There’s a lot to wrap your head around when you first start seeking out the types of family history resources that can help you build your family tree. Our clients have often spent days scrolling through historical records to discover all the amazing facts that they want to incorporate into their Long Yarn Films life story video. Below is a list of the best Australian family history resources we’ve come across to help all you budding genealogists out there that want to learn a little more about where you come from.
Family History Records Websites
For many people this will be the beginning of their Australian family history search as these resources are best known. Each company offers the ability to build your family tree by searching their database of historical documents and records. Be careful with any paid subscriptions as some of the companies have an auto-renew function that might catch you off-guard. There are also a bounty of free resources that you can explore before jumping into the paid options. Have a look at this comparison table to see the different options on offer.
One of the largest paid online databases. Connecting you with historical records from countries around the globe.
Another big player in the family tree business. Again, MyHeritage will connect you will family history resources from Australia and other countries with one of their paid subscriptions.
Find My Past
Claiming to have over 8 billions records, this paid records website offers yet another avenue to flex your genealogical muscle.
A free international genealogy resource website run by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Internet History Resources
A free family history records resource that provides access to documents from New South Wales, Australia.
A catalogue of free government records from England and Wales.
A website with links to free websites in Britian that contain Parish records.
Ancestry DNA Test Websites
Each of these companies offer similar services in terms of online autosomal DNA tests that will be examined against their databases. For more comprehensive details on each of these companies have a look at this DNA company comparison website. Also be sure to read up on the privacy policies of each company before handing over your private genetic data, as well as making sure you understand the limitations of the DNA tests.
Promises a 6-8 week return of your test. Cost is $129 + shipping. Ancestry currently has the largest database in the world.
Promises a 6-8 week return of your test. Cost is $120 + shipping. MyHeritage currently has a database of close to 2 million users.
Find My Past
Promises a 6-8 week return of your test. Cost is $129 + shipping. Has a databse more concentrated on British and Irish ancestry.
Government Genealogy Resources
There are a huge amount of family history resources available through the Australian government. A great place to start is actually your local library, many of which have free access to some of the family history records websites such as Ancestry and MyHeritage. Larger state libraries also often have copies of electoral roles and offer research guides.
Births, Deaths and Marriages
As a family history search is all about working your way back, the official Australian documents from your state’s Births, Deaths and Marriage department is a great resource to start. You can often pay these registries to perform the search for you if you would prefer not to spend the time yourself.
Australian War Memorial
Holds a variety of military related collections that provide a great Australian family history resource.
National Archives of Australia
A huge souce of information for Australian history in general. Use the “RecordSearch” page to perform specific family history searches.
There’s a range of genealogical societies in Australia with varying membership fees that can give you access to a range of family history resources in addition to the chance to rub shoulders with other equally passionate researchers. This can be a great way to get you past a dead-end you’ve encountered with your research.
Australian Family History Resource Websites and Blogs
Unlock the Past
An incredible site dedicated to promoting family history resources, genealogy and heritage in Australia and beyond. You will easily lose hours here as you navigate the wealth of information on offer.
Diary of an Australian Genealogist
Shauna Hicks invites you to join her on her own family history voyage and shares the wealth of tips and information along the way. Shauna posts about twice per month and has been going strong since 2011.
Another fantastic website for connecting you to all sorts of family history resources based in Australia. As with Unlock the Past, you’ll probably lose a day or two just searching through all the resources CoraWeb has to offer.
An odd, but incredibly helpful website that takes photographs of tombstones all over the world. You can search by name and find your ancestors resting place.
A huge repository of links to a variety of Australian and New Zealand family history resources.
The Ryerson Index
A free index of death notices appearing in Australian newspapers from 1803 to present. It currenly holds over 6 million entries.
Remembering the Past Australia
Draws on early newspapers, books and archives, to share historical stories from Australia’s past.
The Ships List
This site helps you find your ancestors on ships’ passenger lists. It also provides access to immigration reports, newspaper records, shipwreck information, ship pictures, ship descriptions, shipping-line fleet lists and more.
Genealogy Social Media Groups
Some of the most active places to get resources and an actual helping hand with your Australian family history search are social media groups. Below are just a couple of the most active ones on the web with memberships over 1000. Some are closed and will require a request to join, but most are friendly and a great resource for your genealogy journey.
Genealogy My Ancestors Came To Australia – Closed Facebook group
This is one of the big ones with over 19,000 members! A genealogy group that aims to help your fellow researchers find records and chip away at those family history brick walls.
Australian Family History and Genealogy – Closed Facebook group
This group was designed to assist people with researching Family History. It aims to help members share ideas, knowledge, resources and the highs and low of researching their Australian family history.
Australian Family History Genealogy Ancestral Research – Public Facebook group
It’s all in the title really. A very active group with over 3000 members sure to get you headed in the right direction with your family history search.
Australian Family History – Online Records and Resources (RTPA) – Public Facebook group
A fresh group created in 2018 but already hosting an impressive 4800 members. They aim to help fellow researchers find and share resources, records, indexes and lists.
Australian Genealogy – Closed Facebook group
One of the longest standing groups around. With close to 8000 members and frequent posts every day they’re sure to help you with your genealogy research.
Using DNA for Genealogy – Australia and NZ – Closed Facebook group
A resource that covers anything and everything to do with using DNA as a tool in your Australian and New Zealand family history and genealogical research.
Genealogy New South Wales Australia – Public Facebook group
This group is for genealogists researching the history of their families that predominately settled in New South Wales, Australia.
Genealogy Victoria Australia – Public Facebook group
This group is for genealogists researching the history of their families that predominately settled in Victoria, Australia.
Historical Australian Image Collections
If like us you prefer to bring a bit of visual flair to your family history research, there are some great free resources available for getting images of Australia’s history.
National Library of Australia – 1100+ photos
Images of Australia from the last 200 years with a focus on historical images
State Library of NSW – 3700+ photos
An impressive collection of New South Wales historical images.
Aussie~Mobs – 12000+ photos
A personal favourite because it covers parts of Australia that the big libraries seem to have missed. I even managed to find a shot of the main street of my family home town!
Royal Australian Historical Society – 2100+ photos
A diverse collection from the RAHS.
State Library of Victoria – almost 200,000 photos
It’s pretty hard to argue with the scale of this collection for any Victorian based Australian genealogist.
Historical Atlas of Sydney
View maps of Sydney from 1830 through to the present day. A great way to cross reference your findings.
State Archives and Records
Using their Photo Investigator you can access well over 100,000 photos of New South Wales from the 19th century.
Australian Maritime Museum
An impressive collection of images detailing Australia’s connection to the sea.
Sydney Living Museums Catalogue
Includes paintings, photographs and drawings from a range of Sydney museums.
ArchivePix – City of Sydney Photobank
Thousands of images detailing all aspects of life in Sydney.
Find and Connect Photobank
A collection of images of Australian institutional buildings.
Have a brilliant Australian family history resource that you think we’ve missed? Leave a comment below and we’ll check it out.
If you’re located in Sydney and would like to collate all of your hard earned family history research into a keepsake film, then contact Long Yarn Films to create your own life story video.