Getting Started

The State Library has many services to offer family history researchers including several family history eResources you can access from the comfort of your own home. 

The Library's 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.

In the family history section of this website, you will find links to books within the State Library's catalogue. Some of these family history books are only available in the Genealogy Centre of the State Library and are not available for loan. However, there are many useful digital resources that you can access from home to get started with your family history research.

Tips for Beginners

  • 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.

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

Family History WA volunteers are available in the Battye Library on the third floor of the State Library to help you with your research on Tuesdays, Wednesday and Thursdays from 10.00am-1.00pm. No appointment needed.

Last updated on: 18 January 2021