Immigration Discovery Centre (IDC)

The Immigration Museum explores the stories of people from all over the world who have migrated to Victoria, from the reasons for making the journey to the moment of arrival in a new country and the impact on indigenous communities.

What does the Immigration Discovery Centre do?

The Immigration Discovery Centre (IDC) offers a range of information about family history research, shipping indices, immigration and cultural diversity.

The Immigration Discovery Centre can answer questions about immigration history, migrant communities and family history research. The Immigration Discovery Centre can answer questions about immigration history, migrant communities and family history research.
Image: Jon Augier
Source: Museum Victoria
 

We provide research assistance, handle public enquiries and publish online resources.

Immigration Discovery Centre has an excellent reference collection, but does not house records and archives within its collection.

For further information or to submit an enquiry:

  • Visit us: Immigration Museum, Ground Floor Foyer, 400 Flinders Street Melbourne
  • Phone us: 03 9927 2726
  • Submit an online enquiry: Ask the Experts


How do I research my family history?

  • Obtain a blank family tree (pedigree chart)
  • Gather as much information as you can from family members
  • Start with yourself and work backwards in time
  • For specific topics, browse through the Immigration Discovery Centre's Infosheets and Your Question articles. The comments from our readers (at the bottom of each page) can also provide a wealth of information.
  • Some excellent family history research guides are also available through the State Library of Victoria Genealogy Centre, including one on How to start your family history research.


Does the Immigration Museum hold immigration records or passenger lists?

  • Victorian immigration records and passenger lists are held by the Public Record Office of Victoria (for records prior to 1923) and the National Archives of Australia (for records after 1923).
  • For more information about searching for records online and contacting the Public Record Office of Victoria or National Archives of Australia, please refer to our reference sheet A Quick Guide to Passenger Lists on the Internet.


Does the Immigration Museum hold pictures of and information about immigrant ships?

Immigration Discovery Centre has books on ships and shipping and can recommend online resources for ship information and images.

View of the ship (barque) named <i>Lake Superior</i> moored to the wharf at the Tamar river. View of the ship (barque) named Lake Superior moored to the wharf at the Tamar river.
Image: Trethewie
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Many of the titles listed below can also be found in state and local libraries:

Information and images for 19th and early 20th century ships:

  • Shipping arrivals and departures, Victorian ports by Marten Syme
  • Log of logs: a catalogue of logs, journals, shipboard diaries, letters, and all forms of voyage narratives, 1788 to 1988.

Comprehensive information on post-war immigrant ships:

Online information sheets on six individual post-World War II migrant ships that featured in the exhibition Station Pier: Gateway to a New Life:

For general pictures of ships online, refer to:


Why doesn't the Immigration Museum have more information about my cultural/community group?

The Immigration Museum aims to provide an inclusive experience for all our visitors. As there are over 200 different immigrant communities in Victoria, it's difficult to focus on the history of every different community group.

You can find specific information on over 80 different communities in Victoria on our Origins website.

We have online information sheets and Your Question articles on a variety of individual community and cultural groups.

For information on 125 different communities throughout Australia, refer to The Australian People by James Jupp, available at the Immigration Discovery Centre.

Other resources for researching individual communities and cultural groups can be found on our Researching Immigrant Communities infosheet.

Does Immigration Museum have records from migrant hostels in Victoria?

The Immigration Museum does not hold records, but we do have general information about the many migrant hostels throughout Victoria, particularly Bonegilla.

Karl Muffler was interned as a German enemy alien at Tatura internment camp (in northern Victoria) from 1939 to 1944. He completed this illustration of the main building on 30 October, 1939. Karl Muffler was interned as a German enemy alien at Tatura internment camp (in northern Victoria) from 1939 to 1944. He completed this illustration of the main building on 30 October, 1939.
Image: Karl Muffler (artist)
Source: Museum Victoria
 

For migrant hostel records, you will need to contact the National Archives of Australia.

The Bonegilla Migrant Experience has an excellent website on the history of this hostel, which housed over 320,000 migrants to Australia.

How can I locate someone living in Australia that migrated here many years ago?

This can prove to be a difficult task, but you may wish to try the following:

  • White Pages online: Australia's online telephone directory.
  • Electoral Rolls: the State Library of Victoria's Genealogy Centre holds archived and current electoral rolls.
  • Births, Deaths and Marriages: a list of Birth, Death and Marriage registries located in Australian capital cities can be found on the National Archives of Australia website.

Comments (2)

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Discovery Centre 9 November, 2012 16:08
Hi Osman, The Old Customs House was never named as such. All major cities had a customs house. The Wikipedia page about customs houses has more information. In Melbourne, the Old Customs House, which was restored in 1998, is now the home of the Immigration Museum.
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osman 6 November, 2012 11:53
who named the old customs house
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