Please note: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware that this website may contain images, voices or names of deceased persons in photographs, film, audio recordings or printed material.

Some material may contain terms that reflect authors’ views, or those of the period in which the item was written or recorded, but may not be considered appropriate today. These views are not necessarily the views of AIATSIS. While the information may not reflect current understanding, it is provided in an historical context.

Family history sources

It is important to understand that records about Indigenous people were created by a wide range of agencies, including:

  • protection and welfare boards
  • adoption agencies
  • education and health departments
  • police forces
  • churches and missionaries
  • anthropologists and a range of academics. 

They were created for a variety of reasons, such as the 'protection and care' of Aboriginal people, but mostly prominently they document how governments regulated the lives of Aboriginal people.

  • Some of the records were specifically about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
  • Some of the records were 'mainstream'.

Researching Indigenous family history means that you will look for both types of records. 

What are all these records?

Read the information in this section to find out the types of records that might have information about your family.

How do you get access to the records?

Where to get help has contact information in each state and territory for the places that have the records.

Last reviewed: 27 Jan 2016

AIATSIS acknowledges the traditional owners of country throughout Australia and their continuing connection to land, culture and community.

We pay our respects to elders past and present.

Family history sources | Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies


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