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Home > National Family History Month

National Family History Month

About National Family History Month

August is National Family History Month and there’s no better time to delve into researching your family history.

Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced researcher, State Library Victoria has a wealth of workshops and resources to help you on your research journey.

We'll be sharing new family history blogs each week throughout August to celebrate Family History Month, drawing on our expert librarians' wealth on knowledge on the topic.

Happy researching!

Family history tools & resources

Lucky digger that returned. Gill, S. T., 1869. H86.7/40

From research guides to online resources and talks, find all the inspiration and tools you need to research your family's past at the Library.

Explore our tools and resources

Your ancestor’s world – 19th century Victoria

News From Australia, 1854, print by George Baxter, H97.42/2

News From Australia, 1854, print by George Baxter, H97.42/2

Local and social history research can help us to understand something of the motivations, places, lives and times of our Victorian ancestors. 

Read our blog to learn more about the experience of travelling to, and settling in, Australia in the nineteenth century as gleaned from diaries, letters, photographs and more.

Preserving the Saunders Family Archive

James Farr and Elizabeth Jane Saunders, c. 1940s, YMS 16332 Box 20

James Farr and Elizabeth Jane Saunders, c. 1940s, YMS 16332 Box 20

James Farr Saunders, his wife Elizabeth Jane Taylor and their five children lived on Williamstown Road in Port Melbourne from 1928 to 2016. They led fairly ordinary lives, but over 87 years, the family had meticulously kept everything neatly bagged and labelled, resulting in a nearly century-long time capsule.

Our Preservation and Conservation teams have been working hard to preserve and catalogue these ordinary – yet precious – items.

Read our blog to learn more about the archive.

The Ryerson Index: a family history discovery tool

[Unidentified family group…] C. R. Hartmann (1920). H2009.143/20

[Unidentified family group…] C. R. Hartmann (1920). H2009.143/20

Nineteenth century family history resources are plentiful, but it can be a challenge to find information on people who lived in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

Here’s where the Ryerson Index can be a wonderful help to family history researchers. It’s a research tool for finding information about deceased family members and friends: a free online index of Australian newspaper death and funeral notices, right up to date.

Read about the Ryerson Index on our blog

Trove: a treasure chest of family history gems

The Argus, 25 March 1857, p 4

The Argus, 25 March 1857, p 4

Trove is a partnership between the National Library of Australia and hundreds of partner organisations, including State Library Victoria. And if you’re a family history researcher in Australia, it’s likely you’ve stumbled upon this invaluable resource. Trove provides free, remote access to more than 1000 historic Australian newspapers and gazettes.

Read our blog about the family treasures you can unbox in Trove.

The family that grew up with the Melbourne Zoo

Le Souef family, group portrait of William Henry Dudley Le Souëf, his wife Edith Evelyn Wadeson and children from L to R: Horace, Albert, Edith, Hilda and Rita, ca. 1904

Le Souef family, group portrait of William Henry Dudley Le Souëf, his wife Edith Evelyn Wadeson and children from L to R: Horace, Albert, Edith, Hilda and Rita, ca. 1904; H31865

For generations, the Le Souef family played a prominent part in the development of the Melbourne Zoo and zoological gardens in other states.

The Library holds the Le Souef family manuscript collection, which chronicles three generations of one family’s passionate commitment to exploring the natural world.

On our blog, learn more about the family and how under their direction, the Melbourne Zoo became a premier metropolitan recreation.

Save Our Stories: The Sun-News Pictorial 1922-1954

The Library recently had an appeal to digitise The Sun-News Pictorial  the main publisher of births, deaths and marriages in Victoria. While we reached our original fundraising target, newspaper digitisation is costly and challenging, and we need your support to digitise further editions.

The Sun-News Pictorial is incredibly valuable to both family and academic historians alike for its localised content and level of detail.

Support the Library’s free Family History programs with a donation to our Save Our Stories campaign.

Newspapers & Family History Reading Room tour

Discover how the Library’s rich collection can help piece together your family tree to uncover hidden secrets and fascinating details about your ancestors’ lives. Learn the skills you need to master the Library’s databases and efficiently use the research equipment.

Dates: 2pm–3pm on 1, 9, 15 and 23 August 2023.

Book tickets to Newspapers & Family History Reading Room tour.

Researching births, deaths and marriages in Victoria

Wedding ceremony and guests, [197-?]. Photo by Maggie Diaz. This work is in copyright. H2013.261/547

Major life events such as births, deaths and marriages are some of the key milestones in a person’s life, and are a great place to start when researching an ancestor.

Read our blog to find out where these certificates are, how to you search for them, and what they might contain.

Researching your home

Black and white photo of an old house

Three children standing on veranda of single storey weatherboard house with established garden. H2009.60/11

Oh what stories houses would tell, if only they could talk!

This brand new webinar will help to answer the questions and curiosities you may have about your family home, whether it’s the house you’re living in now or the scene of your childhood memories.

Date: 10am-11am Tuesday 8 August 2023. 

Book tickets to Researching your home.

Welfare records for family history

Melbourne Benevolent Asylum, North Melbourne H92.330/267

Discover lost connections and unfamiliar histories by learning about welfare records in this online family history workshop.

This webinar will delve into the diverse types of welfare records and where to find them, including what is available in the State Library's vast collection.

Date: 10am-11am, Thursday 24 August 2023.

Book tickets to Welfare records for family history.

Finding families

Black and white photographic portrait of an extended family

Family group on a verandah, c 1912; photo by Mark James Daniel

Do you want to discover more about your ancestors and how they lived their lives?

In this online workshop, you’ll take the first steps to exploring the secret stories in your family’s history.

Date: 10am-11am Thursday 3 August 2023.

Book tickets to Finding families.


Learn how to navigate the Library’s extensive newspaper collection in this live and interactive online session.

Our collection includes over 4000 different local and international papers, dating back to the 18th century. You'll dive into the millions of words printed on both current and historical articles in our online databases, and discover how to find specific newspapers in hard copy, online and on microfilm.

Date: 10am-11am Wednesday 16 August 2023.

Book tickets to Newsworthy.