Organisations in each state and territory can help with your Indigenous family history research. There are also a number of national organisations and non-government websites that support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander family history.
- Libraries hold a range of material that is useful for family history, including books, indexes and original manuscripts. Many larger libraries have special family history librarians who can help you with your research. Some libraries have online research guides to help you understand their collections.
- Archives hold original records, created by government agencies, private organisations or individuals. Archives are different from libraries, and you will need help from an archivist to locate and access records.
- Indigenous family history services are provided by state and territory governments to assist you in accessing records and personal information about your and your ancestors held in government archives.
- Link-Up organisations provide services to members of the Stolen Generations, their families, and foster and adoptive families. These include researching family and personal records, finding family members and support and counselling.
- Organisations for adoptees and care leavers (and their families) can help you find information about your personal and family history and connect you with family. They also provide counselling and support services.
- Family history community projects and organisations offer practical help in researching your family history. Some are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander focused. They may have library collections, computers, access to resources and provide training courses and workshops.
Before you contact them
Try to collect and organise as much information as you can before approaching organisations for help. They will need names, dates and places in order to help you with your research.
See Family history sources for more information about the kind of information you will find.
Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS)
The AIATSIS Family History Unit can help people researching their Indigenous family history. The AIATSIS Finding Your Family website is an online resource with a focus on helping people to learn how to do Indigenous family history research. AIATSIS offers an Australia-wide service. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Biographical Index enables you to do an online name search of some of the material in the collection. AIATSIS cannot compile family trees or help you to confirm Aboriginality.
51 Lawson Crescent, Acton ACT 2601
GPO Box 553, Canberra ACT 2601
Ph: 02 6246 1111
Freecall: 1 800 352 553
Fax: 02 6261 4285
State Library of South Australia
The State Library of South Australia has a lot of specialist material relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. This includes books, manuscripts, anthropological material, oral histories and photographs. Specialist librarians who work with the library’s Indigenous collections can help you with locating and accessing material. The library also has a general family history collection.
Cnr of North Terrace and Kintore Avenue Adelaide SA 5001
PO Box 419 , Adelaide SA 5001
Free call: 1800 182 013 (South Australia only)
Ph: 08 8207 7250
Fax: 08 8207 7307
Online form: askslsa.altarama.com/reft100.aspx?pmi=eSUeIXz1gE
www.slsa.sa.gov.au/site/page.cfm?u=657 (Indigenous collections)
guides.slsa.sa.gov.au (various guides relevant to Aboriginal family history)
State Records of South Australia
As the official custodian of records created by state and local government agencies in South Australia, State Records holds a wealth of material documenting the written history and experience of Aboriginal people in the state. These records can provide you with valuable insights into your family and community history, and can help members of the Stolen Generations identify and become reunified with family members they were separated from. The Aboriginal Access Team can help you with your research.
State Records Research Centre (in the State Library of South Australia building), Corner North Terrace and Kintore Avenue, Adelaide SA 5000
GPO Box 464, Adelaide SA 5001
Ph: 08 8204 8767 or 08 8204 8791
Fax: 08 8204 8777
Online form: www.archives.sa.gov.au/content/contact-us-form
Web: www.archives.sa.gov.au/content/aboriginal-services (Aboriginal services)
www.archives.sa.gov.au/content/family-history (Family history)
Births, Deaths & Marriages Registration Office – Consumer and Business Services
The Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Office is responsible for maintaining registers of births, deaths and marriages. You can apply for certificates online but only if you already know the details.
You can access the South Australian BDM indexes on CD-ROM at the State Library of South Australia and other libraries around Australia. The cost of BDM records varies from state to state but is normally $30 to $50 per certificate.
Comprehensive information about BDM record availability is available on the SA Government website:
Genealogy SA has published extracts from the South Australian BDM indexes online at https://www.genealogysa.org.au/resources/online-databases.html
Birth, death and marriage certificates in SA are managed by the Consumer and Business Services unit of the SA Government
Ground Floor, 91 Grenfell Street, Adelaide SA 5000
GPO Box 1719, Adelaide SA 5001
Link-Up South Australia – Nunkuwarrin Yunti
Nunkuwarrin Yunti’s Link-Up SA program provides family tracing, reunion and counselling services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their families who have been separated under the past policies and practices of the Australian Government. Assistance is also provided to people over the age of eighteen years who have been adopted, fostered or raised in institutions.
182-190 Wakefield Street, Adelaide SA 5000
Ph: 08 8406 1600
Fax: 08 8232 0949
Elizabeth Downs office
28-30 Brady Street, Elizabeth Downs SA 5113
Ph: 08 8254 5300
Fax: 08 8254 9182
Adoption and Family Information Service – Department for Families and Communities
The Adoption and Family Information Service provides information, advice, advocacy and counselling about adoption and past separations of children from their families. It can provide help for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people affected by the removal of children because of previous government policies and laws.
