Researching your family

The National Archives of Australia is a rich source for family historians.

Many of the records in our collection are about people – individuals who migrated to Australia, served in our defence forces, were Indigenous, were interned or investigated by the government, or who applied for a copyright... the list goes on.

Think about contact between your family and the government.

The key is to identify how family members had contact with the government, and to identify what types of records we might have about them.

Think about contact between your family and the government

  • migrating to Australia
  • becoming an Australian citizen
  • applying for a relative to visit from overseas
  • serving in the army, air force or navy
  • enrolling to vote
  • registering a patent or trademark
  • working for the government.

For more ideas, see the resources listed below.

Using RecordSearch for a surname search

Go to Search the collection and then to RecordSearch. Start by doing a quick surname search using the NameSearch tab. 

NameSearch lets you search the collection more effectively for records relating to individual people. It's easy to use – simply enter a family name, select the category of records and then select 'search'.

Tips on how to use NameSearch

Census records of 2001 and 2006

In the 2001 and 2006 national censuses, millions of Australians opted to have their personal census information kept as part of the census time capsule. Family historians were instrumental in arguing for this valuable information to be kept for future generations.

The time capsule is being kept secure by the National Archives and is closed for a period of 99 years. It will be released to the public in 2100 and 2105.

Quick family name search

An easy way to see if we have records about your family is to use the NameSearch tab in RecordSearch. Simply enter your family name and select the type of records you want to search.

Destination Australia

Destination Australia features more than 20,000 photographs of migrants who arrived in Australia from all over the world after World War II.

Copyright National Archives of Australia 2019