Information about Western Australians may be found in many sources in the Battye Library and the State Records Office. This guide is intended to show some starting points for research. For a specifically genealogical guide, see: Dead reckoning: how to find your way through the genealogical jungle of Western Australia (016.92939 HOW)
Where To LookOnline catalogue – for biographies, ephemera, oral histories, private archives, maps and serials, such as newsletters and annual reports, which may list members or employees (e.g. school magazines). Biographical articles indexed from newspapers and serials from 1984 can also be found.
Biographical Index (Battye) – on microfiche – for newspaper and serial articles, and books relating to people, covering material indexed up to 1984. These references may be transferred to the online catalogue (see above).
Pictorial Collection Indexes – cards – for photographs and illustrations (photographs are being progressively scanned and will be available on the online database).
Some Subject Headings to Search Under
- Names of people
- Ethnic origin e.g. Italians
- Occupation e.g. Nursing
- Place of residence e.g. Moora
- Group Settlement
- Military history
- Names of Battalions e.g. 11th Battalion
How to Obtain an Item
Material can now be requested on-line. When you find an item in the catalogue, press request and follow the instructions. From the Biographical Index note the reference (e.g. WA 25/6/1983 p4) and staff will help you locate the item.
Browsing the shelves is another useful way of finding information. Biographies are shelved at the end of the Dewey number sequence and are prefixed by a B (e.g. B/MOL).
Using Heritage Material
Not all material is on the Reading Room shelves and you may need to request it on-line or complete a call slip to request it from stack. Some heritage material may only be viewed on the 4th floor of the Battye Library. It is necessary to register as a researcher to use heritage material. This can be done in a few minutes and simply requires proof of identity (e.g. driver’s licence).
Births, Marriages and Deaths
See our information guide: Births, Marriages & Deaths.
The following are some useful lists of people:
- Blue Books – 1834-1836 in Colonial Office records, 1837-1905 (microfiche). Succeeded by the Public Service Lists 1909-1987 and 1990. Some computer printouts for 1988-1989 and 1991 onwards are held by the State Records Office.
- Census of WA – 1832 and 1837 list names. All others show statistics only.
- Electoral rolls – from 1904 onwards (microfiche).
- Government gazettes – use the indexes under headings such as PUBLIC SERVICE, JP’S, DOCTORS, DECEASED ESTATES and other categories of people.
- Parliamentary handbooks – provide biographical details of politicians.
- Public Accounts. Presented to Parliament and published in Votes and Proceedings of Parliament 1906-1960. List people receiving pensions.
- Post Office Directories - 1893-1947; 1949 (digital online).
- Schools and staffing - 1970-1996, provide names of teachers. Formerly included in the Education Circular (1898-1969) and before this in the Blue Books.
- Telephone Books - 1917-1919, 1925 to date (microfilm, microfiche and hard copy).
- University of Western Australia Calendar – 1915 to date. List graduates.
- Western Australian almanacks (various series) Herald 1873-1889, Stirling & Son 1865-1889, Arthur Shenton 1849-1867 (all on microfilm).
- Archival records* providing details of government employees such as WAGR workers, nurses, dentists, seamen, school teachers etc, are available in original and microfilm at the State Records Office (see Dead Reckoning for details).
Please note: Material marked with an *asterisk is available in the State Records Office Search Room on the ground floor of the State Library of Western Australia.
In Other Institutions
See: Relations in records: a guide to family history sources in the Australian Archives (016.92939 AUS)
Page last updated: Tuesday 26 February 2013