With the growing interest in researching your family tree, help is at hand with a free index of published death and funeral notices but it’s a volunteer effort and more indexers are required.
The Tenterfield Family History Group is hosting a workshop at Tenterfield Library on Tuesday, August 14 where Ryerson Index president John Graham will show what’s required in entering information into the database, and how to access it.
A search of the index doesn’t return the actual notice, but rather where it was published. It acts as a front-end for researchers so that they don’t have to visit every publication or, indeed, edition to locate a particular notice.
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 some probate notices and obituaries.
It all began back in 1988 when the aptly-named Sydney Dead Persons Society decided to create on ongoing index of notices published in the Sydney Morning Herald and the Daily Telegraph. The index has since grown exponentially, while maintaining an emphasis on NSW newspapers.
Currently the index has more than 6.6 million entries from 86 Australian newspapers. There are entries for some periods of the Tenterfield Star, but the information-gathering relies entirely on volunteers. The Family History Group is debating on whether indexing local notices should be a group project.
Ryerson Index says it always welcome family history or local history societies who are interested in indexing the notices from their local paper.
“We find members of such societies make excellent indexers, because they know their local area and the names associated with it, and usually have a personal interest in the notices they are indexing.”
The all-day workshop costs $10 per person and runs from 10.30am to 3.30pm with an hour’s break from 12.30pm for attendees to organise their own lunch.
The morning session will be an indepth rundown of how the index works and how to get the best from the Ryerson website, with a Q&A session and website demonstration.
The afternoon session will be interactive for those interested in becoming indexers, so you will need to bring your Windows-enabled laptop. (The software doesn’t work on Mac computers.)
“Even if you’re not interested in becoming an indexer, please come as you will pick up valuable information,” the Family History Group Society’s Sandra Wilson said.