The Ryerson Index

to death notices and obituaries in Australian newspapers

Interpreting the Search Results


Your search results will generally be self-explanatory, but there are a few features which you may not be aware of.

1. The use of round brackets ( ) in the Given Names field

We use round brackets (or parentheses) to indicate the name in brackets is not the deceased's birth name. It is generally a nickname, or a religious name, that is shown in this fashion.

2. The use of square brackets [ ]

Ryerson uses square brackets to indicate information which has been added by the indexers, and which does NOT appear in the original notice. This can occur in two possible places:

(a) in the "Given Name" field

Sometimes we come across a notice with no given name shown, only a surname. This happens less frequently in modern times, but was quite common prior to WWII. When we find one of these notices, we check the surname and date of death, and the locality if present, against the appropriate BDM website index. If we can achieve an unambiguous match, in that the details in the notice being indexed match just a single BDM index entry, then we will insert the given names from the BDM index into the Ryerson entry. Because this information is being added by the indexers, and does not appear in the original notice, we put the given names in square brackets.

As an example, consider this search result:

This lady appears in the obituary as "Mrs E BEMBRICK", with a date of death given, and her husband named as Silas, a clergyman. A search of the NSW BDM index for the surname and date of death returns the following entry:

and the 1933 Electoral Roll shows the following:

which, in our opinion, all adds up to the required evidence that this is the correct person.

We are limited to using this method on deaths occurring only in NSW, Qld and ACT, as these are the only BDM index websites which allow a search using a precise date of death.

(b) in the "Other Details" field

It is surprising how much "impossible" information is published in death notices. This generally takes the form of a death date AFTER the publication date of the notice.

When we come across such impossibilities, we add a comment in square brackets to the "Other Details" field, to highlight that there is an error in the original notice, and not in our indexing of it!

Such a comment looks like this: