Convicts: Bound for Australia

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Key to library resources

Access anywhere with a library card In the Library (or anywhere with a Library card for NSW residents)
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Publicly available online Publicly available

Surgeons' journals, 1816-1856

How to use Surgeons' journals, 1816-1856

Only in the Library You can use Surgeons' journals, 1816-1856 when in the Library. Can't come to the Library? Contact us.

How to find out about a convict's voyage to Australia

You need to know the name of the ship your convict was transported on and the date of arrival as some ships made more than one voyage. Don't know the name of the ship and the date of arrival? Try resources listed on Beginning your family history research, Becoming free and Voyage out to Australia.


Search the Australian Joint Copying Project Handbook 7 (page 75) to see if there is a Surgeon's journal for the ship your convict was transported on. Ask at the Information desk in the Mitchell Library for the handbook. 


If there is a journal, search the list of convict names for your convict to find the microfilm reel and piece number.


Find the relevant microfilm reel on the microfilm shelves in the Mitchell Library to search for the relevant entries.


Use the piece number to find the correct section on the microfilm. The piece number is indicated in the reference tag, which appears next to each page on the microfilm. For example, piece number 14 would appear on the tag as ADM 101/14. There might be several ships within each piece.

The Surgeons' journals are arranged alphabetically by name of the ship then by date. There might be more than one date as some ships made more than one voyage.

Go to the resource


Each convict ship had a surgeon to oversee the health of the convicts. The surviving journals of the Surgeon-Superintendents date from 1816-1856 and only list convicts that the surgeon attended.

View a digitised example of a Surgeon's Journal from our collection.

Did you know?

Surgeon's journals from later years are available on Ancestry Library Edition under 'UK Surgeon Superintendents' Journals of Convict Ships, 1858-1867'.

Ancestry Library Edition is only available in the Library.