There are currently intermittent issues with the display of images on the old catalogue and Library website. We are working to resolve the issue and apologise for any inconvenience. Please search the new catalogue.
Resources for First Nations family history
On this page you will find various resources ranging from government services to church records to help you start your family history journey.
If you would like assistance accessing these items, please contact the First Nations specialists.
A library card may be needed to access some of the resources.
Births, deaths and marriages
Births, Deaths and Marriages search
Use the Historical Indexes to find registers of Aboriginal people who were born, married or died in NSW. You can search freely for information about births over 100 years ago, deaths over 30 years ago and marriages from over 50 years ago.
As well as the year of birth, marriage or death you will usually find where the event was registered, your ancestor's parents' names and women's maiden names.
These records of births, deaths and marriages in NSW date from 1856. Early church records from 1788 to 1855 are also available.
Use the Family history research guide for search help.
New South Wales pioneers index 1788-1918 (Aboriginal births, 1909-1918)
Use the pioneers index microfiche in the Library to start putting together your family tree. You can find where and when a birth was registered, as well as the parents' names.
Apply for recent certificates from NSW Registry of Births, Deaths & Marriages
You can apply for a copy of a certificate through the NSW Registry of Births, Deaths & Marriages. You need to be eligible to apply as there are strict rules regarding individual privacy in NSW. Check the application form for details on eligibility.
You will be charged a fee by the NSW Registry of Births, Deaths & Marriages to apply for a copy of a certificate.
- Aboriginal births for the past 100 years
- Aboriginal marriages for the past 50 years
- Aboriginal deaths for the past 30 years
These are much the same as BDM, only they list christenings, marriages, and burials. To work out whether your community had/has a church, consult Parish Registers of Australia.
Obituaries can be found on TROVE newspapers and gazettes, and on the Ryerson Index.
Monumental inscriptions are generally created by Historical Societies and published in book format.
Cemeteries can also be found online at Find a cemetery in NSW or the Australian Cemetries Index for NSW which contains many online inscriptions.
We have electoral rolls available on microfiche in the Governor Marie Bashir Reading Room. Electoral rolls can also be found on Ancestry Library Edition, available to Readers of the Library and in public libraries. Search the electoral rolls to find out where people lived at particular times. The electoral rolls are arranged alphabetically by surname. In older electoral rolls the occupation of individuals is also given. Before 1984 Aboriginal people were not required to enrol to vote although many did.
Visit the Family history area in the Governor Marie Bashir Reading Room to search the rolls.
Getting started: NSW Electoral Rolls [PDF]
Use this guide when searching electoral rolls at the Library. The guide will help you to find people on NSW (and other states) electoral rolls.
Missions and Reserves
Find out about Missions and Reserves at these well-sourced Wikipedia entries
Aboriginal reserves in N.S.W., a land rights research aid is a comprehensive listing of Aboriginal reserves established in NSW, detailing when started and/or closed.
The Tindale genealogies are detailed genealogical information collected by Norman Tindale in the 1930-40s and can provide apical ancestor information.
The Koori Mail is an Australian newspaper written and owned by Indigenous Australians since 1991.
Australian Indigenous Index
The Australian Indigenous Index is an index to the Koori Mail, that focuses on the Indigenous people of Australia, from May 1991 to July 2016. It is also an index to biographical information from various magazines including: Our Aim (1907-1961), Dawn (1952-1969), New Dawn (1970-1975) and Identity (1971-1982).
Databases and indexes
Australian Indigenous Index
This is an index of historical information about First Nations people and communities, from regional newspapers, missionary magazines, and the Koori Mail newspaper.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Biographical Index (ABI) - AIATSIS
This is an Australia-wide biographical index of First Nations people from publications held at AIATSIS. You can access Aboriginal Biographical Index (ABI) from anywhere. You don't need a Library card.
Search the index to find where a record is located, for example, in a book or newspaper.
After your search you can search the Library catalogue to see if we hold the particular publication or search Trove to see if any libraries near you hold the particular publication or, visit the AIATSIS Library.
AIATSIS Mura Collections Catalogue
Search for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people mentioned in published books, magazines and journals that are held in the AIATSIS Library. It is being continously updated from both historical and contemporary publications.
Minutes of the meetings of the New South Wales Aboriginal Protection Board and the Aboriginal Welfare Board
Search this index to find names of Aboriginal people mentioned in the Boards' meetings (1890-1969).
You will need to apply for permission from Aboriginal Affairs to view the records at State Records NSW.
Trove brings together catalogues of state and territory libraries, as well as university libraries. However, it also has digitised versions of newspapers and government gazettes which can be useful for family history. It is a free resource.
Ancestry Library Edition
Ancestry Library Edition can be accessed while you are in the State Library. It has a variety of records available including birth, death and marriages, electoral rolls, cemeteries and jail records.
- Finding Your Ancestors: Researching Aboriginal Family History in NSW - Royal Australian Historical Society
- Family history - AIATSIS
- Family History Kit - AIATSIS
- Australian Indigenous family history - National Library of Australia
- Indigenous Australian Family History Resources - Moruya and District Historical Society
- Tips for Records and Family Searching - Find & Connect
- Researching your family - National Archives of Australia
- Finding your Family - North Coast Aboriginal Corporation for Community Health
- Pathfinders NSW — A History of NSW Aboriginal Trackers
- Indigenous family history beyond the National Archives - National Archives of Australia
- Koorie Family History Service
- Step by step guide - Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander family history - State Library of Queensland
- Aboriginal people and family history - State Library Victoria
- Family history - Aboriginal History Research Services - State Library of Western Australia
- Aboriginal family history - State Library of Western Australia
- Aboriginal Family History - State Library South Australia
- Aboriginal Families - State Records - Government of South Australia