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Proformat News
No: 111
May 2015
May Seminars
There are no seminars in May.

June Seminars
3: Understanding South Australian Land Records 10:00-12:00 WEA Centre Adelaide
10: Discovering Scottish Ancestors 7:00–10:00pm WEA Centre Adelaide
14: Torrens Riverbank Heritage Walk: Swans, bridges & stadium 2:00–4:00pm WEA Centre Adelaide
17: Hunting out English Ancestors 7:00–10:00pm WEA Centre Adelaide
24: Finding Your Irish Ancestors 7:00–10:00pm WEA Centre Adelaide
28: Adelaide Central East Heritage Walk: Clerics, clerks and courts 2:00–4:00pm WEA Centre Adelaide

All bookings must be made with the hosting organisation.

See the seminar program for more details and bookings.

Special notice to regular readers
The May newsletter will be made available to subscribers in mid-April but will not be available online until the end of May.

Censuses and census substitutes
South Australian Colonial Censuses

The 1841 Census was undertaken over a period of time. Research indicates that Adelaide itself was undertaken before Christmas 1840 while the metropolitan villages were completed by the end of February 1841 and the country districts by Easter. This return is quite limited not only in its coverage but also in its content.

The South Australian 1841 Census has been published with permission of the Premier’s Department by Adelaide Proformat.

In this issue:
May Seminars
June Seminars

Special notice to regular readers

Feature article
Censuses and census substitutes


Graham Jaunay
Adelaide Proformat

Glandore SA 5037

Tel: +61 8 8371 4465

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The information in this return is quite limited and as a consequence an attempt has been made to add biographical information to the entries. This in turn is limited to the circumstances evident at the time of the census and thus the user cannot expect to find the names, for example, of children born after the census was taken. People living away from the populated areas were not counted. This material is continually being updated. The bulk of the additional biographical material comes from the following…
 • Register of Emigrant Labourers seeking Free Passage 1836–1841
 • 1840 SA Directory
 • 1841 SA Directory
 • SA Pre–civil Registration Births to mid 1842
 • SA Pre–civil Registration Marriages to mid 1842
 • SA Pre–civil Registration Deaths to mid 1842
 • Biographical Index of South Australians 1836–1885 [BISA]
 • Hotels and Publicans in South Australia
 • Government Gazettes to 1842

The material is available on a CD entitled, South Australian 1841 Census and Biographies from Gould Genealogy or researchers can purchase family extracts online. A full index is available online at the Adelaide Proformat’s web site and this should be checked before purchasing a copy of the appropriate material. The material is available to subscribers of FindMyPast.

Because this material is continually being updated the CD lacks recent newly located material. This can be overcome by purchasing the particular entry directly from Adelaide Proformat.

Census records are very helpful when determining the relationships between people but unfortunately the 1841 Census (a page is pictured) is the only one whose data has been retained.

Other Australian Colonial Censuses

There are few surviving colonial Australian census records, as the governments adopted a policy of destroying them once the statistics had been collated. The surviving Australian colonial censuses are detailed on the Adelaide Proformat web site.

Australian Commonwealth Censuses

Every census taken since the establishment of the Commonwealth in 1901 has been destroyed as official mandated policy until most recent times and these are only being partially preserved as individuals have to give their consent (Census Information Legislation Amendment Bill 2000) and embargoes are in place for 100 years.

Following a long campaign in the final decade of the 20th century the legislation to retain census data with explicit consent was passed in time for the 2001 Census. The weakness in the scheme is that the person providing the data has to give consent meaning that when the material is released in 100 year's time there will be significant gaps in the records. It is the Australasian Federation of Family History Organisations policy that digital copies of all original returns for the census should be retained in the National Archives in Australia because they are an invaluable record of Australian family history. The census is the only public record that comes close to recording the name, address and occupation of every Australian. No other sources, such as electoral rolls and birth certificates achieve this. Millions of Australians are not on the rolls and millions more were not born here. The outcome of the Census conducted on 7 August 2001 was that 31.9% of respondents declined to have their data retained and a further 15.4% did not answer the question and thus were considered to have declined too. The outcome was that about 10 million people chose to have their data retained.

