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Census and muster records: South Australia

A guide to the State Library of South Australia census and muster records for SA, Australia and the UK


Australian census returns are confidential and so once statistics have been compiled, the original documents recording personal details are destroyed. A few exceptions to this general rule have survived and it has been noted where personal names are listed in a census or muster.

Early English records of men able to perform military service were detailed in 'musters', by which name general population lists including lists of convicts and free immigrants came to be known.

South Australia

The 1841 census compiled by the Colonial Secretary's Office was the earliest South Australian census taken and is the only original census material to survive. All subsequent census returns were destroyed after statistics had been collated. In South Australia, the 1841 census is therefore unique in recording personal names.

Census Census returns 1841.
[provide name, age group, and locality of residence of head of household; and sex, age group and in some cases names of others in household]
Family History Coll. Reference no. 407 Index [arranged alphabetically by name; gives reference to page where the name appears]
1841 paper + microform
Internet site
Map: census districts Arrowsmith, John. Map showing the Special Surveys in South Australia to the Eastward of the Gulf of St. Vincent from documents in the Survey Office Adelaide. London, John Arrowsmith, Mar 1, 1841. [Shows the boundaries of the various districts referred to in the 1841 census.]
Maps P831 1841 + included in: Census returns 1841. Family History Coll. Reference no. 407
1841 paper
Census Ross, Graham R. 1841 census: District of Albert Town. [study of a specific area using the census information]
Family History Coll. 929.394231 R824 b
1841 paper
Further information to 1841 census Papers relative to South Australia.
[Once a reference has been found to a person listed in the 1841 census, it may be useful to check Papers relative to SA for any further references to that person.]
Family History Coll. Indexed in: Colonial residents of South Australia, 1839-1848. [A consolidated index on microfiche to nearly 25,000 name entries in the first ten years of the South Australian almanacks and directories (1839-1848) and Papers relative to South Australia.]
Family Hist. Fiche SA/Dir/1a + SA/Dir/1b
1843 paper