Find your ancestors in Newspapers, Directories & Social History


Your past? Read all about it!

The newspapers, directories and social history category contains over 25 million records, covering a period from the 1820s to 1990s. Many of these records are underused resources, and really are worth delving into if you're exploring your family history or building a family tree!

Government Gazettes were weekly newspapers published by governments to communicate with officials and the general public. They are useful to monitor the actions of the government, as well as valuable primary source documents for family historians as they contain a vast amount of historical and genealogical information. Tens of thousands of ordinary people and localities are mentioned every year in Government Gazettes and they will help you reconstruct events and circumstances in the life of individuals and communities.

Examples of the types of information you will find are government notices, public works notices, land sales, tenders notices, appointees to government positions, appointments of magistrates and Justices of the Peace, crown land leases, deceased estates, dissolution of business partnerships, bankruptcy and insolvency, notices or rewards for lost or stolen property and stock, unclaimed letters and property, witnesses to executions and so much more.

Some of the other valuable resources include the Australian Handbook covering a wide variety of topics such as statistical information about Australian colonies, police, banking, emigration and more. The Strays Collection Australasia is a great tool if your ancestors strayed. A stray is anyone who married, lived or died away from his/her place of birth. Imagine how many Australians and New Zealanders down through the last two centuries are strays! There are many more records to discover, many of these being useful directories such as country and telephone directories.

Aldine History of Queensland example

This is an example of the original publication which includes a biography on people and information such as name, employment and details of where they were born and dates on when they arrived in Australia. You can also find interesting illustrations of people and places.

New South Wales Government Gazette 1840 example

This is an example of one of the many government gazettes available. You can find details on land transactions, court notices, notice of acts, tenders and contracts, police auctions of stolen property, statistics, unclaimed letters, impoundments of cattle and horses, reward notices and more. There is a huge amount of information (which include physical descriptions) relating to convicts including absconders, those who were granted tickets of leave and certificates of freedom, deserters, apprehensions and more. Government gazettes offer much more than simply names and places. They will help you reconstruct events and circumstances in the life of individuals and communities.