The first Australia–wide census undertaken by the Commonwealth was in 1911.

Census substitutes

With a paucity of census material much early Australian research has to rely on what are known as census substitutes.

Effectively a census substitute is any record that places a particular person in a particular place at a particular time. Thus technically almost all records one looks at including birth, marriage and death certificates could be deemed census substitutes but genealogists tend to restrict the term to those lesser known records that just fulfil the basic requirement of name associated with a place at a given time.

The downside of census substitutes is that unlike census returns they rarely list all the occupants at the particular address. Rarely are census substitutes as all embracing as official census returns and the failure to find a person listed is much greater. For example the failure to find a listing in a directory may not be the fault of the directory. Individuals are not listed for a range of reasons:
 • did not wish to be listed
 • were not the head of the household
 • deceased
 • could not afford the listing fee
 • did not meet the publication deadline
 • outside the prerequisites of the directory content

Electoral rolls are possibly the nearest alternative to a census but of course they only list eligible voters meaning the listing in the nineteenth century is quite restricted! The State Library has a good collection for the colonist and commonwealth era in South Australia. The rolls for three separate years - 1939, 1941 and 1943 for the South Australian regions of Barker, Boothby, Grey, Hindmarsh and Wakefield can be found at FindMyPast.

On the local level consider local government records and especially rate records. Some organisations like lodges, friendly societies and clubs may have retained membership records or deposited them with a non-government archive. In South Australia the primary repository for such material is the State Library but do not ignore potential collections in local museums and the like. If the organisation still exists they may still hold the material! The State Library also holds a range of professional directories that have been published for specific professions including doctors, ministers, the legal fraternity and the military. The Commercial & Trades Directory, South Australia 1882–1883 listing commercial establishments, sundry trades, banking, professional bodies, hotels, and friendly societies is at FindMyPast. The telephone service began in South Australian in 1886 and the first directory was published in 1898. An incomplete set can be found at the State Library.

The more common records in this category are the published Post Office and Commercial Directories. In South Australia the State Library has a very extensive collection of these books and a representative issue for each year is available online at their website. To them we could add newspaper personal columns, news items and social pages. The State Library has placed one digitised South Australian directory on its website for each year 1864 to 1973. The links to nineteenth century directories are grouped on one page while the latter are on another. FindMyPast has Sands & McDougall Directories 1902–1930 and the SA Almanac & Directory1839-1883.

Adelaide Proformat has produced records of land ownership prior to 1841 that may assist in placing the earliest South Australian settlers and their families on particular properties. Again a CD is available although not subjected to recent updates. The material can also be found at FindMyPast. A similar result may be achieved with Adelaide Proformat's, South Australian Cultivators. The survey of land under cultivation in 1840 was reported in the Register over several issues in mid-1841. Not only is it a useful census substitute but an excellent snapshot of crop production over 14,000 acres at the time. Linking the data from these two sets of records can produce a comprehensive picture of the community in the earliest days of the colony.

Many state school admission registers have been deposited with State Records of South Australia. These not only provide the researcher with names and addresses but unlike much already outlined will also name the child and give a birth date. Quite often the whole family of children can be found in the one register.

Local councils were (and are) responsible for maintaining rate assessment books which record the annual payment of council rates and the payee. Historical records will be found at State Records of South Australia or with the current local government authority.

The South Australian Government Gazette often contains census substitute material and is often of a private nature that would prevent publication in any other fora. For example, dentists, were listed together with their full address and qualifications in 10 February 2000 edition pp748 on. The Gazette has been online and searchable since 1999. Earlier issues can be found in hard copy from the State Library. Gazettes from 1841 to 1870 are at FindMyPast

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