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NSW First Nations family history

Tracing your family history and don't know where to start? Use this guide to find key family history resources for Aboriginal Australians.

Start researching your family history

Oral traditions in First Nations cultures are very strong so yarn with family members to gather as much information as you can before starting your family history journey. 

Here is a template to record information about your family. Download the template

The Library is a treasure trove of information relating to researching family history. 

Please check the resources page to help you find records for your family history journey. These are often the same records used by other Australians to research their family history. 

Indigenous Engagement are here to help 

Staff can show you how to use the Library’s collections and resources, help you get a library card, and offer advice if you don’t know where to start. 

The specialist staff members in the Indigenous Engagement Branch can help Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people fill in the gaps in their family tree through our Koori Kin service.   

We can provide one hour of specialist research per query. Before you contact us, please have as much information ready as possible, for example a family tree, research notes or any family birth/ death/ marriage certificates. Use the template above to help. 

If you do not identify as Indigenous, please use the Ask A Librarian form to request help with your family history research. Enquiries are forwarded to our branch if our expertise is required.  

Please note the State Library is not able to provide Confirmation of Aboriginality, or provide advice on genetic testing.  

2. Ridgeway - Maher wedding party, Karuah AIM, Dec. 1927.,
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Content warning

This family history guide has been written by First Nations people for First Nations people. It may deal with the subject of family separations and intergenerational trauma. Ensure your cultural safety when doing First Nations family history research.

Getting started

Indigenous spaces- Support Indigenous people in the local area
Resources for First Nations family history

Find various resources ranging from government services to church records to help you start your family history journey.

A hand is reaching for a book on a shelf
Books with First Nations family histories

You can find Aboriginal genealogies for people who lived in New South Wales in these books.

How to look after your records and photos
How to look after your records and photos

Preserve your family history documents and ensure your children and their children can access their cultural information and heritage.

Selected resources

Tindale genealogies

A good resource if your family is connected to Boggabilla, Brewarrina, Cummeragunja, Kempsey, Menindee, Pilliga, Walgett, Wallaga Lake or Woodenbong.

Organisations with First Nations records

Other organisations that hold First Nations records

Australian Indigenous index

Use the index to find articles in the Koori Mail and other newspapers and magazines

Koori Mail

An independently owned Aboriginal newspaper reporting political, social and cultural issues and events by or about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

 

First Nations specialist staff

A portrait photograph of a woman

Melissa Jackson is a Bundjalung librarian. She specialises in language enquiries and material, cultural consultation and First Nations family history. 


The Library is open to visitors every day, and all of the librarians will be happy to help with your research.

If you would like to meet with a member of the Indigenous Engagement team, please email us at least a week before your visit to make an appointment so we can make sure somebody will be available to see you. 

Family history and supervised viewing requests:  koori.kin@sl.nsw.gov.au 
General enquiries:  info.koori@sl.nsw.gov.au 

Related stories

Talking Deadly

 A First Nations speaker series hosted by the Library's Indigenous Engagement team.

Dyarubbin

Darug knowledge-holders, artists and educators Leanne Watson, Jasmine Seymour, Erin Wilkins and Rhiannon Wright share their culture and stories of special sites along Dyarubbin (Hawkesbury River).

Eight Days in Kamay

On 29 April 1770, the Gweagal people of Kamay (Botany Bay) discovered James Cook and his crew as they sailed into the bay and came ashore.

Sydney Elders

This project by Wiradjuri/Kamilaroi artist Jonathan Jones tells a very personal story of Aboriginal Sydney.

 

 

Mapping genealogy - Image 25, 2013.
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Image credit

Penny Evans born Sydney in 1966, is a Gamilaroi artist living and working on Bundjalung country. Though primarily working in ceramics the artist describes her work as being underpinned by collage. Her Artists Books ‘Mapping Genealogy’, a variable edition of 5 books, have been made by collaging and stitching together by hand and with a sewing machine an array of images and materials pertaining to her mixed descent NSW family heritage. One of these Editions was acquired by the State Library  in 2016 into the Mitchell Collection. ‘Proof’ another singular very dense artist book was created by the artist and collected by the State Library in 2017.