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Government Records and the Family Historian: Census Records

As a family historian, consider what information may be found in the Police, Education or Government Gazettes or hospital, electoral, probate, naturalisation or other government held records. This guide focuses mainly on South Australian resources.

The only Census details currently available to the public are details of the 1841 South Australian Census - a census of the colony ordered by the British government.

The original census is held by the government archives, State Records of South Australia, who have made a typed name index available online and the digitised return is available through Family Search.  You need to complete a free registration before accessing the Family Search database.

A copy of the 1841 Census (and index) can be viewed at the State Library, either in hard copy or in a digital version.

In 2001 the Australian Government decided to give householders the choice as to whether or not they would like their personal details preserved and made public record in 100 years.

Heinrich family

Heinrich family c. 1912 (PRG 1559/8/277)

British Census

An English Census was also taken in 1841, and has occurred every decade since. The English Census up to 1911 can be viewed online on a number of sites including Find my Past and Ancestry.

To discover more about access to census records through the State Library, look at the Library Guide Census and Muster Rolls

Australian censuses

The 1828 New South Wales Census index is available to view in the State Library, as well as other early muster (convict) lists. For full information about these see the Library Guide Census and Muster Rolls.


'The Aboriginal Population in South Australia 1921-1944,' The Aboriginal Population Revisited: 70,000 years to the present [conference papers] edited by Gordon Briscoe and Len Smith, 2002

(This a statistical examination of the Aboriginal population, and includes figures prior to 1921. Other papers in the collection examine national statistics for Aboriginal people.)

Statistical Information

Statistical information for South Australia is available from a number of sources, including:

- The so-called 'Blue Books' record South Australian statistics for the information of the British government from 1838-1917, and were also published each year as Parliamentary Paper no. 2

- The Sands and MacDougall directories contain some basic statistical information such as town populations - these can be searched on the Library's Almanacs and Directories Library Guide.

- The Australian Bureau of Statistics Historical microfiche series contains national statistics since 1901.