Getting Started

4. Certificates

Certificates hold a wealth of information about your ancestors. They are definitely worth searching your house for as well as asking other family members if they have any. If you can’t find what you need you can always order a copy. Certificates from Australia and New Zealand may provide the following information, depending on where and when the event occurred.

Birth certificates can tell you:

  • The name of the person
  • Father's name, occupation, age and birthplace
  • Mother's name and maiden name, age and birthplace
  • When and where the parents were married
  • Names and ages of siblings (both living and deceased)
  • The informant and their residence
  • The name of the doctor, nurse and other witnesses to the birth
  • Names added after registration

Marriage certificates can tell you:

  • When and where the marriage took place
  • The bride and groom's full names
  • Birthplace of the bride and groom
  • Age and/or the date of birth of the bride and groom (note: age given is as stated by bride/groom, and may not be accurate)
  • Condition at marriage, i.e. widowed, divorced, or single
  • Profession
  • Residence
  • The names of the parents of the bride and groom. If a parent's name is followed by 'deceased', then search backwards from the date of marriage to find a death certificate for the parent
  • The bride and groom's fathers' occupations
  • Names of witnesses - often family members
  • The name and address of the minister/celebrant

Death certificates can tell you:

  • Full name of the person
  • When and where a person died
  • Age
  • Occupation
  • The cause of death, the duration of the last illness, the medical attendant and when he last saw the deceased
  • Details of the informant (often a family member)
  • The names of the parents of the deceased and the profession of the father
  • When and where buried or cremated
  • The name and religion of the minister for the burial/cremation
  • The names of witnesses to the burial/cremation
  • Where the deceased was born and how long in the colony/country
  • If married, the name of the spouse, their age at marriage and where the marriage occurred
  • Living children in order of birth with their names and ages
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