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Sarah Ryan on the Library's Maps Collection

  • Date recorded: 21 Aug 2017

  • Duration: 37:38

'Tracing your family history relies on pinpointing an ancestor at a certain place and time. Maps are essential to achieving that objective.'

– Sarah Ryan

About this video

In this video from our series of presentations from Family History Feast 2017, Sarah Ryan provides insights into the Library's Maps Collection and highlights resources of particular interest to family history researchers.

Sarah takes us through the different types of maps, charts and publications in the Library's vast collection, beginning with Charles Grimes' 1803 maps of the Port Phillip district and the first official survey of Melbourne made by Robert Russell in 1837.

She demonstrates how maps can help locate places whose name or borders may have changed, and reveal details about the kinds of lives our ancestors might have lived. For example, town plans showing houses, businesses, churches and schools can reveal the types of education and jobs that were available. Maps can also identify administrative districts to enable researchers to check records, and make it easier to follow the narratives provided by other sources.

Her talk provides a useful snapshot of the Maps Collection and the diverse groups of people, from family historians to botanists, bushwalkers to gold prospectors, who use the Library's valuable resources. Items in the collection include county, parish and township plans produced by the Department of Crown Lands and Survey, MMBW drainage plans, auction plans, fire insurance plans, street and business directories, antique maps, navigational charts, topographic and geological maps, nautical charts, British ordinance surveys, aerial photography, atlases and much more.

Many of these resources have been digitised and can be downloaded for free from our website. For information on viewing maps in our collection, take a look at our research guides.


Sarah Ryan is the coordinator of State Library Victoria's Map Collection.

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