Genealogy Centre

The State Library has many services to offer family history researchers.

Western Australian material is housed in the J S Battye Library of West Australian History on the 3rd floor. The Genealogy Centre, also on the 3rd floor, includes an extensive collection of resources which can be used to trace ancestors from around the world. The Genealogy Centre is open during normal library opening hours and staff members on duty will be able to help you get started with your research.  Volunteers from the FamilyHistoryWA (FHWA) provide extra assistance to family history researchers on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings from 9.30am to 1.00pm.

Computer access for research in the Genealogy Centre is available exclusively for family history researchers during opening hours. Subscription databases including Ancestry (Library edition), Findmypast and several historic newspaper sites are freely available. Staff members or volunteers are on hand to assist with login and access.  The collection houses material in printed format, on microfilm, microfiche, and CD-ROM. Material on microfiche and microfilm can be scanned and printed, emailed or saved to a thumb drive using the Library’s scanners. It is recommended that you bring along a thumb drive in order to copy material from microfiche, microfilm and some databases.

The collection is particularly strong for Australian states and territories, Great Britain and New Zealand.  The Library's collection includes birth, marriage and death indexes, directories, electoral rolls, newspapers, maps and passenger lists. There are also records relating to cemeteries, census, convicts, courts, immigration, land allocation, probate and the military. Regular free tours, workshops, and helpful handouts are available to assist clients.

Tips for Beginners

There are introductory handbooks and family history journals available. Try searching the catalogue with the keywords 'genealogy handbooks'. Websites that may be useful are listed in the bookmarks pages.

  • When undertaking family history research, begin with yourself and work backwards.
  • Write down everything you already know about the family and map out a rough family tree.
  • You will find pedigree charts and family group sheets helpful. You can find these readily available to copy from the internet.
  • Collect together material which can help with your family tree. Items which you may already have at home include certificates, photographs, diaries, letters, medals, family bibles, wills and other legal documents.
  • Talk to relatives and record their memories. Be aware, though, that family stories may not be entirely factual and will need to be confirmed.
  • Decide how you are going to record all the information you find. This can be on paper, in a family history software program or a combination of the two.
  • Remember to always check surname variants when researching, e.g. Sherwood, Shearwood, Sharwood, and try to focus on one area of your family tree at a time.
  • Once you have found information, record where you located it, as you might have to return to your original source to verify something. Also record unsuccessful research sources, as this will reduce the chances of repeating the same work further down the track.
  • If possible confirm facts from a second source at every stage.
  • Photocopy certificates and important documents and leave the originals in a safe place.
Last updated on: 9 October 2019