Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

General questions

Why is ArchivesSearch not working for me?
Can State Records provide copies of records?
Is there a way of copying records without a fee?
My password for ArchivesSearch has expired. How can I renew it?
 

Research Questions

Can State Records help me with my research?
How can I find births, deaths and marriages (BDM) certificates?
I've lost touch with someone. How can I find them?
How can I access school admission records?
How can I access records of children in care?
I am looking to research the history of a property. How can State Records help?
How can I work out where someone lived?
How can I access divorce records?
How can I access cemetery records?
Does State Records hold records of companies?

 Why is ArchivesSearch not working for me?

The search function on ArchivesSearch works on most internet browsers.  However the ordering function requires an Internet Explorer browser.

There are two indicators that you may need to make a small settings change to your Internet Explorer browser when using ArchivesSearch:

  • The menu colours are rendered as a dark blue with some orange boxes, instead of all orange
  • When logged on and viewing a unit, there is no “Request Unit” button.

Instructions on how to make the settings change can be found in the attachment 'Access to ArchivesSearch using Windows Internet Explorer Browsers', available on the Our Catalogue page on our website.

 Can State Records provide copies of records?

Yes, there are several ways you can obtain copies of records. 

If you locate a record within our Research Centre which you would like copied, you may:

  • photograph it with your own camera without a flash;
  • copy it using our own camera or ScanSnap;
  • scan microform images of it (if available); or
  • request to have the item copied through our in-house digitisation service

Images created with our copying equipment may be transferred onto your own flash drive, or stored onto a CD or flash drive (USB stick) at cost.

If you are unable to visit our Research Centre, you can request an item to be copied through our in-house digitisation service. Please note that you would need to provide precise archival references (including GRS/GRG/MRG numbers and any file, volume or folio numbers available). In many instances, you can find these references by viewing our Indexes and Special Lists, which are being gradually added to the Indexes and Special Lists page on our website.

Please see our website for further information on our digitisation service.

Is there a way of copying records without a fee?

Yes. You (or a researcher on your behalf) would need to visit our Research Centre to examine and copy the records using your own camera, or by using one of our copying devices. We have a camera, ScanSnap and microform scanners available for copying purposes.

Researchers may store images created with our equipment onto their own flash drives (USB sticks), or purchase a CD or flash drive in our Research Centre at cost.

My password for ArchivesSearch has expired. How can I renew it?

Passwords for User Accounts on ArchivesSearch expire every three years. If your password has expired, please contact State Records who will be able to assist with resetting your password. Alternatively, you may visit our Research Centre where our staff will be able to provide assistance.

Can State Records help me with my research?

State Records provides an array of services which can help guide your research. This includes:

  • assistance with access to your own personal information for rights and entitlement purpose
  • access to and assistance with research guides, finding aids, indexes and our catalogue ArchivesSearch
  • confirmation of the accuracy of archival references
  • advice on access conditions
  • guidance about records that may be relevant to your research
  • assistance with ordering records which cannot be identified or when you don’t have access to Internet Explorer, and
  • advice on copying options.

A range of hints and tips is also available on our website for family history research.

Although State Records can undertake some searches on your behalf, it cannot view records on your behalf for research purposes. If you are unable to visit our Research Centre to view records and cannot arrange for someone to do this on your behalf, the following organisations may be able to assist:

How can I find births, deaths and marriages (BDM) certificates?

Although State Records holds birth, death and marriage certificates in its archival custody, only the Births Deaths and Marriages Registration Office is authorised to provide you with access to these records.

State Records holds copies of the indexes of Births Deaths and Marriages from 1842 to 1928 (for births), 1937 (for marriages) and 1972 (for deaths). An online version of the indexes is available for searching via Genealogy SA's website, though it contains less detail than the hard copy indexes at State Records or electronic indexes available at GenealogySA or the State Library.  Microfilm copies can be inspected onsite at Genealogy SA, or transcripts can be purchased.

For an official copy of the certificate, please contact the Births Deaths and Marriages Registration Office.

I've lost touch with someone. How can I find them?

The most recent information available on an individual is likely to be subject to a public access restriction, whether it is held by State Records or still maintained by the agency which created it.

State Records is able to provide guidance about records that may be relevant to your research, but is unlikely to be able to provide you with access to those records.

Instead, you may wish to use the services of a family tracing agency. The following search agency agencies may be able to assist.

If you have serious concerns for the safety and welfare of a person, and their whereabouts are unknown, then you may immediately report them missing to local police by filing a missing persons report.

How can I access school admission records?

School admission registers are permanent records, which makes them a useful resource for family historians. They are also important records for individuals who require proof of their own education, for purposes such as applying for employment.

Accessing school admission records

Series containing school admission registers are listed on ArchivesSearch. To determine the availability of a school's admission registers in the collection, conduct a Keyword Search using [school name] AND admission register* as the search phrase. Admission registers which are older than 30 years old are publicly accessible within our Research Centre. Information on ordering records for viewing is available under Ordering Records on our website.

