School and education history in Victoria

Research Victoria's primary and secondary schools, text books and readers, past exams and results, curricula

Researching the history of school buildings

The State Library holds a range of resources to research the history of a school building.

See also our research guide: Researching buildings and houses.


Search the Library catalogue by school name, school number, or use general search terms such as schools, making sure you narrow your results to only include items from the Pictures and photographs collection.

Consult our Picture research guide for further tips and advice.


Search the catalogue for a history about the school, or for a local history of the area.

For example:

This digitised item - Presented to the Government of New Zealand by Major the Hon. W. G. Smith M.P., Minister of Public Instruction, Victoria / Victoria. Department of Education - includes portfolio of photographs, mainly of Melbourne schools.

Victorian Education Department Annual Reports will sometimes detail the opening of new school buildings at private schools.

For example:

See also the Histories tab of this guide.


The local newspaper was likely to have reported on the opening of a new school building. The Trove digitised newspapers are an excellent resource.

Also see our newspaper research guides: How to find items in newspapers and How to find newspapers


Yearbooks would also have information about new buildings - see the Magazines & year books tab of this guide.

Local history index

The local history index is arranged by geographic location, for example, 'Prahran (Vic.) Residences'. It contains references to articles on different types of buildings such as offices, schools and residences. The card index stopped in 1993 and subsequent entries are in the Australiana Index.

The card index can be found in the Newspapers and Family History Rooms at the Library.

Images from the Pictures Collection

Photograph, Crown Street School building H26444

Crown Street School H26444

Photograph, Pupils and staff standing out front of Redcastle State School, No. 1655, in school garden H26444

Pupils and staff of Redcastle State School, No. 1655, in school garden H26444

Photograph, group of students standing in front of Rockbank School, No. 919 H2008.122/365

Rockbank School, No. 919 H2008.122/365

Photograph, South Morang school building H2015.164/18

South Morang school H2015.164/18.

Photographs, First school pupils & master standing in front of school building (Yallourn) H2009.18/196

First school pupils & master (Yallourn) H2009.18/196

Photograph, Sandhurst central school building H2015.164/7

Sandhurst central H2015.164/7

Photograph, Interior of empty classroom H92.150/866

Interior of classroom H92.150/866

Photograph, empty woodwork room of  Frankston High School 1938 H98.252/3075

Frankston High School woodwork room 1938 H98.252/3075

Maps for school research

Maps can be a very useful resource for tracing the history of a school building, see the example below from one of our digitised Melbourne Metropolitan Board of Works (MMBW) plans, depicting Caulfield Grammar School in 1902.

A detail of Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works detail plan, 1448, depicting layout of Caulfield Grammer School grounds, including tennis court

A detail of Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works detail plan, 1448, Town of Caulfield 1902

See our Maps for local history research guide for more information and tips for research.

School numbers

During the 1860s government schools were numbered in alphabetical order.

Archival Access Victoria has created a database and interactive map using data and records from Public Record Office Victoria (PROV), which lists schools in Victoria by name, including school numbers. Only schools for which PROV hold records are included on this list.

Susie Zada has complied two indexes of pre-1975 schools by name and number from Vision and realisation: a centenary history of state education Volumes 2 and 3 (over 7,000 schools in Victoria's past).

Records held by other organisations

Public Record Office Victoria holds a variety of records relating to the establishment and operation of Victorian State Schools. The collection includes plans and photographs of school buildings and correspondence files about many government schools

Their School Photographs 1890-1993 index, allows you to search for school and other education buildings