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The State Records Office of Western Australia invites you to our Lunchtime Seminars. Featuring a variety of topics, these seminars are designed to inform researchers about the State Records Office, its functions and the collections it houses. It also provides researches with an opportunity to meet fellow researchers, learn about members of staff, and provides a forum for questions and discussions in a relaxed and friendly environment.


Stories from the State Archives Collection

Hear WA stories live on WA Afternoons with Michael Tetlow (ABC Radio, 720AM ) from 2pm Fridays.

The State Records Office is a regular participant on ABC Radio's History Repeated segment (720 AM) from 2pm on Fridays and 6PR's Remember When segment from 8pm Sundays. You can listen to some of our past segments here.

Margaret Medcalf Award

Nominations are called for the 2024 Margaret Medcalf Award.

The Margaret Medcalf Award recognises excellence in research using the State Archives of Western Australia. The Award honours Miss Margaret Medcalf OAM, Western Australia’s second State Archivist, for her valuable contribution to the development of archives in Western Australia.


Works nominated must demonstrate the use and accurate referencing of State Archives. Any work completed or published in 2023 is eligible to be submitted for nomination, and anyone, including the author of the work, may submit a nomination. Nominated works need not be published, may be fiction or non-fiction, and in any media. Submission of electronic versions of publications are encouraged to assist with judging.

For more details including a link to a nomination form please see:

Did you know?

SRO often provides assistance to journalist Malcolm Quekett for his weekly series in The West Australian (weekend edition) “The Untold History of WA”. Recently, we assisted Malcolm with a story he was preparing about the different buildings that formed Government House during the 1800s. 

In reviewing Public Works Dept plans held at SRO, we were surprised to come across an alternative design to the current building. This alternative design was prepared by Captain Wray of the Royal Engineers in 1857. We include an image of Wray’s proposed design here.

Additions to the State Archives Collection / Catalogue

Consignment 3651: Return of prisoners committed for trial at Supreme Court (Criminal Sittings). Previously just catalogued as Returns of prisoners committed for trial 1860-1887, there are 35 items now listed including item 31 Supreme Court sittings 17/8/1885 when in Perth Gaol were Abraham Krakoner (free), John Gould (6305), Daniel Johnson (8613 / 10175), Horace Coe (9690). Item 07 Convict details - Robert Morrison, no. 7797 gives discipline details 1864 – 1866. Check out Cons3651 to see the full set. Our thanks to SRO’s volunteer Adam O’Neill in listing these records.
Consignment 3393 - W.A. Government Railways staff record cards. The Railways was always considered as an employer of men but, of course, there were women in various roles in the past although certainly not in the vein of locomotive driving and other fields that would have been closed to them, but in which they now participate. The record cards usually name women as Mrs or Miss, although of course the male cards never recorded Mr. But this enables us to search by Cons3393 AND Mrs (or Cons3393 AND miss) and study the roles that women played in the Government Railways of W.A. Some of these were seamstress, office cleaner, cook, attendant, typist, Refreshment Services attendant, female clerk and the rather nondescript title Female worker. Of interest is that during the 1940s war years, there are some female tram conductors and in the 1960s a touch of modernism was in place for the woman who was a Trainee key punch operator. Two prominent roles for women even from the early 1900s were Siding Caretaker and Barracks Caretaker. The latter could be considered to fit the role of women in society at the time as they would keep the barracks clean and perhaps undertake some kitchen and other duties. The barracks were where train crew slept overnight while on a long working away from their home-town or depot. Siding Caretaker, however, was a more substantial role with the caretaker responsible for incoming parcels and other small consignments. Caretakers were found in larger towns, often being replaced by a station master when business grew. But they could also be found at stations where the station master had been withdrawn as business lessened, such as Murrin Murrin and Morgans on the Laverton branch. There were also caretakers at many small sidings where there may just have been a general store, hall and school, if that. The wheatbelt sidings of Benjaberring, Bungulla and Mandiga being three examples. Men were also siding caretakers and sometimes there were two or more family members undertook the position. At Mandiga Fritz Leuba was caretaker 1924-1929 then the job was taken on by C C Leuba until June 1930. Unfortunately, many of the caretaker staff were only noted by initials and not full names, and some were Honorary Caretakers whereas the others would receive an income. We are now well into surnames beginning with “W” for importing Consignment 3393 names into the online catalogue.
We’ve also previously mentioned Consignment 3580, Supreme Court plaint files 1881 – 1940s, which is another ongoing project with regular additions to the catalogue. 1940s are being input and there’s an interesting theme developing. In the 1920s we began to find many motor vehicle accidents in the case files. In the 1940s we’re seeing a lot of accidents involving various defence force personnel and not only Australian, but many United States forces men were being summoned in relation to accidents. We could speculate that it was getting used to driving on the left side of the road. File 1944/E011 involved the death of Thomas Enright from injuries in motor car accident, driven by Charles Edward Bartram, of United States Navy. 1945/W014 was even more specific - Jean Daphne Willis (formerly Wilson) vs The Commonwealth of Australia in relation to No. 3061288 John William Spanton of Naval Forces of the United States of America, and the death of Cuthbert James Gray John Wilson on 18th August 1945.

Cancelled public plan townsite cadastral maps. There are presently over 9,200 items of consignment 7561 in the online catalogue and we are now almost at the end of towns beginning with “W”. Two examples of recent inputs are Wialki and Wongan Hills. This listing project should be finished by July. 

We’ve long held considerable records of the government owned Wyndham Meatworks and a major processing job was undertaken by SRO Archivist Helen Hopper. Among the series processed are Alphabetical files, Cattle statistics and results, Plans, Salaries registers, and various financial and miscellaneous records. The salaries registers, covering 1920 – 1959 include head office salary and wage sheets, while the alphabetical files include union matters and correspondence with the Main Roads and Public Works Departments (the latter controlling the Wyndham jetty through which the meatworks sent much of its production). 

Geoffrey Bolton Lecture Series

Each year the State Records Office hosts a lecture in honour of the distinguished Australian historian, Emeritus Professor Geoffrey Bolton AO, who passed away on 3 September 2015. The Lecture series recognises Professor Bolton’s long period of use and promotion of archives, his service on various committees of the State Archives, and his overall contribution to the promotion of Australian history and culture.


The stated aims of the Geoffrey Bolton Lecture are twofold: to encourage the expression of ideas and debate about the meaning and nature of history, culture and society, grounded in archival research; and to provide archival and historical context to national debate on contemporary issues.

Since 2004 the lecture series has lifted the profile of archives and record keeping in Australia, and promotes debate about the use and interpretation of archives, in what is now a nationally important forum.

Contact the SRO for further information.

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