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Page of six photos from 'The Queenslander Pictorial' 1917
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State Library has many newspapers available on microfilm, in electronic format and in hard copy. Using newspapers to find information on First Nations family history is an ideal way to add additional information to your family's story.

Video guide

Newspapers and family history

Newspapers can help you find materials to flesh out your family history, and often contain information that is hard to find anywhere else.  

These include:

  • births,
  • deaths, funerals, and obituaries;
  • marriages,
  • social and sporting events,
  • inquests, court cases and legal notices;
  • land sales,
  • advertisements and
  • military service. 

Newspapers are also particularly useful when families include both Indigenous and non-Indigenous members.

Group of photos showing boats, housing and First Nations people, 'A cruise round the islands of Torres Strait', The Queenslander, 27 October 1917

Page 24 of The Queenslander Pictorial, supplement to The Queenslander, 27 October 1917, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland, Image number: 702692-19171027-s0024

Online newspapers and magazines

You may be able to find information about your family in online newspapers or magazines. You can search these websites:

  • Trove - digitised Australian newspapers 1846-1954
  • Australian Indigenous Index (INFOKOORI). This is an index to the Koori Mail fortnightly newspaper published in Lismore, New South Wales from May 1991 to July 2016. It is also a biographical index from several magazines, including Our Aim (1907-1961), Dawn (1952-1969), New Dawn (1970-1975) and Identity (1971-1982).
  • Koori Mail (1991-2018) is available online at Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS).
  • Dawn (1952-1969), published by the NSW Aborigines Welfare Board, is available online at Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS).
  • New Dawn (1970-1975), published by the NSW Department of Child Welfare and Social Welfare, is available online at Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS).

Tips for searching newspapers in Trove

Try the following in Trove to improve your search results.

  • Search by name (for example, “Lena French”), by place or by a station name (for example, “Tarameo station”).
  • Search for variations of names and spelling.
  • Search using a name and the term ‘Aboriginal’ or ‘Aborigine’ – for example, Tommy AND Aborigine.
  • Search using both the name of the place your family lived and the term ‘Aboriginal’ or ‘Aborigine’ – for example, Bega AND Aborigine. Many newspapers reported in general terms about Aboriginal people, rather than using names of individual people. 

Remember that historical newspapers often reflect the racist attitudes of the non-Indigenous people who wrote and published them. You might find your ancestors described using words that are offensive, or you might find distressing personal details about your ancestors and their lives.

Who's Your Mob information guide - Newspapers and First Nations family history

Discover the type of information you can find in newspapers to help with your First Nations family history. Find out about some of the newspapers available online, and learn some tips to follow when searching Trove digitised newspapers.

PDF · 92 KB

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