Getting Started

First step

Read “how to” books on family history, such as Smith, D. and Halstead, B. (1990). Lookin for your mob: a guide to tracing Aboriginal family trees. Canberra: Aboriginal Studies Press for the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies.
Second step

Write down what you know about yourself and family members.

Then go and talk to other relatives and ask them:-
•    If anyone has researched family members.
•    The dates of birth, death and marriages of family members.
•    Ask for photocopies of birth, death and marriage certificates, exemption notices, employment records, or other family history information they may have.
•    Ask what are the names and locations of station, mission or town the family members came from.

It is important to make photocopies of family history information provided, and then return the original material to the owner.  Remember to use your family photographs to assist memories.

Third step

Create two folders to house your family history information.  In one of the folders place all the original information, this folder should remain in a safe location in your house.  

The second folder should only contain copies of your family history research information, this folder should be taken when visiting family members.  

Fourth step

Indigenous families need to trace their family members back to a specific area, or location, as traditionally the Indigenous family or group lived, married, died within the boundaries of their tribal land.

It is advisable to check records and information kept on local Indigenous people via councils, historical societies, churches, cemeteries, schools, police stations and historians.  Remember historical documents did not find Aboriginals or Torres Strait Islander peoples worthwhile to write about, but one can never be sure, so check these sources.
Fifth step

Contact relevant government organisation on the Internet or by visiting them.  Ask what information they may hold on your family or the local Indigenous people of a specific area.

Sixth Step

Start all over again, as people or organisations may come upon some forgotten material.

Internet Sites

State Library of Queensland

There are multitude of information that you can obtain at the State Library of Queensland for Aboriginal Family history.

Ask a Librarian

State Library of Queensland staff can assist you to identify resources and search for information. Our staff will provide this service in accordance with the Ask us terms and conditions.

Use our online form if you have a research enquiry. (We will provide an answer within 10 working days.) Check on an existing enquiry.

Margaret Lawrie Collection

Margaret Lawrie gathered information and material about the myths, legends, languages, history, art and culture of the Torres Strait Islands between 1964 and 1973. Her collection now forms a significant part of the State Library's collection of Queensland Memory.


Photographs are a useful source of family and community history information. The State Library has a collection of digital photographs which accessible online.

View John Oxley Library Photographic listing of images and example of images in the Mapoon Mission photographs.

Tindale Genealogical Collection

With copies of genealogical information and photographs for some Queensland Aboriginal communities, the Tindale Genealogical Collection is a great resource for family history research.

Indigenous Poster

Indigenous Ephemera Collection

Ephemera means.. Things that exists or are used or enjoyed for only a short time. Ephemera is an interesting media that is forgotten when searching communities. In it are treasures you would never expect.

Family History - State Library of Queensland,
Stanley Place,  
South Brisbane Qld  4101

PO Box 3488,
South Brisbane Qld 4101

Telephone: 07 3840 781007 3840 7810
Internet: http://www.slq.qld.gov.au/resources/atsi/collections

Paul Mackett - Family Service

This web site http://www.cifhs.com/ has been created to provide a resource for those people researching their Aboriginal heritage. The material on this site has been extracted from publically available records in various state and federal archives throughout Australia.

The words used in these extracts are those that appear in the original documents. Although often offensive I have used the words from the original documents so that the reader will be forewarned when accessing the original documents.

This site will be constantly updated with new material as it becomes available. Paul mackett can be contacted at :  [email protected]

Queensland Aboriginal Genealogy Sources for Queensland

AIATSIS - Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies

The AIATSIS Family History Unit is funded to provide services to Link-Up staff only.  

While the AIATSI Family History Unit is no longer able to complete a family history search for you, their internet sites is always exciting to view.

I would advise everyone to visit AIATSIS for their [email protected] and their publication site..

AIATSIS - Proof or Confirmation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heritage

If you require assistance with Proof or Confirmation of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander heritage and contact your local Aboriginal Land Council. Contact the Indigenous Coordination Centre on  1800 079 098    1800 079 098 to be put through to your local Land Council.

You may also find the contact details of a Land Council or other Indigenous community organizations by using the “Search for a corporation” box at www.oric.gov.au.

AIATSIS - Information Guides

AIATSIS - Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Biographical Index (ABI)

Search the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Biographical Index (ABI) for information on you family.

The ABI is a fantastic resource to search for family members on your own.
The ABI (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Biographical Index) is a personal name index to published materials held in the AIATSIS Library.  Some material are online such as the Dawn Magazine.

The advantage of this database is that you can view your local State Library to see if the source mentioned is in their collection.  Most State Libraries will research for clients and in most cases will send you the page with the relevant information on it, depending on copyright laws.

