There are many useful resources for researching Australian family history available in the State Library or online. The key to finding them is in the State Library Catalogue using a keyword search using a geographic location and a type of record e.g. Tasmania passenger lists or New South Wales census. The types of resources available for family history researchers include indexes to births, marriages and deaths, newspapers, electoral rolls, directories and maps. There are also records relating to cemeteries, census, convicts, courts, immigration, land allocation, probate and the military.

Use the catalogue to find material relating to passenger lists. For example, we hold some published lists for specific ships. Search under the name of ships, countries or ports with keywords such as emigration, immigration, immigrants, passenger lists. Examples of keyword searches include 'Darwin passenger lists' and 'Scotland emigration'. The State Library has many items relating to ships in its collection including a large collection of ship images which can be located in several ways. Some of the material is listed here. Try searching our catalogue for other material using keywords such as cruise ships, passenger ships, ocean liners or sailing ships.

Convict lists, passenger lists, ship registers 

Passenger lists

Most family historians are keen to find their ancestor's name on a passenger list, particularly when the voyage signified the start of a new life a long way from home. Some passenger lists have not survived and not all passengers were listed, particularly if they travelled steerage class, and crew members and the military were often not included. Sometimes, passengers are listed but are difficult to identify. For example, it is quite common to see entries such as 'Mr Smith' or 'Mr and Mrs Brown and children'.

  • National Archives of Australia -  holds immigration and naturalisation records, including passenger lists, from the late 1800s onwards. Some material has been digitised and is available through their website. This site includes a Passenger arrivals index for ships arriving in Western Australia 1921-1950 and aircraft arriving at Perth airport 1944-1950.
  • Passenger lists leaving UK 1890–1960 (BT 27) -  trace people sailing from Britain to non-European ports from 1890 to 1960. This database is available on both Findmypast (accessible onsite at the State Library) and Ancestry Library Edition. This is an extremely useful source for finding ancestors’ voyages to destinations such as New Zealand, South Africa, the United States, Canada and, of course, Australia.
  • UK Incoming Passenger Lists, 1878–1960 (BT 26) - This database, available on Ancestry Library Edition, records those sailing into Britain from ports outside Europe and is useful for ancestors who may have travelled backwards and forwards between Britain and other countries. The library edition of this subscription database is available to use within the State Library building, as well as in most public libraries.
  • APAFT: Australian Public Affairs Full Text - Australian database for business, law and health sectors and social issues. Search for articles in journals published by Australian genealogical and historical societies such as Early Days (Royal Western Australian Historical Society) and Descent (Society of Australian Genealogists).
  • Australasian Legal Information Institute (AustLII) - provides free internet access to Australasian legal materials. People are mentioned in relation to court cases, land transactions, share ownership, etc. This includes access to Victorian Government Gazettes 1836-,  Superior Courts of Tasmania (pre-1900), Case Notes 1824-1842, Law Reports New South Wales 1880-1900 and Tasmanian Law Reports 1897-1940, New South Wales Gazettes, and much more.
  • Australian shipping arrivals and departures, 1788 to 1968 -  an alphabetical list of over 92,000 passengers and crew. There are also lists of arrivals and departures arranged chronologically giving the name of the ship with date and port of arrival or departure. Some shipping for New Zealand is also included.
  • British Library Newspapers Parts 1 - 4 - combined searching of the 17th - 18th Century Burney Collection and 19th Century British Library Newspapers. 
  • Australia & New Zealand - describes some of the main sources of information on ships bound for Australia and New Zealand. It includes links to ships' pictures, passenger lists, crew lists and convict sites.
  • Discovery - the National Archives (UK) holds over 11 million historical government and public records, one of the largest archive collections in the world. From Domesday Book to modern government papers and digital files, our collection includes paper and parchment, electronic records and websites, photographs, posters, maps, drawings and paintings
  • EBSCO - a suite of databases that provide mainly full text access to journal and newspaper articles, conference papers, theses and other publications.  There is a wide range of subjects from general works to the more specific such as education, history, medicine, business and car manuals.
  • Findmypast -  a major family history eResource with collections from the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, India and the United States. It includes census records, passenger lists, births, marriages and deaths, court records, wills and more.
  • Gale NewsVault - search the following newspapers: 17th-18th Century Burney Collection Newspapers, 19th Century British Library Newspapers Parts 1 - 4, Illustrated London News and the Times Digital Archive.
  • Illustrated London News Historical Archive - the introduction in 1842 of The Illustrated London News marked a revolution in journalism and presented  a vivid picture of British and world events.  Explore more than a 150 years (1842-2003)of the world's first fully illustrated weekly newspaper, reproduced in high-quality colour facsimile images.
  • Irish Newspaper Archives - contains over six million pages in over 500,000 issues of Irish Newspaper publications spanning back as far as 1763. The contents of all issues are fully text searchable and reflect the full context and layout of each page.
  • Nineteenth Century British Library Newspapers Parts I - 4  - over 2 million pages from 19th century newspaper titles held in the British Library. Newspapers were selected from all over Britain including Ireland, Scotland and Wales as well as England.
  • Nineteenth Century U.S. Newspapers - a full-text searchable, facsimile-image database which provides access to primary source newspaper content to historical events, daily life and 19th century American culture. Content and images is drawn from numerous newspapers from a range of urban and rural regions throughout the U.S.
  • Seventeenth - Eighteenth Century Burney Collection Newspapers - nearly 1 million pages of rare 17th and 18th century material published in Britain and the colonies including pamphlets, broadsides and newspapers.
  • Sydney Morning Herald Archives 1955 - 1995 - search all articles, captions, birth, death and marriage notices and advertisements in The Sydney Morning Herald and The Sun-Herald between 1955-1995. Full-text results are returned in an exact digital reproduction of the printed pages as they were originally published.
  • The West Australian Archive Digital Editions - a digital archive edition of the West Australian newspaper covering July 2004 until yesterday. It contains the same content, editorial and photographic material that can be found in the printed version with the exception of  commercial inserts which are not included.
  • Times Digital Archive - find every page published in The Times newspaper between 1785 - 2010 covering political, legal, business and social news. It includes all articles, editorials, birth and death notices, advertisements, illustrations and photographs.
  • Trove - digital content and information on collections around Australia. The Digitised newspapers section includes searchable historic newspapers up to 1954.  Photographs, maps, archives, catalogues can also be found on the Trove site.
  • Ancestry Library Edition -  is a subscription database, similar to the popular   It consists of thousands of smaller databases. It is available on all PCs within the State Library and is licensed to be available in public libraries throughout Western Australia. Please contact any local WA public library for details on how to access this resource. Examples of the types of records available include birth, marriage & death records, census records, immigration records, directories, convict records and land records. 
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Group camping near the Warburton ranges in 1980
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