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Australia Gotoarrow.png Native Races

There are two indigenous groups of people in Australia: the Aborigines and the Torres Strait Islanders. Neither groups had a written language; consequently, records generated about them are found in other sources listed in this outline such as biography, civil registration, and church records.

Births for aborigines and island children were not recorded in civil registration.

There are no oral genealogies in the Family History Library because it is considered, by most Aboriginal communities to be extremely offensive to mention the names of the dead or have pictures of them. This is an extremely sensitive area and any approach should be made by Australians, preferably those with indigenous ancestry.

Since the Australian High Court decided in the early 1990s that the indigenous people of Australia could claim native title to land (subject to certain legal requirements), claimants have had to prove their aboriginality. These records are kept by the Land Courts and are subject to the 30 year closure rule. However, the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies has a Family History Unit that has been collecting biographies and genealogies since 1994.[1]



The library of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) contains records about indigenous people. 

GPO Box 553
Canberra ACT 2601

Telephone: 02 6246 1111 (International +61 2 6246 1111)
Facsimile: 02 6261 4285 (International +61 2 6261 4285)

You can ask a question in their Online enquiry form.

The Aboriginal Biographical Index  indexes biographical information of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people mentioned in material, such as books, magazines and newspapers. Most of the resources are in the Institute and also in the collections at the State Library of New South Wales.


  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People. Canberra, Australian Capital Territory: National Library of Australia. Fact sheet 113.
  • Aboriginals in Victoria. [S.l. : s.n., 197-?]. (FHL book 994 A1 no. 36)
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People in Commonwealth Records: a Guide to Records in the Australian Archives, ACT Regional Office. Ros Fraser, comp. Canberra, Australian Capital Territory: Australian Government Publishing Service, c1993. ISBN 0642196516. (FHL book 994.71/C1 A3f)
  • A Chronology of Events Affecting Tasmanian Aboriginal Ancestors and Their Descendants. B. C. Mollison, comp. (FHL film 992968)
  • Bibliography of the Victorian Aborigines From the Earliest Manuscripts to 31 December 1970. Aldo Massola, comp. Melbourne : Hawthorn Press, 1971. ISBN 725600578. (FHL book 994.5 F33m)
  • Looking for Your Mob : A Guide to Tracing Aboriginal Family Trees. Diane Smith and Boronia Halstead, authors. Canberra, Australian Capital Territory: Aboriginal Studies Press, 1990. ISBN 0855752092. (FHL book 994 D27sd)
  • My Heart is Breaking: a Joint Guide to Records About Aboriginal People in the Public Record Office of Victoria and the Australian Archives, Victoria Regional Office. Victoria: Australian Archives Victorian Regional Office, 1993, 1997 printing. ISBN 0644324988 (FHL book 994.51/M1 A3m)
  • Pedigree Charts of Torres Straits Islanders. (FHL film 1363533 Item 2)
  • Some Oodnadatta Genealogies, 1988.  Jen Gibson, in association with the Dunjiba Community Council [Oodnadatta, South Australia : Dunjiba Community Council], authors, 1988.  ISBN 0730812367. (FHL book 994.238/O1 D2g)
  • The Bicentennial Dictionary of Western Australians. Vols. 6-8. Nedlands, Western Australia: University of Western Australia, 1988-1994. ISBN  0855642785 (set). (FHL books 994.1 D36bd)
  • The Encyclopedia of Aboriginal Australia : Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander History, Society and Culture. David Horton, general editor. 2 vols. [Canberra, Australian Capital Territory] : Aboriginal Studies Press for the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, 1994. ISBN 0855752343 set. (FHL book 994 F36e)
  • The Native tribes of South Australia. J. D. Woods, author. Adelaide, South Australia: Friends of the State Library of South Australia, 1997. ISBN 1876154144. (FHL book 994.23 F3n)
  • The Queensland Aborigines. W. E. Roth. 3 vols. Victoria Park, Western Australia: Hesperian Press, 1984. ISBN 0859050459. (FHL book 994.3 F3r)

Family History Library

Information about the native people of Australia is listed in the Place Search of the FamilySearch Catalog under:





  1. The Family History Department of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, “Family History Record Profile: Australia,” Word document, private files of the FamilySearch Content Strategy Team, 1986-2003.


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  • This page was last modified on 13 May 2015, at 22:31.
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