52 Ancestors 52 Weeks

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Week 34: Non-Population

The challenge for Week 34 of the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks series is Non-Population.  I really struggled with what to write about this week – how do I take non-population?  What does that even mean?  Apparently in the USA, the Census has two parts – the population schedule and the non-population schedule.  In Australia, whilst a census has been conducted since basically the founding of the colony, the records were destroyed, consciously by the Government – I can hear all the UK and USA people drawing a deep intake of breath at that travesty!


Week 34 – Non-Population


In Australia we have to use other methods than a census to establish where our families were at any given point in time.  One such record set is The Australian Electoral Rolls that give a snapshot of the location of your ancestors.

  • name
  • address
  • occupation (omitted after 1983)
  • gender


Australian Electoral Rolls

Electoral Rolls are a great source of information for genealogists, whilst not as informative as a Census, the Electoral Roll can provide some valuable insight into your ancestors.  The Electoral Roll provides you with the registered voter’s name, address, gender, and occupation (removed from 1983 onwards).  Electoral Rolls exist for all States and Territories of Australia and the National Library of Australia provides some great information about Electoral Rolls here.  They also Unofficial Guide to Ancestry.com: How to Find Your Family History on the No.1 Genealogy Websiteprovide information and links to accessing these valuable resources for each of the States and Territories:


I regularly use my subscription to either Findmypast or Ancestry.com to access the Australia Electoral Rolls.  Unfortunately the records for each state vary with some going back as early as 1860 in Queensland or starting as late as 1939 for Western Australia and South Australia.


Fletcher and Gladys Brand


Fletcher and Gladys Brand Electoral Roll
Fletcher and Gladys Brand Electoral Roll, 1939a

I have found that my great-grandparents Fletcher and Gladys Brand were living in Pitchford Avenue, Maddington in 1939. Fletcher was a labourer and Gladys was listed as home duties.1  It is provided in both a transcription of the record as well as showing the original document with others of the same surname in their electorate.  Little were they to know that when we moved to Australian in the 1970’s that we would live in Maddington as well!


Organise Your Genealogy Research
Fletcher and Gladys on their Wedding Dayb

By 1943 they are living in Sawyers Valley where Gladys is listed as home duties and Fletcher has no occupation listed, however, I know from family that they were living and working a dairy farm.2


In 1949 Gladys is living at 19 Wright Street, North Perth undertaking home duties and Fletcher is no longer listed as he died in 1947.3


I like the Electoral Rolls as they give a pattern of the movement of the family over time.  Unfortunately there are big gaps in some of these data sets but it is better than nothing.  The good thing with the search engine is you can search by just the street and find the neighbours of your family or others living at the house with a different surname.




Have you used electoral rolls to find your family?  Click on an image below to go to Ancestry or Findmypast to search the electoral rolls.



1. Findmypast.com.au, Australia Electoral Rolls, https://search.findmypast.com.au/record?id=S2/ANZ/AUELECTORALROLL/WA/AU82011939SWELECTORALROLLWA1939SWANPDF-000595&parentid=AU/ELECTORALROLL/350/000258145, Accessed 26 August 2018.
2. Findmypast.com.au, Australia Electoral Rolls, https://search.findmypast.com.au/record?id=S2%2FANZ%2FAUELECTORALROLL%2FWA%2FAU82011943SWELECTORALROLLWA1943SWANPDF-000629&parentid=AU%2FELECTORALROLL%2F350%2F000503618, Accessed 26 August 2018.
3. Findmypast.com.au, Australia Electoral Rolls, https://search.findmypast.com.au/record?id=S2%2FANZ%2FAUELECTORALROLL%2FWA%2FAU82011949PRELECTORALROLLWA1949PERTHPDF-000300&parentid=AU%2FELECTORALROLL%2F350%2F000728227, Accessed 26 August 2018.
Image Credits
a. Findmypast, Australia Electoral Roll, https://search.findmypast.com.au/record?id=S2/ANZ/AUELECTORALROLL/WA/AU82011939SWELECTORALROLLWA1939SWANPDF-000595&parentid=AU/ELECTORALROLL/350/000258145, Accessed 26 August 2018.
b. Fletcher and Gladys on their Wedding Day, Original in author’s possession.

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