Aboriginal people and family history

A guide to resources that will help you to research Aboriginal Australian family history.

Public Record Office Victoria and National Archives of Australia

walata tyamateetj: a guide to government records about Aboriginal people in Victoria is produced by the Public Record Office Victoria and the National Archives of Australia. The guide presents a detailed listing of Aboriginal public records held in Victoria. walata tyamateetj means to 'carry knowledge' in the Gunditjmara language of western Victoria.

The Koorie Records Unit (KRU) is a joint Public Record Office Victoria (PROV) and National Archives of Australia (NAA) service specific to Aboriginal people from or with connections to Victoria. The KRU promotes awareness of and access to Aboriginal records within the collections of these two archives. The KRU can advise about the large amount of information regarding Aboriginal people living on or connected to missions and reserves within the state.

The Public Record Office Victoria's Koorie Records Unit has produced the online Finding your mob guide for Aboriginal people who are researching their Victorian family history. The guide describes the types of records held in the collections of both Public Record Office Victoria and the National Archives of Australia and offers advice about how to get started with family history research. It also explains the Koorie Reference Services available to Aboriginal people. Online tools and resources are listed together with other organisations that may be able to help people reconnect with their history.

The Public Record Office Victoria (PROV) is the Victorian government administrative records archive and publishes the following guides:

Aboriginal Victorians 1830s-1970s

Koorie index of names project 

Excellent information about Aboriginal Victorians family history can also be found on the PROV's website.

The National Archives of Australia (NAA) is the Commonwealth government administrative records archive and publishes the following guide:

Records about First Australians

The PROV's Koorie index of names (KIN) and the National Archives of Australia's Bringing Them Home index (BTH) are lists detailing records that contain information about Aboriginal people to assist the Koorie community to find information about themselves, their family and country. Both indexes are searchable by name, group and date. KIN is available for researchers at the Victorian Archives Centre Reading Room at 99 Shiel Street, North Melbourne. The BTH name index is only accessible through contacting staff within the Koorie Records Unit.

Generally, records for the 1830s to 1860 are held at the PROV and records from the 1860s onwards are located at PROV and the NAA, Melbourne Office. Victoria is the only state to have this unique split collection. The guide, My heart is breaking: a joint guide to records about Aboriginal people in the Public Record Office Victoria and the Australian Archives, Victorian Regional Office provides references to records held in both archives.

Koorie Heritage Trust

The Koorie Heritage Trust aims to protect, preserve and promote the living culture of Aboriginal people of south-eastern Australia. The Trust cares for a diverse range of artefacts, artworks, crafts, oral histories, books, manuscripts, historical material and photographs and houses four gallery spaces.

The Trust provides a range of programs and services to the Koorie community and the general public including assisting Community members trace their family history, support for youth projects designed to connect with Elders and culture, and an extensive research library dating back to the 1800s.

The Trust's Koorie Family History Service assists members of the Stolen Generations and Koorie Communities to access personal records, research family trees and provides links to cultural information.

Shrine of Remembrance

For Kin and Country is an exhibition which explores the history of First People's service in the Australian Defence Forces.

The Shrine of Remembrance advises 'Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are advised that the following content contains images, names and voices of people who have died.'

Select resources for Victoria

Board of Protection reports for Victoria have been digitised by the University of Melbourne and can be searched by names of individuals mentioned in the reports. The names of residents being born, marrying and dying at the six Victorian Aboriginal settlements were printed in the Reports from 1880 to 1912.

A Return of births at the Aboriginal Station, Lake Condah, 1882-1912 and a Return of deaths at the Aboriginal Station, Lake Condah, 1876-1912 are published in the Victorian historical magazine (Volume 34, Issue 133 August 1963). Information includes name, names of parents, age at death, cause of death. Digitised copies of the Victorian historical magazine are available for viewing through the Library's website.