Illuminate Australian society and your family history using census records from 1788 to 1901
Only some records of individuals have survived. This guide lists all known Australian census and muster records at State Library Victoria or online.
Records were not collected every year.
Many records of individuals have been lost, or deliberately destroyed for privacy reasons.
If records survive, they may only list the head of a household.
NOTE: No records of individuals exist for censuses after these dates:
New South Wales: 1901
Northern Territory: 1921
South Australia: 1841
Western Australia: 1837
After statistical analysis was completed, typically census forms containing information about individuals were destroyed. For example, in 1892 all surviving Victorian household forms from earlier censuses were pulped. Earlier, in 1882, a fire destroyed the New South Wales census records for 1846, 1851, 1856, 1861, 1871 and 1881, including the household forms from 1861, 1871 and 1881.
If the census records you want to look at have not survived, census substitutes may include the information you are looking for.
The information collected about individuals varies from census to census. The types of information you might find include names (often only for the head of the household), age range, occupation, and sometimes information about where people lived, their level of education and religion. Some records include more detailed information.
Using census records relating to individuals or households, you can answer questions like:
If the information you want doesn't seem to be available, try checking census substitutes.
Many Australian libraries and family history societies hold copies of relevant records. Some records are included in the Ancestry Library Edition database, which is available to use at many local libraries. Some records are available online. Check this guide for links, and ask your local, state or territory library for advice.
If no libraries nearby hold the records that you need, we can undertake a limited amount of research on your behalf, using our collections. Contact our Ask a librarian service for further information.
As of Monday 16 March 2020 our Library buildings are closed to the public due to the rapidly changing coronavirus (COVID-19) situation.
Our Ask A Librarian reference service is still available to assist with your research inquiries.