Registrar-General - Department of Birth Deaths and Marriages

The Registrar General FREE to search online database. Copies of historical certificates cost $28 each and Historical Images cost $20 each.

The Registrar General hold records for:

births registered in Queensland up to and including 1914

deaths registered in Queensland up to and including 1984

marriages registered in Queensland up to and including 1939.

The Registrar General  archive also holds church records covering:

  • baptisms and burials that occurred between 1829 and 1856
  • church marriages between 1839 and 1856
  • some Marine Birth and Death records to 1920
  • some Death records for Service Personnel who enlisted in Queensland for World Wars One and Two. 

Early Records

In 1856, Queensland introduced a compulsory registration of life events for the white settlers, most Aborigines were not included, however it is best to check this register and know you are not on it, rather then not bother. 

When reviewing this information not that earlier documents fall outside the Register Generals standard date range. To find these records, search between 01/01/1829 and 31/12/1856.   If a life events before 1856 have a registration number beginning with 1854, which might not correspond to the actual year of the event for example, if you find the record for John Citizen born 01/01/1835, the registration number will start with 1854 even though the event occurred in 1835.

The Registrar-General - Department of Births Deaths and Marriages
110 George Street, Brisbane  Qld  4000
PO Box 15188, City East Queensland 4002

Telephone:  1300 366 4301300 366 430 (local call charge within Australia, mobiles charged at applicable rates)
Internet: http://www.justice.qld.gov.au/justice-services/births-deaths-and-marriages

Office hours:  Monday - Friday; 8.30 am-4.30 pm

Communities and Personal Histories

If you are an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person, the Community and Personal Histories team may be able to help you find out:

  • where your family comes from
  • who your family are
  • how you are connected to a certain place

Using government records to research your family history

Past Queensland governments had a lot of control over Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples' lives. This was because of the Aboriginals and Protection and the Restriction of Sale of Opium Act 1897 and other 'protection' Acts.

This control meant the government recorded a lot of information about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples until the mid 1980s. Today these records can help you find out about your family connections and traditional homelands.

The Community and Personal Histories team can help you use these records for research into your family and/or community history. The records may also help with other information, such as proving your birth date.

Community and Personal Histories
Office for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnership Department of Communities.

  • Floor 6/  75 William Street, Brisbane  Qld  4000

PO Box 15397, City East Brisbane  Qld  4002

Telephone:   1800 650 2301800 650 230 or  (07) 3404 3622(07) 3404 3622(07) 3404 3622(07) 3404 3622(07) 3404 3622(07) 3404 3622
Internet: http://www.datsima.qld.gov.au/atsis/aboriginal-torres-strait-islander-peoples/aboriginal-and-torres-strait-islander-family-history/community-and-personal-histories-team

Link-Up - Queensland

If you are a member of the Stolen Generations your nearest Link-Up office should be able to assist you. Link-Up (Qld) provides services to individuals, families or communities who have been affected by past Australian Government removal policies and practices, including separation through adoption, fostering, removal or institutionalisation. Reunion services are available to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people over the age of 18.  Link-Up (Qld) prioritises service delivery to first generation clients.


Link-Up (Qld) provides a professional, sensitive, culturally appropriate tracing and reunion service to members of the Stolen Generations in Queensland. Our Caseworkers and Research Officers research all kinds of records to identify and locate your family members. The research process can take anywhere from several months to years depending on your individual case. Throughout the Link-Up journey, our Caseworkers will be in regular contact, and our Counsellors are available whenever you wish to have a yarn.


All Link-Up (Qld) staff value and respect your privacy and trust, and manage your journey with the utmost confidentiality. Visit their site or office to learn more. http://www.link-upqld.org.au/home.html

Brisbane Office

3-5 Reid Street, Woolloongabba
Telephone:(07) 3034 8444(07) 3034 8444(07) 3034 8444(07) 3034 8444(07) 3034 8444(07) 3034 8444

PO Box 3229
South Brisbane, Queensland 4101

Cairns Office
18 Scott Street, Parramatta Park
Cairns, Queensland 4870
Telephone:(07) 4041 7403(07) 4041 7403(07) 4041 7403(07) 4041 7403(07) 4041 7403(07) 4041 7403

Townsville Office
Unit 21/184-186 Vickers Road North,
Condon, Queensland  4815
Telephone 0428 951 3010428 951 301 or 0420 306 5020420 306 502

Mt Isa Office
1/81 Miles Street
Mt Isa, Queensland  4825
Telephone: 0417 097 3220417 097 322/0459 028 3800459 028 380

General Contact...
1800 200 8551800 200 855
[email protected]

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