If you require access to your own school admission records, please contact State Records for further advice on how you may access them.

Private School records

State Records holds records for government schools. Records of private, independent or church schools may be held by the body responsible for their oversight. Some of the larger private schools manage their own archive. Others have transferred their records to the State Library of South Australia.

How can I access records of children in care?

State Records holds records of children who were either wards of the State, or in another arrangement for State-based care, or were adopted. Our collection includes (but is not limited to):

  • Index cards relating to State wards (GRS 4472, c1900 - 1992)
  • Registers of admissions to Industrial Schools and the Destitute Asylum (various references)
  • Registers of children placed with licensed foster mothers (GRG27/18, 1902 - 1910)
  • Mandates committing children to the custody of the Department (GRG29/121, 1875 - 1972)
  • Ledgers of children boarded out (GRG27/5, c1862 - 1921)

To search for records of children in care, you can view our range of Special Lists on Social Welfare or conduct name searches on ArchivesSearch.

It is important to note that records relating to children in care are restricted from general public access for 100 years. For advice on how to request access to restricted records, please contact our Research Centre.

For further information on social welfare records, see also our range of fact sheets on this topic.

I am looking to research the history of a property. How can State Records help?

State Records is one of many agencies which may hold information on the history of your home. As a government archive, our collection focusses on records of agencies which might have been involved in assessing council rates or managing development applications. It is rare for plans of private homes built prior to the 1950s and 1960s to be found within our records.

Our Researching the History of your House fact sheet provides advice on various avenues for research in this area.

How can I work out where someone lived?

Almanacs and Directories are a valuable source of information about early residences and townships. These resources act like a telephone book but in reverse, providing townships and streets and lists of residents. They were commercially produced, often centred on the Metropolitan area, and it was not compulsory to be included. In some cases they include statistical snapshots of townships, mercantile and civic directories and advertising. State Records holds items dating from the early years of the Colony, although they were more regular in their content by the 1860s. Their production ceased in 1973. These volumes are held in the Search Area of our Research Centre and do not need to be ordered.

The State Library provides text-searchable access to a digitised collection from 1864 to 1973.

How can I access divorce records?

State Records holds a range of records relating to divorces. The most relevant series within our collection include:

  • Matrimonial petitions, numerical series - Matrimonial Causes Jurisdiction, Supreme Court of South Australia (GRG36/51, 1859 - 1893)
  • Filed legal documents, annual single number series - Supreme Court of South Australia (GRG36/54, 1879 - 1969)
  • Divorce files - Matrimonial Causes Act (GRG36/55, 1961 - 1976)

Most records relating to divorce are subject to a 100-year access restriction. Records dating over 100 years may be viewed at our Research Centre.

To request access to a divorce record, please contact the Supreme Court of South Australia if the divorce occurred before 1975. If the divorce occurred after 1975, please contact the Family Law Court Registry.

How can I access cemetery records?

Some cemeteries are managed by government agencies and so State Records may hold records from the relevant place of burial. However, we do not hold comprehensive indexes for burials in South Australian cemeteries. A search would need to begin with the name of the cemetery. Burials in Australia prior to 1954 might be able to be identified through funeral notices posted in the now digitised newspapers (see Trove). The Adelaide Cemeteries Authority also hosts an online search tool for burials at cemeteries.

State Records holds records for the following Cemetery authorities:

  • West Terrace Cemetery (GA771)
  • Magill Cemetery (GA2057, 1850-ct)
  • Centennial Park Cemetery Authority (GA1304, 1936-ct)
  • Enfield General Cemetery Trust (GA1892, 1944-2001), and
  • some local councils.

Genealogy SA volunteers have compiled indexes on cemeteries across the state. To search those indexes please contact Genealogy SA.

Does State Records hold records of companies?

As a government archive, State Records’ holdings relating to private organisations are focussed on records collected where those organisations interacted with government agencies. If you know of a department or council that would have had significant dealings with the company, our Reference Officers can help guide your research in the right direction.

Corporate records of private organisations are sometimes also collected by the State Library of South Australia. To determine whether the records you are searching for are available here, you may use the State Library's catalogue or contact the State Library directly with your enquiry. 

Defunct companies

Files of defunct companies (as collected by the Master of the Supreme Court / Companies Office) are one area where State Records hold records relating to private organisations. Note: The term 'defunct' refers to the Companies Act definition of the word rather than its common meaning. If the private organisation is defunct, we may hold a record in the following series:

  • Company indexes (GRS 518, collated in 1980 – 1985 but referring more broadly to records dating from c.1844)
  • Lodged company documents of defunct companies (GRS 513, 1844 – 1986)
  • Lodged company documents of defunct companies, continuous single number series (GRS 584, 1935 – 1974)
  • Index to defunct companies (GRS 637, 1900 – 1970)

Many company names can be found through using the 'Search in a Series' Search function on ArchivesSearch, within GRS 513. The index of GRS 518 is available on microfiche in our Research Centre.

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