Researching Australian Colonial Women

Rebecca Small b. 1789This 30 minute workshop looks at the early colonial life of women in NSW, and the resources available for family historians.

Image: Rebecca Oakes nee Small b. 1789 daughter to two first fleet convicts, John Small and Mary Parker.

One in five of the convicts to arrive in the penal colony (1788-1823) were female. The typical convict woman was in her twenties.

She was from either England or Ireland and had been convicted of robbery and  sentenced for seven years as punishment for her crime.

This presentation looks at ways of researching Colonial women and spotlighting:
Headstone Elizabeth SteelElizabeth Steel Convict  1790
Mary Haycock  Convict  1792
Rebecca Small  Born  1789
Priscilla Loveridge Convict  1792
Mary Loveridge  Convict  1792
Sarah Baxter  Free  1792

Workshop booking enquiries to

Aboriginal Family History Research

Newspapers: An example from a Newspaper as a source for Aboriginal Family History:
Moruya Examiner, 23 Aug 1919
On Friday night last Pte. Frank Stewart was the recipient of the usual Shire address and a presentation from the Bay to honor [sic] him as a returned Australian soldier. The occasion was rather unique, in as much as the ceremony took place during the interval of a picture show. To this entertainment about 50 of Private Stewart’s friends and relatives from the Aboriginal Reserve had been invited. The presentation was made by Mr D F Mackay and was received by much acclamation and to the accompaniment of the indispensable leaf strains of music from the darkies [sic].”  More details on Frank Stewart

Tindale’s Genealogies:
Anthropologist Norman Tindale visited various Aboriginal Missions and reserves throughout Australia in the 1930’s including the South Coast. The information that Tindale gathered during these visits was included in his Collection of genealogical information. Contact: Ronald Briggs

War records
Servicemen Enlistment and Service Records contain great information on your family members can be obtained for their enlistment records. Such as surname and given names, service number, Army unit and/or battalion, age on enlistment, place of birth, date of enlistment, place of enlistment, next-of-kin, marital status at time of enlistment, distinctive physical marks (e.g. scars, birthmarks, tattoos, etc.). Copies of war service records are also available to download. The Australian National Archives have scanned over 453 individual Aboriginal service records from WWI are a great source for Aboriginal genealogy as many include additional papers. They are available from

1891 Cencus – Microfilm records at State Records NSW Includes a separate column for number of Aboriginal people included number of male and female.

Aborigines Welfare BoardNSW State Records
NSW Minute books, correspondence files, photographs and Aboriginal reserves records, many of the records of the Aborigines Welfare Board are closed to public access

1901 Householder Collectors Books
The Collectors’ Books are arranged alphabetically by census district. Each subdistrict is allocated a number or letter and is arranged chronologically within the census district. Many of the subdistricts include a map and a brief description of the area boundaries; all identify the collector responsible for the area. Within the subdistrict, the Collectors’ Books record the locality (including names of the street, road, gully or other variations), occasionally the number of the house, the name of the householder and the total number of persons in the household (divided into male and female). The books also list separately how many of the residents are Chinese or Aboriginal. Additional information may include the type of dwelling.

The 1901 Collectors books are available on Microfiche at various repositories, some Family History Groups and Historical societies and author collection.

Electoral Rolls
Are always worth checking, results will vary from region to region. Noted that some areas around Jervis Bay will be listed under the ACT. 

Please note that wording in some of the records can offend Aboriginal people such as: black, coloured, darkie, ¾ or ½ caste. [sic] Other primary sources to check are School records, parish maps, newspapers, Court & Goal Records, Council minutes and blanket returns.

All sources will have their strength and weaknesses for family history research, depending on location and time period and type of source inline with the information being sought.

Note: Some language used is as found in primary sources, these are noted as [sic] in order to verify to the reader that the writer did not create a typographical error, but instead exactly reproduces the way the word/s or statement appeared in the original material.

