As many of you may well be aware, we now have Australian vital records available online.
The Australia Birth, Marriage and Death Index spans a combined period of almost 200 years (between 1788 and 1985) and covers the entire country. Gone are the days of poring over microfiche or hopping from site to site to find your ancestors – you can now look for them in the one place on Ancestry.com.au.
But how do you get the most out of this collection? It all comes down to effective searching.
Whether you search from the Australia Birth, Marriage and Death Index or general BMD category page, or from the individual Birth, Marriage and Death collection pages, the approach you take should be the same.
Enter both the first name and last name of the person you’re seeking. It’s best to omit middle names from your search unless it’s the key to identifying the individual, e.g. Mary Petunia Smith. If you’re unsure of the spelling, you can use wildcards to help return possible results.
Then enter the event dates that you know or, if you’re not sure, make a guess about the date as this will help to narrow down your search results. If you’re searching using the collection page, try using Advanced Search and selecting the +/- 2 year option as these indexes record the registration of an event, not the date the event occurred.
If the result you’re after doesn’t appear, click on the Edit Search button and add more detail (such as a place or the names of other family members).
Your person should appear on the first page or two of results. If not, go back and try modifying some of the search criteria.
TIP: If you’re using the general BMD category page to search, once you’ve got some search results you can narrow down the category by choosing one of the following sub-categories: Birth, Baptism & Christening, Marriage & Divorce, or Death, Burial, Cemetery & Obituaries. You can then narrow the search results even further by selecting specific data collections.
These records have already helped many people find ‘loose ends’ in their family tree. Hopefully they’ll do the same for you!