to death notices and obituaries in Australian newspapers



We aren't just listing data!

What we type must go as smoothly as possible into the uploader. With 10,000+ entries a week, there just isn't time to double-check each one. Your data input needs to be in the format that the central program accepts.  That is why all indexers use standard software - to produce output in a standard format.

We index every notice (subject to the rules on merging), and every day on which the paper should be published. This means we even index for days like Good Friday and Christmas Day, when many papers aren't published.

To index a day where there are no notices, or the paper wasn't published, is easy.

  1. enter the newspaper code and publication date
  2. click "Prepare to Zip"
That's all there is to it. The indexing program will generate a daily file which the updating program recognises as a NIL file. This means the date is marked off as complete, and won't show up as "missing" on the newspaper dates page.

Rules for Formatting

  1. Every comma in any of the location fields, and in any of the Previous Name fields, must be followed by a single space. HTML does not recognise a comma as a word separator, and will treat two words separated by a comma but no space as a single word.
  2. For the same reason, always leave a space between the christian name and the bracket or quote before a nickname, so HTML uses the space as a word separator. If there are two nicknames, separate them with a space.
  3. Do not leave two spaces anywhere between words - one space is all that is required.
  4. We do not include titles and decorations. Dr, OAM, etc can all be ignored. The only exception is "Sister" as a religious title, included in brackets following the christian names. This is to avoid confusion when a male christian name is used, eg "BROWN, Mary Paul (Sister)".
  5. The Previous Name fields require a FULL NAME. Remember they are headed Previous Name, not Previous Surname! We can’t just assume that the christian names given in the Name field apply to Previous Name fields. The case may be a full alias, with different surname and christian names.
  6. When entering a nickname, always enter it in round brackets (parentheses), regardless of how it is shown in the paper. Do not leave a space between the bracket and the start of the nickname, or between the end of the nickname and the final bracket.
  7. When in doubt over difficult-to-interpret letters (eg i or l, o or e,) think of what you're typing. Alstonville or Aistonville. Sheila or Shella, Marie or Marle. The correct interpretation will often be obvious.
  8. Do not include street addresses in locations, unless the street name is part of a larger name (eg The South Street Hostel). Property names, however, are included. If shown in the notice within double quotes ("), then we index the property name within single quotes (') rather than double quotes. Sometimes what appears to be a property name appears without quotes and with a town following - in this case, index exactly what is there (ie do not insert quotes).
  9. When "at" and "late of" are identical, do not index at (eg "at Berry, late of Berry" is indexed as "late of Berry".) Otherwise, we index both places, even if the difference is slight (eg "at Berry Hospital, late of Berry" is indexed as "at Berry Hospital, late of Berry".)
  10. Watch your spelling! While some place names are spelled incorrectly in the paper (and we should correct them when we find them), other mistakes in the index are typos by the indexers. Letter transposition happens often (eg Geroge, Shelia), and we need to be aware that an index in which an entry can't be found because it has been mis-spelled is worse than useless.
  11. Obvious family-type nicknames (Gran, Nana etc) are not indexed.
  12. When deciding whether a name is a nickname or a maiden name, look for the comma between surname and christian names. The normal convention is that (in the absence of a categorical statement such as nee or formerly) a name in brackets or quotes to the left of the comma is a surname, and to the right of the comma is a nickname.
  13. We do not index the place where a funeral is to be held. The location fields are solely for details of where the deceased lived.
  14. We do index a hospital, nursing home etc appearing in the location fields (unless it is just the non-specific “at hospital”, “at a nursing home”) because, particularly in the case of a nursing home, this is likely to be the location where the deceased last lived.
  15. When there are multiple entries on the same day for the same person, refer to the Merging Entries page for details of the procedure to be adopted.
  16. We always index what is published, without interpretation. This means not adding the state to placenames when the state isn’t shown in the notice, because places like Richmond and Windsor exist in more than one state.
  17. When a place name is obviously mis-spelled, we DO correct the spelling. When making the correction, please remember that our standard rule for place names is to adopt the present-day spelling, because that is what people will search for, not the spelling that was in vogue 50 years or more ago. An example is Hunter's Hill (then) and Hunters Hill (now).
  18. When a birthdate is given, but no age, then an age can be calculated. However, if only a birth year is given, then only an approximate age can be calculated. This should be entered as circa, eg c65 for "about 65".
  19. When an age is given as "in his 90th year", the age to enter is 89, not 90. Remember you do not complete your 90th year until your 90th birthday - you are aged 89 throughout your 90th year.
  20. If you are indexing consecutive issues of the same paper, do not omit an entry because you remember having indexed it on a previous day. It is important that we index EVERY notice EVERY day, for three reasons:
    1. for some papers (eg SMH), an indexer doesn’t index consecutive days and so doesn't know what was published yesterday
    2. it is possible that a researcher may not have access to every day's paper, so we need to indicate all the possibilities, not just one of them
    3. it is possible that a subsequent notice contains corrected information.
  21. When there is no christian name in the notice, the preferred way to index these is "(un-named male)" or "(un-named female)" when you can work out the sex, or just "(un-named)" when you can't. In the case of a child of unknown sex, "(un-named child)" or "(un-named infant)" can be used. Similarly when only "Mr" appears in the notice - this identifies him as an adult male, so he becomes "(un-named male)". But "Mrs" is a different case - because as well as identifying her as female, it also indicates married. In this case, it's better to use "(Mrs)" because it provides more information. Similarly with Miss - use "(Miss)" in preference to "(un-named female)". Sometimes only the husband's name or initials are given, eg Mrs John SMITH. This is indexed as "(Mrs John)", the brackets indicating it is not her name. Remember, try to include whatever information you can glean (sex, marital status, rough age) in the description, rather than just saying "(un-named)". Using the ( ) means these entries appear at the top of a list by surname, and so everyone knows where to look for them. 

Rules for Submitting

  1. The preferred method of submission is via Dropbox, using the "Ryerson Files" folder. This link would have been established for you following your training course. As you complete each day's indexing, move the .txt file to the Ryerson Files folder - that's all you need to do. The files within this folder will be picked up by the daily update run and added to the database.

  2. If you do not use Dropbox, then all files must be submitted in zipped format, using either Winzip, or similar software. You can download a copy of Winzip here if you don't already have it installed. If you are indexing more than one paper in a session, do not zip and send each file separately. Only send a single .zip file at the end of your indexing session, containing all the .txt files you have created in that session.

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 June 2nd, 2015.