Research article by the author

The Legal Profession in Colonial Victoria: Information in Records of Admission Held by Public Record Office Victoria:

Australian Dictionary of Biography:

The ADB is produced by the National Centre of Biography (NCB) at The Australian National University. In addition to a print edition it now publishes all of its articles online. With more than 12 000 entries, the ADB is the nation’s premier biographical reference. Its coverage to date includes all significant figures in Australia’s history who died prior to 1991.

There is also a two-volume Biographical Register 1788–1939 (compiled and edited by H J Gibbney and Ann G Smith) which provides basic data for several thousand individuals who failed to make the cut for the ADB itself: Also at that link are a number of older, mostly specialist, biographical references, now made available in digital form.

More recently the NCB has created Obituaries Australia, an online repository of obituaries about Australians originally published in newspapers, journals and magazines. Obituaries Australia is available here:

In addition to the preceding works, the NCB also maintains several newer projects whose focus is apparent from their names:

Those three databases, together with the ADB and Obituaries Australia, can all be searched through the NCB’s People Australia site:

 Biographical Database of Australia:

BDA aims to transcribe and index biographical data from original records of individuals who arrived from overseas or were born in Australia, including Aboriginal people, convicts and immigrants of all nations. It also aims to include data from early biographical dictionaries, newspapers and other published information and to incorporate the work of modern genealogical and historical researchers.

BDA is a work in progress and will expand towards the present. Currently it has more than 900 000 records, with a strong focus on early settlers in New South Wales, especially its convicts.


The Senate of the Commonwealth has published The Biographical Dictionary of the Australian Senate in three printed volumes covering the period from 1901 to 1983. The content is also available online:

There is no corresponding publication for Members of the House of Representatives, but A Biographical Register of the Commonwealth Parliament 1901–1972 by Joan Rydon (Canberra: Australian National University Press, 1972) contains basic information on all MHRs elected in the stated period. Unfortunately this work is not online.

Each State parliament in Australia has an online database of its past members:

The Australian War Memorial:

The AWM has databases for personnel who served in Australian forces in the First World War and several earlier conflicts. The linked page also has links to databases maintained by The Department of Veterans’ Affairs with details of all who served in Australian forces in the Second World War, the Korean War, the Vietnam War and the Gulf War.

Australian Medical Pioneers Index:

The Australian Medical Pioneers Index (AMPI) provides biographical data on over 4 500 doctors who lived in Australia or visited Australian shores in a medical capacity before 1875. This includes doctors who registered or qualified in Australia before that date, or who were resident here or came here in a professional capacity before 1875.

For biographical details of some medical practitioners who practised in Australia in the twentieth century, The Royal Australasian College of Physicians maintains a database (the ‘College Roll’) of obituaries of its deceased Fellows:

The Encyclopedia of Australian Science:

The Encyclopedia has entries for the people and the many industries, corporations, research institutions, scientific societies and other organisations that have contributed to Australia’s scientific, technological and medical heritage.

The nation’s principal learned academies have published online biographical memoirs of their deceased Fellows:

Australian Academy of Science:

The Australian Academy of the Humanities for the Advancement of Scholarship in Language, Literature, History, Philosophy and the Fine Arts:

Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia:

Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering:

Cable Clerical Index:

The Cable Clerical Index (CCI) is a biographical register (in the form of a single PDF file of nearly 3 000 pages) of more than 6 500 Australian Anglican clergy. The project covers all clergy licensed by the Church of England in Australia from 1788 to 1961.

Australian Dictionary of Evangelical Biography:

The Australian Dictionary of Evangelical Biography (ADEB) contains biographical entries for nearly 700 men and women who have contributed to the making and transmission of evangelical Protestantism in and from Australia.

The author is unaware of any online biographical dictionaries or registers for Australian clergy of other denominations. However, The Official Directory of the Catholic Church in Australia includes on its website a database of deceased Catholic priests who served in Australia, with place of service and date of death for each: