Researching your overseas ancestors

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

Subject librarian

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Caitlyn Grant
Contact me via our online reference service citing my name and the title of this guide

Family history guides

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Welcome to State Library Victoria's guide to researching your overseas ancestors.

This guide introduces you to the basic principles of family history research and lists the key resources and records available for researching your ancestors.

This guide focuses on researching people who lived in countries other than the British Isles. If you are interesting in researching ancestors from the British Isles we recommend that you view our Researching your ancestors from Great Britain and Ireland research guide. We also have a  Researching your VIctorian ancestors research guide, which is ideal for researching you ancestors who lived in Victoria.

This is not a definitive guide that lists specific resources for individual countries. Rather it demonstrates how to start your research using resources held at State Library Victoria and other Australian collections. It then provides advice on how to locate and access overseas collections and repositories.

On the Research steps page, you will find a list of the key research steps that you should follow when undertaking your family history research. Each of the following pages list our resources you can use and indicates where and how you can access these collections.

For detailed research queries please use the Ask a Librarian service or talk to staff in the Newspapers and Family History Reading Rooms.

This is a work in progress. If you find errors, or if you can suggest other information sources or approaches to the topic, please contact me.

Whats on

  • Finding families In this introductory webinar, learn the principles of family history research and find out how to access family history resources through the State Library Victoria.
  • Researching your home This webinar will help to answer the questions and curiosities you may have about your family home, whether it’s the house you’re living in now or the scene of your childhood memories. In this session we will include ways to research your family home, finding previous occupants and uncovering  the social history of the area.
  • Newsworthy learn how to navigate the Library’s extensive newspaper collection in this live and interactive online session. You'll dive into the millions of words printed on both current and historical articles in our online databases, and discover how to find specific newspapers in hard copy, online and on microfilm.