We’re excited to announce the launch of the Australia Birth, Marriage and Death Index, a compilation of the records of those who were born, married or died in Australia between the years 1788 and 1985.
In a project that has taken four years to complete, the online index has been assembled into one fully searchable database from microfilm sourced from state record offices and archives where the records are available online or on fiche, but not in one place or in one format.
A total of nearly 15 million records are included in this new database, which will be an essential starting point for both Australian family historians and those around the world with Australian heritage wishing to learn more about their ancestors’ lives.
The database is easy to use and can be searched by any of the following terms:
- Birth: name, birth year, father’s name, mother’s name, and birth place
- Marriage: maiden name, spouse name, marriage year and marriage place
- Death: name, death year, est. birth year, father’s name, mother’s name and death place.
The records reveal fascinating insights into Australian birth, marriage and death trends since the First Fleet arrived in Australia more than 200 years ago.
The Australia Birth Index reveals that the long acknowledged stereotypical names for Australian males and females – Bruce and Sheila – are in fact rather new additions to the Australian vernacular, with no evidence of these names appearing in birth records as recently as 1922.
Instead, Australian parents have preferred traditional English names for their children, with John the most popular male name for more than 74,000 Australian boys, and Mary the most popular female name for more than 52,000 Australian girls.
Also included in the Australia Birth Index are famous Australians:
- The Don – born Donald George Bradman in New South Wales, 1908
- Chips Rafferty – born John William Pilbean Goffrage in New South Wales, 1909
- Smithy – born Charles Edward Kingsford Smith in Queensland, 1897
Australians are clearly romantics when put under pressure, with the records revealing a huge spike in marriages throughout WWII. Not surprisingly, the top five marriage years in modern Australian history all fall during this conflict.
In NSW alone, over 340,000 people married throughout the period of 1939-1943 inclusive. The peak year for weddings was 1942 with nearly 80,000 marriages recorded, compared to just 60,000 weddings when the war began in 1939.
The Australia Marriage Index also reveals that the ‘modern trend’ of multiple marriages has in fact been going on for rather a long time. For example, Australian statesman Henry Parkes married three times, including twice in Australia, first to Eleanor Dixon in 1889 then Julia Lynch just six years later in 1895.
There are more than 4,891,890 names in the Australia Marriage Index, including forebears of famous Australians:
- Arthur David Kidman – Nicole Kidman’s grandfather, who married Margaret Emily Mary Callachor in North Sydney in 1936; and
- Sir Keith Arthur Murdoch – the parents of Rupert Murdoch married Dame Elisabeth Greene, who married in 1928
Life for the early Australian settlers was tough, as the death indexes reveal with the average age of death calculated across the full date range of the death indexes being just 56 years old compared to the current life expectancy for Australians of over 79 years for men and 83 years for women.
Famous Australians included in the Australia Death Index are:
- Henry Lawson – died in Sydney in September 1922
- Prime Minister Edmund Barton – died in Medlow Bath in January 1920
- Andrew Barton ‘Banjo’ Paterson – died in Sydney in February 1941