Researching local and family history

We have a range of resources to help you research history about your family or the local area, or even your own house! Here are some tips to get you started.

On this page

Council records and documents

Rate books

Rate books are a valuable source of information for local and family historians. They usually contain the names of owners and occupants, occupations, addresses, and property descriptions. Rate books were usually arranged according to streets or locations within Council wards.

You can view the following rate books at the Public Record Office of Victoria or online through Ancestry Library Edition at any of our libraries:

  • City of Caulfield 1857-1955
  • City of Moorabbin 1862-1900

Please note: some street numbers have changed over time and may be different.

Building permits and plans

These provide valuable information about when building works or renovations started. We may hold records of permits issued for your house and even some house plans.

Contact us to find out more

Council meetings minutes

These may contain references to properties or streets. Historical minutes are held at the Public Record Office of Victoria.

Heritage Management Plan

Victorian Heritage Database

The Victorian Heritage Database lists significant buildings and sites. It also provides detail on a property’s physical description, its history, and reasons for its significance.

Victorian Collections

Victorian Collections is a central portal to the cultural treasures held by museums and galleries across Victoria. A number of local collections are available through this platform.

Online resources and databases

Find My Past and Ancestry Library Edition

You can access both of these simply by booking a computer at Glen Eira Libraries. You can search for digitised resources like Victorian Census records, electoral rolls, rate books (City of Caulfield 1857-1955, City of Moorabbin 1862-1900), convict records, and Wills and Probate records.

Births, Deaths and Marriages Index

This Index is a great resource for family historians. Records are restricted for between 30 to 100 years, depending on the life event.


Landata is a government website providing integrated access to land, resource and property information for Victoria. A paid search can give you historical title information, such as Volume and Folio Numbers, previous land description and proprietorship details.


Trove brings together content from libraries, museums, archives, repositories and other research and collecting organisations, big and small. Digitised content includes archived websites, historic newspapers and photographs.

Sands and McDougall Directories (1862-1974)

These directories are useful for identifying who lived at certain addresses. The State Library of Victoria has digitised one in every five directories, ranging from 1860 to 1974.

Melbourne Street Directories

Melbourne Street Directories offers downloadable copies of historic street directories for Melbourne and suburbs, ranging from 1912-1952. Directories include maps, street name indexes, and advertisements. The State Library of Victoria has digitised the directories.

Victorian Government Gazettes

Victorian Government Gazettes is an online archive of historic government gazettes with access to more than 160 years of official information published in and about Victoria (1837-1997). The gazettes contain information on everything from land transactions, bankruptcies, reward notices, to tenders, emigration notices, and more.

Melbourne Metropolitan Board of Works plans

The Melbourne Metropolitan Board of Works plans are available online through the State Library of Victoria. Search “MMBW” then your street name. MMBW plans were produced from the 1890s to the 1950s. Each plan covers one or two street blocks, showing details such as buildings, garden layouts and ownership boundaries.

Local historical societies

The following local history groups may be able to do some research for you.

To learn more about these societies, visit our find a historical society or group page.

Books on local history

Our libraries hold a range of books relating to the history of the local area. Here are a few to get you started.

  • Journey Cycles of the Boon Wurrung: stories with Boon Wurrung language, Carolyn Briggs, Victorian Aboriginal Corporation for languages, 2008.
  • Caulfield’s Heritage, Volume 1-4 / Geulah Solomon, City of Caulfield, 1989
  • From sand, swamp and heath: a history of Caulfield / Peter R. Murray and John C. Wells, City of Caulfield, 1980
  • Moorabbin: a pictorial history / John Cribbin, City of Kingston, 1995.
  • Moorabbin: a centenary history, 1862-1962, City of Moorabbin, 1962
  • Battlers tamed a sandbelt: Moorabbin 50 years a city / by Tom Sheehy, City of Moorabbin, 1985

Other resources

Public Record Office Victoria

The Public Record Office Victoria (PROV) has many records including:

  • Council rate books
  • photographs
  • MMBW plans
  • land records
  • wills and probate records.

Many records have been digitised. PROV also has a great range of online guides which explain how to research by topic.

State Library of Victoria

The State Library of Victoria (SLV) has many useful records such as:

  • parish maps
  • architectural plans
  • auction plans and notices
  • a catalogue of photographs, prints, drawings and digital images.

SLV also has a great range of online guides offering research tips.

Royal Historical Society of Victoria

The Royal Historical Society of Victoria promotes and preserves the history of Victoria.

Prahran Mechanics Institute

The Prahran Mechanics Institute is a community-owned subscription library which collects resources about every locality in Victoria and every aspect of the state’s history.



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