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Sunday, October 23, 2011

Mining Ancestors in Australia

Notes from a talk given by Shauna Hicks at Yarrawonga Family History Group on October 2011.

If you have mining ancestors in your family you can add a lot of context to the history surrounding your family and even follow their movements as they moved around in search of gold or other metals that have been mined in Australia.

A rough guide to the times where gold was being mined in Australia's history is as follows:
  • South Australia - 1840's
  • Victorian and New South Wales - 1850's
  • Queensland - 1860's
  • Western Australia - 1890's
  • Many travelled over to New Zealand and back following the gold there.
You can find a great timeline of Australian Mining at this educational website  Chronology of Australian Mining

The Australian Mining History Association has a wealth of information particularly a bibliography of each state with links to websites that hold information on that States Mining history.

It is a good idea to look at the Government Departments for each State that looks after Mining to see if they have historical records and information.
For example - Dept of Planning and Community Development in Victoria has links to historical information at Gold mining - history and mining plots in Victoria

To get a brief overview of an area it is often useful to use wikipedia to get an idea of the area your ancestors may have mined.

When searching in Western Australia a helpful index to begin with is called the Mining Lease Holders Index covering 1892 - 1909. It has been taken from a Mines Department Nominal Index to Mining Tenements (CONS 4603/6 – Record Series 1028) and provides the name of the lease holder, lease number, goldfield and date of lease holding.This index is on Microform and you may be able to access it through a local family history group or State Library.

In Victoria at  the Genealogical Society of Victoria if you are a member you can log in to the Members Only section and search the index of Names. Here you will find Hospital Admissions on the Victorian Goldfields. Many miners were admitted to hospital for various injuries and illnesses. This index may be invaluable in giving you the birthplace and age of the individual their occupation and other information about their admission. This index has also been put on to a CD and your local family history group may have it available.

Other places to research your mining family members and the places they lived are through State Libraries, Regional Specialist Libraries such as the Bendigo Regional Archives Centre, Universities and Trade Unions.

QLD State Archives - QLD Mineral Leases 1871-1940
QLD Index of Mining Company Records  - Companies Index 1863-1959
NSW Registers to Gold Leases 1874-1928 - Registers of auriferous (gold) leases, 1874-1928
New Zealand Gold Miners Database 1861-72 - Goldrush Online

The Noel Butlin Archives Centre has many records about Gold Mining as well as Union and Business Records.

The Trade Union Archives will also give you information about Union Members, Strikes and other details.

Looking for family that may have been involved in a Mining Accident and you are looking in Victoria you should certainly look at Dave Evans Mining Index. This is only a sample of a more detailed index that can be found on CD. You may like to see if your local family history group or library has it available.
The QLD State Library has Mining Accidents 1882-1900

Cora Webb has links to information about the Mining Occupation that will give you some background information to this occupation.

If you are looking for more information on the types of health issues that miners may have had such as phthisis and claims they may have made against the companies they worked for you should start with your State Government Archives. 

If you are looking for photographs of your ancestors or of the area they mined around. Use your State Library, State Archives, University Archives and Picture Australia to search. You may also like to look at the Images from the Past on the Royal Historical Society of Victoria.

Finding detailed information about your Mining Ancestors may be hit and miss but there are a lot of resources that can enrich the family history of your mining ancestors giving your stories more detail and depth.



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