Researching your Victorian ancestors

A guide to family history research using the major Victorian resources

Electoral rolls

Electoral rolls can provide valuable details on your ancestors, including their addresses, the names of other adult family members living in the same household and up until 1984, their occupations.

Only a very limited number of 19th century rolls have survived, the most comprehensive roll being the 1856-57 Victoria electoral roll. After Federation in 1901 an annual electoral roll for the Commonwealth was compiled but for some years separate rolls continued to be produced for State and Commonwealth elections.

A history of the  Legislative Council's electoral system and Victoria's Parliamentary history can be found on the Parliament of Victoria website.

For information on who was eligible to vote please see the column on the right of this page.

Until 1990 names were listed alphabetically by electoral division and subdistrict. From 1990 onwards the rolls are arranged alphabetically by state. Division boundaries often changed so to find the correct electoral division for a specific year you should refer to the maps in the book Commonwealth of Australia, 1901-1988, electoral redistributions, available in the Newspapers and Family History Reading Rooms.

Electoral rolls - online

An electronic copy of the current electoral roll is available for public inspection at any AEC office. The office nearest to the State Library is at Level 8, Casselden Place, 2 Lonsdale St, Melbourne. Please note it is not possible to copy, record or photograph any information from the electoral roll.You can also check your enrollment details online but you must enter your details exactly as they appear on the electoral roll.
The AEC does not keep historic electoral rolls for public viewing.

Electoral rolls - Ancestry Library Edition

Rolls for the following states and years are available online through the Ancestry Library Edition database. This database can only be accessed in the State Library, but is also available in most Victorian public libraries

The years marked with an asterisk have been indexed. Others are only available to browse through.

Victoria 1856*, 1903*, 1905-06, 1908, 1909*, 1910, 1912-13, 1914*, 1915-18, 1919*, 1920-22, 1924*, 1925-28, 1931*, 1932-35, 1936-37*, 1942-43*, 1949*, 1954*, 1958*, 1963*, 1968*, 1972*, 1977*, 1980*
Australian Capital Territory 1928*, 1929-31, 1935*, 1937*, 1943*, 1949*, 1954*, 1958*, 1963*, 1968*, 1972*, 1977*, 1980*
New South Wales 1930*, 1931-32, 1933*, 1934-35, 1936-37*, 1943*, 1949*, 1953-54*, 1958*, 1963*, 1968*, 1972*, 1977*, 1980*
Northern Territory 1922*, 1928, 1929*, 1930-31, 1934*, 1937*, 1943*, 1949*, 1954*, 1958*, 1963*, 1968*, 1972*, 1977*, 1980*
Queensland 1903*, 1905*, 1906, 1908-10, 1912, 1913*, 1914-17, 1919*, 1921*, 1922, 1925*, 1926, 1928-29, 1930*, 1931-32, 1934, 1936-37*, 1943*, 1949*, 1954*, 1958*, 1963*, 1968*, 1972*, 1977*, 1980*
Tasmania   1914*, 1915-17, 1919*, 1921, 1922*, 1925, 1928*, 1929-31, 1934, 1936-37*, 1943-44*, 1949*, 1954*
Western Australia 1903*, 1905, 1906*, 1909, 1910-11*, 1912-15, 1916*, 1917-22, 1925*, 1926, 1928-30, 1931*, 1934, 1936-37*, 1943*, 1949*, 1954*, 1958*, 1963*, 1968*, 1972*, 1977*, 1980*

 

Electoral rolls - microfiche and print

Access Australian electoral rolls on microfiche in the Newspapers and Family History Reading Rooms. 
Coverage varies from state to state so check the library catalogue for our holdings. The latest electoral roll issued on microfiche was for January 2008  - this is when the Australian Electoral Commission stopped releasing electoral rolls on microfiche. Please note, the AEC does not keep historic electoral rolls for public viewing.

For a comprehensive list of historical Victorian electoral rolls please view the following pdf attachment:

How to find electoral rolls on the Ancestry Library Edition database

Watch how you can find electoral rolls on the Ancestry Library Edition database.

For the best view choose fullscreen and the highest resolution

youtube icons

 

Boundary maps

From the Victorian Electoral Commission website you can download boundary maps for Regions, Districts and local council areas.

Eligibility to vote

The following is a summary of the Commonwealth qualifications for voting.

Commonwealth Franchise Act 1902

Eligible to enrol:
Any persons 21 years of age or older
(a) Who have lived in Australia for six months continuously, and
(b) Who are natural born or naturalized subjects of the King,

Disqualified:
Any person of unsound mind
Any person attained of treason
Any person under sentence of offence punishable by 12 months anywhere in British Empire
Any aboriginal native of Australia, Asia, Africa, or the Islands of the Pacific except New Zealand

Compulsory enrollment for eligible voters introduced in 1911

It was not until 1908 that Victorian women could vote in State elections. Victorian women first voted in the Legislative Council election of 1910, and then in the general election of 1911.  It wasn't until 1924 that women were allowed to stand for Parliament in Victoria. 

 

Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918

Eligible to enrol:
Any persons 21 years of age or older
(a) Who have lived in Australia for six months continuously, and
(b) Who are natural born or naturalized subjects of the King,

Additionally:
all persons who are or have been members of the Forces, within the meaning of the Commonwealth Electoral (Wartime) Act 1917 and who
(a) Who have lived in Australia for six months continuously, and
(b) Who are natural born or naturalized subjects of the King
This last provision only had effect during the state of war and for three years after the armistice.

Disqualified:
Any person of unsound mind
Any person attained of treason
Any person under sentence of offence punishable by 12 months anywhere in British Empire
Any aboriginal native of Australia, Asia, Africa, or the Islands of the Pacific except New Zealand

Commonwealth Electoral Act 1925 enabled natives of British India to enrol

Commonwealth Electoral Act 1949 enabled Australian aborigines who were on state rolls and those who had served or were currently serving in the armed forces

Commonwealth Electoral Act 1961 removed the disqualification on 'aboriginal native[s] of … Africa, or the Islands of the Pacific'.

Commonwealth Electoral Act 1962 enabled all Australian aborigines to enrol. Enrolment was optional.

Commonwealth Electoral Act 1973 reduced the voting age to 18 years.

Commonwealth Electoral Act 1984 made Australian citizenship the only qualification with the exception of British subjects already on the roll prior to 26 January 1984.

State Library Victoria

LIBRARY CLOSURE  

In line with the stage 3 restrictions announced by the Premier, State Library Victoria closed on Thursday 9 July.

We will advise when there is any update to this situation.

Our Ask A Librarian  reference service is still available to assist with your research inquiries.