Our libraries hold many resources to help you find out more about our city. We have three major local and family history collections at Camberwell, Hawthorn, and Kew libraries.
- Camberwell Library holds historic records for Camberwell, Ashburton, Balwyn, Balwyn North, Canterbury, Deepdene and parts of Glen Iris, Surrey Hills and Mont Albert. The Boroondara collection, collected since the formation of the City of Boroondara in 1994, is held at Camberwell Library.
- Hawthorn Library holds historic records for Hawthorn and Hawthorn East.
- Kew Library holds historic records for Kew and Kew East and has a large collection of published family histories.
If you need help with your research, our librarians at each of our libraries are happy to assist you, or you can use our online Ask a librarian form-external site.
Key histories of the area
Our libraries hold many histories of the area. In addition to the key resources listed below, there are many more books on genealogy and family history in the collection, search for items on the shelf around the numbers 929.1 to 929.3.
- A sketch of Boroondara by James Bonwick
- City of Boroondara Thematic Environmental History
- History of Camberwell: 1841-1950 by J. A. Allen
- A history of Camberwell by Geoffrey Blainey
- Balwyn 1841-1941 by Donald Maclean
- A Balwyn Survey by Gwen McWilliam
- A history of Hawthorn by Victoria Peel
- Hawthorn Peppercorns by Gwen McWilliam
- Hawthorn streets index: a brief history of the streets of Hawthorn by Gwen McWilliam
- The jubilee history of Kew, Victoria: its origin & progress by F. G. A. Barnard
- Kew's Civic Century by W. D. Vaughan
- Vaughan's Kew: index to W. D. Vaughan's Kew's civic century
- A history of Kew by Dorothy Rogers
Heritage studies are very useful for researching local, family, and house history. They contain information about the development of an area, a survey of streets and descriptions of estates and significant buildings.
Broad heritage studies completed for the former cities of Camberwell, Hawthorn, and Kew in the late 1980s and early 1990s include:
- Camberwell conservation study 1991-external site by Graeme Butler and Chris McConville
- Hawthorn heritage study 1993 and Appendices Part 1 and Appendices Part 2-external site by Meredith Gould
- Hawthorn Heritage study: volume 2. Place identification forms-external site by Meredith Gould
- Kew urban conservation study-external site by Pru Sanderson
Full text versions and other, more recent heritage studies are available on our Completed heritage studies page.
It's well worth contacting the historical societies and groups in the City of Boroondara area, as they may be able to assist you with your research.
Balwyn Historical Society
The society began in 2008 and exists to preserve the history of Balwyn and nearby areas. Visit the Balwyn Historical Society website-external site.
Camberwell Historical Society
A volunteer organisation founded in 1963 that preserves historical material about the former City of Camberwell. It keeps historical records of the district and holds lectures, discussions, excursions and other activities. Visit the Camberwell Historical Society website-external site.
Canterbury History Group
Formed in 1985, the group collects, preserves and presents historical material about the suburb of Canterbury. Visit the Canterbury History Group website-external site.
Friends of Boroondara (Kew) Cemetery
Formed in 2006, the group researches the historical significance and national importance of the cemetery and those buried there. It also conducts tours and presents talks. See the Friends of Boroondara (Kew) Cemetery website-external site.
Hawthorn Historical Society
Formed in 1974, the society explores, preserves and shares the community’s history and heritage. It holds frequent events, including talks, walking tours and displays. It also conducts research, answers queries from the public and publishes historical publications and a quarterly newsletter. Visit the Hawthorn Historical Society website-external site.
Kew Historical Society
Formed in 1958 to assist in the preparations for Kew’s 100th anniversary in 1960, the society now works with local government and other organisations within Kew to stimulate interest in Kew's history and heritage. It publishes information and resources to inform people about Kew’s history, as well as organising events relevant to its heritage. Visit the Kew Historical Society website-external site.
Surrey Hills Historical Society
Formed in 1978, the Surrey Hills Historical Society is part of the Surrey Hills Neighbourhood Centre (SHNC) and preserves information about the history of Surrey Hills. It holds regular meetings throughout the year. Find out more by emailing [email protected] or by visiting the SHNC website-external site or the SHNC's Surrey Hills History Facebook page-external site.
Alongside the online resources available on our Local history and demographics page, the following online resources can be very useful when researching your local, family, and house history.
Public Record Office Victoria (PROV)
Holds many records including Council rate books, field books used by Melbourne Metropolitan Board of Works (MMBW) staff, land records and wills and probate records for occupants of your house. Visit the Public Record Office Victoria website-external site.
Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning
Has information about land titles, property data, valuations, land surveying and naming places in Victoria. Visit the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning website-external site.
State Library of Victoria (SLV)
Holds many useful records such as parish maps, architectural plans, auction plans and notices, early newspapers and magazines, and a picture catalogue of photographs, prints, drawings and digital images. Visit the State Library of Victoria website-external site.
Royal Historical Society of Victoria
Promotes and preserves the history of Victoria. Visit the Royal Historical Society of Victoria website.-external site
The discovery platform of the National Library of Australia holds many useful images of Australia, including the local area - past and present. Also, it provides access to digitised newspapers, journals, books, maps, diaries, letters and archives. Visit the Trove website-external site.