Pastkeys was established in 1986 when Aileen Trinder and Pat Fearnley (formerly Stemp), who had previously been transcription volunteers on the ABGR Bicentennial Shipping Indexing Project, began work on its first index, the NSW Immigration Deposit Journals published on microfiche in 1988 and at that time produced on Apple IIc 128k computers.

Over the next 20 plus years Pastkeys produced many more indexes, culminating in the publication in 2010 of the latest edition of the Unassisted Arrivals to Sydney covering the period 1842-1857 in fully field searchable CD format.

In 2012 Aileen completed an entirely revised and expanded index to the NSW Immigration Deposits 1853-1900 which is now available on fully field searchable CD. Please see the Indexes link for full details.

Pat retired from the partnership on 31 December 2013.

Pastkeys enjoys an unsurpassed reputation for meticulous transcribing methods which have produced a series of detailed and accurate indexes of 19th century shipping and other records.

In the case of immigration records, the methods of double-checking, the inclusion of cross-indexed name variants (sometimes as many as four for a single name), and names from the newspapers (and in particular, those of passengers on coastal voyages which have not been indexed by other transcribers) provide the most complete and accurate index to passenger arrivals to Sydney. Searches for name variants in the revised NSW Immigration Deposits are now easily possible by use of the "Full Search" facility