Family history

Starting your family history

  • Talk to older relatives about what they understand about the family history. You will need to verify this information with other records and documents.

  • Start from the most recent relatives and work back in time, usually starting with Birth, Death and Marriage records.

  • Focus on one person or one family at a time.

  • Do some internet searching and consider using social media networks. Sometimes you can be lucky and find existing research about your family published online.

  • Consider joining the Genealogical Society of Victoria or going to their short courses.

  • Consider visiting the Genealogy Centre at the State Library of Victoria or look up their family history research guides.Check out the Public Record Office of Victoria's family history guides.

  • Check the library catalogue, local history catalogue and Trove for any books published about the family history or the places they came from. There may also be mentions of the family in books about places.Check with local librarians or local historical societies in the town where your relatives lived.

  • Consider some free online family history training from the University of Strathcylde.

  • Note down where you have found information.

  • Be prepared that family history research can take a long time and can be difficult.

Ancestry Library Edition

Moreland library members can have free access to Ancestry Library Edition database at Moreland library branches.

Ancestry Library Edition has a wide number of databases you can search, including births, deaths and marriages; immigration and shipping; directories; census and military records for many countries.

Sometimes you will get a small amount of information and sometimes you will get a link to view original certificates or records.

It is a good idea to search within a specific databases, rather than searching across the whole of Ancestry. Under Search tab, select Card Catalogue. You can then find specific databases by selecting record type and country. You can then search within that specific database eg Australian Births 1788-1922.

Adoption and State Ward records

Adoption Information Services, Department of Justice. (Formerly FIND).
Apply for information about past adoptions.

Care Leavers Network (CLAN).  Key support organisation.

Find and Connect provides information about orphanages, children's homes and institutions and where to find more records. You can search by suburb.

Vanish assists with finding records.

State Library of Victoria Reseach Guide to Adoption records.

Public Record Office of Victoria guide to Adoption and Wardship records.

Births, deaths and marriages

You can find some Australian birth, death and marriage information through:

These different sources will give you different amounts of information. You will not usually be able to see the original certificate until you purchase a copy. For privacy reasons you aren't able to search on records from recent decades.

Keep your searching broad. If you can't find a combination of first and family names, search only on family name. Extend the years you are searching on. Many researchers discover that a person's registered name is different from what they are known as. If a name might be spelt a different way, use an asterix instead of some letters.

Note down Registration Numbers of certificates you are interested in. You will need to contact state offices of Births, Deaths and Marriages to purchase a copy of the original certificates using that number.

Census records (United Kingdom)

Census records from England, Scotland and Wales have been digitised for 1841 - 1911 and can be searched on Ancestry Library Edition at library branches. Some Irish records are also available.

If you don't have much information about the family, select the last available individual census for the region, eg England 1911, and search for your family within that individual database. Then select earlier census databases (eg England 1901) based on the information you find from 1911.

If you know more information already, you could start searching 1841 census and move forward through the years (eg 1851, 1861 etc) get more detail about the changes within the family through time.

Cemetery records

Most cemeteries have online grave records you can search.

Greater Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust. Currently covers Fawkner and Coburg cemeteries.

Southern Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust. Currently covers St Kilda and Springvale cemeteries.

Guide to Victorian cemetery records (State Library of Victoria).

Citizenship (Naturalisation) records

Records about people's immigration and citizenship are kept by the National Archives of Australia.

Death notices in newspapers

See Ryerson Index to current death notices.

Divorce records

Public Record Office of Victoria divorce records guide.

Electoral and voter rolls

Electoral rolls will give addresses and occupations of adults who are eligible and registered to vote.

You can search Australian electoral rolls 1903-1980 on Ancestry Library Edition at library branches. *Australian Electoral Rolls 1903 - 1980

Brunswick Library has some historic voter rolls from the 1960s to 1980s for the Wills electorate in the Les Barnes Local History Room.

The State Library of Victoria also holds historic electoral rolls.

Historic Society newsletters

The family or person you are researching may be mentioned in an article in a newsletter.

