Researching your Victorian ancestors

A guide to family history research using the major Victorian resources

Directories

Post office, telephone and trade directories are useful for confirming when and where a person resided at a particular address or operated a business and can help to trace the movement of a person or family..

Most directories are arranged alphabetically by surname or business name, however many historical post office directories include a geographical section, which allows you to search by suburb and street name. Directories usually contain the name and address of the main householder, not all family members. Some historical directories also include the occupation of the householder.

Trade directories contain commercial listings and many historical directories include professional listings, the names of government officials and those employed in specific industries such as banking, law, education and ecclesiastical institutions

When using directories it's worth remembering that over time, boundaries may have moved, so make sure you are checking the right suburb listing for a particular era. Also, a listing in a directory was neither compulsory nor free, so not everyone is listed.

Major postal directories and almanacs

 

1839-1867

Port Phillip / Victorian Directories
Contains
39 individual directories covering different regions (some commercial listings). 
An index to this series is available on Fiche 1A.

GMF 98
Box 40

1857-1880 University of Melbourne has digitised every year of the Sands & McDougall directories from 1857 to 1880.
Online access available from home
1860-1974 One in every five Sands & McDougall directories from 1860 to 1974 are available through the State Library Victoria. Keyword searching available. Online access available from home
1860-1942

Australia, City Directories, 1845-1948
Includes:
Sands & McDougall Melbourne Directories, 1860-1882, 1884, 1892-3, 1896-1901, 1903-1907, 1910-1911.
Sands & McDougall Victorian Directories, 1904, 1912-1931, 1933, 1935, 1938, 1942
Wise's Victorian Post Office Directories, 1888, 1904, 1914

Available at the Library on the Ancestry Library
Edition database

1860-1942

Victorian Post Office, Trade and Specialist Directories Collection on CD-ROM.
A collection of 76 directories including:

  • Sands & McDougall Melbourne Directories, 1860-1882, 1884, 1892-3, 1896-1901, 1903-1907, 1910-1911.
    Sands & McDougall Victorian Directories, 1904, 1912-1931, 1933, 1935, 1938, 1942
    Wise's Victorian Post Office Directories, 1888, 1904, 1914
Online through
State Library computers.

1857-1974

Sands & Kenny Melbourne Directories, 1857-1861

Sands & McDougall Melbourne Directories, 1862-1911

Sands & McDougall Victorian Directories, 1912-1974.

These directories include:

  1. Contents and indexes
  2. Listings of occupants of city streets
  3. Listings of occupants of suburbs and suburban streets (section frequently used for dating houses)
  4. Alphabetical listing of main householders
  5. Trades & professional listings
  6. Miscellaneous other listings of churches, institutions etc.
  7. Advertisements at the beginning and end
GMF 98
1868-1881 Bailliere's Official post office directory of Victoria (not published every year) GMF 98 box 41
1884-1900

The Victoria  post office commercial directory {Wise}
The 1903-1916 directories are held in storage.

GMF 98 box 42

Additional Victorian directories

A detailed list of regional and municipal directories can be found in the above PDF document.

Telephone directories

The library holds copies of Victorian telephone directories from 1913 onward.
Here is a summary of our main collections, including directories available on microfiche in the Newspapers and Family History Reading Rooms.

Metropolitan telephone directories on microfiche

1913-1914 & 1923-1924

Victorian State Telephone Directories

GMF 98 Box 44

1925 -1995

Melbourne residential directories (various title changes)

GMF 98 Boxes 56-62

1918, 1935 -1997 Melbourne classified directories (various title changes) GMF 98 Boxes 63-67

The residential and classified directories for the metropolitan area, experienced many name changes since 1925. A complete list of titles, with location details, can be found in the Melbourne telephone directory family tree

Current White pages and Yellow pages Online

 

Regional telephone directories on microfiche

1913 -1914 & 1923 -1924  Victorian State Telephone Directories GMF 98 Box 44
1931 - 1970

Victorian Country Telephone Directories

GMF 98 Boxes 45 – 51

1980-1995

Victorian Country Classified Telephone Directories

GMF 98 Boxes 52 – 55

A list of residential and classified directories from 1986 onward can be found in the regional directories family tree. The tree includes location details.

Current White pages and Yellow pages directories

Online

 

White pages directory on CD includes coverage of Australian wide telephone directories from 1996-2003 (incomplete)
Available o
nline in the library on PC’s NFH 1 to 5

Street directories

  • Melbourne street directories (1912-1952)
    Includes a range of Moulton's, Morgan's and Collins street directories for Melbourne and suburbs.
    Available online via the State Library Victoria website.
  • Melway street directory of greater Melbourne (1966-1999)
    A selection of Melway directories is available online via the University of Melbourne website.
  • A wide range of street directories are held at the State Library. Search the library catalogue to see what's available.

State Library Victoria