top of page



Digitisation of At-Risk Audio-Visual Collections Project - 2023

The State Library of Western Australia (State Library) is undertaking large-scale digitisation of its at-risk audio-visual collections. ‘At risk’ refers to audio, video, and film analogue formats (records, tapes, discs, magnetic tapes and film and sound reels) that can no longer be played on devices (tape recorders, projection devices, video, and DVD players) due to changing technologies and deterioration of physical items over the last several decades. 
The project is funded by the Digital Capability Fund and began in July 2022.

The State Government investment will ensure that Western Australia is preserving its unique and valuable history; keeping pace with the demands of increasingly engaged audiences who expect online digital access to heritage and cultural material. Preservation of WA’s unique film and sound heritage is a significant opportunity; for example, increased access to the film and sound archive will support academic, family history and other research as well as opportunities to interpret newly digitised material. 
The State Library’s audio-visual collection spans more than 100 years and includes amateur recordings, government and private sector productions, films, music, interviews, and other audio-visual content. 
The project will ‘unlock’ thousands of items that depict people, places, and events unique to Western Australia, including collections including the Ngaanyatjarra Traditional Owners 1982 convoy to Perth to protest land rights; dozens of personal films capturing life in regional Western Australia from 1940s to 1970s; and visits to Perth of international significance including Prince Charles in 1979 and Pope John Paul II in 1986. Archives from the Film and Television Institute WA, WTV Perth, and ScreenWest are also included.
The State Library would like to engage a ‘Researcher-in-residence (AV digitisation)’ to review these newly digitised collections, identify and assess significant AV footage and develop content to enhance the public engagement with these collections in keeping with the State Library’s Collection Interpretation Strategy.
Public consultation undertaken by the State Library in 2021 identified that where possible, collections should be digitised to improve access. Stakeholder groups saw digitisation as a means of preserving information in perpetuity and empowering regional and remote communities who are unable to visit the State Library. Comments described the immersive and engaging power of audio-visual content and the potential for these WA heritage collections to excite, inform and fascinate people across the state or audiences from around the world. 
The role of the ‘Researcher-in-residence (AV digitisation)’ will enable the State Library to better understand the significance of these newly digitised collections and identify materials to feature through the State Library website as a guide or contemporary ‘finding aid’ for these significant collections. 

Historical Maps Online Project

In 2009, the Friends of Battye Library Inc. funded an enhancement to the State Records Office’s AEON catalogue to improve access to digitised State archives. AEON lists the State's archives held by the State Records Office (SRO) as well as information about their context. The Maps Online project allows AEON to also display digitised copies of some of the State's most important archives along with their online catalogue entries. Since late 2009 you can access Western Australia's historic maps and plans at home, school, university or workplace - anywhere you have access to the web - and the work is ongoing.


Police Gazette of Western Australia (1876 to 1908)

The Police Gazette of Western Australia (1876 onwards) is a valuable resource for researching police and criminals in Western Australia. Information can be found under various headings: apprehensions (name of person arrested, arresting constable, charge and sentence); police appointments, dismissals, discharges, promotions, resignations and transfers; tickets of leave, certificates of freedom, and conditional pardons issued to convicts; physical descriptions of prisoners (name, condition, build, age, height, hair and eye colour, visage, complexion, trade, nationality and distinguishing marks); deserters from military service; escaped prisoners; expirees leaving the colony; inquests (where held, date, before whom, name and date of death of person, verdict); licences (publican, gallon, eating, boarding and lodging houses, railway refreshment rooms, wine and beer, colonial wine, spirit merchants, club, wayside house, packet and billiard table - name of licensee, name of hotel etc and town or district given); missing friends; prisoners discharged; people tried at Quarter Sessions (name, offence, district, verdict, how disposed of); special inquiries; stealing in dwellings; and warrants issued.

With thanks to the Friends of Battye Library and the Sholl Bequest, the Police Gazettes 1876-1900 have been digitised and are fully text searchable.


Soul Searching A User's Guide to the Western Australian Legislative Assembly Electoral Rolls 1890-1967

The idea for this guide was formed some years ago; however it is because of a grant from The Friends of the Battye Library Inc. that it has finally come to fruition. I am very grateful to the committee and members for their sponsorship. I sincerely hope that the foundations laid by the many dedicated staff over the years, coupled with the support of the Friends, ensure the continuing development of the unique information resource that is the J S Battye Library of West Australian History.
Julie Martin (June 2009)

What electoral rolls are covered by this guide?
In 1890, Western Australia was granted self government and a bicameral parliament (one with two Houses) was established.
The Legislative Assembly or Lower House provided the Government of the State whilst the Legislative Council or Upper House acted as a House of Review.
This guide is only to the Legislative Assembly electoral rolls, as most residents of Western Australia met the voting qualifications for this House. Until 1963, a property qualification was required for those enrolling to vote in Legislative Council elections.


Dead Reckoning: How to find your way through the genealogical jungle of Western Australia.

Dead Reckoning: how to find your way through the Genealogical Jungle of Western Australia (compiled by Steve Howell) was first published in 1997. It was an update of the 1983 Library Board of Western Australia publication: Tracing your ancestors: a guide to genealogical sources in the J. S. Battye Library of West Australian History.
Since 1997, the Battye Library and the State Records Office have received new material of interest to anyone undertaking genealogical and biographical research. As well, many relevant internet resources have been developed. Following a grant from the Sholl Bequest (administered by the Friends of Battye Library Inc.), it was decided to revise and publish the book online, so it can be regularly updated as appropriate resources and material are found.


Katitjin: a guide to Indigenous records in the Battye Library by Heather Campbell

The publication is in two parts. The first is a guide containing overviews of the Battye Library's collection, research and finding aids, and sections on family history. Part Two is a researchers' kit comprising useful publications, a select bibliography under subject headings, websites, handy contacts, and search strategies. Both sections should be used in conjunction with one another as useful published and unpublished works have not been included in part one.
Material is continually being added to the Battye Library's collections, therefore the select bibliography complied for Katitjin may not include all available sources.


Western Australia Post Office Directories: 1893-1949

The post office directories published by H. Pierssené and then by H. Wise & Co. are an invaluable source of information for anyone who is doing family history or research on Western Australia during the period 1893-1949.
The post office directories provide information by locality, individual surname, government service, and by trade or profession. The different sections enable the enquirer to see at a glance the householders or businesses in any one town; the address of any householder or business in the State; and the businesses or individuals throughout Western Australia engaged in any trade or profession.
The complete set of Western Australia post office directories have been made available online with funding from the Friends of Battye Library, Maude Sholl Bequest and the Bizzaca Family.

bottom of page