Before 1967, 'Aboriginal affairs' was administered by colonial and state governments everywhere except the Northern Territory.
That means that state archives or the relevant state government department are usually the best sources for records relating to the administration of Aboriginal affairs before the late 1960s.
In Victoria, Aboriginal affairs records from 1836 to 1859 are kept by the Public Record Office Victoria. Records from 1860 to 1972 are mostly, but not entirely, kept at the Victorian office of the National Archives in Melbourne.
Aboriginal affairs records may include:
board minute books
personal case files
certificates of exemption
All of these may contain names of individual Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, reserves, homes and other related places.
Other state government records that might have relevant information are those relating to:
Types of records to look for
Think about how your family might have interacted with the government.
Some useful questions are:
Did they live in or have an association with an Indigenous mission, reserve or home?
If so, was it run by the government or another group (such as a church), or both?
When and where did they go to school?
Were they born in a state hospital?
Are they likely to have received any pension or child endowment?
What you know about yourself and your family – names, nicknames, dates, places and any other details you remember from family stories.
Checking electoral rolls – contrary to common belief, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples could enrol to vote before 1967 (although relatively few did). The National Archives holds Commonwealth electoral roll records in Perth and Brisbane.
Place names – some missions and other places have had various names at different times and there are often several ways to spell them.
Personal names – names that people are known by are not always the same as on their birth certificate. Could the name you know be short for another name or be a nickname? Also think about spelling variations for names. For example: McGuinness, McGuiness, McGinnis, McInnes.
Mission time: A guide to Queensland Presbyterian Church records relating to the Gulf missions at Aurukun, Mapoon, Mornington Island, Weipa and Thursday Island Mission Agency, 1891 to 1978, Geoff Wharton