to death notices and obituaries in Australian newspapers




Ted CROSS (1914-2005) was a local historian from the Goulburn area, who set himself the task of indexing all names included in BDM notices in the "Goulburn Evening Penny Post" and its successor, the " Goulburn Post" from the first issue in 1870 until 2000. A retired school Principal, he researched the birth, death and marriage records, and printed them in several volumes which are now held by the State Library of NSW. His work resulted in him being voted Goulburn's Senior Citizen of the year in 2003.

Only one volume of his work was published, called "Deaths, Funeral and Obituary Notices culled from the Goulburn Post 1930-1979".

Ted's index was donated to the Goulburn Library, where staff have augmented it with corresponding entries post-2000.

In 2009, a joint approach was made to Ryerson by the Cross family (Ted's children Rodney, Jean and Philip) and Lynn Bonomini, the Regional History Coordinator with the Southern Tablelands Regional Library, to see whether we could make use of any of Ted's work.

The data Ted had compiled, and which had been added to in the same format, required some massaging to convert it to a form suitable for inclusion in Ryerson, but the effort was considered worthwhile given that the result would be a complete coverage of the "Goulburn Post", initially from 1930 to date, and eventually from 1870.

Ryerson is most grateful to be the recipient of the pioneering work carried out by Ted Cross, and would like to thank the Cross family for making available Ted's work for us to use. We also owe considerable thanks to Lynn Bonomini and her staff at Goulburn Branch Library for the work thay have put in to resolving the queries we have raised during the conversion process.

The Results

Incorporating the Cross Index into Ryerson caused us a few difficulties.

Ted's original work was carried out in pre-computer days. His methodology was to work through issues of the Post at the Library, and write out (in longhand) the details he required to create an index entry. He then typed up his index at home from his notes.

Because each entry had to fit on a single line, some abbreviations were made. Many entries, for instance, are missing a second given name, even though there is one present in the original notice. Location details were often omitted.

The biggest problem encountered with the data was the absence of the Notice Type field. We have no way of distinguishing between death notices, funeral notices, probate notices or obituaries, or even non-notices such as inquest reports, and reports of accidental deaths. Consequently all entries have been considered Death Notices, except for a small number where we have had reason to recheck the original, and could ascertain the correct notice type.

This means that, while we are 99% certain that an entry found in Ryerson will be present in the issue of the "Post" on the stated publication date, we are not at all certain just where in the paper it can be found.

The staff at Goulburn Branch Library are slowly working their way through the data and making corrections, but with about 35,000 records added in this excercise, it will be some time before all are checked.

We think this is a small price to pay for being able to include such a valuable work in Ryerson.

This page is owned by Ryerson Index Inc, a non-profit organisation incorporated under the laws of New South Wales, Australia. The last update was February 12th, 2010.