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 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 to find out more.
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.
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 5000
PO Box 419 , Adelaide SA 5001
Free call: 1800 182 013 (Regional South Australia only)
Ph: 08 8207 7250
Fax: 08 8207 7307
Online form: https://askslsa.altarama.com/reft100.aspx?key=AskUs
www.slsa.sa.gov.au/site/page.cfm?u=657 (Indigenous collections and services)
http://guides.slsa.sa.gov.au/Aboriginal_FH (Aboriginal family history)
http://guides.slsa.sa.gov.au/sb.php?subject_id=81789 (Aboriginal Australia Library guides)
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 reunite with family members from whom they were separated. The Aboriginal Access Team can help you with your research.
State Records Research Centre
115 Cavan Road, Gepps Cross SA 5094
GPO Box 464, Adelaide SA 5001
Ph: 08 8343 6800
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. The cost of BDM records varies from state to state but is normally $30 to $50 per certificate.
You can access the South Australian BDM indexes on CD-ROM and in printed volumes at the State Library of South Australia and other libraries around Australia.
Genealogy SA has published extracts from the South Australian BDM indexes online at https://www.genealogysa.org.au/resources/online-databases.html
91 Grenfell Street, Adelaide SA 5000
GPO Box 1351, Adelaide SA 5001
Ph: 131 882
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.
182-190 Wakefield Street, Adelaide SA 5000
PO Box 7202, Hutt Street, Adelaide SA 5000
Ph: 08 8406 1600
Fax: 08 8232 0949
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org (for general enquiries)
Find & Connect Support Service South Australia – Elm Place
Find & Connect supports people who experienced out-of-home-care as children. This includes people who grew up in orphanages, children’s homes, institutions and foster homes. Find & Connect can help with records access, counselling services, reconnecting with family as well as many other kinds of support. “Elm Place recognises that people have different experiences of their time in care and the service is respectful of people’s varying needs and issues.”
Ground Floor, 191 Flinders Street, Adelaide SA 5000
Free Call: Telephone: 1800 16 11 09
Ph: 08 8223 4566
Department for Protection
The Department for Child Protection 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 separated from their families as children under previous government policies and laws.
Department for Child Protection
31 Flinders Street Adelaide, SA 5000
GPO Box 1072 Adelaide SA 5001
Ph: 8124 4185
South Australian Museum
The South Australian Museum’s collection of Australian ethnographic material is the largest and most representative in the world. Items in the collection come 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. Staff in the museum’s Aboriginal Family History Unit can help you with locating and accessing material about your family.
Aboriginal Family History Unit
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. The index isn’t available for the public to search, but an archivist will do a search for you. The Adelaide Reading Room is in the State Library of South Australia building.
Corner North Terrace and Kintore Avenue, Adelaide SA 5000
PO Box 3563, Rundle Mall, SA 5000
Ph: 08 8204 8787
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 access via the Library website. The library has a family history collection and staff who 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.
- Aboriginal family history – State Library of South Australia
- Aboriginal services – State Records of South 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 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 South 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.
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)