Family history research
Listed and linked below are various resources which may assist with your personal and family history research. A number of these resources also have links to other e-resources and indexes which can help with tracing your family and personal history.
The Pacific Manuscripts Bureau copies archives, manuscripts and rare printed material relating to the Pacific Islands. Their microfilm collection is the most extensive collection of non-government primary documentation on the Pacific Islands available to researchers.
The library at James Cook University has a large collection of North Queensland heritage materials and archives, including links to North Queensland newspapers and photographic collections.
The National Archives is responsible for caring for the most significant records of the Australian Government and most of these records were received, created or kept by government agencies. The archive consists of tens of millions of items, and includes records about immigration, military service, transport, Indigenous Australians, science, the environment and much more.
- Nationalisation Records (the National Archives holds citizenship records for all states from 1904, when the citizenship function was passed to the Australian Government. The two main types of citizenship records are naturalisation certificates and case files. Citizenship records provide much information about the migrant including date of arrival in Australia, ship (or flight) travelled on, town and country of birth, names of other family members, education, profession and address in Australia at the time of naturalisation).
- Service and sacrifice – records of service in Australia's defence forces (this collection includes personal service records for men and women who served in the Australian armed forces, including the Army, Navy and Air Force).
The National Library of Australia holds the greatest collection in the world of material relating to Australia and the Australian people. The collection includes all formats of material, from books and magazines to pictures, photographs, maps, sheet music, oral history recordings, manuscript papers, ephemera, etc. Useful sites include:
- Pacific (the National Library holds a rich and diverse range of library materials on the Pacific region, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea)
- Trove (search digitised newspapers, journals, articles, data sets, books, pictures, photos, objects, music, sound, video, maps, diaries, letters archives and archived websites)
Queensland State Archives holds various records within its collection relating to Australian South Sea Islander people, including from their first arrivals in the early 1860s to their subsequent repatriation or settlement in Queensland (particularly in the first two decades of 1900s).
- Guide: Australian South Sea Islander records (PDF)
- Australian South Sea Islanders Index – 1867-1908
- Australian South Sea Islander resources
- Coloured Labour and Asiatic Aliens in Queensland 1913
Other records available at the Queensland State Archives which may be of value include:
- Indigent Case files
- Education Department records
- Hospital for Pacific Islanders, Maryborough and Death Record & Diaries
- Mackay Base Hospital Admission Registers 1891-1908 searchable index
- Book of Permits to Carry Pacific Islanders Coastwise
- Register of Immigrants - Mackay
- Ledgers, Pacific Islanders' Wages
- Register of Certificates of Exemptions Granted (Or Refused) under the Sugar Cultivation Act of 1913
- Prison records
- Court records
- Home Secretary’s office records
Various resources, including books, articles, manuscripts and the like, which may help with family history research can be located via the online search catalogue. The State Library holds copies of the following resources which may prove useful for family history research:
- Police Gazettes (the Police Gazettes contain a wealth of information for family historians. The information found in the police gazettes may include convicts and criminals who have absconded, reports on criminal activities, discharges from prison, persons wanted by the police for criminal activities, inquests, seamen and soldiers who have deserted, reports on missing friends and relatives, etc.)
- Tindale Genealogical Collection (if your ancestors have links with Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples, Norman Tindale’s genealogical collection may be of use with your family history research. From 1928 Tindale began visiting Aboriginal people living on missions and government stations and by the end of the 1960s had photographed thousands of Aboriginal people, collected significant cultural material and recorded a large number of genealogies (family trees). Tindale created genealogies of aboriginal families for up to three generations, sometimes recording languages spoken and other tribal information. All of his original research is held at the South Australian Museum)
Note: Another resource (including genealogies) which may assist research on families with connections to the Torres Strait Islanders is the Reports of the Cambridge Anthropological Expedition to the Torres Straits which can be accessed via Internet Archive. Alfred Cort Haddon (1855–1940) was a highly influential British anthropologist and ethnologist who led an expedition during 1898 and 1899, which conducted ethnographical research in the Torres Strait, New Guinea, and Borneo. The main results of this expedition were compiled in a series of volumes, written by various contributors – including genealogies compiled by W.H.R. Rivers. The reports contain information on a broad variety of languages from the region, including grammatical guides and vocabularies.
- UQ Anthropology Museum (cares for a significant collection of non-Western art and artefacts including contemporary Pacific and Australian Indigenous artwork, and holds a collection of 6500 photographs)
- UQ Library (search various resources, including books, articles, manuscripts, etc. - including the Fryer Library and Multimedia)
Birth, death, marriage and cemetery records
The following resources will allow you to online search for officially registered birth, death and marriages certificates in Queensland and New South Wales, as well as search a large number of cemeteries where your ancestors and family members may be buried. Many local councils now have their cemetery registers indexed and online.
- Queensland Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages (search for officially registered birth, marriage and death information in Queensland)
- New South Wales Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages (search for officially registered birth, marriage and death information in New South Wales)
- Annual Reports of the Chief Protector of Aboriginals (available digitally via the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) these reports include a section named “Mixed Marriages” were marriages between “individuals and Aboriginal females” were recorded. In some instances “individuals” included South Sea Islanders)
- Australian Cemeteries
- Australian Cemeteries Index
- Bundaberg Regional Council – Cemetery Search
- Burdekin Shire Council – Burial Register
- Cairns Regional Council – Cemetery Search
- Hinchinbrook Regional Council – Cemetery Search
- Mackay Cemeteries
- North Burnett Regional Council – Cemetery Search
- Queensland Cemetery Records
- Rockhampton Region Cemeteries
- Whitsunday Regional Council Cemeteries
Photograph, film and sound
Resources listed here include sites where photographs, films and sound recordings can be found by searching the databases.
- A Unique History - Australian South Sea Islanders in Queensland Exhibition (linked to the Queensland State Archives)
- Bonzle Digital Atlas of Australia
- Flickr (linked to the State Library of Queensland)
- J.W. Beattie Collection (linked to the University of Queensland)
- Pacific Manuscripts Bureau (linked to the Australian National University)
- Picture Queensland (linked to the State Library of Queensland)
- Picture Australia (linked to the National Library of Australia)
- National Film and Sound Archive
- Trove Picture Catalogue (linked to the National Library of Australia)
The following links you to collections and online resources which can help research the service and wartime experiences of relatives who served in Australia's military forces during times of conflict.
- Australian War Memorial
- National Archives of Australia (see specific link above under General Archives heading)
- World War Two Nominal Roll
Further help with family history research
Your own family oral history will be one of the most important sources of information when tracing your family history.
The following organisations may also hold records or be able to help with your family history research.
- Genealogical Society of Queensland
- Mitchell Library, State Library New South Wales
- Queensland Family History Society
- Queensland Police Museum
- Vanuatu Cultural Centre (holds files and documents related to family history which were transferred from the National Archives to the Vanuatu Cultural Centre)
You may also be able to locate information about your family via church records - often locatable by searching online - for instance, if your family has links to the Torres Straits Anglican Church records may hold information of value.
Last updated: Monday, Nov 30, 2020