Research Guide 3: Businesses

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Researching Businesses in Canterbury can be a difficult task. Record Keeping requirements can vary depending on business type and relevant legislation. Before you being formal research, it is a good idea to make a list of the details you have about the business. Even broader date ranges and names can be helpful in corroborating sources. Guide 1 and Guide 2 will also be of use to collecting additional information about buildings and persons involved in commerical operations. The sources detailed below are more specific to businesses.

ANU Guide to Australian Business Records

The ANU guide is a good introduction to businesses records and worth a read before commencing research. It outlines some valuable sources online and offline. For resources specific to the Canterbury area please see the sections below.


Bankruptcy indexes and files record persons unable to pay debts legally required. Often this was the case of failed business ventures. Bankruptcy and insolvency records provided by State Records NSW detail such occurences. Records are available for NSW from 1888-1928.


Trove Newspapersis an excellent resource that allows you to search australian newspapers prior to 1955. Use search terms such as business name, location, persons and industry.

Chamber of Commerce

For research on more recent businesses, speaking to representatives of local chambers of commerce may be of value. A chamber of commerce is a network of business owners who work together on commons issues and directions for their geographical precinct. Contact details for various local chambers in the Canterbury area are detailed on the City of Canterbury Bankstown Council website.

Register of Firms

Available through State Records, the Register of Firms index 1903-1922 details business names, owners, location and file numbers that can be requested. It is available for search online via the State Records website.


City of Canterbury Library holds a number of postal directories (e.g. the WISE directory) that provide details of local businesses from 1900 to 1950. This incomplete run is supplemented in full via the Find My Past subscription available through the Family History section.

Larger business directories such as the Yellow Pages, White Pages and Pink Pages can provide relevant details such as business name, address and services. City of Canterbury Library has various directory holdings from the 1970s to the present.

Business and Industrial Development Files at State Records

Archives Investigator is an excellent tool that allows the extensive files held by NSW State Records to be searched. Search by business type or industry to find unique records specific to various commerical sectors. Files are usually accessible at State Records Kingswood.

Publican's Licenses

Pubs were an essential part of life for early settlers, providing respite to travellers and a community centre for surrounding residents. State Records NSW holds a number of records regarding pubs and publicans in Archives In Brief 61.

Chemists, Druggists and Pharmacists Index

Business matters concerning chemists, druggists and pharmacists from 1876-1920 are indexed online via State Records. Search by name, location or registration date.


City of Canterbury Library Service has a small ephemera collection divided by subject that may contain relevant ephemera material (such as pamphlets, posters, maps). For example, the Roselands file has copies of pamphlets from Roselands Shopping Centre. The ephemera cabinets are located at Campsie Library and are available upon request. Search for subject files in the library catalogue.

Noel Butlin Archives

The Noel Butlin Archives collects records on businesses, trade unions, professional associations and industry bodies in Australia. Many larger companies operating in the Canterbury area have records. For example, the old sugar mill, purchased by CSR, will have holdings in this archive. Finding aids are available on the website.

ABN Lookup

Tracking more recent businesses in a limited fashion is possible with ABN Lookup. This provides name, businesses name and location of registration.