Researching your ancestors' occupations

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

State Library Victoria

Library catalogue

Search the Library catalogue for books, images, manuscripts and other records relating to Victorian schools and teachers. Search for a persons name, the name of the town and school (if known) or the name of the teachers training college.

Use the catalogue drop-down menu to limit your search to 'Pictures & photographs'. 'Journals & Newspaper titles', 'Online' or  'Manuscripts'.

The following publications may help you with your research.

The Vision and Realisation publication contains a list of  Victorian Schools by name and by number, which may help you to find school or teacher records.
PDF copies of these lists can be found on the Victorian Association of Family History Organisations (VAFHO) website.

More titles can be found under the subject search results for Teachers -- Victoria -- Biography. 

Public Record Office Victoria

Teacher record books 1863-1959

The Public Record Office Victoria (PROV) holds Teacher record books (VPRS 13579) for public schools from 1862-1959. Teacher record books contain the most consolidated summary of a teacher's service in public schools. The records include the teacher's date of birth, schools taught at (identified by school number), classification, and remarks (of inspectors of teachers).   

Records from 1914 to 1957 have been digitised and can be accessed through the PROV website. Instructions on how to find the records can be found on the PROV Teacher record books (VPRS 13579) website.

Digitised records can also be found on the Ancestry database (available onsite at the State Library Victoria and in most Victorian public libraries).  You will first need to find the teacher record number by searching the teacher's name on the PROV website.

To find the records from the home page of  the Ancestry database, click on View all in the top right hand corner of the search screen. This should take to you to the Card Catalogue. Do a Keyword search for - Victoria, Australia, Selected Trial Brief and Correspondence Registers and Other Images, 1837-1993. Look for Eildon Teacher Record Books and Register. Note: Although the title is listed as Eildon this collection actually lists all the PROV Teacher Record Books accessible online through Ancestry.

These records are not indexed but can be browsed by description and range.

  • at the top of the records is a year list
  • select a year and scan through the pages
  • the teacher record number is on the top left or right of the page
  • note that 1914 include records from 1863 to 1914
  • note that 1934 include records from 1934 to 1957


  Class of children and teacher in outdoor lesson at Redcastle State School. H81.21417


Teacher Inventory by School

At PROV you can find copies of Teacher inventory by school records (VPRS 13974) from 1893 - 1955
The records include the school name, name of teacher employed at school (distinguished as either 'permanent' or 'temporary' positions in later volumes), the position and classification of a  teacher and their registration number of teacher (which can be used to gain further information from the Teacher Record Books VPRS 13579 ). Items can be ordered for viewing in the Public Record Office Victoria Reading Room, in North Melbourne.

Non- government school teacher records

The Public Record Office Victoria (PROV) holds a limited number of records relating to teachers from non-government schools. Created by the Teachers and Schools Registration Board and the Council for Public Education, these records were created in the process of evaluating and registering teachers for non-government schools and private practice .

Please note that these records only contain details of their application to teach and do not include information about their career.

Details on how to order and view available records can be found on the PROV Non-government school teacher records website.

Occupational registers and teacher wages

Over the years teachers were required to be state registered and lists of those registered were then published. Up until about 1991, the occupational registers were usually published in or as separate issues of the Victoria Government Gazette.  Since then many have been published as separate publications and most are now only available online.

A list of historic and current registers appears in the following table. For more information on occupation registers please see the Occupations and Wages tab on our Victorian Government Publications Research Guide.


In Victorian Government Gazette

Other sources

Teachers (government schools)

1885–1903 (every three years with annual supplements)

See the Victorian Institute of teaching register for current information

On Report of the Minister of Public Instruction for the year ... 1881–1885 (Lists of teachers included in appendices) 

In Victoria education gazette and teachers' aid. from 1905–1992

Teachers (non-government schools)

1910–1974  (every five years with annual supplements)

See the Victorian Institute of teaching register for current information

Also see:

The history of schools, pupils and teachers

For detailed information on the history of Victorian schools, students and teachers please go to our School and education history in Victoria research guide.

Newspaper articles

Newspapers can provide useful information on schools and teachers.

The Trove Digitised Newspaper database provides full text access to a range of Victorian newspapers, published between 1803-1954.

Try searching Trove for newspaper articles relating to an individual - search for a name, or a name and place. Use quotation marks around keywords to search as an exact phrase, i.e."Fairfield State School" "Mr Winning"

Presentation to popular teacher. The Argus, 6 March 1926, 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.

Teacher Training

Check with the relevant university archives to determine what student training records are available. For example, the University of Melbourne Archives holds records from the Melbourne teachers college, including Student record cards and registers.

Browse subject searches results for:
Teachers -- Victoria -- Periodicals

Browse The Trainee (1907-1972), a journal published by Melbourne Teachers' College.

Students at the Teachers' College, Grattan Street, Carlton,  H87.211/1


We have several items in our collection relating to Victorian teacher union groups, including books, journals and newspapers.

Search the catalogue using such terms as - teacher unions Victoria* and browse results, (the * will find Victoria and Victorian) .

Also see our research guide on Protests, activism & dissent in Victoria to learn about trade union records in our Riley political ephemera collection.

Jack Martin on finding teacher records at the Public Record Office Victoria

Hear tips on researching your teacher forebears in this Family History Feast 2016 presentation by Jack Martin from Public Record Office Victoria (PROV).