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Researching your Indigenous Ancestors

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Three generations of an Indigenous family. At left is a young adult woman in pale dress. Next to her is an older woman in blue and orange dress holding a young boy in shorts and white t-shirt. At right is a man in pale pink shirt. Trees in the background.
Finding your family history starts with YOU!
8 Aug 2019

At Indigenous.gov.au we receive many requests for help in searching for one’s ancestors.

There are many institutions in Australia which store information and can help you with this search.

But first, you need to know the basic steps in family history research.

  1. Find a family history application or website to record your names (Or get a notebook and large paper to draw your family tree.)
  2. Talk to your family and gather information about names, dates (birth, marriage, death), places and events.
  3. Have a goal - decide who and what (date, place) you are looking for.
  4. Visit or contact organisations which store records including:
    1. AIATSIS has:
      1. step by step guides
      2. resources listed by state and territory
      3. the Mura catalogue of the AIATSIS collection that you can search
      4. a Family History Unit that provides guidance and assistance in researching Indigenous family history
      5. contact details for help
    2. National Library of Australia (NLA) has:
      1. an Indigenous ancestry research specialist
      2. the Trove website containing access to :
        1. newspapers
        2. photos
        3. government gazettes
    3. State/Territory registrars of births, deaths and marriages
    4. Local libraries have:
      1. church mission records
      2. land councils information
      3. community associations information
    5. National Archives of Australia holds records of Armed Forces personnel.

The following video outlines the same steps. But more importantly, it helps you understand the WHY. 

Family history research connects you to your ancestors, your family, and when that happens, you learn more about who you are.

Find out more

Further information is available at:

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