Research Guide: Family History
Want to find out about your family history? The PMI is packed with resources for everyone from beginners to advanced genealogists.
Our collection is the only one of its kind available for loan. We understand that researchers like to spend time thoroughly perusing items at home and our three-week loan period and unlimited free renewals (provided no one else has requested the item) reflects this.
On this page:
- Where to Start?
- Registers, Indexes, Gazettes and Directories
- Local History Resources
- Ancestry Library Edition
- Other Useful Resources
Where to Start?
An excellent place to start is with our extensive collection of guides on how to undertake family history research, everything from using ancestry.com to how to use shipping records. You can find a sample of our holdings here.
If you’re looking for inspiration, we also hold a number of published family histories, these can be found at Call No. 929.2.
Registers, Indexes, Gazettes and Directories
PMI Library members have access to a many registers, indexes, gazettes and directories held at PMI. Some of these resources are available in books and microfiche, however many are available to be borrowed on CD and a significant quantity are available electronically which can be accessed on the library computers. These are primary sources and can be used to trace the footsteps of your ancestors.
We hold a wide range of these resources. Everything from the widely known, yellow pages of its time, Sands & MacDougall Post Office Directory (Melbourne 1860-1911 and Victoria 1912-1942) to lesser known directories and indexes such as pioneer registers (for example the Gosford Pioneer Register), cemetery indexes (such as the Lilydale Lawn Cemetery) and gazettes (including the Victorian Police Gazette).
These are only examples of the registers, directories, indexes and gazettes that can be found at the PMI. Just have a browse through our catalogue to locate any that might be relevant to you and your family’s history. NB: if you know that an ancestor comes from a specific town that’s a good place to start. If you would like some assistance searching our resources, please contact us and our friendly staff can help you.
Local History Resources
The PMI library holds an extensive collection of local histories pertaining to regions, townships, cities, suburbs and localities within the state of Victoria as well as some interstate localities. These can be very useful to family historians as they often mention lots of local people and can provide a portrait of the place during the time period your ancestors resided there. You’ll find information on virtually every town in Victoria as well as many interstate and the collection is growing every day.
All historical items are on our online catalogue – simply perform a subject or keyword search for the name of the place. If you cannot find an item about a place you are interested in, please let us know and we will attempt to acquire relevant items for the collection.
We subscribe to the vast majority of historical society journals for the entirety of Victoria. If you know of one we don’t subscribe to please let us know. These journals are indexed on the catalogue, you can find a selection here. These journals provide a fascinating micro-level look at a town or region and can be invaluable to family historians as they often include profiles of local people, buildings etc. To search for a specific town’s journal just put the town’s name into the catalogue. We also subscribe to state wide historical journals from other states. Below are some examples.
The PMI subscribes to the Genealogical Society of Victoria’s (GSV) Ancestor journal along with other journals which can be useful to family historians, such as the Australian Institute of Genealogical Studies’ the Genealogist and the Royal Victorian Historical Society’s History News.
We also carry back issues of many of these journals, a significant number of which are catalogued. The current issues are usually, but not always, available electronically on the library computers and in hard copy form in the library. The more general journals can be borrowed. The small historical society periodicals cannot be borrowed, but they can be viewed in the library and copied or photographed. The catalogue makes clear what is available for borrowing and what isn’t. This is by no means all the periodicals we hold, if you would like to view all the periodicals on a subject/place you can limit your search to periodicals only in the Collection tab on the PMI catalogue advanced search.
The PMI produces a monthly Recent Additions document arranged by place and subject so members can keep up with new items of interest.
Ancestry Library Edition
You’ll be amazed by the sheer number of original records available on Ancestry Library Edition for you to print and store. Ancestry Library Edition offers significantly more records than the Australia + UK home version, including records from New Zealand, US, Canada and other places. Ancestry Library Edition is only available on the PMI Library computers or via the library network. You can bring your own laptop and we’ll help you connect or you can contact us to book one of our public computers.
For more information, see our Research Guide: Ancestry Library Edition. Please note that Ancestry Library Edition is a members-only service and only available for use within the library.
Other Useful Resources
- Australian Institute of Genealogical Studies (Victorian Branch)
- Genealogical Society of Victoria
- Public Record Office online indexes
- Victorian Births, Deaths & Marriages online searching and image downloads for a fee
- State Library of Victoria
Australian Births, Deaths & Marriages sites
General Australian and International References
- Archives of Australia – links to all the state archives in Australia, some of which have online indexes
- Australian Cemeteries – Australia-wide links to online cemetery information and email addresses
- Interment.net – International and Australia wide links to online cemetery transcriptions
- Cora Num’s Websites for Genealogists – an Australian gateway site for tracing your family history
- Rootsweb World Connect – a free databases containing more than 460 million names from uploaded family history files and email lists
- Family Search containing the International Genealogical Index
- Genealogy Links.net genealogy sites for Australia and overseas
- Cyndi’s List of genealogy sites for Australia and overseas
Not great with computers?
If you don’t have a computer or internet access at home for your family history research, our friendly staff can help you with your catalogue search, referrals to other relevant historical organisations and how to search online and use CD resources. Don’t hesitate to ask!
We have many useful items in the collection. Our staff will happily to guide you with your research and refer you to other organisations where needed. We are keen to respond to our members’ needs, so please request an item not in our collection about the history of Victoria.
Please be aware that items in our collection may contain words, descriptions, names, sounds, images, videos and audio recordings which may be culturally sensitive and which might not normally be used in certain public or community contexts. Terms and annotations which reflect the author’s attitude or that of the period in which the item was written may not be considered appropriate today.