Ryerson Index

The Ryerson Index is an on-line index of death notices from Australian newspapers, past and present, compiled by the Sydney-based non-profit organisation Ryerson Index Incorporated. The index database has in excess of 5 million records compiled from more than 280 newspapers across Australia.[1][2] Obituaries, funeral notices and probate notices are also included.[3] Indexing uses the crowdsourcing model, and continuously updated by volunteers over the internet.[4]

The idea of an index was first suggested by John Graham of the Sydney Dead Persons Society in 1998. The concept gained momentum the following year when another member of the society, Joyce Ryerson, revealed that she had a 14-year collection of death notices from The Sydney Morning Herald kept in her laundry.[5] A team of volunteers worked three years to compile the index from this initial material. Following this additional records from other newspapers were added and by 2005 there were one million entries.[6] The Ryerson Index was named in honor of Joyce Ryerson's invaluable contributions;[7] she died on 30 August 2012.[8] The intention of the index is to help researchers locate notices in original published sources rather than act as a primary source.[9]

Currently the index is being used by both genealogists and non-genealogists all over Australia and countries worldwide.


  1. "History of site updates". The Ryerson Index. Retrieved 20 July 2014.
  2. "Details of newspapers included in the index". The Ryerson Index. Retrieved 20 July 2014.
  3. "Ryerson Index to Contemporary Death Notices and Obituaries in Australian Newspapers". eResources. National Library of Australia. Retrieved 22 May 2012.
  4. Holley, R. "Stories to Tell: The Making of our Digital Nation", 2010. In The 2010 National Trust Heritage Festival at Mosman Library, Mosman Library, 9–24 April 2010.(http://hdl.handle.net/10760/14498)
  5. Meacham, Steve (26 July 2005). "The dead persons society". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 22 May 2012.
  6. Meacham, Steve (26 July 2005). "How Joyce's list became the toast of cyberspace". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 22 May 2012.
  7. "How Joyce's list became the toast of cyberspace - Technology - smh.com.au". www.smh.com.au. Retrieved 8 October 2015.
  8. "THE RYERSON INDEX". www.ryersonindex.org. Retrieved 8 October 2015.
  9. "The Ryerson Index". The Ryerson Index. Retrieved 23 May 2012.
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