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Skip Navigation LinksQueensland State Archives > Researching the archives > Resources for researchers > Family history

Family history research

To make the most effective use of archival sources, you need to have already done a good deal of preliminary work to establish a basic framework of facts about the various members of your family. These facts can be used to obtain further information from government or court records.

Researchers unfamiliar with archival records may find them rather confusing and difficult to use at first. Records are preserved in their original order together with the finding aids created by the relevant department. In general, the records are not indexed by name, geographical location or very specific subjects. Therefore, locating the required information is often a very time-consuming process involving a search through large quantities of records with no certainty that any relevant information will be found.

Remember, there is no single subject or name index to all archival records. You may have to consult the records of many different government departments depending on the information required.

A number of research resources are available to assist family history researchers:

Queensland State Archives resources
Research tips
Record your research findings
Visit your local library
Join a family or local history group
Further assistance

Queensland State Archives resources

Brief guides provide researchers with an introduction to the types of records we have in our collection relating to a particular topic such as court records or land tenure records.

Some of the Queensland State Archives brief guides which are particularly relevant to family history research include:

Search procedures provide researchers with a step-by-step guide to locate a variety of records including immigration records, land records, inquests, wills and naturalisations.

Brief guides and search procedures are available for researchers to view online or you can use them in the Public Search Room.

The best record series to get you started are listed below in our research tips.

Research tips

There are many series of records which are useful for genealogical searches in the Queensland State Archives collection. Some of the most frequently used records are:
Passenger lists

​Passenger lists for immigrants arriving to Queensland by ship from Europe from 1848 onwards. We have a number of online indexes to immigration records for researchers.

State electoral rolls

​State electoral roll records for Queensland from 1860 onwards. To use these records, you need to know the approximate date and place of residence for the individual you are looking for. Key maps in the Public Search Room will help you to work out the relevant electorate for your research.

Will and intestacy files

Will and intestacy ​files from 1857 onwards. ​To use these records, you need to know the full name of the individual, as well as the approximate date and place of death. We also have some online indexes relating to will and intestacy records for researchers.  


Inquest files from 1859 onwards. Inquests were undertaken to establish causes of death and of major fire. To use these records, you need to know the name of the deceased, approximate date and place of death. For fires, you need to know the approximate date and place of the fire. An online index for some inquest files is available for researchers.


Naturalisation records from 1851-1904 for non-British immigrants only. An online index is available for researchers. It helps to have an approximate idea of the date of arrival in Queensland and/or date of naturalisation for the person you are researching. For naturalisation records from 1904 onwards, please contact the National Archives of Australia.

Land tenure 

Records of Crown leases of all types, including selections (farms) and pastoral leases (runs or stations), are held at Queensland State Archives. These records are often complicated to use. A good starting place for information on selections - if you have the name of the selector - is to search for the name of the selector in our ArchivesSearch catalogue.
For pastoral leases - if you know the name of the run or station - you could search for the name of the run or station in our ArchivesSearch catalogue. We also have online indexes to pastoral holdings 1863-1880 and the transfer of runs 1848-1874 for researchers.
Other records are identified in our brief guide on land tenure records.

School admission registers 

School admission registers for many Queensland state schools and state high schools are in our collection. Search for the name of the school in our ArchivesSearch catalogue to see if we have school admission registers for the relevant school.


There are two main uses of maps for genealogists. Firstly, they may be used to locate place names. Secondly, parish maps often give names of original lessees or original owners of land. Many maps can be located by searching for the place name or parish name in our ArchivesSearch catalogue.

Blue Books

A collection of Blue Books is available to use in the Public Search Room. These books are yearly lists of people employed in the public service. They are indexed by the name of the employee.

Record your research findings

Always record what you have researched. Even if nothing was found, it may save time later with your research. Establish a system of recording your information. The biggest mistake made by most researchers is not to keep accurate records.

For example - in your notes on research on the BLOGGS family - you could say "Aug 2000 searched Index to Wills (QSA) 1857-1900 for BLOGGS - none found" and this will save you doing that same search again in 2002 or 2010.

When making accurate notes, be sure to record exactly where you found the information so it can be verified and checked against other sources. For example: "told to me by Aunt Mildred SMITH in June 2000" or "Inquest of Joseph SMITH number 234 of 1862 at Queensland State Archives Item ID 348633 (JUS/N34)".

Visit your local library

Most libraries have genealogical 'how to' books and reference books to help you learn about the history and geography of the areas where your ancestors lived.

Join a family or local history group

Most local history groups have very useful libraries and experienced researchers who will be happy to help you.

You could contact either of the societies listed below, or your local society:

The Hon. Secretary
Queensland Family History Society
PO Box 171
Indooroopilly QLD 4068

The Secretary
Genealogical Society of Queensland
PO Box 1467
Carindale QLD 4152


The internet is a very useful tool for family history research. However, always remember that information is only as good as the person who entered it onto a system.

Always check the original source. If no sources are given, you should question the accuracy of the information.

Queensland State Archives has a series of webinars that may provide helpful advice for your research. Webinar topics include Getting started with research and Convict records.

Further assistance

For further assistance in using the records, please see the Reference Archivist on duty in the Public Search Room.

Alternatively, for more information, please contact Queensland State Archives. Research enquiries can be sent to or by using the online enquiry form.

Last updated 12 May 2016

 Getting started: Beginning research at QSA