Birth, Death and Marriage Records (BDMs) are the first kind of records you'll discover when starting your family history research. The BDMs provide an incredible resource for tracing important events in your family's history, and are often the key to growing your family tree.

Head to the BDMs!

But what are they, exactly? And how can they help you?

A brief history

New South Wales was established as a penal colony in 1788, at which point convicts from the British Isles started being sent to Australia. Records started being kept pre-1901, when each of Australia's states was still a separate government or colony. Records usually started being kept at the start of the colony's formation, while earlier records can be found in New South Wales, which was the original jurisdictional body for Australia.

Getting started

The most likely starting point for new users will be these vital records, which are fully name indexed to make them incredibly easy to search. The smart search features allow you to include name variants in your search, in case a record was transcribed wrong (easily done when you see some of the handwriting!) or you relative recorded themselves under a shortened name (ie Maggie instead of Margaret).

What you'll find

The amount of information listed in BDMs will vary depending on the record, but usually they will consist of a combination of the following personal information:

Birth records:

  • Name
  • Birth year/date
  • Mother's surname
  • District
  • County
  • Country

GRO births contain the mother's maiden name for any births registered in the 3rd quarter of 1911 onwards.


Death Records:

  • Name
  • Gender
  • Birth date
  • Death date
  • District
  • County
  • Country

With the GRO death indexes, the date of birth was added from the 2nd quarter of 1969 onwards.


Marriage Records:

  • Name
  • Name of spouse
  • Year and quarter of marriage
  • district

With the GRO marriages we offer 'marriage match' to show potential spouses. We show the exact spouse for marriages registered in the 1st quarter of 1912 onwards. At the same time, the married and maiden name of the woman was also recorded, if they had been married before.

The birth and marriage records will most likely be the most useful for adding new names to your family tree, while the death records can provide an insight into the life of an individual and their family.

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BDMs are the perfect starting point for any newcomer to family history, as they provide you with the basic details needed to continue expanding your family tree. Things such as the names of parents and spouses, occupations, or even finding the area where they lived, can prove invaluable to unlocking the mysteries of your family's past.

Discover more about finding your criminal ancestors in the historic newspapers