Transcript - How do I research my family history

Before you visit

  • Spend time gathering all of your family information together. Talk to relatives, collect documents, photographs and records.
  • Organise the information into a chart like this one. Identify the gaps and decide what you want to look for first.
  • Visit the National Library's Newspapers and Microforms Reading Room to get started. You'll find lots of resources including microfilm and electronic resources.
  • Staff in the reading room can help you get started but cannot do your research for you.

Key resources

  • There are key resources that form the backbone of any family history research, such as:
    • Indexes of births, deaths and marriages
      You'll find indexes but full certificates are held by the registry office in the State that the event happened.
    • Passenger lists
      Look for indexes and lists of passengers immigrating to Australia.
    • Convict records
      Find records about sentencing, transportation, where convicts served out their sentences and maybe more.
    • Electoral rolls
      See where you ancestors were living.

Further information can be found in the Family History Sources online guide.

Researchers should also consider:

  • Newspapers
    Discover the context and background to flesh out the story of your relatives. You'll find them on microfilm, print and online in Trove and eResources.
  • Historical items in our general collection
    Search our catalogue to find resources that will help you understand the life and times of your ancestors.

More help

  • Come along to one of our regular family history classes. To make a booking online, visit Up & Coming Events. Look for sessions with the heading 'Learning'.
  • If you are unable to visit the Library in Canberra, use Trove to find useful items at a local or State library closer to you. Local genealogical societies can also be a great place to get a helping hand.

If you have an enquiry about family history research you can Ask a Librarian. We can help point you in the right direction.