WA Indigenous Family History Resources
Resources to guide your Western Australian Indigenous family history research
Katitjin: a guide to Indigenous records in the Battye Library collection
Katitjin: a guide to Indigenous records in the Battye Library is a comprehensive guide to the Indigenous collections held within the Battye Library. It provides information on records available and how to access them, as well as where to go to further your search. Compiled by Heather Campbell and funded by the Friends of Battye Library (Inc).
Background information about accessing collections and records
As many of the archival records relating to Aboriginal people are in different collections, here is a small select bibliography of publications available at the State Library of WA to get you started in locating those relevant to your family history reserach.
- Lookin For Your Mob: a guide to tracing Aboriginal family trees by Diane Smith, 1990, (929.1 SMI)
- Resources for Aboriginal family history edited by Rodney Lucas, 1986, (016.92934)
- Worth Telling, Worth Keeping; a guide to the collections of the JS Battye Library of Western Australian History, Leigh Hays (026.9941 HAY)
- Finding your family photographs: major photographic collections of Aboriginal people in Western Australia, by UWA (026.7792 FIN)
- Looking West: a guide to Aboriginal records in Western Australia compiled by the Records Taskforce of Western Australia, 2004, (Q929.3941 LOO). Available as an online resource this document provides summaries of the types of records held by key government and non-government organisations and how they can be accessed.
Online biographical indexes for personal names
There are a growing number of online resources which are specifically designed to help you locate information on specific family members.
- Biographical Names Index / Australian Institute for Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS)
This key finding aid indexes information and photographs of Aboriginal names appeared in published texts Australia-wide.
- Nyungar Tradition: glimpses of Aborigines of South-Western Australia / by Lois Tilbrook
This is a key resource for families with ties to the South West region of WA. It has been made available online courtesy of AIATSIS and includes the full text of the publication including family trees and names indexes.
- Index to the Chief Protector of Aborigines Files, 1898-1908 / State Records Office of Western Australia
Offers several names indexes organised by official/settler name, traditional name, location, etc.
- Mura Gadi Names Index / National Library of Australia
Includes personal names, place names, and organisation names relating to Aboriginal people.
Published biographical indexes for personal names
The Bicentennial Dictionary of Western Australians, Volumes 1 to 8, 1829-1914 (B/994).
This is a series of volumes listing many Aborigines, and European and Asian settlers in the 19th and early 20th centuries in Western Australia. Individual entries give a person's common name, any other name, locality and . refer back to the original government source from where the name was referenced and as such an important way to identify these sources.
Volumes relating specifically to Western Australian Indigenous people include:
- Vol VI - Aborigines of the Albany Region, 1821-1898 / Neville Green, 1989, (B/994)
- Vol VII - Aborigines of New Norcia, 1845-1914 / Neville Green and Lois Tilbrook, 1989, (B/994)
- Vol VII - Aborigines of the Southwest Region, 1829-1840 / Sylvia Hallam and Lois Tilbrook, 1990 (B/994)
- Vol X - Far from home, Aboriginal prisoners of Rottnest Island 1838-1931 Neville Green and Susan Moon, 1997, (B/994 GRE)
Later additions relating to the North West of the State include: Aboriginal Names of the Pilbara, c1870-1890, the Gascoyne, c1880-1890, the Kimberley, c1880-1890 and Aboriginal Names of the Murchison District c1848-1890 compiled by Neville Green.
You could also try the following resources for personal names:
- Biographical Index (Battye);- a microfiche index containing articles on people indexed from newspapers (mainly 1833-1896 & 1950-1984) and books and serials (mainly 1950-1984).
- Personal Names Index (Aboriginal family history programme), Jennie Carter, Aboriginal affairs Planning Authoritiy (Q353.5349 WES)
Archival materials and publications relevant to research into Indigenous family history
- Sister Kate’s Child and Family Services records 1934-1991,(MN 957). Private Archives.
- Echoes of the past: Sister Kate’s Home revisited ed. Tjalaminu Mia, Sally Morgan, 2002 (Q362.762 ECH)
- Mogumber Mission records held within the Methodist Church of Australasia Western Australia Conference 1852-1989 (MN 172)
- Forrest River Mission records 1911-1968 (MN 545)
- Anglican Church of Australia, Forrest River Mission (MN 614)
- List of Aboriginals and staff at Mogumber Mission, and the lists of Aboriginals buried in various cemeteries (MN 1410)
- Genealogy of a Ngalia family / Peter Muir, 1985, (QB/994)
- Nyungar tradition: glimpses of Aborigines of South-Western Australia, 1829-1914 / Lois Tilbrook, 1983 (B/994). This is now available in a digital form from the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) website.
- Daisy Bates Papers 1907-1940 (MN 1406). Provided by the National Library of Australia. The papers consist chiefly of Daisy Bates’ manuscript and background material for The Native Tribes of Western Australia, written during Bates’ period of service with the Western Australian Government from 1904 to 1912. They comprise 54 microfilm reels.
- Archival files index for Western Australian missions / compiled by Jennie Carter, 2000, (Q266.008 WES). Contains over 6000 names of Indigenous people.
Other Historical Indexes and Background that can assist in identifying personal names and places and key events
- Index to the Colonial Secretary Office Letters Received: 1846-1849, 1850-1854, 1855-1859 / (Q994.1004) NB: Resident Magistrates, Guardian of Aborigines responsible for all Aboriginal matters during this time.
- General Index (Battye): a microfiche index containing articles indexed on a variety of subjects from newspapers (mainly 1833-1896 & 1950-1984) and books and serials (mainly 1950-1984).
- Annotated Index to the Inquirer, - 1841 to 1849, compiled by Katie Ward and Milada Zlatnik (Q994.1004)
- Aboriginal Mission Homes and Settlements 1900-1995, compiled by Jenny Carter (266 ABOR)
- History of Removal of Aboriginal Children, 1829-1972, compiled by Jenny Carter (Q362.7089 CAR)
- InfoKoori / Australian Indigenous Index: InfoKoori is an index to the Koori Mail, a national fortnightly newspaper published in Lismore, NSW, for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples from May 1991 onwards. It also indexes biographical information on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples from the magazines: Our Aim (1907-1961), Dawn (1952-1969), New Dawn (1970-1975) and Identity (1971-1982).
Some useful websites for Indigenous family history have been collected by staff at the State Library and have been made available through the social bookmarking website Delicious. There are information guides and tips for getting started, as well as links to searchable databases and indexes. To find more information you search the State Library’s online catalogue. See also the Indigenous Resources page for more tips on locating Indigenous materials.
Page last updated: Monday 13 August 2012