Researching your overseas ancestors

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

Australian family history and historical societies

There are a wide variety of family history and historical societies operating in Australia.

Many focus on the history of migrant communities from specific countries i.e. Italian Historical Society - CoAsIt, Chinese Australian Family Historians of Victoria (CAFHOV)  and the Australian Lebanese Historical Society of Victoria. Some societies research rather unique ancestral groups, such as Australian Society of the Lacemakers of Calais and some focus on religious groups like the Australian Jewish Genealogical Society.

Consider contacting a society to find out more about your ancestors life in Australia or to find cultural and historical information about specific migrant communities that settled here. Many societies have unique collections of material including published and unpublished works, local indexes, guides, histories, newspapers, photographs, maps etc. Societies are usually staffed by volunteers who can offer advice and information on researching your ancestors in that particular area.

To discover more about the range of societies available in Australia, browse the following lists:

You may also be interested in the following group:

  • International Settlers Group  - Genealogical Society of Victoria
    The ISG collects genealogical research information on non-British countries and make this material available through the GSV library. They provide research assistance, run specialised research classes throughout the year and also produce a quarterly newsletter. You can find a selection of their Non British Starter Kits here at the State Library.

International family history and historical societies

There are many family history societies throughout the world that may be able to assist you with your research. Many of these societies have collections of indexes, genealogies, and transcripts of information and are often staffed by people with specific research interests who could offer you valuable advice.

Try looking for a society in the country where your ancestors came from or see if one exists for the town or region where they once lived. It's also worth checking to see if there are relevant societies in Britain, the United States or other regions as they may hold records that could be relevant to your research.

Family Search - Research Wiki
A comprehensive list of family history societies can be found on the FamilySearch Research Wiki. From the `Browse by Country' page, select the country you are researching i.e. Germany. On the left hand side of the results page you will see a list of topics displayed. Click on the link for 'Societies' to obtain a list of relevant bodies.

Cyndi's List
Browse the list of categories and select the country you are researching i.e. Poland. On the page of categories for Poland select `Societies & Groups' to display a list of available bodies.

The Federation of East European Family History Societies (FEEFHS)
The FEEFHS resource directory lists guides, maps, societies and websites for the following countries: Albania | Armenia | Austria | Belarus | Bosnia | Bulgaria | Croatia | Czech Republic | Denmark | Estonia | Finland | Georgia | Germany | Greece | Hungary | Kosovo | Latvia | Lithuania | Macedonia | Moldova | Montenegro | Norway | Poland | Romania | Russia | Serbia | Slovakia | Slovenia | Sweden | Switzerland | Ukraine | East Europeans in Other Countries


Chinese leaving for the diggings. Cobb & Co. coach, Castlemaine

Chinese leaving for the diggings. Cobb & Co. coach, Castlemaine H2407