Genealogical Data

Aboriginal Research

Due to the nature of Australian society in the past, the records of Aboriginal genealogy have not always been recorded in a manner that we as genealogists are used to researching. This has lead to genealogists researching these families having to find different methods and areas of research.

This page is by no means a definitive list, it will however point in the direction of areas you may not have thought of yet.

Please consider this as a 'work in progress' and come back again. Your input of areas, books, records etc would be gratefully received. It is hoped that with your assistance this page will become the starting point for all genealogists researching their Aboriginal ancestry.



There are several specialist texts around which deal with the subject of genealogy and records for people of Aboriginal descent. I have listed them here in no special order.

"Lookin for your mob: a guide to tracing Aboriginal family trees", by Diane Smith and Boronia Halstead. It was published in Canberra by the Aboriginal Studies Press, for the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders Studies in 1990. Copies are in LISWA and a number of public libraries.


"Dictionary of Western Australians" series:

  • Aborigines of the Albany Region 1821 - 1898, Volume VI
    Compiled by Neville GREEN
    ISBN 0 85564 294 7


  • Aborigines of New Norcia 1845 - 1914, Volume VII
    Compiled and edited by Neville GREEN and Lois TILBROOK
    ISBN 0 85564 295 5


  • Aborigines of the Southwest Region 1829 - 1840, Volume VIII
    Compiled and edited by Sylvia HALLAM and Lois TILBROOK
    ISBN 0 85564 296 3


  • Far from Home - Aboriginal Prisoners of Rottnest Island 1838 - 1931
    By Neville GREEN and Susan MOON
    ISBN 1 875560 92 0


"Telling it like it is: a guide to making Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history", by Penny Taylor. Also published in Canberra by the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, 1992.

"My Heart is Breaking" A comprehensive guide to official records about Victoria's Koories from 1836 to 1875. The records held by both the Public Record Office of Victoria and the Victorian office of the National Archives.

"Between Two Worlds" Earlier this century, thousands of aboriginal children of part-descent were taken from their families by the government and placed in institutions. Some never went home and are still searching for relatives today.

"The World Of The First Australians" RM & CH Berndt; Sydney, Ure Smith 1964.
The book, some 600 pages long, discusses and reviews the differences between Aboriginal groups as diverse as those in Arnheim Land to those in Cape York Peninsula. The Berndts have written about 300 articles on Aboriginal custom and society between them as well as many books. "Oxford History of Australia"

"A People's History of Australia since 1788" in 4 volumes by Burgmann and Lee's

A series called - "Australians" - A Historical Library which has about seven volumes, a dictionary and atlas. Otherwise I'd suggest Henry Reynolds starting with his earlier works.

"Cape York the Savage Frontier" by Rodney Liddell (isbn 0 646 28348 0) a book that has quite a lot of genealogical interest. Giving a full documentation, as far as can be ascertained, of the the Kennedy Expedition 1848, also the Jardine Cattle Drive, 1864-1865.

"Anthropophagitism in the Antipodes" by James Cooke R.N.Rtd.



The National Archives of Australia has published a guide to its records titled "Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Commonwealth records: a guide to records in the Australian Archives, ACT Regional Office" which, despite its title, apparently relates to indigenous people throughout Australia.


Agencies and Institutes

(WA) Aboriginal Affairs Department, which operates an Aboriginal Family History Information Service and employs a Family History Officer. Further information is available via the AAD Web page at .

AIATSIS site at

ATSIC site at



REF: email to DPS-CHAT, Perth by various members



1997-2018 Jenny Brandis

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