Researching your ancestors' occupations

How to identify your ancestors' occupations and find more information their employment history.

State Library Victoria

Library catalogue

Search the Library catalogue to find books, journals, images and government publications relating to Victorian apprentices and apprenticeship training. plans. Search for the type of trade, i.e. electrical, railway or construction together with the keyword apprentice* (the asterisk * will retrieve all variations of the keyword, such as apprentice, apprentices and apprenticeship).

Use the catalogue drop-down menu to limit your search to 'Pictures & photographs'. "Journals & newspaper titles" or  'Manuscripts'.


Image of the Apprentice Room, hand rolling cigars, States Tobacco Company, A'Beckett Street,

Apprentice Room, hand rolling cigars, States Tobacco Company, A'Beckett Street, Melbourne. 1910. H2019.249/2

Apprenticeship records

To find records of an individual you need to know the name of the apprentice, the name of the employer and the years during which the apprentice was employed.

Public Record Office Victoria (PROV)

The Public Record Office Victoria holds the following collections of apprenticeship records

  • Apprenticeship History Cards - contains records from 1929-1976.
    VPRS 11538/P1 series contains records from 1929-1967 and can be  browsed online. Browse through the surname list and select the relevant surname range. Follow the prompts to order the collection for viewing at the PROV reading room.
    Records covering 1968-1976, and some records from 1956-1967 are closed, under section 9 of the Public Records Act..
  • Apprenticeship and Employer Data Reports - contains records from 1976-1990.
    These reports contain summary lists of data about apprentices and their employers. The reports include the name and registration number of the employer and apprentice, address of employer and period the apprentice was employed.

    Records can be found by using the search form on the PROV Apprenticeship records website. Search by year, then select and order the relevant collection for viewing at the PROV reading room.

Victorian Registration and Qualifications Authority

Apprenticeship records produced after 1990 are not held in the Public Record Office Victoria. Please contact the Victorian Registration and Qualifications Authority for further information, or contact the Victorian Government Apprenticeship Administration Line on 1300 722 603 or by email

Replacement trade papers can be also obtained from the Victorian Registration and Qualifications Authority.

Image of poster for the Girls' Apprenticeship And Technical Scheme. 1986.

 Girls' Apprenticeship And Technical Scheme. 1986.
Copyright State Library Victoria. H89.160/1

Poster advertising - 152 apprentices required in Victorian Railways.

 152 apprentices required in Victorian Railways. 1937. H81.124/396

Newspaper articles

Newspapers can be a useful resource for finding information on apprentices and organisations or advertisements for apprenticeship schemes.

Advertisement for TAA airlines

Advertising. The Argus, 7 Nov. 1951, p. 17.

A range of Victorian newspapers from the years 1803-1954 are available on the Trove Digitised Newspaper database. Search for newspaper articles relating to an individual an industry or an event. When searching Trove, try searching for a number of keywords ie.Keable apprentice or try enclosing a name or  phrase in quotation marks i.e. "General Motors Holden".

s"Young apprentice received a book and shaking hands with an older man. .

Outstanding apprentice, The Argus, 10 May, 1955, p. 19.

If the newspaper isn't on Trove you may need to explore the collections held in the State Library's Newspaper & Family History Reading Rooms.

Newspaper databases

Our Library subscribes to a wide range of current and historic Australian and international newspaper 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.


State Library Victoria

Note - we have just upgraded our Library catalogue and are updating some links on our guides.

As we do this some catalogue links may not resolve correctly.