Researching your Victorian ancestors

A guide to family history research using the major Victorian resources

Indexes to births, marriages and deaths

Birth, death and marriage certificates (BDM's) are vital documents to help genealogists establish relationships of family members backwards in time. They are used to build the basic structure of the family history tree.  

Certificates are kept by the Registries of Births, Deaths and Marriages in each Australian state and territory.  To obtain a copy of an historical certificate you first need to check the relevant index to find the registration number. The  Family History Reading Room provides access to all published Australian civil registration indexes.

For a detailed list of state and territory indexes please refer to the following table. For details on how to get the full certificate please go to the Obtaining certificates page.

 

Combined indexes

Australian Birth Index 1788-1922
Australian Death Index  1787-1985 Australian Marriage Index 1787-1949

  • Indexes are available online through the Ancestry and Findmypast databases - available at the State Library and in many Victorian public libraries.

Victoria

Births: 1836-1920

Deaths:1836-1988              

Marriages: 1836-1958

  • Historical indexes can be accessed through the Victorian Registry of births, deaths and marriages website.
  • The online index to Events at sea (Marine) births, deaths and marriages (1853 and 1920)  is available on the Victorian Registry of births, deaths and marriages website.
  • The Victoria's Early Church Records index is available on computers NFH1 - NFH5 in the library. It includes baptisms, marriages and burials (1836-1853) plus extra records from 1803-1906.
  • CDROM indexes to Victorian BDM records can be accessed on computers NFH1 - NFH5. Watch our videos on how to search these indexes.
  • The birth, death and marriages indexes are also available on microfiche - call number GMF 95.
     

New South Wales

Births: 1788-1919   

Deaths: 1788-1989 

Marriages: 1788-1969

  • Historical indexes can be accessed through the NSW Registry of births, deaths and marriages website.
  • CDROM indexes to NSW BDM records can be accessed through computers NFH1 - NFH5 in the Library.
  • The indexes are also available on microfiche - call number GMF 122.

South Australia

Births: 1842-1928

Deaths:1842-1972

Marriages:1842-1937

Tasmania  

Births: 1803-1933

Deaths: 1803-1933

Marriages:1803-1930
   

  • Digitised images and indexes of Births and Marriages  (1803-1899), Deaths (1803-1930), Burials (1903-1933) and Baptisms (1900-1930) can be accessed through the Libraries Tasmania Name Index.
  • A selection of indexes and original images (1803-1933) can be accessed though the FamilySearch website.
  • The pre-1900 records of the Tasmanian Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages are held in the library - call number GM 5. These include pre-1900 birth, marriage and death certificates.
  • Indexes are available on microfiche in the library. Call number GMF 152.

Queensland

Births: 1829-1919

Deaths:1829-1989

Marriages:1829-1944

  • Historical indexes can be accessed from the Queensland Registry of births, deaths and marriages website.
  • Indexes are available on microfiche in the library. Call number GMF 147.

Western Australia

Births: 1841-1932

Deaths: 1841-1971

Marriages:1841-1937

  • Historical indexes can be accessed from the Western  Australian Registry of births, deaths and marriages website.
  • Indexes are also available on microfiche in the library. Call number GMF 134.
  • A pre-civil registration index 1824-1856 is available on microfilm - call number GM 45.

Northern Territory

Births: 1870-1918

Deaths: 1870-1913

Marriages:1870-1913

  • The NT Registry does not provide online access to any historical indexes. Details on how to request a search can be found on the NT Government website
  • CDROM indexes to Northern Territory BDM records can be accessed through computers NFH1 - NFH5 in the Library.
  • Indexes are also available on microfiche - call number GMF 11.
  • The Alien births & death index - Northern Territory lists non-Northern Territory residents. Available on microfiche - call number GMF 11
  • Index to Gazetted Deaths - South Australia (1845-1941) and NT (up to 1910)
  • Check NSW and SA indexes for records prior to separation in 1870.

A.C.T.   

Deaths: 1930-1987  

Marriages: 1930-1942

Searching Victorian birth, death and marriage indexes

Watch the following videos and see how easy it is to search the Victorian birth, death and marriage cdrom (Digger) indexes.

