Biographical Database of Australia



The Biographical Database of Australia ( is committed to making
our database accessible to users and subscribers with a disability under the Web Content
Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 AA.

BDA (Biographical Database of Australia Library Inc) is a non-profit organisation with limited
resources. BDA’s accessibility features are still under development and will improve in the future.

Using the Database

The database has a dual use capacity. A basic search for a given name and surname or an advanced
person search function using names and a variety of search terms including: year, location, arrival in
Australia, birth, marriage, death, status (convict, immigrant, military, Australian born etc), ship of
arrival, employment and more.

Both types of search return a list of one-line results with summary details of either:

1. A single document about a person in the database, or

2. A series of documents about a person in the database linked to form a Biographical Report in
timeline format.

BDA is undertaking a long term project of linking separate documents referring to the same person,
creating timelines of deceased people living in 18th and 19th century Australia, and later. As of 2023
the database contains more than 2 million linked and unlinked records of settler and some
Aboriginal Australians from manuscript and published sources dating from the 18 th century to the

Sources include records of arriving convicts and immigrants, early newspapers, population muster,
census, land, court, birth, marriage, death and probate records.

For no cost casual internet users can search the database and read index entries or view Information
Pages describing the transcribed or indexed archival and published sources that form the basis of the
database entries.

To view the full content of the transcribed or indexed documents behind the index entries, a BDA
user needs to subscribe to BDA ($39pa). To view the full results for no cost a user can visit a library
or organisation hosting BDA as an in-house electronic resource.

Downloading Biographical Reports

Biographical Reports can be downloaded and saved in PDF format. This requires the user to have
access to Adobe Acrobat Reader, which can be downloaded for no cost.

The Adobe website also provides tools and resources that can help people who use speech readers
to read the content of PDF documents.

Contacting BDA

As a non-profit organisation BDA does not currently have the capacity to provide an enquiry phone
number. Contact with the site is available through Contact us tab at this location:

Persons with a disability are welcome to contact BDA through this channel and if necessary a phone
call will be returned by BDA staff or volunteers if assistance using the database is needed.

Use of the database by persons with a disability

The search results and biographical reports are text only.

Text can be made larger by pressing the ‘ctrl’ and ‘+’ keys, or smaller by pressing the ‘ctrl’ and ‘-‘

A significant proportion of BDA content is transcript of handwritten documents (many of them
written in a hasty scrawl in archaic handwriting) dating from the late 18 th and 19 th centuries.

The text format assists users who may have difficulty in reading the original handwritten documents
in libraries, archives or on scanned images online.

Many people with a disability should find BDA accessible using commonly available technology and
keystrokes designed to assist with website access on their own devices (see under the Resources
heading below).

This includes screen reading technology for people with significant visual impairment.

BDA is working on improving the search page structure and coding to comply with W3C guidelines,
enabling easier use of screen readers in particular, assisting users in locating the search boxes and
interpreting results.

This statement is accessible via the Accessibility Tab on the lower right hand ribbon of the BDA

For more information about accessibility see the links under the Resources heading below.

Using the BDA library

BDA also has a library containing about 10,000 books, mainly relating to Australian, British and Irish
history and genealogy, situated in the Sydney suburb of McMahons Point, near North Sydney
Railway Station.

Access to the library is via appointment only via the Contact us tab.

The library is at street level with ramp access and no steps (street parking only).