to death notices and obituaries in Australian newspapers

Newspaper coverage
The 2020 Newspaper Purge
Newspapers with Problems
Finding a published notice
Other public resources
Calendar of events
Published articles and Videos
So you want to be an indexer?
Some statistics
Update history
Resources for indexers
Contact Ryerson Index Inc
About us

died 30 August 2012, aged 95


The Ryerson Index is a free index to death notices appearing in Australian newspapers. The date range covered extends from the Sydney Gazette of 1803 up to newspapers published within the last week or so. The Index also includes many funeral notices, and some probate notices and obituaries.

Because the Index was originally created by the Sydney Dead Persons Society, its strength lies in notices from NSW papers - including in excess of two million notices from the Sydney Morning Herald alone. However, the representation from papers from other states continues to grow, with additional papers being regularly added, so that the Index can now truly be considered an Australian index.

Indexing is being continuously carried out by a team of volunteers, too numerous to mention individually, who give freely of their time to ensure the site continues to grow. Site updates generally occur weekly.

The index itself cannot by definition be considered a primary source of data, but is purely a research aid to direct the researcher to the original source of a notice. We at Ryerson cannot undertake genealogical research for you, we are too busy indexing!


April 2020 marked a huge change in newspaper publication in Australia. Because of the economic effects of the COVID-19 virus, and the effective shut-down of many sections of the Australian economy, income from classified advertisements dropped to almost zero for many papers. While some of those papers with a cover price continued to publish, other, plus almost all the community papers, most of which were distributed free of charge, overnight became uneconomical. As a result, publishers did the obvious thing, and ceased publication of the printed edition of these free papers.

To soften the blow, publishers stated that the print version of these papers had been "suspended", and printing would resume when circumstances allowed. Subsequently, details have been announced which divide the suspended papers into three categories - those which have been permanently shut down, those which will return in digital mode only, ie no print edition, and those which are "wait and see" because no announcement has been made (this category relates particularly to papers published by ACM.)

We have tried to gather details of the current state of play for those papers where printing has been suspended, and our list can be found here. This list continues to change, as further details come to light.

Most papers have stated they intend to continue to disseminate local news via their websites, which in most cases will be placed behind a pay-wall after a 4-week "introductory period".

Given the trend for such a large number of notices to now be published solely on the web, Ryerson has taken the decision that we will now index notices which are published in this way. To not do so would most likely lead to Ryerson withering away to insignificance, as the trend will surely be for further papers to become web-only in the future.

However, we believe there is a huge positive for Ryerson as a result of this upheaval. Both NewsCorp and ACM have revamped the way they show death and funeral notices on their websites, so that it is now possible to see the digital notices from all newspapers from these two publishers. We expect that this free access will continue after the papers end their "free trial period" - after all, it makes no sense to hide a death notice behind a paywall - and consequently Ryerson intends to step up our indexing to cover those papers we did not previously cover. This will mean that Ryerson will include approximately 98% of all death notices published in Australia.

A Special Appeal to
Family and Local History Societies

We always welcome Family History or Local History Societies who are interested in indexing the notices from their local paper. We find members of such societies make excellent indexers, because they know their local area and the names associated with it, and usually have a personal interest in the notices they are indexing.

If your society would like to contribute to Ryerson, please contact us via the link at the left of the screen.

Indexing Vacancies

We currently have the following vacancies for indexers of the capital city dailies:

Perth West Australian - Wed/Thu/Fri/Sat

If you are able to help out with indexing any of these papers, please contact us.

Please note - for all papers we prefer indexers who have access to the printed paper, or a .pdf version of the paper, as indexing from most newspaper websites can be unreliable.

Melbourne Help Required

We need people with access to The Age back issues on microfilm.

Our source (Google Newspapers) has not filmed every issue, so we have numerous gaps in our pre-1990 indexing. We need people with access to The Age on microfilm to locate the notices for the missing days, save them as .pdf and send them to us. No indexing is required (unless you want to!) - we only need your time spent in a library.

If you can help, please contact us via the link on the left.

Notices Indexed by Decade
(as at 21 April 2020)
Search site last updated
11 July 2020
(next planned update
18 July)
351 Newspapers
7,513,849 entries
(including more than 4 million entries from the past 30 years, which you won't find on any of the state BDM websites!)

Still can't find what you want? Then try the Australian Cemeteries Index

Can You Help?
Is your local paper currently included in Ryerson? If not, then why not take on the task of indexing the notices for us?

Do you have access to a library or other repository which has microfilm copies of newspapers available? We are always in need of people who can copy notices for us to index.

If you can help, please contact us via the link at the left of the screen.

Visitors Map
(since 12 June 2016)

This page is owned by Ryerson Index Inc, a non-profit organisation incorporated under the laws of New South Wales, Australia.