Researching your overseas ancestors

A guide to researching ancestors who emigrated to Australia from countries other than the United Kingdom

Australian archive centres

The following archive offices hold a wide range of records that may help you trace the lives of your ancestors who migrated to Australia. Records include historical documents, maps, photographs and manuscripts.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, migrant hostels, alien and POW registrations, naturalisation, military service, employment and shipping. Detailed information on immigration, naturalisation and alien registrations can be found on the immigration page of this research guide.

For further information on NAA holdings please consult the NAA research guides under the Immigration heading, 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, land records, wills and probate documents, criminal records, coronial inquests and police, education, health and education records. 

To find out more about the collections at PROV consult their publication Private lives, public records: family history resources at Public Record Office Victoria or explore their online collections by topic. On their Family History research page you will find a list of their key family history resources.

The Melbourne offices of both the NAA and PROV are located at the Victorian Archives Centre. Bookings are generally required before attending in person. 

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

Ph:         03 9348 5703


Public Record Office Victoria (PROV)
99 Shiel Street, North Melbourne VIC 3051
Email via the online contact form before contacting by phone
Ph:         03 9348 5600
Toll free  1800 657 452 (outside Melbourne)


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.

Soccer practice

Lebanese, Italian, Greek and Anglo-Australian boys practice with a soccer ball, Coburg West Primary School

Lebanese, Italian, Greek and Anglo-Australian boys practice with a soccer ball,
Coburg West Primary School.
Photographer Elizabeth Gilliam. Copyright State Library Victoria, H92.250/1107