Researching your Victorian ancestors

A guide to family history research using the major Victorian resources

Searching the catalogue

The Library has a vast range of resources to help you with your family history research. The collection contains primary and secondary sources about people, places and events and includes such material as books, indexes; databases; diaries; letters; photographs; maps; biographies and social histories.

You can search the library catalogue for the name of a specific publication or resource or you can browse through titles on a particular topic. Try searching the catalogue for the name of an ancestor, family group or a place where your ancestors lived. You may find a ships' diary describing an ancestors voyage to Victoria, a parish map of the town where they lived, or a photograph of their house.


Catalogue search strategies

The following examples show the type of keywords you can use to find relevant material:

Search for a theme: convicts genealogy, Mildura pioneers, Cornish immigrants
Search for a family: Theobald family, Westgarth family
Search for a person: Elizabeth May Murray MacMahon, Reverend Francis Hales, Mabel Dowling Taylor

Some books to get you started

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.


Eva reading

Portrait of Eva reading,
Portrait of Eva reading, H84.37/4/31