Researching your Victorian ancestors

A guide to family history research using the major Victorian resources

Victorian and National archive agencies

The following archive offices hold a wide range of records including historical documents, maps, audiovisual items, photographs and manuscripts. The National Archives contain Commonwealth records whereas the state and territory archives hold records from their government's jurisdiction.

The National Archives of Australia (NAA) holds over 39 million items including records on immigration, military service, naturalisation and shipping. For further information consult their Researching your family webpage and their publication Finding families: the guide to the National Archives of Australia for genealogists.

The Public Record Office Victoria (PROV) holds records created by Victorian Government departments and authorities. Records date back to the establishment of the Port Phillip District in the mid 1830s and include passenger lists, wills and probate documents, indigenous records, coronial inquests and police, education, health and railway records. 

To find out more about the collections at PROV  go to their Explore archives by topic page, consult their publication Private lives, public records: family history resources at Public Record Office Victoria  (for the ebook version click here) or browse through their online Family History research pages.

National Archives of Australia (NAA)
99 Shiel Street, North Melbourne VIC 3051
Ask-us-a question service


Public Record Office Victoria (PROV)
99 Shiel Street, North Melbourne VIC 3051
Ph:         (03) 9348 5600
Toll free  1800 657 452 (outside Melbourne)
Fax:       (03) 9348 5656



Other states and territories

State Records Authority of New South Wales
This collection includes convict records, passenger and shipping lists, births, marriages and deaths, land records and papers of the Colonial Secretary. Their Family history guide and Archives in Brief fact sheets  are an excellent starting point for your research. The convict records archive covers the period 1787-1842 and is considered to be one of the most important convict archives in the world.

Libraries Tasmania
Brings together the collections of the State Library of Tasmania and the Tasmanian Archive and Heritage Office. Collections include church registers, papers from the Colonial Secretary's Office convict records, passenger lists, cemetery records. The Family history page includes links to guides, collections and indexes.
The convict records archive cover  1804-1853. The Convicts in Tasmania page includes links to a number of guides, indexes and digitised items.

Queensland State Archives
The collection includes convict, land, immigration, indigenous, hospital and orphanage records. There are a number of brief guides available which will help you identify frequently used records.

State Records of South Australia
Contains records created by South Australian government agencies. Includes passenger lists, school records, Aboriginal records, land records, marine. harbours and railway records. Their Family history page includes links to guides, research advice and resources not held by the State Records.

State Records Office of Western Australia
The collection includes records from the Colonial Secretary's Office and numerous court, police, health, school, gaol and convict records.On their Research using State Archives page you can find research guides on a number of topics.

Northern Territory Archives Service
The NTAS archives collection includes NT Government archives, personal archives, archives of organisations and oral history archives. A number of information leaflets are available including Researching your Aboriginal family history and Researching your family history.

Directory of Archives in Australia

The Directory of Archives in Australia provides information about institutions, organisations and individuals generating or holding records, including national and state archival agencies, universities, schools, businesses, religious organisations and historical societies.

This directory provides the contact details for each agency and includes information about the type of records held.

You can search the directory by location or by type of archives.