The State Library's Pictorial Collection attempts to cover all aspects of the State's history and consists of photographs, postcards, slides, albums, glass negatives, illustrations and art works. Photographs are donated or lent for copying by all sections of the community including individuals, associations, clubs, businesses and local and state government authorities. Currently about 1,000,000 images are held.

Subject coverage includes portraits of people from all walks of life, social gatherings, dances, sporting events, business activities, rural and mining industries, transport, etc. In addition to the subject coverage, an endeavour is made to collect representative works of Western Australian photographers and the various processes they used, together with items relevant to the history of photography.

Types of material held include photographic prints (paper, glass positives, opal types, tintypes) and albums. Other forms are also held, including a large collection of negatives, art works, postcards, illustrations from published sources and colour transparencies.

Access to the Collection

Photographs are increasingly being digitised and some 70,000 images are now available on-line through the State Library catalogue.

The majority of the collection can still only be accessed via a card catalogue indexed by locality, subject, personal or other names. The level of indexing varies and depends on how much is known about each photograph. To protect the original photographs, a large proportion of the collection has been photocopied and bound into a series of volumes for viewing. Other items are only available in albums, as transparencies or on video and are available on request. Due to their fragility, negatives and some originals are not available for public viewing.

Ordering Images from the Pictorial Collection

Information on how to order an image from the Pictorial Collection is available.

Highlights of the Pictorial Collection

The Collection Highlights tell stories of WA.


Last updated on: 12 December 2016