Family history

Aboriginal History Research Services can help you with your Aboriginal family history research. We may hold information in our collections about you or your direct ancestors.

Records and archives

Aboriginal History Research Services holds material including government archives as well as other non-governmental information. You can search for material that is classified open in our online catalogue.

Some restricted records that are sensitive will not be shown. You can submit a family history application to see if some of these records relate to you.


Some people may apply with a specific purpose, such as:

  • evidence of genealogy
  • dates and places of birth
  • information relating to an ancestor
  • photographic records

Any relevant family history material uncovered during the research process will be sent to you. Where possible a detailed, annotated genealogy of direct ancestors is also provided.

Our collections aren’t exhaustive so we also encourage you to access other collections and link-up organisations for information about your family history.


For confidentiality reasons applicants must be the oldest living generation to apply. Alternatively, third party consent can be given by the eldest relative and submitted with the application.

Aboriginal people looking into family history

Beginning your search

You can search open classified records in our online catalogue. We also provide copies of relevant material to Aboriginal people investigating their personal and family history.

What can I apply for?

We hold a variety of information and copies of records that relate to the personal histories of Aboriginal people including:

  • station and mission files
  • correspondence
  • personal and family files

We also have access to several external collections that are utilised in responding to family history applications.

Why these records exist

In Western Australia, successive state government agencies controlled the lives of Aboriginal people from 1905 until citizenship rights were granted in the late 1960s. The State Government kept administrative records detailing the lives of many Aboriginal people during this period. The documents are critically important and provide an insight into how the policies of the time impacted on individuals and provide an insight into a miserable chapter in Western Australian history.


Part of the service offered is to provide eligible Aboriginal applicants with a researched genealogy if possible.

Applying for information

To apply for a copy of all records relating to your family, fill in the family history application form available from and return it to the department with a photocopy of approved ID.

Do I need to be the oldest person in my family to apply?

To apply for access to your records you must be of the oldest generation in your family or have the consent of the oldest living member. This means that if you have a living parent or grandparent, they will need to sign a consent form. The policy does not discriminate between siblings, therefore brothers and sisters have equal right and access to the records. If you require the consent from a family member please arrange for them to sign the consent form that is available in the online application and provide a photocopy of their ID.

What sort of ID is acceptable?

We accept any form of official identification, however the common ones provided are listed below:

  • Driver’s license
  • Passport
  • Medicare card
  • Centrelink card
  • Health Care Card
  • A letter confirming their identification from a Justice of the Peace (JP)

No records relating to my family

Our collection is not exhaustive and often external historical collections will need to be referred to as well. There are a number of other organisations that help Aboriginal people researching their family history.

  • <Add list of organisations>

Consent for a third party to receive your personal or family history records

Please allow at least 15 minutes to complete the application. Remember to have a scanned copy of your ID, and a third party consent form filled out (if applicable) ready to upload

Application forms

Contact us

For further information or to provide feedback about our services, please submit an online general enquiry.

Aboriginal History Research Services

Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries
Level 2 State Library of WA
25 Francis Street Perth Cultural Centre, Perth WA 6000

Telephone 61 8 9427 3469 

Page reviewed 15 May 2019