Researching your Victorian ancestors

A guide to family history research using the major Victorian resources

Directories & almanacs

Post office, telephone and trade directories are useful for confirming when and where a person operated a business or resided at a particular address.

Most directories contained residential information - the name and address of the main householder, and possibly their occupation. Trade directories contained commercial listings and several directories also included sections listing the names of government officials and those employed in specific industries such as banking, law and education.

Most directories are arranged alphabetically by name however some are arranged geographically by suburb and some are arranged by individual street names. Over the years boundaries have moved, so make sure you are checking the right suburb listing and remember that listing in a directory was neither compulsory nor free, so not everyone is listed.

Major Victorian directories

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 Post Office Directories (not published every year) GMF 98 box 41
1884-1900

Wise's Victorian Post Office Directories
The 1903-1916 directories be obtained through the La Trobe Information Centre.

GMF 98 box 42

 

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.

Other Victorian directories

A comprehensive list of Victorian directories can be found in the following publication.