Researching your ancestors' occupations

How to identify your ancestors' occupations and find more information their employment history.

State Library Victoria

In the State Library Victoria you will find a range of resources that may help you find information on members of the clergy. Resources include biographies, directories, journals, images, parish registers and manuscripts. We also hold many histories of individual churches, dioceses and religious communities - several of which have name indexes.

Library catalogue

There are a number of ways you can search for material in our Library catalogue. Begin by searching for the name of an individual i.e. Charles Perry. Or search for the name of a specific church, temple, mosque, synagogue or other place of worship. Adding the name of the suburb will help you to locate the right establishment, i.e. Holy Trinity Coburg.

Another option is to expand your search and search by place and faith, by a religious order or the name of a religious school i.e. Wangaratta Anglican, "Sisters of the Good Shepherd" or Methodist Ladies College. Within these items you may find information on the person you are researching.

The following resources may help you with your research.

Biographical dictionaries and name indexes

We hold a variety of biographical dictionaries and name indexes, including -

Directories and registers

Directories are useful for confirming when and where a person resided and can help you trace their movement over the years. Our directories include -


Here are just a few titles from our collection which may assist you with your research.


Search our catalogue for the name of a church, a school or a diocese, together with the keyword periodical i.e. Mount Scopus periodical.

Or browse our catalogue for magazines by using the following subject headings and suggested searches -

Newspaper articles

Newspapers can be an excellent source of information, reporting on religious events, personal stories, transfers, promotions, obituaries etc.

Religious newspapers

Several religious newspapers can be found in our collection, including -

The Advocate (Catholic newspaper). Also available on Trove (1868-1954).
The MDHC summary of the Advocate indexes the Advocate from 1868 to 1990 and includes a listing of individuals, religious orders, local and world events, church buildings, politics and education. Also available online.

Australian Jewish Herald and Australian Jewish News. Click here for earlier variations of these titles.

Sword and shield (Melbourne, Vic.) followed by  Methodist (Melbourne, Vic.)

The Wesleyan chronicle (not indexed)


A range of Victorian newspapers from the years 1803-1954 are available on the Trove Digitised Newspaper database. Search for newspaper articles and advertisements relating to an individual, a church or parish, an event or celebration. When searching Trove, try searching for a number of keywords i.e. Whitford Methodist minister or try enclosing a phrase in quotation marks i.e. "Mercy convent" or "Rabbi Benjamin Klein"


Image of Reverand Haydar .

Lebanese priest was host to Diggers. The Herald, 28 January, 1948, p. 5. 

If the newspaper isn't on Trove you may need to explore the collections held in the State Library's Newspaper & Family History Reading Rooms.

Newspaper databases

Our Library subscribes to a wide range of current and historic Australian and international newspapers databases. They are available in the Library and many can be accessed offsite by Victorian residents who are registered State Library members.

More information can be found in our Newspapers research guides.


Religious archives can refer to the records of organised religions, religious orders, churches and faith practices. Records can include historical and administration material, parish registers, artifacts and records relating individuals, i.e. ministers, priests, etc.

To identify an archival repository please consult the Directory of Archives in Australia. This directory provides the contact details for each agency and includes information about the type of records held.

You can search the directory by name or location or browse through a list of Victorian religious archival repositories.

 Group of nuns photographed in garden. H95.189/10

Online resources

Double photograph of Rev. George Mackie. H96.160/1685

Victorian church records

Early church records are useful for identifying the name of the minster or official who officiated or registered a baptism, marriage or burial. They can be used to confirm the years the minister spent in a particular church and for verifying the name and location of the church..

Early church records (1836-1853) can searched on the historical index to the Victorian registry of births, deaths and marriages. Full certificates can be purchased from the registry. Further details can be found on this page of our Researching your Victorian ancestor research guide

Surviving church records of baptisms, marriages and burials can also be found in several other locations. If you know the name of the church and religion check to see if there is a central church archive, which may hold the records of that church. A PDF list of parish registers held at the State Library can be found on this page of our research guide and several collections of early church records can be accessed through the FamilySearch database. Please note: You will need to create a free personal account to access search and other features.

 Please bear in mind that, over time, some collections of records have been lost or destroyed.

See also -