|Ballarat Cemeteries CD - the culmination of a joint project between the Genealogical Society of Victoria and the Ballarat & District Genealogical Society.|
Genealogists throughout Australia and indeed many other parts of the world will warmly welcome the availability of a comprehensive new index for interments in the Ballarat Cemeteries. Of all early settlements in Australia Ballarat can lay claim to having the richest treasure trove of burial records both in volume and diversity of goldrush immigrants.
For the Ballarat Old Cemetery there are 35,000 burial records in 11,000 graves from May 1856 to May 2005 as well as transcriptions of headstones, many of which have now become unreadable or no longer exist. The names of some pre-1856 burials are known, such as that on an 1853 wooden headstone. This wonderful work began in 1973 when Ballarat Historical Society members, Hazel Williams and Lois Reynolds first recorded information from selected headstones in the Ballarat Old Cemetery. The work was continued in the 1980s by the Ballarat Group of the Genealogical Society of Victoria and cemetery records were computerised by the Ballaarat General Cemeteries Trust. This resulted in the publication by the GSV of the first Ballarat burial index on microfiche in 1989. Graeme Reynolds, son of Lois, has brought the Ballarat Old Cemetery transcription record up to date for this new publication by including new memorials on old graves erected as recently as June 2006.
At the planned launch in Ballarat on the 29th of October 2006 a most honoured guest will be Lois Reynolds, now in her 90th year. This year is especially significant as it is the 150th anniversary of the establishment of the Ballaarat General Cemeteries Trust, the body which has generously provided the registers for indexing and publication.
A total in the order of 130,000 records will now be easily accessible in a searchable database available on CD-ROM. These include 70,000 for the Ballarat New Cemetery (1867-2005) plus headstone transcriptions and 25,000 cremations for the Ballarat Crematorium (1958-2005).
Included on the CD are current maps of the Ballarat Old and New Cemeteries showing the location of the various sections.
The Ballarat Cemeteries are a final testament to the lives of immigrants of many nationalities and faiths as evidenced by inscriptions in German, Gaelic, French, Welsh, Hebrew and many hundreds in Chinese script. The Chinese outnumbered every other ethnic group except the English. Among those who brought their skills to their adopted land were the pioneers of law and order and government - squatters, lawyers, clergymen, doctors, architects, journalists, merchants, hoteliers, engineers, astronomers, inventors, artists and artisans, entrepreneurs, investors and philanthropists who generously enriched the cultural life of their new home. Men of all these professions as well as characters of the black sheep variety were laid to rest in Ballarat along with many of their wives and children. While there were victims of disease and disasters, often associated with mining, there were those who lived to a grand old age. Areas were reserved by the Cemeteries Trust for charitable institutions such as the Benevolent Home, Nazareth House and orphanages. Many graves remain unmarked but some have impressive monuments erected by the rich or by public subscription. The memorials to the soldiers and diggers who died in the Eureka uprising of 1854 are fenced separately.
Background information to the cemeteries and the crematorium is included in the introduction written by Graeme Reynolds. He details the history of the project, the pitfalls encountered and advice about interpretation of the data, especially the transcriptions which were compiled from a variety of sources over more than thirty years. The Ballarat Old and New Cemeteries registers show: Name, Age, Date of burial, Residence, Occupation, Area, Section, Location. There is also a useful key to the abbreviations used in the remarks. The Crematorium register shows: Name, Age, Date of death, Date of cremation, Residence, Name of applicant, Memorial location. Graeme has noted that because of tenure on the crematorium memorials the preservation of register entries is vital.
Orders for the Ballarat Cemeteries Index CD can be made with payment of $49 plus $6 postage and packaging to The Genealogical Society of Victoria Inc, Level B1, 257 Collins Street, Melbourne, Victoria 3000 or the Ballarat & District Genealogical Society, PO Box 1809 Ballarat Mail Centre, Victoria 3354. For a modest donation the B&DGS research team would take digital photos of headstones on request. Enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org
for Ballarat & District Genealogical Society