Video 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 Newspapers and Family History zone of the Library's Main 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 research 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 free family history learning sessions. See what's on for times and to make a booking.
  • 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.