Family history

Would you like to research your family history? Here are some basic tips on where to start.

  • Start by gathering all the information that you know or have in your home records together.
  • Talk to family and take notes on what they remember and if they have any documents, photographs and records. Be willing to share your findings with other family members, so that they will be happy to share what they find with you.
  • Organise the initial information you have found into some basic family tree charts. You can download a family tree chart from Ancestry or other internet sites in our database below. You can also get copies of family tree charts from the Local Studies staff in Cambridge Library.
  • Once have your family tree chart, start identifying the gaps in your family tree and decide which family member to start researching. It is always advisable to start with yourself and work backward, completing each branch of the tree before moving to a different ancestor. This is an unwritten rule in family history as it can protect you from confusing different people for your ancestors. 
  • To fill in these gaps start by searching the relevant Birth, Death and Marriage registry and/or Church records.
  • You can then find out more about your ancestors by searching in the Census and Electoral rolls.

Need help? 

There are a variety of resources you can use to research your family history which we have listed below. If you don't know where to start or need some more advice, Local Studies staff are more than happy to help.

To book a free one hour session contact us 9383 8969 or send an email

Ancestry Library Edition

This popular database lets you explore your family history through Australian and overseas historical records, including census records, birth, marriage and death records, settler, convict and immigrant lists, directories and newspaper obituaries. Also available are photos, maps and historical publications. Ancestry is only accessible from within Cambridge Library. Please see library staff to gain access. 

The National Archives of Australia

Federal Government records including military service records, passenger lists, maps and photographs.

The State Records Office of Western Australia

Archival records of the State Government of Western Australia and Local Governments of Western Australia. These include rates books, property files, school attendance registers and council minutes.

The State Library of Western Australia

A large collection of genealogical resources for all Australian states, New Zealand and Britain. These include birth, marriage and death indexes, cemetery records, convict records, immigration records, maps and newspapers.

Australian Censuses and Musters

Provides a list of surviving Australian censuses and musters, and the institutions in which these records are now held.

Western Australian Post Office Directories

Directories from 1893 are available online from the State Library of Western Australia.  These may be browsed by surname or by town and street address. 

Metropolitan Cemeteries Board Western Australia

Holds records for Guildford, Karrakatta, Midland, Pinnaroo and Fremantle Cemeteries and may be searched by a person's surname and first name. In addition to the MCB Name Search you can find a list of excellent resources to assist with your Australian genealogy research here.  

Free Births, Marriages and Deaths

An index of civil registrations of births, marriages and deaths in England and Wales from 1837 onwards. 


British censuses transcribed by volunteers. Search the database by surname, year and/or census place. 


Searched for family history records from around the world, with a strong focus on the UK and North America. Includes censuses, parish records, Bishop transcripts and vital records (births, marriages, deaths). 


A gateway to online records and historical accounts from all around the UK. This site contains a wealth of information on all aspects of family history. 


A wide range of free information and resources to assist the family historian, including guides and links to searchable records databases. 

Indigenous Research Tool Kit

A guide on how to research information on Indigenous Australians. Explore and discover Aboriginal stories, Storylines, music, and family history through the State Library of WA. Head here for links to WA Indigenous Family History resources.

Indigenous Family History at AIATSIS

An excellent guide to planning, step-by-step research, and links to organisations that can assist with tracing Indigenous heritage in Australia. Head here for further information on researching Indigenous family history in Western Australia.

The Australian War Memorial

A unique Australian national institution that combines a shrine, a world-class museum and an extensive archive.