The first video shows you how to do a simple search. The second video shows how you can analyse records and identify other areas to investigate.

For the best view choose fullscreen and the highest resolution

youtube icons

 

 

 

Obtaining certificates

You can order a birth, death or marriage certificate from the relevant registry. Wherever possibly provide all details given on the index entry, including the registration number. Fees apply for all certificates.

Unrestricted historic certificates are available in Victoria for births occurring 100 or more years ago, marriages occurring 60 or more years ago and deaths occurring 10 or more years ago. For other states please check with the relevant registry.

Location          How to obtain a certificate

 

Victoria

 

 

New South Wales

 

South Australia

 

Tasmania

 

Queensland

Western Australia

Northern Territory

 

ACT

 

Divorce records

Divorce was possible in Victoria in the second half of the 19th century when the Divorce and Matrimonial Causes Act came into effect in 1861.  Prior to this very few Victorian residents obtained divorces under English ecclesiastical law.

Records for 1861-1936

The Public Record Office Victoria (PROV) holds divorce records created between 1861 and 1936.
None of the divorce files have been digitised

Indexes

1861-1900

Divorce Index Victoria

GMF 105 Box 2
1861-1938

Divorce Index Victoria - Index to Divorce Cause Books
Public Record Office Victoria (PROV) 

Volume 1, 1861 -1884

Volume 2, 1885 -1897

Volume 3, 1897 -1910

Volume 4, 1911- 1924

Volume 5, 1925 -1932

Volume 6,  1932 -1938

Download the relevant collection and search through it to find a specific case i.e. `Grealy v Grealy' or `Cooksey v  Cooksey'.

Online

 
Records for 1936 -1975

Researchers seeking access to Victorian divorce records created between 1936 and 1975 can contact the Registry of the Victorian Supreme Court for advice about access:

Supreme Court Registry,
Level 2, 436 Lonsdale Street, 
Melbourne, VIC., 3000
Tel: 03 9603 9300
Fax: 03 9603 9400

Office hours: 9.30am - 4.00pm
Supreme Court website  (including application forms and payment advice)

Records created after 1975

In 1976 the administration of divorce was transferred from Victoria to the Commonwealth. Researchers seeking access to Victorian divorce records created after 1975 can contact the Family Court (Victoria) for advice about access:

Family Court of Australia (Victoria)
Phone: (03) 8600 3763 or 1300 352 000  
Email: enquiries@familylawcourts.gov.au

For further information on how to access divorce records including a list of PROV records relating to divorce in Victoria please consult the PROVguide 61: Divorce records.

What can I find on the BDM certificates?

Name and place abbreviations

Place names - abbreviations

  • If you are having trouble identifying a place name consult the VICNAMES list of over 45,000 Victorian place names.
  • The Victorian BDM Place Name Abbreviations List will also help you to decipher many of the abbreviated place names that appear in the Victorian Registry of births, deaths and marriages indexes.
  • Given names - abbreviations
    The BDM indexes often include abbreviated given names. Hy for Henry, Wm for William and so on. When searching fo a name try using the asterisk wildcard symbol to search for variations of a name e.g. Eliz* will retrieve Eliza, Elizabeth, Elizabetta.
  • For examples of abbreviated names go to FamilySearch Abbreviations Lists for Personal names site.
  • You can also find a comprehensive list of first name abbreviations on the Genealogy InTime Magazine website.

Where else can you look?

Use the Trove - Historic Australian Newspapers archive to locate birth, marriage and death notices in newspapers. For further information on how to search for notices go to the How to find items in newspapers research guide.

If the newspaper is not available on Trove, search the library catalogue to see if there is an index to that particular newspaper title e.g. Births, deaths and marriages printed in the Hamilton spectator 1859-1920.

Search the Ryerson Index to death notices and obituaries in Australian newspapers. Originally created by the Sydney Dead Persons Society, its strength lies in notices from NSW papers however more Victorian notices are now being indexed.

Search Victoria Funeral Notices,1981-1997. Available in the library on the FindMyPast Australasia database, this index is built from funeral notices from the Melbourne Herald Sun.