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Finding free family history records of Australian ancestors

Finding burial information - tips and traps

Many of the interment lists for Australian Cemeteries are coming online and they are extremely useful resources for family historians especially when you cannot easily visit. Thanks in large part to the dedication of volunteers many headstone photos are viewable online too. Headstone inscriptions also possibly give the most accurate date of death. This can be useful where dates transcribed in the many digital indexes seem confusing or inaccurate. Often headstones will list the name of a partner and family members too.

Some tips for finding burial records...

  • Search for variations in the spelling of the deceased’s name
  • Search for cemeteries in the area where the deceased last resided (billiongraves.com often lists nearby cemeteries)
  • Look for family members buried nearby or in the same plot
  • Contact the cemetery if you can’t find your deceased and you are certain your family member is buried there
  • Get the details of your deceased’s gravesite location and ask the cemetery for a copy of the interment record. The cemeteries keep interment records which are different to death records. Interment records often record the name and address of the informant as well as the cause of death.
  • Search Trove for death and funeral notices and possibly obituaries around the time of the date of death. These often state where the person was to be buried.

Traps in burial records...

  • Sometimes a person can die in one state or location and be transferred to another for burial.  This is often the case where a person dies in say a hospital but is removed to the person's residential area for burial.
  • The various state registrars record all of the deceased details but often the digital indexes only show the year of registration. This can sometimes be confusing when the death year and the registration year overlap (common for December deaths that are registered in January the following year). Burial records are generally more accurate as burials usually occur just days after death.
  • Many state registrars, in particular Victoria, have abbreviated the place names in the digital indexes and in many instances the abbreviation could be for many different places Some place names have changed over time. For instance, “Hotham” in Melbourne is now called North Melbourne and there is a small country town called Hotham north west of Melbourne. If a place seems confusing, check to see if the place name has changed.
  • Not all gravesites have headstones and not all headstones have been photographed or transcribed. Don't assume that if your deceased is not included in the online cemetery records that there is no burial in that cemetery. Always check with the cemetery administration or the local historical society.