inquest files and occupational and guild records.
The Ryerson Index is a free index to death notices appearing in Australian newspapers. The date range covered extends from the Sydney Gazette of 1803 up to newspapers published within the last week or so. As of July 2019, Ryerson Index had accumulated 5,902 records from the Burnie Advocate, 38,429 from the Launceston Examiner and over 90,000 from the Hobart Mercury. Ryerson Index is a non profit organisation with volunteers providing much of the indexing.
CSI is a work in progress with online resources held by the Tasmanian Family History Society (TFHS). It provides references to information in publications that are or have been in Society branch libraries. Society branch libraries include Hobart, Burnie, Mersey, Huon and Launceston. Much of the work have been done by dedicated volunteers. To date, there are over a million records.
Digital Panopticon is a collaborative project between Universities of Liverpool, Sheffield, Oxford, Sussex and Tasmania. This website enables you to search millions of records relating to the lives of 90,000 convicts. If you have a convict ancestor who was sentenced to transportation, imprisonment or death, you might find them here.
Created by the National Library of Australia, Trove is a revolutionary search engine with free online access to newspapers and various other collections. The newspaper component provides an excellent source of reference materials for historians, researchers and genealogists. It also provides interactive tools such as tagging, commenting and sharing of information, which are popular among genealogists. Another useful tool is the Government Gazette, which publishes public information such as the appointments and employment of public servants, and notices such as licensing, trade registration and bankruptcies. These can be found at the following link: http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/gazette?q=.
This website has a repository of photographs, negatives, postcards and other pictures. Trove has numerous military portraits of Tasmanians who served in the First World War. Of interest is a collection of photographs by Stephen Spurling, a well known photographer who travelled extensively throughout the Tasmanian northwest. He and his father, Stephen Spurling II, operated a photography studio in Launceston. The slideshow above provides typical examples of his work, which is located at the following link: http://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-145441917. The four images in the slideshow are landscape scenes of (1) the Nut at Stanley, (2) the road from Wynyard to Waratah, (3) the township of Smithton and (4) a waterfall near Latrobe.
Aside from NLA Trove Newspapers enumerated above, there is also the Tasmanian Mail, a weekly newspaper published in the period 1877 to 1935. An offshoot of the Examiner, it was once freely distributed to every home in Tasmania. At this time, there is no readily available online search function, however, you can check out the Tasmanian Mail: A Photographic Index, which is available in selected archives.
The Australian War Memorial's online resources contain a wealth of material which can assist in researching the service and wartime experiences of family members who served during military conflicts. The War Memorial Collections provide access to embarkation roll, roll of honour, Red Cross wounded and missing files as well as numerous photographs of military personnel.
Shortly after the commencement of the First World War, the Weekly Courier readers were invited to send photographs of the servicemen in their family, and these appeared in almost every issue of the Weekly Courier between 1914 and 1919. An index to the photographs was compiled by Wendy Knolle in 1995 and is available at the above link.
The National Archives of Australia holds personal service records. Personal service records are files created for individuals during their military careers. The content and detail of service records vary in quality and amount from conflict to conflict. For most servicemen and women, this will be the only official documentation for them as individuals. Typically service records contain information about the individual on enlistment, assignment to units, details of embarkations, promotions, medical treatment, official correspondence and medal entitlements. Almost all personal service records from the First World War are available online. Personal service records from the Second World War are for the most part off limits, however, there are the occasional personal service records for men and women who were in the civil service. When researching servicemen and women of the Second World War, a good place to start is the nominal roll at the following link: http://www.ww2roll.gov.au/NameSearch.aspx. The National Archives also holds immigration and naturalisation records.
Essentially the Tasmanian Pioneers Index of the 1990s with some linking between various families. As the linking has been done automatically it is prone to errors and all references should be checked against the original source material. As stated in the LINC website, this database of approximately five hundred thousand entries was designed to provide an initial online genealogical research resource.
The website's Companion to Tasmanian History is a comprehensive volume providing information about every important aspect of Tasmania's history. It contains a wealth of information relating to community life, local history and biographies. There is much to be found relating to the Tasmanian Northwest.
On the Tasmanian Government website, you can search Index Books (1827 to 1972) by name, This will return a selection of Index Books as a PDF that will include names and deed references. This could be particularly useful when tracing an ancestor.
Social media, such as Facebook, is also widely used to network and ask questions about an ancestor. It is helpful if questions are posted in the area related to a particular discussion. Some of the more popular ones are Circular Head Heritage Centre, Pictorial History of Burnie, Pictorial History of Ulverstone and District, Pictorial History of Tasmania, Memories and Pictorial History of Deloraine District, Mengha Back's Paddock and Genealogy Tasmania Australia. There are many others but too numerous to mention, however, the ones mentioned above are the most popular.