Information for Family Historians and Genealogists
The Sydney Diocesan Archives is not open to the public.
The Diocesan Archives is principally funded to provide information storage & retrieval services to the staff of the Archbishop's Office and many other diocesan administrative units, parishes, and churches. Unfortunately, we cannot provide family history services.
However, many parish and church records remain in the custody of the Parish Offices, particularly in the case of the very early churches. A very small amount of parish records have been deposited into the manuscript collections of libraries, such as the State Library of New South Wales and the Moore Theological College Library in Newtown, Sydney.
The following organisations may be able to help you with your family history project.
Since 2017, registers containing name-linked information which are held in the Sydney Diocesan Archives have been digitised and made available to the public via Ancestry. The database is called Sydney, Australia, Anglican Parish Registers, 1814-2011.
Ancestry has indexed the registers, so you can search for entries via the name search function. Or you can flick through the pages of each register, viewing high quality photographic images of each page.
This is a continuous process. So far, some 1646 registers have been digitised, and there are nearly 1.5 million records from our registers available on Ancestry. The types of registers which have been digitised include: Baptism Registers; Banns Registers; Burial Registers; Composite Registers (single volumes containing records of baptisms, marriages & burials); Confirmation Registers; Marriage Declaration Registers; and, Marriage Registers. We are sending more registers to be digitised for Ancestry every year.
The records are closed for set periods:
Baptisms: closed for 100 years
Burials: Not closed
Confirmations: closed for 80 years
Marriages: closed for 70 years
Ancestry is a paid subscription service. Your local public library or State Library may provide free access on their public computers.
For family history research from 1856, the records of the NSW Registry of Births, Deaths & Marriages are valuable, as compulsory civil registration commenced in 1856. Prior to 1856, information was collected and copied from church records, so the level of detail is dependent upon the level of details required by the church - in some cases this was minimal. From 1856 onwards, the level of detail required by the government regulations was higher.
When searching the Births, Deaths & Marriages database, you can access basic information about births up to 100 years ago; marriages up to 50 years ago; & deaths up to 30 years ago.
The SLNSW has a Family History Service which occupies the same role as the Society of Australian Genealogists in terms of assisting family historians, except that it is government funded and free to use. If you live in a state other than NSW, your state library should have similar resources.
The State Archives and Records of NSW has guides for family historians.
The Society of Australian Genealogists, based in Sydney, provides an expert and specialist family history service, and holds microfilms of records of churches of all denominations throughout Australia and overseas. The SAG sells copies of their microfilms to family history societies, historical societies, and libraries. Of those church and parish registers which have been deposited into the Sydney Diocesan Archives, the Society of Australian Genealogists has microfilmed the baptism, marriage & burial registers up to approximately 1930, and in some cases up to more recent dates. This was part of the "Joint Copy Project" records in conjunction with the National Library of Australia and the Mitchell Library (State Library of NSW). They have also borrowed registers directly from parish offices.
Learning about Family History Research
If you lack genealogy experience, you should join your local family history society, or look out for genealogy groups via your local library or heritage centre. These societies often contain many experienced researchers who will be able to guide and help you. Family history research is costly and time consuming, and can be frustrating as well as exciting, so you should seek help from those with experience. There are many helpful books published on the subject. Local Studies library collections and the Local Studies Librarians who manage these collections are also an excellent source of contextual information for family history research.
Local libraries often have a Local History or Local Studies section, in which they collect and hold resources relevant to the history of their local government area. Local Libraries often host the local family history and local history groups or societies. Family history societies often purchase microfilm copies of the church records relevant to their own area.