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Family history research guides

Our research guides are divided into Life events; Travel and migration; Work and occupations; and Directories and social history plus and A-Z. Use our guides to learn more detail about family history resources to help you in your research.

Life Events

A life event is something that changes things in your life. This could be locating records for a birth, death or marriage in Australia or overseas. It could be trying to discover if a will existed or whether someone was in an institution. It might be trying to trace an adoption. If you are looking for any of these events then life events is where you can find the guides and resources you need to get started.

Adoption records

Legal adoption started at different times in different states. Records began around the early 1920s. There is advice on how to access and locate adoption records. It includes Aboriginal and Torres Strait peoples adoptions and overseas adoptions. State Library of Queensland holds resources that are useful when placing and tracing the parties to an adoption.

Australian parish records

Before civil registration began, church records of baptisms, marriages and burials are the main way of tracking the major life events. These records can also add to or substitute for missing civil records. Find out what parish records are available for churches in Australia, and for what time period. This includes what is held at State Library and elsewhere.

Births, deaths and marriages

Birth, death and marriage records can provide useful information to trace your family history. Find out what official records are available, and for what time period, in Australia as well as New Zealand and England and Wales. Discover other useful indexes, and learn some helpful tips when searching for birth, death and marriage records.

Cemetery records

Cemetery records allow people to trace their ancestors to a particular area and time, and may provide links to other members of the family buried in the same cemetery. Published cemetery records can vary in the amount of information supplied. Learn about the type of information that can be found, and some tips when researching. Discover a selection of available cemetery records at State Library and online.

Divorce records

Records associated with the breakdown of marriage are often those that can most fully 'flesh out' a family history. They can provide a human viewpoint to otherwise bare facts. Divorce files may contain marriage certificates, correspondence and a great deal of information about the family. Discover what divorce records are available in Australia, and where to find them. Find out how to locate divorce records in New Zealand and Great Britain.

England and Wales birth, death and marriage records

Civil registration began in England and Wales in 1838. Find information about what records are available for births, deaths and marriages in England and Wales. Learn how the birth, death and marriage indexes are arranged, and what information is provided on the indexes. Get some tips as to why some records are hard to find. Discover what other indexes are available and what you can access online.

Orphanages, children's institutions and child migrants

Children were often sent to orphanages or homes if both parents died or if one parent died and the other couldn't cope, and there was no-one else to care for them. Access to most records relating to orphanages and children’s homes is restricted. Records are generally held by the government or by the organisation, which ran the institution. Each State archives or records office hold early records of government run institutions. State Library holds a number of published resources that can assist family historians to locate the appropriate records. Included are a number of helpful websites.

Wills, probate and intestacies

Wills can be a vital resource for family historians, but only approximately 5% -10% of all wills go to probate. They often contain information difficult to access elsewhere, e.g. the surnames of daughters whose marriages occurred outside dates covered by birth, death and marriage indexes. A copy of the death certificate may be included. Also included are details of the deceased’s assets, occupation, and the names and addresses of children and grandchildren. Discover where to locate wills in Australia as well as Great Britain and New Zealand, and how to access them.