Researching your ancestors' occupations

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


Here you will find resources suitable for researching past and present members of the Victorian Parliamentary. It includes such resources as directories, handbooks and biographical publications. For information on other government publications i.e. Hansard (debates), parliamentary papers and documents, please go to our Victorian government publications research guide.

 Parliament House, Melbourne, Victoria
Rose Stereograph Co., [ca. 1915]
, H93.492/3

State Library Victoria

Library catalogue

Search the Library catalogue find books, journals, images and plans. Search for the name of a politician or the name of a political party of era of government. Many notable Parliamentarians will often be the subject of biographies, or be mentioned in works that focus on a particular government or period i.e. the Menzies government.


  Joan Kirner. Photographer Rennie Ellis. This work is in copyright. H2011.2/2255

Some of the most notable references on Victoria's parliament and parliamentarians are listed below.

Victorian parliamentary handbook

The Victorian parliamentary handbook includes biographical information on current and historical members, as well as general historical information on the Victorian Parliament. A new edition is published for each new Parliament about one to two years after the previous general election. The Parliament of Victoria web site (below) provides a current account of this information.

The items listed below provide histories of Parliament, biographical information on former parliamentarians and lists of ministers and ministries.

State and colonial government registers and lists

Online–1856 to current


There is a civil establishment section listed in the table of contents of the Statistics of the colony of Victoria for the years 1856-1962.
They are available online via the Victorian Parliamentary Papers Database.

Civil establishment of Victoria 1863-1867
Also known as the “Blue book”. This list includes; governors, ministers, members of Parliament, judges, senior offices in the police force, officers of the defence forces, most public servants and senior government officials not employed under the Public Service Act.

They are available online via the Victorian Parliamentary Papers Database.

Statistical register of Victoria 1868–1916
Published annually it includes a section usually labelled the “Blue book” which lists people such as the governor, ministers, members of Parliament, judges, some officers of the police and defence forces, university professors and some senior officers not employed under the Public Service Act.

The Blue books are online via the Victorian Parliamentary Papers Database.
Please note: some years have more information than others. For example in the issues from 1887 to 1891, the Blue book included most public servants.

Contacts & services directory
A directory to departments and various other bodies associated with government.

Print/microfiche–1852 to 2008

Civil establishment of Victoria
Microfiche copies are available from 1853–1873 and should be used in preference to printed copies. It repeats some of the holdings of the Statistical register and includes printed facsimiles for 1851 and 1856.


Statistical register of Victoria 1852–1916
Prior to 1874, the Statistical register of Victoria was known as the Statistics of the colony of Victoria. Between 1901-1916 it was known as the Statistical register of the State of Victoria for the year ... The Library does not appear to hold 1906 and 1909. Microfiche copies from 1874–1900 are available and should be used in preference to printed copies.

Directory of government departments and authorities 1971–1979
This listing includes holdings from 1974. Unfortunately 1971–3 is missing. The final print directory was published in 2008. From 2008 directories available online (see above).

Victorian government directory 1980–2008 

Re-member database

Search the Re-member database for biographical details of former members of the Victorian parliament.

Australiana index

The State Library's  Australiana Index contains references to published material, such as newspapers, journals and books; biographical and local history records. Search for the name of a politician to find indexed references.

Newspaper articles

Newspapers can be particularly useful for finding information on politicians. They can be used to trace an individuals career, obtain information on elections and report on parliamentary affairs.

The Trove Digitised Newspaper database provides full text access to a range of Victorian newspapers, published between 1803-1954.
Try searching Trove for a name, a name and place, or an event. Use quotation marks around keywords to search as an exact phrase, i.e. "Thomas Bent" Brighton

Representative men, Leader, 1 November, 1902, p. 33.

If the newspaper isn't on Trove you may need to explore the collections held in the State Library's Newspapers & 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.

Local government directories


The Local government section of the Department of Transport, Planning and Local Infrastructure site includes links to current local council and public library sites.

Print/microfiche–1866 to current

Municipal directories, 1866–1994

Click title for relevant years to go to the catalogue record. 1866–1910 is available on microfiche. Use in preference to print copies.

Victorian local government directory, 1996–2012

Irregular publication but normally came out quarterly.