Family history month at AIATSIS

Tuesday, 16 August 2016
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The Family History Unit, (L-R) PJ, Judy, Narelle and Kayannie. Photo: AIATSIS

We can help you to research your Indigenous family history. Our collections have information about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals, families, communities and places.

National Family History Month is held in Australia every August, but at the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) someone visits to research their own family history nearly every day, says the Family History Unit Manager Narelle Rivers.

“Visitors have often been disconnected from their community, with many affected by the stolen generations,” Ms Rivers said.

"I believe identity is the most important thing we have as an individual. Our communities know what trauma looks like, what it looks like when identity has been disrupted, so anything we can do to maintain that is incredibly important."

You don’t need to be in Canberra to take advantage of some of the resources available through AIATSIS, with a handy guide to Indigenous family history research available on the website.

“We have a wealth of resources available through our Finding your family section of our website, including a step-by-step guide on how to do Indigenous family history research,” Ms Rivers said.

“We’ve also provided a toolkit with worksheets and checklists, a list of resources that help identify where to find different types of information, a comprehensive contact list for state based resources, and of course links to our own Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Biographical Index (ABI) and Mura Collections catalogue.

“But remember family history research always starts with yourself and works backwards – so write down everything you know as the starting point for your research, then jump online and see where we can take you.”

AIATSIS will hold two Indigenous family history research sessions in Canberra this month between 12pm and 1pm on Monday 22nd and Wednesday 31st August 2016, please register your interest via the contact us page or email    

Media enquiries: or 02 6246 1605

Last reviewed: 14 Oct 2016