Surge in requests for family history records during COVID-19

Published Tuesday, 12 January, 2021 at 11:24 AM

Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, Minister for Women and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence
The Honourable Shannon Fentiman

Queenslanders have used the extra time at home during the COVID-19 pandemic to look into their family history.

Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Shannon Fentiman said statistics compiled by the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages (RBDM) show that family history purchases soared by 22 percent over the course of the year, and rocketed up 38 and 37 percent in May and June respectively.

“With Queenslanders spending more time at home with their families during 2020, it proved a good opportunity to start researching their family history,” Ms Fentiman said.

“Last year we saw a spike of almost 40 per cent in purchases of family history from the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, the biggest request was for images and death registrations.”

In 2020, a total of 31,190 family history items held by RBDM were accessed by mid-November, up from 24,683 in 2019.

The Attorney-General said each year the RBDM release new records available through their family history research service.

“With the new year upon us it also means new records,” she said.

“This year the RBDM have 51,661 new records available through their family history research service including over 20,400 birth records from 1921, over 11,700 marriage records from 1946 and more than 19,400 death records from 1991.”

The registry is able to provide the service for certificates of death registrations but they must be from at least 30 years ago.

Queenslanders can also access images or copies of certificates for births that took place more than 100 years ago and for marriages that took place more than 75 years ago.

Ms Fentiman said the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages are playing a crucial role in assisting Queenslanders on their journey to learn more about their family history.

“History is literally at our fingertips. With the rise of genealogy sites such as and social media, Queenslanders are able to research their family history easier and faster,” Ms Fentiman said.

“Queensland started compulsory registration of life events – births, deaths and marriages – in 1856, but holds some records dating back to 1829.”

The RBDM website has a section dedicated to assisting the public with basic family history research for people who were born, married and/or died in Queensland. The searches are free but there is a small cost for images of documents and historical certificates. 

The registry also holds some historical church records for baptisms and burials between 1829 and 1856; church marriages between 1839 and 1856; marine birth and death records until 1920; and death records for service personnel who enlisted in Queensland for World War I and World War II.

All the information about family history searches can be found at



Media contact:          Inga Williams              0439 949 719