Search the catalogue and gateways

The Library has many items relating to ships in its collection. Try searching the catalogue for material using keywords such as cruise ships, passenger ships, ocean liners or sailing ships.  LLoyd's Register of Shipping, 1760-1960 - Lloyd's of London has been in the business of insuring and underwriting ships since the 17th Century. Their registers of shipping give details of vessels including the owners and builders and voyages undertaken. There are several publications covering different time periods. For a complete list view the catalogue. The following is an example of materials that can be found via the catalogue or via links to websites.

Ship images

The Library holds a large collection of ship images which can be located in several ways:

  • Ship Index –  this Card Catalogue is in the Genealogy Centre on the 3rd floor. It indexes images of ships appearing in the Library's collection of ship albums, books and magazines. The ship albums contain a wonderful selection of old postcards and photographs of a variety of passenger ships. Volumes can be ordered at the 3rd floor enquiry desk and viewed in the Leah Jane Cohen Reading Room on the 3rd floor.
  • Ship Index – this Online Catalogue is a continuation of the Ship Index card catalogue above. Searching the catalogue under a broad heading such as passenger ships will give you the option to Modify Search. You can then limit your search to Ships under Material Type.
  • Pictorial Collection -  the Pictorial Collection card catalogue is located on the 3rd floor and contains many references to ships, personal names, places and topics. The reference numbers on the cards relate to the bound volumes of photocopied images shelved opposite the catalogue.
  • Pictorial Collection - some images from the Pictorial Collection can be found in the Library's online catalogue. Some images have been digitised and will appear in the catalogue record. Alternatively it will refer to the bound volumes of photocopied images held in the Library on the 3rd floor.
  • TROVE Pictures, Photos, Objects - this site, formerly known as Picture Australia, has digitised images from archives and libraries in Australia and New Zealand. All of the State Libraries, together with organisations such as the National Archives of Australia and the Australian National Maritime Museum, have large collections of digitised ship images which are featured here.
  • The Ships List - this website includes images and descriptions of ships and also has illustrations of ships' rigging, making it easy to identify a brig from a barque or a barquentine. The website includes passenger lists for Australia and New Zealand as well as for the United States, Canada and elsewhere.


Search the catalogue and gateways

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. It is not always possible to locate passengers for a variety of reasons; some passenger lists, especially early ones, have not survived; 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. 

  • Use the Library catalogue to find material relating to passenger lists. For example, the Library holds 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, Scotland emigration
  • 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.
  • Australian shipping arrivals and departures, 1788 to 1968 - this site has 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.