Assignment Cover Page Ryerson Index

The Ryerson Index is a free index to death notices appearing in Australian newspapers. The date range covered extends from the Sydney Gazette of 1803 up to newspapers published within the last week or so. The Index also includes many funeral notices, and some probate notices and obituaries.

Because the Index was originally created by the Sydney Dead Persons Society, its strength lies in notices from NSW papers - including in excess of two million notices from the Sydney Morning Herald alone. However, the representation from papers from other states continues to grow, with additional papers being regularly added, so that the Index can now truly be considered an Australian index.

Indexing is being continuously carried out by a team of volunteers, too numerous to mention individually, who give freely of their time to ensure the site continues to grow. Site updates generally occur weekly.

The index itself cannot by definition be considered a primary source of data, but is purely a research aid to direct the researcher to the original source of a notice. We at Ryerson cannot undertake genealogical research for you, we are too busy indexing!

Almost every death notice ever published in an Australian paper is available for researchers to access, if you know where to look. And fortunately, a surprisingly large (and increasing) number of notices are available online, for free.

Online Resources

Offline Resources

Your State Library All State Libraries in Australia hold comprehensive microfilm collections of newspapers published in the home state, and often also include the larger metropolitan dailies from other states. These usually include all but the most recent issues, and even then, new issues are added just as soon as enough issues to fill a microfilm reel have been collected. In the case of large papers like the SMH, when a full reel may only contain ten issues, it is possible to find a reel on the shelf within 6 weeks of issue.
Remember also that most State Libraries have an "Ask a Librarian" service, whereby you can request a lookup by quoting the newspaper and publication date. This is particularly helpful for those who do not have easy access to their State Library. See the appropriate State Library website for details.
Your Local Library At the local library level, microfilm copies of papers local to the library are often kept. These are almost always the same film reels as are available at the State Library, and are provided for convenient access by the local community.  

The Last Resort

If all else fails, request a lookup from the team of Ryerson volunteers.  

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