Need help with your Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander family history? Ask us!

Are you doing Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander family history? It’s National Family History Month and what better time to delve into the secrets of your past! State Library of Queensland can help you learn more about your Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander family history with our step-by-step guide.

We also have Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander family histories in our John Oxley Library collection. These include the Tindale Genealogies, compiled by anthropologist, Norman Tindale in the 1930s. These genealogies are lists of Aboriginal people in communities throughout Australia. The Queensland communities are: Yarrabah, Cherbourg, Mona Mona, Palm Island, Woorabinda, Bentinck Island, Doomadgee and Mornington Island. You can search for names using our One Search catalogue and request copies through the Tindale enquiry form.

The John Oxley Library also has a collection of family histories from the Torres Strait Islands, the Margaret Lawrie collection. This collection is the work of Margaret Lawrie who had an interest in Torres Strait Islander language, religion and culture. Between 1963 and 1974 she recorded the genealogies of seventeen Torres Strait Islander communities. The Margaret Lawrie collection can also be searched in our One Search catalogue. You can apply for copies by filling out the Margaret Lawrie enquiry form.

Aboriginal camp at an unidentified location in Queensland, State Library of Queensland, Neg. no. 111712,

Aboriginal camp at an unidentified location in Queensland, State Library of Queensland, Neg. no. 111712,

There are many photographs and manuscripts in our collections that relate to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Did your ancestors live on a mission? State Library holds records for several missions that were run in Queensland. These include Aurukun and Weipa missions. These records give an insight into daily life on the mission and what it might have been like for a family to live there. If your relatives lived on an Aboriginal Reserve we also hold books and manuscripts for Aboriginal Reserves in Queensland.

These are just some of the resources at State Library that can add to your Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander family history research. If you need help you can visit State Library in person or Ask Us!

If you're free this Saturday book into State Library’s ‘Who’s Your Mob’ Part 4: Troving for Indigenous family history.

Anne Reddacliff

Librarian, Visitor & Information Services



State Library’s Indigenous space, kuril dhagun - /services/library-spaces/kuril-dhagun

Queensland Government’s Communities and Personal Histories -

Visit us - /visit-us

Ask Us - /services/ask-us


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My Great Grandmother Elizabeth Reynolds married my Great Grandfather in the residence of the Wesleyan Presbyterian Church in Maitland. He was John William Payne from England. Elizabeth we believe was the illegitimate daughter of William Reynolds from Taree & Mother we believe was Mary Ann don’t know her surname. I have been able to trace where she lived & moved around the Darling Downs & subsequently died in Warwick Queensland & where they both are buried in the old Warwick Cemetery . But it is her Mother’s name & where she was born is the problem. I have a copy of their marriage certificate. But I believe the minister must have signed as she & her Mother may have been unable to read or write. Where do you suggest I go & look? I have been doing the family tree since 2005. But have been unsuccessful with this side of the family. I have recently sent for a DNA Kit hoping this may be helpful, thank you for any assistance. Carol Morris nee Patch