31 May 2008

Australia: 8.9 million records, June 4

This week a large database of immigrants to Australia will be accessible online to family history researchers.

Although most free settlers in Australia were British, migrants arrived from all over the world, including the United States, Russia, India and China. Jews were also among the First Fleet and represented in every later wave of immigration.

The immigrant records will go online Wednesday, June 4, at Ancestry.com.au, according to this story on CourierMail.com

Millions of free settlers, who arrived 1826-1922,looked on Australia as a land of opportunity. Now, the names of 8.9 million passengers and crew, arriving in New South Wales, will be accessible to researchers around the world.

This collection follows last year's launch of 160,000 convict records.

An Ancestry spokesman comments in the story that the average Aussie has a one-in-three chance of having a free-settler ancestor and that some 7 million Australians were related to early settlers. Of course, this isn't considering the millions of researchers worldwide who might have had an individual or family leaving for "down under."

Why did they go to Australia? For the same reasons people go everywhere: the chance of a better life or, in the early days of Australia, the Gold Rush! And, as is the case in most nations of immigrants, many prominent Australians descend from early immigrants.

The story ended with Rita Miller, a descendant of Englishman William Carseldine who landed in 1854 on the Monsoon with his wife and four children. They went to Moreton Bay for the Gold Rush. The family has just held its 150-year reunion.

Read more here

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