Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are advised that this research guide contains the names and images of people who are now deceased.

Aboriginal family hunting goanna, Wahgunyah Region

Before you begin

Talk to as many family members as you can. Family members will often have valuable information such as names (including nicknames), dates and firsthand accounts of events like births, deaths or marriages. You may like to ask the following questions:

  • Do I know my ancestors' first and last name, or any nicknames or aliases they may have had?
  • Do I know any birth, death or marriage dates?
  • Do I know the town or area they lived in?
  • Do I know if my family served in any wars?
  • Do I know which parish they belonged to, or to which particular denomination in which town?
  • Do I know if my family lived on an Aboriginal reserve or a mission?

Collect or copy any relevant documents such as birth certificates, newspaper articles, letters or diaries etc. that you or other family members may have. This type of information will assist you with your research.

Write down as much information as you can about your family.

We recommend the material on the AIATSIS Family History Page as a very useful guide for beginners.

Map showing the distribution of the Aboriginal tribes of Australia

Detail from Map showing the distribution of the Aboriginal tribes of Australia [cartographic material] / by Norman B. Tindale.


Norman Tindale wrote many family history tree charts in the 1920s and 1930s called the ‘Tindale Genealogies’. Visit the AIATSIS website and see where you can view these genealogies.


Aboriginal people do appear on Australian electoral rolls prior to 1967. Read more about the history of the Indigenous vote on the archived Australian Electoral Commission website.