What are gazettes?

Gazette from National Library of AustraliaWhen researching my family history, there can be many types of records that you can come across.  A government gazette is one  of those types of records that we may not be familiar with today but are a great resource in family history research. Although gazettes are written in quite formal language once you get used to reading them, they are quite interesting. They paint a picture of how people lived in that age and what was important to their everyday lives.  For instance in the Hobart Gazette for 1833, I can see that a course in Latin is starting up, passage for a trip to the UK is being presold, the local farmer has 400 sheep that he is getting ready to export and there are many prime pieces of real estate going up for auction in the local Hobart area.

All of the States, Territories and the Commonwealth government have gazettes that they issued and still do. A gazette was a way for the government to let the public know what they were doing and what was going on. (Some gazettes served as the general newspaper.) New South Wales published their first gazette in 1832.  Information that is included in a gazette can cover many types of notices – government appointments, land transactions, bankrupticies and insolvencies, military deserters, will/probate/ deceased estates, police actions, licenses, government contracts, trademarks and copyrights and much more.  I have been looking for information on a mining ancestor. Through searching gazettes in New South Wales I have found more information about the land that he leased in New South Wales.  It was a tin mine and his sons are reported of having a really profitable time after hitting a rich deposit.

The National Library of Australia and their archives in Trove have digitalised many gazettes and the searching there is free.  On the National Library of Australia website put in the search bar “gazette” and it will bring up the different states, territories and the commonwealth for you to click on for more information.  They also give you great examples of different information  researchers may want to look up and where to go for that information. http://www.nla.gov.au/research-guides/finding-government-gazettes-getting-started . This can be a great way to get your head around different dates that states existed and give you ideas on why notices aren’t showing up where you have looked. Then make sure that you use Trove to find gazettes. Use the newspaper function and type in gazettes. This will bring up the tabs on the left for you to choose an area. Click on a state and there are some gazettes in the list of newspapers.

The websites that you can join like findmypast, ancestry and familysearch.org do have gazettes to search through online. Sometimes they can be easier to navigate then Trove. However it was only really findmypast that had a lot of the gazettes. The tab to search in findmypast is newspapers, directories and social history. They currently have gazettes for New South Wales, Queensland , South Australia, Victoria and Tasmania.  After searching the Ancestry card catalogue, I found they only had the New South Wales Gazettes. While familysearch.org only had gazettes from Tasmania listed in their catalogue.

There are so many places to search when looking for clues about our ancestors. Gazettes can be overlooked with their awkwardness and formality. The notices are not as slick as newspapers of today. However I think gazettes are also a good way to start your search into finding more state records. From the report on the land leases I can now search more information from the state records. The other thing I like about gazettes is that you may have to do something special to get into the newspaper of the day, but the gazettes list ordinary people going about their daily lives.

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