South Australian Museum
The South Australian Museum’s collection of Australian ethnographic material is the largest and most representative in the world. The collection material comes from many different Indigenous communities, language groups and individuals across Australia. The museum acquired most of this material between 1890 and 1940. The museum collection includes Aboriginal genealogies recorded by ethnologist Norman Tindale. The museum’s Aboriginal family history officer can help you with locating and accessing material about your family.
Family and Community History Consultant
Mr Ali Abdullah-Highfold
Ph: 08 8207 7381
North Terrace Adelaide SA 5000
National Archives of Australia (Adelaide)
The National Archives of Australia holds federal government records, including many about Indigenous Australians (mostly people from Victoria and the Northern Territory). The archives has offices around Australia. Records about South Australia are held primarily in Adelaide, Sydney and Canberra. The Bringing Them Home name index can help you find information about Indigenous family members in National Archives records.
Adelaide Reading Room (in the State Library of South Australia building), Corner North Terrace and Kintore Avenue, Adelaide SA 5000
GPO Box 9868, Adelaide SA 5001
Ph: 08 8204 8787
Web: www.naa.gov.au/collection/a-z/aboriginal-people (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people)
www.naa.gov.au/collection/family-history (Family history)
National Library of Australia
The National Library collects and makes available material of national significance about Australia and Australians. It holds books, manuscripts, newspapers, photographs and oral histories that could be useful in researching your family – much of this is available online through Trove. The library has a family history collection and staff you can help you to locate material.
Parkes Place, Canberra ACT 2600
Ph: 02 6262 1111
Fax: 02 6257 1703
Ask a Librarian (online contact form): www.nla.gov.au/askalibrarian
Australian War Memorial
Indigenous people have served in every military conflict that Australia has been involved in since the Boer War (1899-1902). Military records are a rich source of information about the men and women who served in the armed forces, and sometimes their family members.
Treloar Crescent, Campbell ACT 2612
Ph: 02 6243 4211
Fax: (02) 6243 4325
Indigenous Australian servicemen: www.awm.gov.au/encyclopedia/aborigines/indigenous/
People, profiles and biographies: www.awm.gov.au/people/profiles/ (824 Indigenous service persons)
Research guides for Indigenous family history
Research guides provide comprehensive information for people doing family history research. They often include an outline of the history of colonisation and Aboriginal protection/welfare legislation, linking these to the records that were created about Indigenous people.
Books published by AIATSIS
- Penny Taylor, Telling it like it is: A guide to making Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history, AIATSIS, 1992
- Diane Smith and Boronia Halstead, Lookin for your mob: A guide to tracing Aboriginal family trees, Aboriginal Studies Press, 1990.
- Aboriginal family history – State Library of South Australia: guides.slsa.sa.gov.au
- Aboriginal services – State Records of South Australia: www.archives.sa.gov.au/content/aboriginal-services
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people – National Archives of Australia: www.naa.gov.au/collection/a-z/aboriginal-people.aspx
- Centre for Indigenous Family History Studies (CIFHS) – a name searchable archive of some government documents relevant to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. The site is updated with new records continuously. Some of the documents contain offensive language. www.cifhs.com
General family history organisations
Family history groups, local history societies and local libraries
Local family history groups, local history societies and local libraries are valuable sources of information and resources. They can put you in contact with people with a good knowledge of the local history of a town or area that you are interested in. Many also have local studies collections with books, newspapers, family histories, photographs and manuscripts.
Find local libraries
You can use Australian Libraries Gateway – Find a Library to locate libraries in Western Australia with family history and local history collections. Under location select ‘SA’ and under library type select ‘Local/Family history’. You can also browse using the map.
South Australian Genealogy & Heraldry Society (Genealogy SA)
Genealogy SA helps people trace their family history, providing genealogy advice and running workshops and lectures. It has an excellent family history library in Unley and a growing collection of online resources.
201 Unley Road, Unley SA 5061
GPO Box 592, Adelaide SA 5001
Ph: 08 8272 4222
Fax: 08 8272 4910
Family history research websites
- CoraWeb: a comprehensive, categorised and cross-referenced list of links and useful advice about tracing your family history (Australia)
- Ancestry – Help & Advice: general family history advice, as well as information about using Ancestry’s paid services (Australia)
- Cyndi’s List: a comprehensive, categorised and cross-referenced list of links that point you to genealogical research sites online (USA)
- FamilySearch Learning Center: articles and short online courses put together by the largest genealogical organisation in the world (USA)
Find family history and historical societies
- CoraWeb – Genealogy, Family History and Historical Societies: www.coraweb.com.au/categories/family-history-and-historical-societies
- Cape Banks Family History Society – Australian Family History Societies: www.capebanks.org.au/australian-family-history-societies/
Society of Australian Genealogists
The Society of Australian Genealogists helps people trace their family history, providing genealogy advice and running workshops and lectures. It has an excellent family history library and a manuscript collection in central Sydney.