The Coffs Harbour District Family History Society Inc.

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The Coffs Harbour District Family History Society Inc. was formed in 1984 to promote and encourage the study and preservation of family histories and affiliated subjects.




It is able to offer members the use of an extensive collection of genealogical materials from around Australia and overseas, especially the UK, as well as the skills and experiences of its members.


We are a society where our members come together and share their time and knowledge to help one another, we exchange information, relate stories and experiences, along with friendly, constructive advice. Our members also volunteer as monitors to provide guidance and basic advice to others when and where needed.

Membership also offers you an extensive library on genealogy, Broadband internet computer access, ‘’ on three computers, as well as ‘find my past’.

An informative journal, Genie Allergy, is published quarterly, with the latest information and resources.

The library facilities are available free to members, and non-members are welcome for a fee of $5 per three-hour session or part thereof or a day session $10.


There are always two volunteer members, acting as monitors, on duty while the rooms are open. They are available to help, advise and guide members or visitors. Some members have more expertise than others, but are always happy to share their information. The more we research, the more we learn and therefore can help others.

Why do we research our family history?

It is important to know our ancestors and their stories: from whence they came, how and why they came, how they lived, where they worked, what medical conditions they had, what they did for entertainment, and now we have started our own story. Before you know it, you are hooked. The stories are so interesting.

How we start to find the answers to these questions. 

Always work backwards from the known: yourself, parents, siblings, grandparents etc. Begin with any available certificates, i.e. Birth, Death and Marriage; also, any other certificates, and entries in family bibles or diaries are very useful to add interest to our stories. Never miss a generation, as you may end up with someone else’s family, and it is important to verify each entry on your family tree.
Family History Programs

These are computer programs with a special format which enables us to enter the data as we go. Any notes, photos and relevant documents pertaining to our families can be scanned into these programs. There are many programs available which are all basically the same, enabling us to see who and what we have and any extra information we require. Always back up your work as you go, in case of problems with your computer.

Workshops and Seminars

Workshops are held on the fourth Saturday of the month commencing at 1.30pm; however, usually twice during the year a full day Seminar is held in lieu of the half day workshop. Guest speakers who have expertise in genealogy and/or related topics are in attendance and are very helpful with our research.

The workshop in March is ‘Cavalcade of History and Fashion’, April is John Donovan speaking on ‘WAR RECORDS’, in May the speaker is Sharon Brennan, and her topic will be ‘UNLOCK the TREASURES in TROVE’.

On 23 June, the speaker at the Seminar will be Terry Eaken, telling us about ‘IRISH RESEARCH’ – always interesting to find out more on our Irish ancestors. All these topics are very informative on how to further your research, with more topics to come later in the year.

Information held in our library

Our records cover information from the start of colonization.

Reference Books, early Indexes NSW BDM Parish Records Indexes for Birth, Death and Marriages for all Australian States and New Zealand, Cemetery and Burial Records, Colonial Shipping amd Immigration, Convict Indexes and Records, Australian Genealogical Computer Index (AGCI), Directories, Electoral Records, Local Land Records, Journals from other societies in Australia and overseas, use of computerised indexes and CDs, access to, access to Find My Past, affiliated library for the LDS Family Search, State Records National archives, as well as many other relevant resources.

Were you adopted? 

From the earliest years of colonial settlement, children have been brought up by people other than their natural birth parents, due to separation or the death of one or both parents.

These children are often referred to as having been adopted; however, formal adoption did not become possible in NSW until 1923.

The NSW Child Welfare department was created in 1923, and legislation formalising the adoption process was introduced. In response to recent community pressure, greater access to official records has been granted to those affected by adoption; however, access is restricted.

Further information on official adoption can be obtained by contacting the Family Information Service, Adoption Services, Department of Community Services (DOCS).

State Records hold many records relating to child welfare. Email:

Many private arrangements to ‘adopt’ children out were also made by solicitors, church groups and charitable institutions. DOCS has produced ‘Connecting Kin’ a guide to help people separated from their families search for their families. Other handy hints are available on the internet.

Coffs Harbour District Pioneer Register

The first Coffs Harbour and District Pioneer Registers 1 and 11 were published in 1987 and 1989. These two volumes included entries for those pioneers who were in the district before 1920. In 2008, the Coffs Harbour District Family History Society Inc. invited families who lived or worked in the area prior to 1930 to submit entries. The new publication aimed to include all of the original entries from volume 1 and 11 of the Coffs Harbour and District Pioneer Register.

These entries were updated and revised where necessary, and many new entries which had been submitted are included in this new and enlarged Coffs Harbour District Pre 1930 Pioneer Register.

Our Pioneer Register was launched on the 19 November 2011, to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Coffs Harbour

Many family stories have been told of the early settlers in the district – and the hardships which were overcome to make this district in which we now live a beautiful place for us as residents and a haven for visitors.

The Coffs Harbour Family History Society is located at 169 Rose Avenue, Coffs Harbour, PO Box 2057, Coffs Harbour NSW 2450. Phone (02) 6651 6126 (during opening hours)

Email:  Website: Opening Hours: Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, 10am – 4pm, Saturday 10am – 4pm, except the 4th Saturday (rooms are closed due to our Workshops/Seminars).

Membership Fees

Annual Subscription: covers 12 months from date of acceptance to the society.

Single: $35; Family* $60.

*Family membership covers two persons residing at the same address.

In 1984, when our society was formed, it was pre computers, and we managed with the old microfiche and readers and researched year by year. The original pioneer registers were manually typed. Now with computers, CDs, internet and family history programs, we think we are in family history heaven.

Nora Secombe, Vice President, member 276.

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