Family history - eresource highlights

August is Family History month and the State Library has many resources available to help you find out more about your ancestry. You might already have accessed some of the larger resources like and Ancestry Library, both of which are available onsite at the State Library. Here are a few other resources which you may not know about.

The Illustrated London News Historical Archive

The Illustrated London News Historical Archive 

This database is available to access anywhere, any time, with a NSW resident library card. The Illustrated London News is one of the longest-running illustrated papers in the world. It is available to search in full text. It is a great resource for anyone with UK ancestry to ‘put flesh on the bones’ of their ancestors and to better understand the political and social climate their relatives may have come from.  

The publications can be browsed by date, if you just want to get an idea of what Londoners were talking about at a particular time. Or, you could search specific terms, such as ship names, emigration schemes or personal names, to see if the person or thing you are interested in made the paper.  

For example, if your ancestors came out under Caroline Chisholm’s Family Colonisation Scheme, a search for ‘family colonisation scheme’, ‘caroline chisholm’, or ‘mrs chisholm’, will return articles discussing the scheme, which will give you a better idea of how your relative understood the program and what was on offer. Remember to check the box for ‘entire document’ under the search box to ensure you get all the relevant results. 

 The Proceedings of the Old Bailey 

This invaluable resource is freely available online. If you have a convict in your tree who you believe was tried at London's Central Criminal Court (the Old Bailey) you might just find their entire trial transcript here. An easy way to search is to enter your convict’s name on the Search home page and select ‘Transportation’ in the 'Punishment’ dropdown menu. If your convict has a particularly common name - hello, John Smith! - you can also enter keywords to narrow your search. 

As an example, the record below was found using the following search: 

Keyword: begging 

Surname: Smith 

Punishment: transportation 

In 1837, twenty-year-old Eliza Smith was convicted of theft of a handkerchief and sentenced to seven years’ transportation. The first result page shows the summary of her conviction and there is the option to view the digitised original trial transcript. 

The Proceedings of the Old Bailey

Find and Connect 

Were you, or a parent or grandparent, ever in institutional care? The Find and Connect website gives comprehensive information on how to locate records relating to orphanages, foster care and adoptions Australia-wide.  You can search by the name of the Home and the website will help you find out where the records are held and how to access them. Please note that the site does not contain original records, but may contain information and photographs which you might find upsetting. 

Find and connect

Ryerson Index of Death Notices in Australian newspapers 

The Ryerson Index is a great resource which is maintained by dedicated volunteers. It contains over six million index entries for death notices in Australian papers from 1803 to the present day. Although it isn’t comprehensive, it remains the best way to search for Australian deaths after the mid-twentieth century. Currently the bulk of the index entries are from eastern state newspapers, but other states are also included and it is certainly worth searching if you are trying to find a 20th century death date. If you want to view the original death notice in the newspaper, you will need to come in to the Library to view the newspapers on microfilm, or check Trove

Ryerson Index