Researching buildings and houses

Learn how to research the history of your house or a prominent Melbourne building using the Library’s collection of architectural drawings, maps and online tools.


The Manuscripts Collection includes unpublished papers, architectural plans and drawings by some prominent Melbourne architectural firms including;

You can also browse the Library Catalogue under Architectural Drawings.

Some architectural drawings collections have a descriptive list which describes in more detail what is in the collection. For enquires call the information desk on 03 8664 7002.

Illustrations index

This is a card index to illustrations in newspapers, journals and books, especially for the period 1860-1920.  It is also indexed by geographic location.

It is located in the Arts Reading Room on Level 2A at the Library.

Local history Index

The local history index (on microfiche) is arranged by geographic location, for example, “Prahran (Vic.) Residences”. It contains references to articles on different types of buildings such as offices, schools and residences; plus references to architects. The card index stopped in 1993 and subsequent entries are in the online Australiana Index.


You can use the Australiana Index to locate newspaper and journal articles on local buildings and people. 

Entries on the catalogue will point you to either a newspaper or magazine article or a file. The files - called either Biography or Local History files - are manila folders full of ephemeral material including brochures, newspaper cuttings, research letters and occasionally auction brochures.

Only the file name is listed, so you will not know the contents of the file you are ordering. To order, you will need to speak with the staff at the 'Ask a Librarian' desk in the Cowen Gallery or call 03 8664 7002.

You can search the Melbourne newspaper The Argus and The Age, up to 1954, through Trove. Information may include advertisements for architects, intent to build notices and auction details.

Google have also digitised some editions of The Age.

Newspaper card indexes

We hold card indexes for various Melbourne newspapers which include references to architects and architecture. These are available in the Newspapers & Family History Reading Room. The cards are arranged chronologically then alphabetically. Titles include:

Herald, (Melbourne),  Jan. 1926 - 12 Nov. 1970
, (Melbourne),  Jan. 1929 - 12 Nov. 1970

The microfiche Agesearch index indexes Melbourne's Age newspaper from 1982 to May 1992.

Search under the following subjects:

Architects and architecture
Building property

For more information on Newspaper indexes see our Newspaper research guide.

Edna Walling

Archives of the prominent Melbourne landcape architect Edna Walling are also held in the Manuscripts Collection. There are also many relevant items in the Pictures Collection. Search using the catalogue.


South Yarra buildings

This collection comprises of research on buildings of South Yarra and Prahran. It consists of extracts copied from rate books and directories, property sales ads, descriptions of buildings, conservation studies and plans. For a detailing of the collection, click on the above link, then see the 'View descriptive list' link which is under the 'Details' tab.