Thursday, November 25, 2010

Rookwood Burial Records Now Online at

November 22, 2010

Rookwood burial records now available at
  • Over 233,000 burial records available to search online
  • It's now easier to research Australian ancestors
  • Records include former NSW Premier John Lang, who opened Sydney Harbour Bridge, and Peter Dodds McCormick, who wrote Advance Australia Fair

Family history website has published online for the first time burial records from Rookwood Cemetery, working in partnership with the Society of Australian Genealogists.

Between 1981 and 1992 members of the Society of Australian Genealogists painstakingly transcribed inscriptions from headstones in Rookwood Cemetery - the final resting place for over 600,000 Australians, located in Sydney's west.

The transcriptions that resulted from that mammoth 11 year project, containing 233,160 names, have now gone online for the first time at, so that anyone around the world can search for their Australian ancestors from the comfort of their own home. It is possible to search the records by surname, forename, inscription or year of death, and each entry shows the complete transcription and grave location.

The oldest graves in Rookwood Cemetery date back to 1867, and today it is one of the largest cemeteries in the whole of the Southern Hemisphere. It is therefore likely that many Australians would have a relative whose resting place is within Rookwood's gates and will be able to find their record in the new online database. The online records cover dates of death over the period 1798 to 1999.

Elaine Collins, Business Development Director at, said: "The Rookwood Burials are a unique and valuable resource for anyone interested in researching their Australian family history. We're delighted to be working with the Society of Australian Genealogists to put these records online for the first time, enabling people worldwide to find their Australian connections."

Heather Garnsey, Executive Officer of the Society of Australian Genealogists, said: "The Society was delighted to work with findmypast to bring its Rookwood Cemetery Transcriptions to a new audience online. SAG volunteers transcribed Rookwood - the largest cemetery in the southern hemisphere - as its contribution to the Australian Bicentenary in 1988 and the transcripts were previously only available on microfiche and CD, both long out-of-print.

Since it was opened in 1867, Rookwood has remained Sydney's most important cemetery with more than a million burials believed to have taken place there.  Headstones provide vital clues for genealogists, often revealing far more than just name, age and date of death.  Place of origin, religion, occupation and family relationships can all be revealed through headstone inscriptions.  We'd expect many new research leads to be discovered through the availability of this material online through findmypast."

Among the famous people that appear in the new online burial records are:
  • John T. Lang (1976-1975) - Labour Premier of N.S.W. during the Depression, who introduced Child Endowment, Widows Pension and Workers Compensation Act, and also restored the 44 hour week. He opened Sydney Harbour Bridge in 1932.
  • Peter Dodds McCormick (c.1833-1916) composed Advance Australia Fair, the Australian National Anthem.
  • Mei Quong Tart - Popular leading 19th century Sydney merchant-Philanthropist-with a network of tea rooms including "Elite Hall" in QVB.
  • Jacob Pitman - Brother of Sir Isaac Pitman, who introduced phonetic shorthand to Australia.
  • Louisa Lawson - Pioneer of women's sufferage in Australia and Henry Lawson's mother.
  • Bee Miles - Notorious in 1950's and 1960's for her eccentric behaviour in Sydney trams and taxis, well educated, a free spirit. She recited Shakespeare from the steps of the State Library. She was cremated and her ashes scattered. This is her family's grave site.
  • David Jones - The founder of the famous Sydney Stores.
  • John Fairfax - Founder of The Sydney Morning Herald.

The new records can be found within the Parish Record Collection at and are part of a much larger ongoing project with the Federation of Family History Societies to put millions of parish records online. These records are also available through, the Australia-based sister site of

Leading UK family history website (formerly was the first company to make the complete birth, marriage and death indexes for England & Wales available online in April 2003.

Following the transcription, scanning and indexing of over two million images, the company launched the first website to allow the public easy and fast access to the complete indexes, which until then had only been available on microfiche film in specialist archives and libraries. The launch was instrumental in creating the widespread and growing interest in genealogy seen in the UK today. has subsequently digitised many more family history records and now offers access to over 750 million records dating as far back as 1538. This allows family historians and novice genealogists to search for their ancestors among comprehensive collections of military records, census, migration, occupation directories, and current electoral roll data, as well as the original comprehensive birth, marriage and death records.

In November 2006 launched the microsite in association with The National Archives to publish outbound passenger lists for long-distance voyages departing all British ports between 1890 and 1960.

As well as providing access to historical records, is also developing a range of online tools to help people discover and share their family history more easily, beginning with the launch of Family Tree Explorer in July 2007.

In April 2007,'s then parent company Title Research Group received the prestigious Queen's Award for Enterprise: Innovation 2007 in recognition of their achievement. was acquired in December 2007 by brightsolid, the company who were awarded The National Archives' contract to publish online the 1911 census, which it launched in January 2009.

About SAG
The Society of Australian Genealogists (SAG) has been helping people trace their family history for over 75 years. Located in the Sydney CBD, SAG operates a world-class library and manuscript collection with many unique records. SAG runs an active programme of lectures, workshops, seminars and tours and a book shop, as well as providing advice and support to anyone researching their family history in Australia.

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