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Queensland newspapers provide a wealth of information about the history of our families. The Queensland State Library has an extensive microfilm collection of Queensland newspapers. A list of newspapers and their links can be found on line.
The main difficulty with using newspapers as a source is the lack of indexing. You need to know the approximate date of a significant event in the life of your ancestors in order to find any newspaper article about it. You also need to know approximately where your family lived to determine which newspapers are worth consulting.
Indexes for Queensland BDMs can provide precise dates for BDM events, so for events covered by the index, the date isn't usually the problem. However, the Queensland BDM indexes do not provide much location information (just in Brisbane or not in Brisbane). The electoral roll is probably the best way to determine the town/district your family lived in.
What information can be found in newspapers
Given the relative ease of finding the precise date of births, deaths and marriages, with the right newspaper, you have a good chance of finding:
- birth notices - generally published within a couple of weeks of birth
- marriage notices - generally published on the day or sometimes as a "pre-marriage" notice a week or so in advance
- death notices - generally published within a week or so of death
- funeral notices - generally published with a week or so of death
In smaller towns, social pages of the newspapers would often write up the details of a wedding. These may appear up to a month or so later; I think the newspapers "saved them up" for days when there was no other social news to report. They often give a quite detailed list of the bridesmaids and groomsmen (often family members) as well as relatives and friends who attended. The dresses of the bride, bridemaids and mothers of the bride and groom are often described in great detail. Others who contributed to the ceremony or reception (singers, musicians, cake icing, etc) are mentioned and again are often relatives.
Similarly, smaller towns often publish obituaries, again appearing some time in the next month or so (possibly waiting for a slow news day). These will often have the full life story and a lot of vital clues can be found within them. Some newspapers will give an account of the funeral, listing the pallbearers and those who sent wreaths etc or simply attended (many of whom will be relatives). Sometimes the funeral and the obituary appear as a combined article.
In larger cities, there is far less likelihood of finding obituaries or accounts of weddings and funerals, unless the person was very well-known.
Engagement notices were often published, but with virtually no other records to provide any clues as to the date of the engagement, finding them tends to be a matter of luck or great persistance (reading through many editions of the newspaper).
Accounts of other events in the lives of your family (sporting achievements, accidents, etc) are frequently reported in the newspapers, especially in smaller towns. However, unless you have some awareness of the event from other sources that provides you with an approximate date, you are unlikely to find them except by luck or persistance. While there is a wealth of information in newspapers, the lack of indexing is a significant barrier to unlocking these valuable resources.
Indexes to newspapers
- Nambour Chronicle & North Coast Advertiser
Australia`s first freely available, digitised and fully searchable on-line local newspaper, including issues for 1903-1958
- Ryerson Index - an online index to many Australian newspapers - originally focussing on New South Wales newspapers, but has some coverage of Queensland newspapers mostly for the last 10-30 years
- The Trove - Historic Australian Newspapers, 1803 to 1954
- Australia, New South Wales Alphabetical Index to Newspaper Cuttings
- Australia Newspapers Index
- Australia Newspaper Vital Notices, 1851-1997, ($), index, incomplete.
- Australian Periodical Publications 1840-1845
- Trove digitized newspapers
- Australian Lutheran, ($), index.