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Thinking of researching your family history at the State Library...

Thinking of researching your family history at the State Library of Western Australia?

One of our Family History Librarians visited the State Library of Western Australia’s Family History service. Here are her thoughts:

Visiting the State Library of Western Australia is like visiting a relative you’ve never met but with whom you know you share a close connection. The State Library of Western Australia is situated in Perth’s cultural centre and comprises a multi-story building surrounded by a moat. As I walked through its doors seagulls were bathing in the pool of water out front, splashing about beneath the cloudy skies.

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The archival library for the State Library of New South Wales is the Mitchell Library with its beautiful stained glass windows and a collection of original materials that range from photographs and manuscripts to objects and oil paintings. The State Library of Western Australia has its own archival library, the Battye Library and this is also home to the State Library of Western Australia’s Family History service.

While there are no stained glass windows or bronze doors in the Battye Library, it is filled with natural light and this makes it feel like an oasis in a dark cave. When I visited late on a Tuesday afternoon light from its windows and skylights was filtering through to illuminate tables where clients sat closely examining maps, busy researching their family history.

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The Battye Library is located on Level 3 of the State Library of Western Australia and was named after J.S Battye, chief librarian of the State Library of Western Australia (then Victoria Public Library) in 1894. Here in the Battye Library family historians do their family history research all in the one place, using published materials like Llloyd’s Shipping Registers as well as archival materials like original manuscripts, maps and photographs of Western Australian towns and personalities. During my visit I saw many family historians using microfiche readers for electoral rolls or maps from the Battye Library’s map collection. If you have ancestors from Western Australia the Battye Library is the perfect place to visit and might help shed some light on the secrets of your family history.

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