Discovering Links: 14 FREE Links for New South Wales Genealogy and History

From time to time I have been doing my “Discovering Links” posts. These consist of a collection of links that I have discovered, or found useful, and want to share with others. But rather than simply giving you a whole batch of random links each time, I am grouping them by Australian state, country or topic. You can see my previous Discovering Links posts here.

So New South Wales is the topic for this one. It’s not intended to be an exhaustive collection of links, but simply ones that many will find useful, and it may include some that you may not have known about.

And while many people think that genealogy costs a lot of money, let me tell you that all of the links below are free. Personally I find that it’s often a matter of knowing where to look beyond the big-name websites, and hopefully this will help with that.


New South Wales Free Settler of Felon?
Jen Willett’s site allows users to search the Free Settler or Felon database to find people in the Newcastle and the Hunter Valley area of New South Wales. So fare she has over 170,000 references to Convicts, Settlers, Townsfolk, Bushrangers, Innkeepers, Soldiers and Land Owners, Medical Practitioners and Magistrates. Information about the voyages of approximately 350 convict ships and the Surgeon Superintendents who accompanied them can be accessed via the Convict Ship Index and Convict Ship Surgeon Superintendent Index links

Australian Railway Historical Society: New South Wales
If you have either an interest in trains and railway history, or you have ancestors who worked in there – the Railway Historical Society website is a good place to check out. While they don’t have databases of details online, they list research guides, together with details of the types of records they hold.

logo - Dictionary of SydneyThe Dictionary of Sydney
What’s not to like about this site. This website which started in 2009 is built to be an online encyclopedia of the history of Sydney. Containing articles and essays, entries on people, events, organisations, buildings artefacts and places, together with oral histories, photographs, sounds and moving images. As the website says … ‘it is an encyclopedia unlike any other in the world’.

City of Sydney Assessment Books 1845-1948
The Assessment Books record details of ownership, occupation, construction, and value for buildings in the City of Sydney between 1845 and 1948. They provide valuable information for family and property history which is not available from any other source. When you’re on this site, click on the Ward Maps button, and check out the gorgeous maps they have scanned and put online.

Sands Sydney Directories 1858-1933
The firm of John Sands Ltd (Printers and Stationers) published their directory each year from 1858 through until 1933 (with the exception of 1872, 1874, 1878 and 1881). The Sands Directories were household and business information books – the equivalent of today’s yellow and white pages. They have  become a fundamental source for research into Sydney history, especially family history. This series has been digitised from microfiche.

Glass plate negative: 31205 New South Wales. Police Dept. City of Shadows at the Justice & Police Museum, Sydney, November 2005-January 2007. 1928

Glass plate negative: 31205
New South Wales. Police Dept. 1928
 (Justice & Police Museum, Sydney)

New South Wales Police Forensic Archive
The Justice & Police Museum holds the NSW Police Forensic Archive, which consists of around 130,000 glass and flexible negatives of mugshot photos. This is an incredible collection, and some of these are now online for viewing.

University of Newcastle Flickr Collection
If you love history and Newcastle, you’ll be engrossed in this collection of over 46,000 photographs on the Uni of Newcastle’s Flickr page. There’s over 200 albums of topics, but here’s just a few: Anglican Churches and rectories, Coal mines and coal, Estate posters, Historical photographs of Newcastle, Maitland, Mayfield. Stockton, Toronto, Wallsend, Hotel photos, Newcastle teacher’s college (staff and students), 1871 Census of St John’s Parish Newcastle, Register Book of Christ Church Cathedral from the archives of the Anglican Diocese of Newcastle (baptisms 1839-1861, marriages 1839-1855, burials 1839-1854), Royal Newcastle Hospital, University of Newcastle including staff and students … and obviously a whole heap more. Set aside a day or week and get lost looking through these photographs.

On the topic of photographs, the City of Sydney has scanned and uploaded over 75,000 old photos to their website. With a handy search box, this helps you find what you’re after. And they are also asking people if they can help identify people, place sand scenes to help with tagging.

New South Wales Law Almanacs 1886-2008
If you had anyone who was connected to the law (on the good side) in New South Wales, these Law Almanacs could be worth checking out. All scanned and viewable online from 1886, they list judges, lawyers, barristers, sheriffs, and so on. There is a site search engine which searches across the collection.

New South Wales Government Asylums for the Infirm and Destitute 1880-1896
State Records NSW has over 10,000 entries that relate to people who were admitted to Government Asylums in New South Wales in the last two decades of the 19th Century. The index is free to search, though if you are wanting a copy of the record there is a small administrative charge.

Mariners and Ships in Australian Waters
Masters, crew, stowaways, births and deaths at sea – you will find them all here. The lists on this site are being transcribed from the State Records NSW “Reels of the Shipping Master’s Office, Inwards Passengers Lists” with new records from the 1837 to 1925 period added weekly. This site allows you to browse or search by vessel, or name of the passenger or crew.

Death Records in New South Wales
State Records NSW is the primary place to go to NSW Inquests, Deceased Estate Files, Probate Packets (all of which are part of their “Dearh Reords” collection. They have indexes online to the following: Deceased estates 1880-1958, Probate Packets (Wills) 1817-1976 & 1989 includes the last will and testament, Intestate Files of those who died without leaving a will, Coroners Inquests 1796-1963 and Convict deaths 1828-1879.

Assisted (Bounty) Immigrants 1828-1842
This FamilySearch project gives viewers a digitised version of the Assisted (Bounty) Immigration index to search online – all 41,000 images of it!

Sydney Oral Histories
The collection showcases the voices of Sydney people past and present. In these interviews Sydney people talk about their history, their neighbourhoods, their beliefs, their work, their businesses, their relationship with the natural world, and their myriad experiences of daily life in this city. This is history from the people who were there.

4 Responses to “Discovering Links: 14 FREE Links for New South Wales Genealogy and History”

  1. Caitlin Gow says:

    A great selection Alona! Even a couple I had not heard of and am checking out right now 🙂

  2. jancey mclean says:

    I have just come across your email site; I am from Irish background, also ancestry from Tasmania(convicts? Irish?) I do not know, some from Adelaide where do I start?? Janccey

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