Friends of Battye

Inaugurated on 6 July 1981, the Friends of Battye aim to assist and promote the interests of the J S Battye Library of West Australian History and the State Records Office with particular concern for the acquisition, preservation and use of archival and documentary materials.

Sir Paul Hasluck was the Friends’ first President and since then many distinguished historians, researchers and philanthropists have accepted the roles of President and Patron of the organisation.  The current patron is Mrs Ruth Reid.

The objectives of the Friends of Battye are to:

  • Promote the JS Battye Library of West Australian History in the wider community;
  • Share research using the Battye Library’s resources through lectures and talks;
  • Help the library identify, acquire and preserve historical items;
  • Sponsor voluntary assistance with indexing and to maintain existing materials;
  • Raise funds for particular targets;
  • Support the publication of guides to make collections more accessible to the public.

On 14 July 2020, the distinction of Fellow of the Library Board of Western Australia was conferred upon the Friends of the Battye Library for being an outstanding long-term benefactor, and partner in the State Library’s endeavours to preserve, and make available for the future, Western Australia’s documentary heritage and for being a champion of Western Australian history.


Meetings are held for members and visitors five times a year and guest speakers cover many topics relevant to this State’s history.  In 2008, speakers included Emeritus Professor Geoffrey Bolton on Paul Hasluck’s archives, and on Writing the State’s history, David Hough on the history of Boans Department store, and Professor David Black on the story of Perth Modern School.  The Friends of Battye Library Newsletter is published four times a year.

Publishing indexes and guides to collections

The Friends have financed and published numerous guides and reference books over the years including:

  • Convict records of Western Australia: a research guide by Gillian O’Mara, 1990.
  • Date it! A chronology of Western Australia to 1929 by A H Chate, Bruce Graham and Glenda Oakley, 1991. 
  • More Dates!: A Western Australian Chronology 1930 -1989 by Glenda Oakley, 1992.
  • The Clifton papers: an annotated select list of Clifton and Keall family papers held in the Private Archives collection, 1995.
  • Western Australian map bibliography, Perth and districts by David Whiteford, Barbara Judge and Joy Jones, 2002.
  • Katitjin: a guide to Indigenous records in the Battye Library by Heather Campbell, (online publication 2003)
  • Index to the digitised Post Office Directories of WA: 1894-1948 by Beth Frayne (online publication 2005)
  • Early Colonial Secretary’s Office records by Graham Bown (on CD 2006)

Support for Special Projects

Revenues gained through membership subscriptions, fund raising activities, publications sales, gifts, bequests (such as the Sholl Bequest), and grants are spent on various projects submitted by staff of the State Library of Western Australia and the State Records Office, as well as by members of our organisation to the Friends’ Committee for selection each year.

Big projects have required extra effort including applications for large external grants.  The latest of these was funds of $3 million from Lotterywest, supported by a consortium of historical and community organisations and private donors, to rescue and preserve unique and irreplaceable materials in the Battye Library. (See ‘The HRRC story’ for more details about this amazing initiative.)


The Friends honour those who have made an ongoing and significant contribution to Western Australian history and the aims of the Battye Library and State Records Office, by conferring upon them the award of ‘Gem of Time’ and/or honorary life membership.

How You Can Join

The Friends warmly welcomes new members and you can join by picking up a brochure at the State Library of WA, or through the Friends of Battye website.

Last updated on: 15 July 2020