Byrne, Denis. The mountains call me back: a history of the Aborigines and the forests of the far south coast of New South Wales, NSW Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs, Sydney, 1984.

Chittick, Lee and Fox, Terry. Travelling with Percy: a south coast journey, Aboriginal Studies Press, Canberra 1997.

Dunn, Cathy. Miryyal : Budawang Aborigines featured in church records, the author, Milton, 2000. more details

Egloff, Brian. Wreck bay: an Aboriginal fishing community, Aboriginal Studies Press, Canberra, 1990.

Howitt, A. W. The native tribes of south-east Australia, Macmillan, London, 1904. Reprinted 1996, Aboriginal Studies Press, Canberra.

Organ, Michael. A documentary history of the Illawarra & south coast Aborigines 1770-1850: including a chronological bibliography 1770-1990, Aboriginal Education Unit, Wollongong University, Wollongong, 1990.

Organ, Michael, Illawarra and South Coast aborigines, 1770-1900, Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, Canberra, 1993.

Townsend, Joseph. Rambles and observations in New South Wales, Chapman and Hall’s series London, 1849. With sketches of men and manners, … Aboriginal people from Ulladulla, Batemans Bay and Moruya. Available from the NSW State Library & National Library.

Young, Michael. The Aboriginal people of the Monaro. NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, Sydney, 2000. Compiled by Michael Young with Ellen and Debbie Mundy ”

Wesson, Sue. An historical atlas of the Aborigines of eastern Victoria and far south-eastern New South Wales, Monash University. School of Geography and Environmental Science, Melbourne, 2000

Articles and Phamplets:
Briggs, Ron and Jackson, Melissa. Pathfinder no. 6: Black routes through the library, a guide to Aboriginal family and local history resources relating to NSW. State Library of New South Wales, Sydney, 1996.

Brindle, Ken, An Index to the Aboriginal Welfare Board Correspondence Files, 1945-1969, unpublished manuscript held by the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, Canberra, compiled 1987. Also held by the New South Wales Department of Aboriginal Affairs.

NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service: Coastal Custodians Newsletters also available online

Mathews, R.H. Ethnological notes on the aboriginal tribes of New South Wales and Victoria. Originally published in Journal of the Royal Society of New South Wales, Vol. 38 (1904), pp. 203-381.

150 years of the NSW Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages

2006 marked the 150th Anniversary of an Act for Registering Births, Deaths and Marriages in NSW. So, in recognition of this anniversary it may be of use to review the accessibility, usage and some of the challenges of using these records, admittedly from an insiders viewpoint. Having worked at the Registry for about seven months I have learnt much about its uses and its failings in terms of historical records. Continue reading 150 years of the NSW Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages

Out of print publications

Woodstock Congregational Cemetery Milton
1875 – 1915 includes family history notes on burials, unmarked graves and history of cemetery. ISBN 0 9587586 4 6. out of print.

Sandridge Cemetery Mollymook Church of England Section A
1894 – 1996 includes family history notes on burials, unmarked graves and history of cemetery.
ISBN 0 95877586 2 X. out of print

Sandridge Cemetery Mollymook Church of England Section B
203 burials including unmarked graves. 1896 – 1998 includes family history notes on burials, unmarked graves and history of cemetery. ISBN 0 95877586 3 8. out of print

Methodist Church of Milton Ulladulla
Includes history of Church from 1856, a complete lists of Methodist burials in all local cemeteries, includes notes on ministers and Methodists marriages – ISBN 0 646 189387. Out of print

Ladies of the Royal Admiral 1792.
Female convicts, settlers wives and convict wives and their life and times. References to NSW Corps and voyage to Port Jackson.

Marlin Tales: A History of Hotels at Ulladulla.
1841 – present day. ISBN 0 9587586 5 4 – Includes early history of Ulladulla, Ulladulla harbour, hotels and Marlin Hotel. Out of print