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, original manuscripts and photos. Many larger libraries have special family history librarians who can help you with your research. Most 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 yourself and your ancestors held in government archives.
- Link-Up organisations provide services to members of the Stolen Generations and their families. These include researching family and personal records, finding family members, organising reunions and providing holistic 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, online resources and provide training courses and workshops.
Before you contact them
Before approaching organisations put together any information you already have about your family. Names, dates and places are good starting points for them to help you with your research.
See Family history sources for information about the kind of information you might 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. The 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, but they can offer you advice on how to begin this work yourself.
Northern Territory Library
The Northern Territory Library is the Northern Territory’s major reference and research library. It collects, preserves and provides access to the territory’s documentary heritage. The library can assist with advice and assistance with a wide range of family history resources.
Northern Territory Archives Service
The Northern Territory Archives Service holds Northern Territory Government archives created since the government’s establishment in 1978, as well as inherited records from the periods of administration by the South Australian Government (1863-1910) and the Australian Government (1911-1978). It also preserves community archives such as oral histories, personal papers, photographs and organisation records. The Northern Territory Archives Service is the designated first point of contact for Stolen Generations researchers seeking access to Northern Territory Government records.
Northern Territory Archives Centre, Kelsey Crescent, Millner NT 0810
PO Box 1347, Nightcliff NT 0814
Ph: 08 8924 7677 (general enquiries)
Ph: 08 8999 6890 (reference enquiries)
Fax: 08 8924 7660
dtc.nt.gov.au/arts-and-museums/northern-territory-archives-service/informaton-for-researchers/aboriginal-family-research (Protocol for Aboriginal family history research)
https://dtc.nt.gov.au/arts-and-museums/northern-territory-archives-service/archives-information-leaflets (Fact sheet on Aboriginal family history research)
Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages
The Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages holds records about the births, deaths and marriages of people in the Northern Territory. The Aboriginal Population Register is also held there – this is a collection of genealogical information about Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory taken primarily from Census information dating back to the 1950s. The register was inherited from the federal Department of Aboriginal Affairs. The cost of BDM records varies from state to state but is normally $30 to $50 per certificate.
Ground Floor, Nichols Place, Cnr Cavenagh and Bennett Streets, Darwin NT 0800
GPO Box 3021, Darwin NT 0801
Ph: 08 8999 6119
Fax: 08 8999 6324
Alice Springs office
Centrepoint Building, Cnr Gregory and Hartley Streets, Alice Springs NT 0870
PO Box 8043, Alice Springs NT 0871
Ph: 08 8951 5339
Fax: 08 8951 5340
Tennant Creek office
Tennant Creek Courthouse, Paterson Street, Tennant Creek NT 0860
PO Box 84, Tennant Creek NT 0861
Ph: 08 8962 4377
Fax: 08 8962 4375
Link-Up Northern Territory – Northern Territory Stolen Generations Aboriginal Corporation (NTSGAC)
NTSGAC helps Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people separated from their families under the past laws, practices and policies of Australian governments to undertake family tracing and family reunions with counselling support. Link-Up counsellors at NTSGAC give priority to Stolen Generations clients, especially the elderly and those requiring urgent assistance due to health concerns.
Suite A, Ground Floor, Building 3, Cascom Centre, 13-17 Scaturchio Street, Casuarina NT 0811
PO Box 43372, Casuarina NT 0811
Ph: 08 8947 9171
Fax: 08 8947 9173
Central Australian Aboriginal Congress Link-Up Service
The Congress Link-Up Service works with Aboriginal people and families living in Central Australia who were separated from their families through forced removal, fostering, adoption or institutionalisation. They assist with family history research and reunion, family tracing, graveside reunions, return to country, support before, during and after reunions and healing activities.
14 Leichhardt Terrace, Alice Springs, NT
Ph: 08 8951 4750
Find & Connect Support Services Northern Territory – Relationships Australia NT
Find & Connect supports people who grew up in orphanages, children’s homes, institutions and foster homes. Find & Connect can help you obtain your personal records, trace your history and understand why you were placed into care, as well as providing counselling and other services.
Free call: 1800 16 11 09
5 Shepherd Street, Darwin, 0800
Ph: 08 8923 4999
Alice Springs office
4/11 Railway Terrace, Alice Springs, 0870
Ph: 08 8950 4100
National Archives of Australia (Darwin)
The National Archives of Australia holds federal Australian Government records, including many about Indigenous people from the Northern Territory. The Australian Government administered the Northern Territory from 1911 until self-government in 1978. Records about people from the Northern Territory are mostly held in Darwin and Canberra. The Bringing Them Home name index can help you find information about Indigenous family members in National Archives records. The NAA has published a guide to Aboriginal births, deaths and marriages in the Northern Territory.
Northern Territory Archives Centre, Kelsey Crescent, Millner NT 0810
PO Box 24, Nightcliff NT 0814
Ph: 08 8999 6890
Fax: 08 8999 6905
Ask a question about records: http://www.naa.gov.au/collection/askquestion/index.aspx
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)
guides.naa.gov.au/records-about-northern-territory/part2/chapter8/8.7.aspx (Aboriginal births, deaths and marriages in the Northern Territory)
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. Some of these resources, such as photographs and newspapers, can be viewed online via Trove. Other material, such as some oral histories can be access via the Library website. 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 they can also provide information about family members.
Treloar Crescent, Campbell ACT 2612
Ph: 02 6243 4211
Fax: 02 6243 4325
Researching Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander defence force service:
Researching a person - learn more about how to research your family member's military service.
Noel Butlin Archives Centre
Some pastoral station owners or managers kept records like diaries, wage and ration books, and registers of births, deaths and marriages. The Noel Butlin Archives Centre at the Australian National University in Canberra holds some of these records, mainly for farms and cattle properties in New South Wales, Queensland and the Northern Territory.
The Australian National University
2 Fellows Rd
Acton ACT 2601
Ph: 02 6125 2219
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.
- Researching your Aboriginal family history – Northern Territory Archives Service
- Tracking family: A guide to Aboriginal records relating to the Northern Territory – National Archives of Australia
- Aboriginal births, deaths and marriages in the Northern Territory – National Archives of Australia
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people – National Archives of Australia
The Centre for Indigenous Family History Studies (CIFHS) website is a name searchable archive of a selection of mainly government documents relevant to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. The site is updated with new records continuously. Many of the documents contain offensive language.
In order to do a name search in documents on this website you need to type the following into google - site:www.cifhs.com – followed by the name you are searching for in quotation marks, such as “John Smith”.
General family history resources
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 often put you in contact with people with a good knowledge of the local history of a town or area. 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 the Northern Territory with family history and local history collections. Under location select ‘NT’ and under library type select ‘Local/Family history’. You can also browse using the map.
Genealogical Society of the Northern Territory
The Genealogical Society of the Northern Territory promotes family history research, collects historical information, provides family history education, and urges the preservation of personal historical records. Its research library holds an extensive range of family history resources including books, journals and indexes.
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.
- The Federation of Australian Historical Societies
- Cape Banks Family History Society – Australian Family History Societies.