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Local history & family history

Resources at the library 

Local and family history collections are held at the East Melbourne and North Melbourne branches and cover all of City of Melbourne.  

Please note that access to reference material is by appointment only. To avoid disappointment, we recommend you contact us before visiting to arrange a suitable time.  

Our resources include:  

Printed materials:  Books, newspapers, electoral rolls, conservation studies, maps, walking tours

Vertical files:  News clippings, real estate notices, handwritten memoirs, letters, ephemera 

Photographs and images:  Special collections, donated albums, loaned images 

Microfiche  City of Melbourne Rate Books, Sands & McDougall Directories

Electronic resources:  MacBeth Genealogical Services indexes, Archive Digital Books rare books, Melbourne Street Card Index

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Starting your research


History of your house (PDF, 150kb) This link opens in a new browser window 

History of your local area (PDF, 150kb) This link opens in a new browser window  

Tracing your family history (PDF, 150kb) This link opens in a new browser window 

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If you require further assistance with your research, you can visit one of our branches, complete our online enquiry form or download and complete our enquiry form (PDF, 170kb) This link opens in a new browser window and mail it to:  

Local History Enquiry
Attn: Information Services Officer
North Melbourne Library
66 Errol Street
North Melbourne 3051   


Local History Enquiry
Attn: Information Services Officer
East Melbourne Library
122 George Street
East Melbourne 3002

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Publications for sale


Publications are available at selected Melbourne Library Service locations. Pick up can be arranged at any library or you can print out our mail order form (PDF, 163kb) This link opens in a new browser window 

Moving around: stories of a North Melbourne family by Rae Nicholls & Lorna Hannan. With others from the Project, Rae and Lorna have planned walks and events featuring North Melbourne's history and have worked together on Moving Around. Ray has found many aspects of local history in her family story and as Lorna says, 'Having the Quinns tell their own story bring the past alive for us.' Hotham History Project, 2013. $20 

Changing places: 100 years of domestic architecture in Jolimont and East Melbourne by Sylvia Black..[] with photographs by Graham Shepherd. East Melbourne Historical Society, 2012, 94 p., $20 

A suitable residence: a brief history of Bishopscourt Melbourne by James Grant. Documents through text and photographs, the building, grounds and residents of the historic house that has been home to all the Anglican Bishops and Archbishops of Melbourne since 1853. Australian Scholarly Publishing, 2010. 25p., $10. 

What's in a name? The lanes of East Melbourne by Sylvia Black, Jill Fenwick, Deirdre Basham & Nina Crone. Tells in detail of the people and places that have given their names to the lanes of East Melbourne. East Melbourne Historical Society, 2008, 38 p., $15. 

Men of Hotham: municipal government in North Melbourne 1859-1905 by Heather McKay. A biographical account of the councillors and leading council employees. Hotham History Project, 2006, 104 p., $25. 

Pride of Hotham: a tale of North Melbourne and a red headed architect by Bill Hannan. A comprehensive history of the North Melbourne Town Hall to 1905. Includes a brief history of North Melbourne Library. Hotham History Project, 2006, 246p., $44.95 

A centenary in the Park: the history of the Royal Park Golf Club 1903-2003 by Denise Hilton. A colourful history marking the centenary of the club. Royal Park Golf Club, 2003, 55p., $14.20  

At home on Hotham Hill: a portrait of a nineteenth century entrepreneur by Guy Murphy. Covers more than a hundred and fifty years of history of the big house at 519 Dryburgh Street, and encapsulates the commercial life and property development of Melbourne’s history. Hotham History Project, 2004, 153p., $25. 

Faithful friends: a history of animal welfare in North Melbourne by Felicity Jack. North Melbourne became the home of two institutions dedicated to improving the lot of poor unfortunate animals. This book traces the history of both and how they developed and thrived. Hotham History Project, 2000, 96 p., $15. 

Kids' own journeys: stories, memories, jokes and travel tips by Melbourne children. This book was created by 60 children from primary schools in the City of Melbourne. St. Michael's, St. John's, North Melbourne and Carlton Gardens Primary Schools. Kids' Own (Australia) Inc., 2004,  $19.95  

Molesworth Street: a North Melbourne neighbourhood 1840-1905 by Winsome Roberts. Tells the story of the families, households and businesses that made up the streets of an inner-city neighbourhood, and the municipal enterprise and voluntary associations they forged and joined. Hotham History Project, 2002, $15. 

R-rated real estate belonging to North and West Melbourne by Lorraine Siska and Alan Ashley. Removals and Replacements, Renovations and Restorations of the Real Estate of North and West Melbourne. Includes contrasting ‘then and now’ photographs. Hotham History Project, 2004, 54p., $30. (limited copies remaining) 

Melbourne Benevolent Asylum: Hotham's premier building by Mary Kehoe. A comprehensive account of Victoria's first refuge for the poor, bringing alive its inmates, their daily lives, its administration and politics. Hotham History Project, 1998, 96 p., $15.

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Local historical societies

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Walking tours


A series of self-guided walks developed by Federation Square and the City of Melbourne are available for download from the City of Melbourne What's on website

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Family history resources 




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