Australia Research Guide | Professions & Occupations
Finding out what your ancestor’s occupation was might help you unravel the puzzle of why your ancestor resided in a certain place or had no permanent address.
How an ancestor made a living influenced their lifestyle, who they interacted with, and what documents they left behind. Occupational records are an excellent source to expand your family’s history. You may also be surprised by the variety of records available to family historians to aid in discovering an ancestor’s occupation, for instance:
Electoral Rolls – Electoral records are a great place to start when determining a person’s employment. From the early 1900s Australian Electoral Rolls record an individual’s name, residence and occupation.
Birth, Marriage and/or Death Certificates – Birth, marriage and death certificates often record occupations. Most marriage certificates include the bride and groom’s occupations as well as their fathers’ occupations.
Obituaries – Obituaries can be a goldmine of personal information for researchers. They frequently contain information that would not be found in any government-created document. Some provide information on the deceased’s past occupations.
Passenger Lists – Some passenger lists and immigration records documented an individual’s occupation.
Convict Records – Records generated by the British Government and the Colonial administration often recorded a convict’s occupation or trade.
Military Records – If you’re ancestor served in the military, they would have recorded their occupation on their enlistment papers.
Newspapers – Newspaper articles might feature professional accomplishments, photos, awards, and business advertisements.
Government Gazettes – Appointments, promotions, resignations, company registrations, and bankruptcy announcements can all be found in government gazettes.
Published Occupational Registers – Occupational Registers provide lists of people employed in a particular trade, such as Public Service Lists, Clergy Lists, Doctor’s Directories, Hotel & Publican Indexes, Railway Employees Lists.
Commercial Directories and Almanacs –If your ancestor had their own business, you might be able to discover them listed in a commercial directory. The directories were usually arranged alphabetically by trade or profession.
Employment & Business Records – The State archives and record offices in each state hold many records of employment and business. The National Library of Australia also holds a variety of employment records in its collection and provides access to business and trade directories.
Many occupations have become obsolete throughout time, the Glossary of Old Occupations, Professions and Trades can be useful when trying to define an ancestor’s occupation.
Pictured: Gladstone, Queensland, James Howe Carse (1819-1900) [a.k.a. J. Carr]