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, access to online resources and provide training courses and workshops.
Before you make contact
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 more information.
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.
Libraries Tasmania includes a network of libraries throughout Tasmania, the State Library and Archive Service and the Lily Allport Library and Museum. It provides library services, research and information services, adult literacy support, community learning, online access, and archive and heritage services. The Hobart Reading Room is the base for Libraries Tasmania's reference services. Staff from the Tasmanian Information and Research Service can provide personal help with family history research.
Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages
Registration of births, deaths and marriages commenced in 1839 in Tasmania, the first Australian colony to take over the function previously conducted by the churches. The registry holds church records (burials, baptisms and marriages) from 1803 to 1839, and birth, death and marriage registrations from 1839 to the present day.
The Tasmanian Names Index provides access to historical Tasmanian birth, death and marriage records online. The cost of BDM records varies from state to state but is normally $30 to $50 per certificate.
Apply in person for birth, death and marriage certificates at Service Tasmania shops around the state.
30 Gordons Hill Road, Rosny Park TAS 7018
Free call: 1300 135 513
Ph: 03 6165 3457
Fax: 03 6173 0204
https://www.justice.tas.gov.au/bdm/indexes (Family History)
https://librariestas.ent.sirsidynix.net.au/client/en_AU/names/ (Tasmanian Name Index)
Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre
The Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre was developed in the early 1970s. TAC “represents the political and community development aspirations of the Tasmanian Aboriginal community”. Its programs include counselling services, including for people separated from their families and communities, aged care and children’s programs and many other health and wellbeing initiatives.
198 Elizabeth Street, Hobart TAS 7001
GPO Box 569, Hobart TAS 7001
Ph: 03 6234 0700
Fax: 03 6234 0799
182 Charles Street, Launceston TAS 7250
PO Box 531, Launceston TAS 7250
Ph: 03 6332 3800
Fax: 03 6332 3899
53 Alexander Street, Burnie TAS 7320
PO Box 536, Burnie TAS 7320
Ph: 03 6436 4100
Fax: 03 6436 4151
Find & Connect Support Services Tasmania
The Find & Connect Support Service in Tasmania provides support to Forgotten Australians, Former Child Migrants and other Care Leavers. They assist clients to apply for records understand the reason they were placed into care, reconnect with family where possible and to access counselling and other supports.
20 Clare Street, New Town, TAS 7008
Free call: 1800 161 109 or 1300 364 277
6 Paterson Street, Launceston, TAS 7250
PO Box 968, TAS 7250
National Archives of Australia (Hobart)
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 Tasmania are mostly held in Hobart and Canberra. The Bringing Them Home name index can help you find information about Indigenous family members in National Archives records. The index is not available for the public to search, but an archivist will do a search for you.
91 Murray Street, Hobart TAS 7000
GPO Box 309, Hobart TAS 7001
Ph: 03 6165 5607
Fax: 03 6233 7902
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)
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 accessed 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:
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.
- Documenting Tasmanian Aboriginal descent – LINC Tasmania
- 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 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. 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 Tasmania with family history and local history collections. Under location select ‘TAS’ and under library type select ‘Local/Family history’. You can also browse using the map.
Tasmanian Family History Society
The Tasmanian Family History Society promotes family history research through education and, preservation and transcription of family history records. The Society has branches in Hobart, Burnie, Huon, Launceston and Mersey and a number of reference libraries.
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) Remember that many libraries have subscriptions which you can use on site for free.
- Cyndi’s List: a comprehensive, categorised and cross-referenced list of links that point you to genealogical research sites online (Australia)
- FamilySearch Learning Center: articles and short online courses put together by the largest genealogical organisation in the world (USA)