The release of Ancestry's Australia BMD Index seems to have been met with mixed reviews. Interestingly, here in the UK, although it got press coverage, and links to the Ancestry.co.uk website, there are no obvious details there!
However, full details can be found on the Autralian site:
In a project that has taken four years to complete, the online index has been assembled into one fully searchable database from microfilm sourced from state record offices and archives where the records are available online or on fiche, but not in one place or in one format.
A total of nearly 15 million records are included in this new database, which will be an essential starting point for both Australian family historians and those around the world with Australian heritage wishing to learn more about their ancestors’ lives.
The database is easy to use and can be searched by any of the following terms:
Birth: name, birth year, father’s name, mother’s name, and birth place
Marriage: maiden name, spouse name, marriage year and marriage place
Death: name, death year, est. birth year, father’s name, mother’s name and death place.
The records reveal fascinating insights into Australian birth, marriage and death trends since the First Fleet arrived in Australia more than 200 years ago.
Famous names can be found in the records, including Australia's first prime minister Edmund Barton, Tasmanian-born actor Errol Flynn, and cricketer Sir Donald Bradman.
"Not only are these the definitive records needed by Australians to trace their heritage, but they are also essential for Britons wishing to discover ancestral links to the country," the spokesman said.
"Family historians estimate that one in three of us have an Australian ancestor in our family tree, equating to around 18 million living Britons.
"However, approximately 11 million (60 per cent) of those with Australian ancestors know nothing about them."
Earlier this year, Ancestry.co.uk published records of tens of thousands of convicts transported to Australia from Britain.
The website released the criminal records of about 55,000 convicts, along with their physical descriptions, notes from their trials, journey to Australia, working life, release and death.
But all is not sweetness and light.
Early users are reporting errors with the data, both in terms of accuracy of transcription and in the level of content. Details already available elsewhere are not included in this database.
Ancestry's response is to say that they make every effort to ensure accuracy in the transcription process, however, sometimes errors exist in the original source material (rather than as a result of transcribing the data). As a result, it’s extremely difficult to achieve 100% accuracy with the data and for this reason, Ancestry always encourage their Members to add alternate information to records via the ‘Add Alternative Information’ link on the record page.
In relation to the years covered by the collection, this is a direct reflection of the period covered by the source material that they were able to acquire and, as always, Ancestry willl continue to improve coverage of historic and contemporary records as they gain access to new sources of the material.