The State Library holds a number of historical diaries that provide insight into many people lives. Some of the highlights include WWll prisoner of war diaries, the journey of the ill-fated ship Batavia, police journals cracking the convicts secret language and European perspectives on life in the Swan River Colony. The diarists share their thoughts on life in Western Australia, as well as revealing aspects of their personal lives and experiences. 

Diary Highlights

Portrait of Mary Ann Friend c 1832 National Library of Australia
SLWA on ABC Radio
Mary Ann Friend’s journal is an account of the settlement of the Swan River 1829-1831. Of great cultural significance to Western Australia, the journal is one of the many treasures of State Library.
photo of a page in the Batavia journal of Francisco Pelsaert
WA history
As a commander of the ill-fated ship Batavia, Dutch merchant Francisco Pelsaert documented the adventures and misfortunes in his journal.
Toilet roll diary 27 July 1942 - 12 Sep 1942
SLWA on ABC Radio
Dr. Kate discusses Raymond Stanley Stewart’s diary written on toilet paper while he was a prisoner of war in WWII.
Later prisoner mugshot of convict George Roberts transported to Western Australia for theft
SLWA on ABC Radio
Damien Hassan, Senior Archivist at the State Records Office, talks about a secret language used by convicts that allowed them to converse without authorities understanding what they were saying.
Emily Clifton diaries Extract from Diary 1 February 1908 - 9 July 1908
SLWA on ABC Radio
Dr Kate discusses the Emily Clifton diaries, a collection of 48 personal diaries covering the period 1906 – 1979.
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