Researching your Victorian ancestors

A guide to family history research using the major Victorian resources

Searching for living relatives

Electoral rolls and telephone books are the first sources to check for living relatives:

  • Electoral rolls - go to the Electoral Rolls tab on this guide to find out more information on accessing Victorian electoral rolls. Our coverage of interstate rolls varies so check the library catalogue for our holdings.

A growing range of online sources are available to help you get in touch with living relatives, including websites like Facebook, where people join up to connect with friends and family members.

If you find the person that you are seeking, remember that contact with long lost relatives can be a sensitive matter. It is important that you handle such situations carefully and it is often best to contact that person in writing by post or email instead of suprising them with a sudden visit or phone call. And of course, once you have found that person make sure that you stay in touch!

Adoption and Forgotten Australians

To find information on adoption records, Forgotten Australians and child migrants please go to our Adoption and Forgotten Australians research guide.

Missing persons services

These missing persons websites are for people who have disappeared suddenly or involuntarily and may be at risk due to a disability, circumstances or because they are children.  These services are not to be used for family history research but may help if you have a relative in this situation.

Sources for living relatives

There are a number of online sources and organisations that can help you find living relatives in Australia:

Go local

Valuable details about family members may be obtained from sources other than large libraries, archives and other government institutions.

  • Ask grandparents and other relatives for information (in stories and documents)
  • Visit local libraries, historical and genealogical societies in the area where your ancestors lived
  • Read local histories to learn about your ancestor's suburb or town: the key events, places and people that shaped that place

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.


Expert help

Make sure you look through our other research guides first as information that we have already posted online may help you with your research straight away.You can ask Library staff specific Victorian family history questions through our Ask a librarian service.

National and state libraries and archives can help with reference inquiries that relate to their collections:

    National Archives of Australia collections | inquiries
    Public Record Office Victoria collections | inquiries
    National Library of Australia collections | inquiries

You can also employ a professional genealogist to undertake family history research on your behalf. The Australasian Association of Genealogists and Record Agents (AAGRA) coordinates a list of researchers who you can pay to locate your ancestor in records.

Family reunion

A moving reunion of Pte. George Bennett with his wife and mother-in-law Mrs. A. Gilson at Royal Park.

A moving reunion of Pte. George Bennett with his wife and mother-in-law Mrs. A. Gilson at Royal ParkH98.103/4696A