Researching your Victorian ancestors

A guide to family history research using the major Victorian resources

Victorian archive centres

The following archive offices hold a wide range of records including historical documents, maps, audiovisual items, photographs and manuscripts. The National Archives contain Commonwealth records whereas the state and territory archives hold records from their government's jurisdiction.

The National Archives of Australia (NAA) holds over 39 million items including records on immigration, military service, naturalisation and shipping. For further information consult their Researching your family webpage and their publication Finding families: the guide to the National Archives of Australia for genealogists.

The Public Record Office Victoria (PROV) holds records created by Victorian Government departments and authorities. Records date back to the establishment of the Port Phillip District in the mid 1830s and include passenger lists, wills and probate documents, indigenous records, coronial inquests and police, education, health and railway records. 

To find out more about the collections at PROV  go to their Explore archives by topic page, consult their publication Private lives, public records: family history resources at Public Record Office Victoria  (for the ebook version click here) or browse through their online Family History research pages.

National Archives of Australia (NAA)
99 Shiel Street, North Melbourne VIC 3051
Ask-us-a question service


Public Record Office Victoria (PROV)
99 Shiel Street, North Melbourne VIC 3051
Ph:         (03) 9348 5600
Toll free  1800 657 452 (outside Melbourne)
Fax:       (03) 9348 5656



Other states and territories

State Records Authority of New South Wales
This collection includes convict records, passenger and shipping lists, births, marriages and deaths, land records and papers of the Colonial Secretary. Their Family history guide and Archives in Brief fact sheets  are an excellent starting point for your research. The convict records archive covers the period 1787-1842 and is considered to be one of the most important convict archives in the world.

Northern Territory Archives Service
The NTAS archives collection includes NT Government archives, personal archives, archives of organisations and oral history archives. A number of information leaflets are available including Researching your Aboriginal family history and Researching your family history.

Queensland State Archives
The collection includes convict, land, immigration, indigenous, hospital and orphanage records. There are a number of brief guides available which will help you identify frequently used records.

State Records of South Australia
Contains records created by South Australian government agencies. Includes passenger lists, school records, Aboriginal records, land records, marine. harbours and railway records. Their Family history page includes links to guides, research advice and resources not held by the State Records.

Libraries Tasmania
Brings together the collections of the State Library of Tasmania and the Tasmanian Archive and Heritage Office. Collections include church registers, papers from the Colonial Secretary's Office convict records, passenger lists, cemetery records. The Family history page includes links to guides, collections and indexes.
The convict records archive cover  1804-1853. The Convicts in Tasmania page includes links to a number of guides, indexes and digitised items.

State Records Office of Western Australia
The collection includes records from the Colonial Secretary's Office and numerous court, police, health, school, gaol and convict records. A number of information sheets are available on a range of topics.

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.


State Library Victoria