Family History Research Service: Queensland Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages: a key resource

Birth, death and marriage records provide the framework for the biographical study of the lives of individuals, groups and families, but it’s important to keep in mind that names can be incorrectly remembered, recorded and transcribed.

An effective database index should be elastic enough to accommodate these factors without being misleading. It should provide enough information to cross-check detail and satisfy researchers that they have identified the right record as much as can be reasonably possible. The Queensland Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages index meets these criteria.

Queensland Registry for births, deaths and marriages index.

Highlights of this resource

Queensland Registry index searches are free as well as simple and flexible. The online screens are well laid out with links and useful tips appropriately placed. There is a variety of options in the form of records from which a researcher can choose: the original source record, a scanned reproduction from the register or a full transcription of information from the register. The last is the most expensive option and the record most likely to have mistakes because of transcription errors. The original source document is the most accurate and informative as it:

  • contains the informant’s handwriting
  • is most speedily available 
  • may have extra detail not provided in the certificate.

Read the current Registry Winter Bulletin to find out more. All documents purchased are relatively cheap, easily and quickly accessed and stored online.

The records of births, deaths and marriages on the east coast of Australia are very informative on multiple generations if correctly filled out. The Queensland Registry indexes to these records usually provide enough information to identify the person for whom a record is sought.

Flexible searching options

Searches can be conducted just on first names or surnames only. It is also possible to search simply by parents’ names. 

In the following search I was looking for the deaths of the female children of James Dawson Robinson and his wife, Ellen Cameron. I searched on the names of parents only and a wide date range. No surname or first name was used. The daughters were found regardless of their married names. I forgot to add James Dawson’s surname, but the correct records were located anyway despite this omission and one entry for the father’s first name being incorrect. It helped that all the women’s records had parents’ names listed and that they were born and died in Queensland.

Registry search results for the deaths of adult women without knowledge of their married names.

Links to other records

Although the pre-1856 records of baptisms, burials and marriages for Moreton Bay originate in NSW, I have found names indexed on the Queensland Registry website absent from the NSW website. It has been a valuable hint to check the original NSW church records, which State Library holds on microfilm.

Links to newspaper notices and burial records can help inform and expand on what the Registry makes available online. The Ryerson Index can pick up deaths, funerals and obituaries across the Australian States and beyond the officially embargoed dates.

Some challenges

If the first letter of a name is incorrect in the search box, it may be difficult to find the right person. It is not possible to search by the date only of a birth, death or marriage on the website. However, if a child was separated from his/her parents and the date is all that is known, this searching capability would be essential; in these cases, it is necessary to use the Queensland Registry CD-ROMs, although they have a limited date range to 1914.

Find out more...

Check the Family history bulletin available on the Registry home page to find some accounts of how State Library of Queensland staff and others overcame searching problems and inconsistencies. Discover some fascinating stories the records reveal.

Connect to the Registry website, use State Library’s useful websites for family historians page, and learn more about birth, death and marriage records by referring to the research guides.

Make the most of this vital starting point for biographical and family research. It is accommodating of several common errors and the various search requirements you need.

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