Researching your ancestors' occupations

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

Australian archival agencies

A list of state, territory and national archives can be found on this page of our Researching your Victorian ancestors research guide.

The Directory of Archives in Australia is a good source of information on institutions, organisations and individuals generating or holding records. It includes national and state archival agencies, universities, schools, businesses, religious organisations and historical societies.

The directory lists the contact details for each agency and includes information about the type of records held.

You can search the directory by location or by type of archives.

Searching Trove for archive records

Use the Trove Diaries, letters and archives category to search for unpublished material from special collections. This search option looks specifically for organisational archives, business records, photographs etc, and will list the name of the archive where the records are held.

Once you locate a relevant collection of records, you will need to contact the archive regarding access to their records.

Here's an entry from Trove for the Bryant and May match company. You will see that Trove lists three separate archive collections.
Elsewhere on Trove you can also find  links to digitised newspaper articles and images relating to Bryant and May.


Bryant and May results. Trove

Local and Family History societies

Many historical and family history societies have unique collections of material which are local to that area. Collections can include - published and unpublished works, local indexes, guides, histories, photographs and maps.

Most of these societies are staffed by volunteers who often have an in-depth knowledge of the area and can offer expert advice about researching individuals. Contacting or visiting the society in person is highly recommended.

To discover the wide range of societies now available, browse the following lists:

Australasian biographical archive 1800-1980

Use the following index to locate references within the Australasian biographical archive.

Australian dictionary of biography

Australian Trade Union archives

The Australian Trade Union Archives (ATUA) is an online gateway for researchers and scholars of labour history.

It has been designed to link together the location of archival resources available in public archives and libraries, published material, and current information about Australian industrial organisations, particularly trade unions, from the late nineteenth century onwards.

Browse by archival collection, repository, name of the trade union, peak union body, employer body, or government department.

The Australian women's register

The Australian Women's Register is an online archival resource for discovering, promoting and preserving the diverse stories of Australian women, past and present. It links biographical data on over 7000 Australian women and their organisations to the archival repositories and libraries where their records are held.

By searching this register you may find biographical details, life events and published and archival resources.

The Encyclopedia of Australian Science and Innovation is a register of the people and the many industries, corporations, research institutions, scientific societies and other organisations that have contributed to Australia's scientific, technological and medical heritage.

It includes references to related archival materials, museum objects and collections, and a bibliography of historical published literature.