Biographical resources and family history

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What are biographical resources?

Biographical resources provide written historical information about a person’s life and family. For family historians these resources may range from birth, death and marriage indexes and obituaries or funeral notices in newspapers to published works such as pioneer indexes, local histories and biographical dictionaries.

How will these resources help me in my family history research?

Birth, death and marriage indexes

  • Depending on the State, you can find basic information such as parents’ names, dates and places of birth, death or marriage.
  • Certificates will provide basic information as mentioned above as well as possible information on how long they lived in Australia and/or the state they died in.  They may also mention what ship they came out on if they immigrated to Australia.

Obituaries, funeral and death notices

  • Can provide you with other relatives’ names, places where a person lived and/or died, a history of the person’s life and even what they died of.

Electoral rolls

  • Can provide you with a place of living, other members of the household and occupations.

Pioneer indexes

  • Often compiled by local family history groups, these indexes provide details about people who settled the area.
  • Can contain information such as birth/marriage/death dates, number of children, and brief life history (how and when arrived, job/s done etc.).

Biographical collections

  • Registers for members of parliament: Commonwealth and State.
  • Registers that relate specifically to our original pioneers (e.g. families from the First Fleet).
  • Registers relating to specific subjects such as occupations (e.g. clergy) or sport.
  • Encyclopedias and local histories of regions.

What biographical resources are available at the State Library of Queensland?

The following is a list of some of the major biographical resources, arranged by geographic location that you will find at the State Library.


Australasian biographical archive [microfiche] MFC 920 1990

Australian biographies [microfiche] MFC 920.094 1991

Principal women of the empire: Australia and New Zealand Vol 1. [microfiche] MFC 920.72 1991

Biography index of the La Trobe Library [microfiche] MFC 016.9200945 1990

Australian dictionary of biography REF 920.094 1966

Who's Who in Australia REF 920.094 or online database [Click on "Online access"]
(Log in from home if you are a Queensland resident, using your library card number and surname or your username and password)


Staff index for Queenslanders from around the turn of the 20th century.

The Aldine history of Queensland, illustrated: embracing sketches and portraits of her noted people; the rise and progress of her varied enterprises; and illustrations of her boundless wealth, together with maps of latest survey / by W. Frederic Morrison
[microfiche] FICHE 994.3 mor, [microfilm] FILM 0309 or [CD-ROM] QCFS 994.303 2006

Pugh's almanac [microfilm] MFL 919.43 or [CD-ROM] QCFS 919.43 and "Queensland Publications"

The history of Maryborough and Wide Bay and Burnett districts from the year 1850 to 1895 / compiled from authentic sources by George E. Loyau
Q 994.32 loy (John Oxley Collection), [microfiche] MFC 994.32 1983, [microfilm] FILM 0306, or [CD-ROM] QCFS 994.32 2005

The history of Queensland : its people and industries: an historical and commercial review, descriptive and biographical facts, figures and illustrations : an epitome of progress / compiled by Matt. J. Fox
[microfiche] MFC 994.3 1984 or [CD-ROM] QCFS 994.3 2006

Dictionary of Queenslanders: past & present – joint volumes 1, 2 & 3 [CD-ROM] QCFS 929.409943


People in Victoria [microfiche] MFC 920.0945 1991

Early pioneer families of Victoria & Riverina / by Alexander Henderson [microfiche] MFC 920.209945 1991 or [CD-ROM] QCFS 929.20994 2014

South Australia

Biographical index of South Australians 1836-1885 / editor: Jill Statton
REF 920.09423 1986, [microfiche] MFC 920.09423 1990, or [CD-ROM] QCFS 920.09423 2005

The Cyclopedia of South Australia [microfiche] MFC 919.423 1992


Biographical register of the Tasmanian Parliament, 1851-1960 REF 328.946073 1980

Cyclopedia of Tasmania [microfiche] MFC 994.603 1990

Western Australia

The Bicentennial dictionary of Western Australians J 920.0941 BIC

New Zealand

The Cyclopedia of New Zealand: industrial, descriptive, historical, biographical facts, figures, illustrations [microfiche] MFC 993.003 1987

Women named in 'Cyclopedia of New Zealand' / by Madelaine Morton [microfiche] MFC 016.305409931 1986

Great Britain

British biographical archive [microfiche] MFC 920.042 1984-

British biographical archive Series 2 MFPAM 920.042 1991 or [microfiche] MFC 920.042 1991

Alumni Oxonienses : the members of the University of Oxford, their parentage, birthplace, and year of birth, with a record of their degrees [CD-ROM] QCFS 378.42574 2001

Cambridge University Alumni : 1261-1900 [CD-ROM] QCFS 378.42659 2000

Oxford Dictionary of national biography REFJ 920.041 1983
Also available as a database, onsite or offsite at the State Library
[ Click on "Online access" ]
(Log in from home if you are a Queensland resident, using your library card number and surname or your username and password)

NOTE: The State Library holds many additional biographical sources, covering different topics and countries that are not listed here. Check the One Search online catalogue for additional resources.

Download the PDF version of Biographical resources: family history info guide  (PDF 41.0 KB)

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