WA Indigenous family history resources


Many of the archival records held in the Battye Library relating to Aboriginal people are in different collections.  
Here is a select bibliography of publications available at the State Library which may help in locating those relevant to family history research. This material has been compiled by Heather Campbell and funded by the Friends of Battye Library (Inc). 

Lookin For Your Mob: a guide to tracing Aboriginal family trees by Diane Smith, 1990,  

Resources for Aboriginal family history edited by Rodney Lucas, 1986, 

Worth Telling, Worth Keeping; a guide to the collections of the JS Battye Library of Western Australian History, Leigh Hays  

Finding your family photographs: major photographic collections of Aboriginal people in Western Australia, by UWA  

Looking West: a guide to Aboriginal records in Western Australia Compiled by the Records Taskforce of Western Australia, 2004.  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

Online resources which are specifically designed to help locate information on specific family members. 

Australian Institute for Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS)  -  indexes information and photographs of Aboriginal names appearing in published texts Australia-wide. 

Nyungar Tradition: glimpses of Aborigines of South-Western Australia / by Lois Tilbrook - a 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. 

Indexes to Aboriginal Affairs Records - State Records Office - offers several names indexes organised by official/settler name, traditional name, location. 

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 . This is a series of volumes listing  Aborigines, European and Asian settlers in the 19th and early 20th centuries in Western Australia.   

Volumes relating specifically to Western Australian Indigenous people include: 

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. 

Other resources for searching personal names: 

Biographical Index - 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 Authority 

Other archival materials for 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  

Mogumber Mission records held within the Methodist Church of Australasia Western Australia Conference 1852-1989  

Forrest River Mission records 1911-1968  

Anglican Church of Australia including Forrest River Mission 

List of Aboriginal people and staff at Mogumber Mission, and the lists of Aboriginal people buried in various cemeteries  

Genealogy of a Ngalia family / Peter Muir, 1985 

Daisy Bates Papers 1907-1940. 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. 

Daisy Bates Digital Archive 

Archival files index for Western Australian missions / compiled by Jennie Carter, 2000. Contains over 6000 names of Indigenous people. 

Other historical indexes for personal names, places and key events

Index to the Colonial Secretary's Office Letters Received: 1846-1849, 1850-1854,1855-1859  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  

Aboriginal Mission Homes and Settlements 1900-1995, compiled by Jennie Carter  

History of Removal of Aboriginal Children, 1829-1972, compiled by Jennie Carter  

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). 

Last updated on 29 September 2021