How to identify your ancestors' occupations and find more information their employment history.
The State Library holds a rich collection of material relating to public transport including thousands of publications produced by the Victorian Railways.
Search the Library catalogue for books on the history of public transport in Victoria, on specific departments, government and company reports, railway lines and stations, journals, images and maps.
Or use the following subject headings to browse through relevant resources -
The following index may also be useful.
The Public Record Office Victoria (PROV) holds an extensive collection of records relating to people who worked on the railways. Records include staff registers, staff salary records, employee leave records, employee history cards, correspondence registers, name indexes to correspondence record, accreditation and licencing records.
Records were created by numerous transportation departments, including the Public Works Department, 1855-1987 (VA 669), Victorian Railways, 1883-1983 (VA 2876), Public Transport Corporation, 1989-2003 (VA 2984) and Department of Transport II, 2008-2013 (VA 4853).
Searching for records
Further information can be found on PROV's Railway and train employment, Various agencies, 1855-2014 website.
Group of railway staff with engine No. 32, H28704/11
Newspaper articles can be an excellent source of information, and may include articles about promotions, retirements, transport accidents, social events and personal stories.
A range of Victorian newspapers from the years 1803-1954 are available on the Trove Digitised Newspaper database.
Try searching for the name of an individual or the place where they worked. Or try a combination of keywords i.e. McDonald engine-driver Traralgon.
Enclose a phrase in quotation marks i.e. "North Melbourne" or "Southern Aurora" to get the best results. You can further refine you results by selecting a date range, illustrated newspapers etc.
Presentations, Traralgon Record, 27 November 1908, p. 3.
If the newspaper isn't on Trove you may need to explore the collections held in the State Library's Newspapers & Family History Reading Rooms.
Our Library subscribes to a wide range of current and historic Australian and international newspapers databases. They are available in the Library and many can be accessed offsite by Victorian residents who are registered State Library members.
More information can be found in our Newspapers research guides.
A number of different companies have operated tram and bus services in Victoria. The records for many, but not all, of these companies can be found at the Public Record Office Victoria (PROV).
Records include staff registers, wage books and accreditation and licencing records.
Records were created by many different departments including -
Records may include employee registers and history cards, wages or earnings books and accreditation or licencing records.
To identify collections held by PROV, go to their Tram and bus employment website and enter a date range. This will retrieve a list of relevant records for that period. Browse through the results until you find the relevant collection - which you can then order and view at PROV.
Information on other records relating to trams and buses can be found on the PROV Trams and buses - general search website.
Text searchable PDF copies of these lists can be downloaded from the Victorian Association of Family History Organisations (VAFHO) website.
The Prahran Mechanics Institute (PMI) holds the records of the Victorian Railway History Library (formerly known as the ARHS). In this collection you can research Victorian and Australian railway history and access an extensive collection of railway journals.
More information can be found on the PMI website.
Information on the Australian Rail, Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) and its predecessors can be found on the Australian Trade Union Archives. Records are housed in the University of Melbourne Archives. Please contact the Archives regarding access to this collection.
Group photographs of men and women gathered in front of Victorian Railways Union building. H2011.20/80