Coburg Historic Society has compiled a Moreland History Bibliography that includes titles of articles appearing in newsletters of Moreland's historical societies.
To search, download PDF and use search function in Adobe.

Prahran Mechanics Institute keeps and indexes newsletters of all Victorian local history societies.

Immigration and passenger records

Some passenger lists from historic ships are available on Ancestry Library Edition.

Some indexes listing people who came to Victoria by boat are available online from the Locating passenger lists - Public Record of Office of Victoria website.

Migration records are also kept at the National Archives of Australia.

Indigenous family history

Koorie Records Unit at the Public Records Office of Victoria.

Koorie Family History Service at the Koorie Heritage Trust.

State Library of Victoria Research Guide to Aboriginal Family History.

Inquest records

Research information about coronial inquests from Public Records Office of Victoria.

Italian records

Coasit in Carlton have specialised Italian family history resources.

You can choose to search on Italian records only within Ancestry by selecting Card Cataloge from the Search Menu, and limiting by European and then Italian record databases on the left-hand side menu.

International records

In Ancestry Library Edition you can limit searches to the records of specific countries by choosing Card Catalogue from the Search drop-down menu. Options to limit by country will appear on the left-hand side menu.

Cyndi's List has links to a wide range of international records. You can search by country and type of record. Choose the letter of the country at the bottom of the screen.

The Genealogical Society of Victoria hosts an International Settlers Group.

Military or war service

The National Archives of Australia holds documents about people who were in the Army, Navy or Air force in Australia.

The Australian War Memorial holds documents about Australians who fought in wars.

See Moreland Remembers World War I for information and links about local soldiers.


The Royal Historic Society of Victoria and the State Library of Victoria hold manuscripts relating to some Victorian families. You can search their collections online for holdings.


Your family member may have been mentioned in a newspaper article, family notice or obituary.

Local newspapers

  • Brunswick and Coburg Star and Brunswick and Coburg Leader 1890-1913 have been digitised and are available for searching on Trove Historic Newspapers

  • Articles from the Moreland Leader (and earlier versions) from 1985-2005 are indexed on an Inmagic database on the computer in the Les Barnes Local History Room at Brunswick Library.

  • For details about library holdings of older editions of local papers see the Local Studies Pathfinder (DOC 162Kb).

  • Copies of other historic local newspapers could also be at the State Library of Victoria for browsing (no index available).

State/National newspapers

  • The Argus (1848-1957) and The Age (1854-1954) have been digitised and made available on Trove Historic Newspapers to search online.

British newspapers

Oral histories

Talks on Brunswick (1981-2001) and Talks on Moreland (2004 - ) sound recordings.  Speak with Adult/Information Services staff to access where possible. 

The State Library of Victoria and National Library of Australia may also have some oral history recordings of local people.


Historic photographs has links to online sources of historic images of Moreland.

Postal directories (Sands and McDougall)

Postal directories were published in Victoria between the 1830s and 1974.

You could look up a person and find their address (see Alphabetical Index section), or look up and address and find out who was the main occupier at that house (see Suburbs and Streets section). It could also list their occupation.

The State Library of Victoria are progressively digitising the Sands and McDougall Directories. Click on the time period you are interested in. Then click on the View button to access the contents of a specific edition. Click on links to specific parts of the edition.

Some Postal Directories for Australian states are also now available for searching on Ancestry Library Edition. See Australian City Directories.  

For details of holdings of postal directories at Moreland City Libraries see the Genealogy Pathfinder (DOC 171Kb).

Full copies of postal directories are at the State Library of Victoria.

Pubs and publican records

See the Cole-Tetlow Index at the State Library of Victoria.

The Public Record Office of Victoria also holds records about publicans' licenses.

Prisoners or Pentridge records

Documents about prisoners at Pentridge Prison are at the Prison records at the Public Record Office of Victoria.

Also see history of Pentridge prison.

School records

Documents from public schools are at the Education records at the Public Record Office of Victoria.

You can search for photographs of schools on Picture Victoria or Trove websites.


Some articles about local people and places have been published on Wikinorthia. You can register for free to add your own material.

Wills and probate records

See Accessing Wills and probate records at Public Record Office of Victoria.