Researching your Victorian ancestors

A guide to family history research using the major Victorian resources


Newspapers can provide a wealth of information about your ancestors, including:

  • Family notices - details of births, engagements, marriages and deaths and possibly the names of relatives you might not know about.
  • Legal information - bankruptcies, court notices, crimes, arrests, inquests and probate notices.
  • Land and property - land sales, auctions, information on houses and previous residents.
  • Feature articles - military news, biographical sketches, business announcements, neighbourhood and local news.
  • Advertisements - businesses, entertainment, events etc.

The Library’s newspaper collection comprises of Australian and overseas newspapers, including almost every issue of every newspaper in Victoria. Most newspapers are available in print or microfilm and a number of titles are available through online newspaper archives.

The following archive is particularly relevant to anyone reseaching historic Victorian material:

Trove - Historic Australian Newspapers 1803-1954
Includes over 1000 state and national newspapers, dating from 1803 to 1954. Over 350 Victorian newspapers are available and more are being added each year.


How to find newspapers

For further information consult one of the library's newspaper research guides.

Newspaper resources

Watch this video on our newspaper card indexes.

For the best view choose fullscreen and the highest resolution

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For details of the sessions see our What's On calendar.  The handout for the Newsworthy session can be downloaded here:

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.


Family history indexes

Family history indexes can include a variety of records that are useful for genealogists. The most common type of family history indexes are birth, death and marriage notices (BDMs), and  personal notices such as memoriams, anniversaries, engagements, etc. There are also indexes that cover ships passengers lists, arrivals and departures of ships, missing friends notices, wills, inquests and probate notices.

Some useful online family history newspaper indexes are: