Researching archival records can be rewarding and fun but it also requires some in-depth searching.
This page will help you understand our collection and how to get started with your research.
Things to know before you start
- State Records collection is not arranged by subject like a library but by the government agency that created the records (e.g. Royal Adelaide Hospital or the South Australian Railways).
- It is also useful to know that not every record in our collection is listed or indexed in our catalogue.
- It can be helpful to think of which government agency may have created the types of records you are searching for.
- What type of records are held at State Records of SA?
Our collection is made up of permanent records created by state and local government agencies in South Australia. This is not all the records created by government and only a small amount are kept permanently. Many records remain with the government agencies.
- How do I search the collection?
You can search our collection using ArchivesSearch. You can search by keyword for government agencies, series of records and individual records. You can also search by agency (e.g. GA246 Surveyor-General's Office) or series (e.g. GRS 12200 Diagram books, alphabetical series by Hundred - Survey Office). The below video shows you how to search our catalogue using Keyword and Direct searching options. Digital copies of records are not available to view or request through our catalogue.
You may need to search across both the catalogue and the website to:
- Search for the records via the catalogue and;
- Check the indexes or examine digital copies of the records via links on the website.
- Which records are available to view online?
Some of the most popular records in our collection have been digitised either by staff or volunteers or in partnership with FamilySearch. Our Online Records page details how to find records and how to access digital copies of records hosted on FamilySearch.
An online video tutorial shows the steps to find an entry on a State Records website index and how to then navigate to the FamilySearch website and view the digital images.
Access to digital copies of records on FamilySearch requires a free registration. If you do not wish to register with FamilySearch, or if the images for the records are not available, you may send us an enquiry to ask for a copying quote. Specific references are required when requesting a digital copy of a record (e.g. GRS 1334/1 Unit 38 File 3296).
- How can I use archives to search my family history?
Government archival collections hold a number of records which may record information about your family and ancestors. Some of the most popular records relating to family history are listed on our Family History Research page. Specific topic pages will then explain how to search each of the types of records.
The collection also contains records that may be of use to people searching their Aboriginal family history. Further information about records and services can be found on our Aboriginal Access Services webpage.
Thinking about how your family and ancestors may have interacted with government and which government agencies may have recorded information about them can be useful to help search for records relating to your family history.
- Can someone help me with my research?
We do not offer a research service and do not view original records on behalf of a researcher. We do offer an enquiry service which is outlined on our Enquiry Services page.
If you or a someone on your behalf are not able to visit the Research Centre, these fee-based research services are available:
- Genealogy SA - email
- Society of Australian Genealogists – email
- Professional Historians Association of South Australia
Researchers for hire are not State Records employees.
Your local library or history group may also be able to help with your research or provide you with access to some family history resources.
- Where else can I research historical information and records?
There are also a number of other organisations who hold non-government records which might help with your research.
- How do I order records for viewing in person?
If you have booked online follow the ordering instructions on the booking link and email us your order. Alternatively, if you book via phone please notify staff of the records you would like to view and staff will order these on your behalf. Records you wish to view must be pre-ordered at least 24 hours in advance of your visit. You will not be able to order records for same-day viewing.
Some records are stored at our secondary repository and are subject to increased retrieval times. Staff will advise where this is the case and arrange an appropriate booking time.
- Can I request a digital copy of a record?
Yes, you can request a digital copy of a record. Follow the steps to obtain a copy.
- find precise references for the original records through the catalogue or online indexes (e.g. GRS 1334/1 Unit 38 File 3296)
- request a written quote by email or phone
- once your payment has been made, digital images will be emailed within 4 weeks.
- How do I request access to a restricted record?
As you search our catalogue and website you may discover some records are restricted from pubic access because they contain sensitive information.
If you need to access these records, you can apply to the agency responsible for the records. ArchivesSearch shows the agency responsible for the series which contains the records, and the period of restriction specified in the access determination. Contact the agency responsible for the records to either:
- Obtain access allowing you to view records at the Research Centre, or
- Make a formal application under the Freedom of Information Act.
Information and contact details for a number of government agencies responsible for restricted records is available on our Restricted Records webpage.
Need to ask us a question?
You can find our contact details on the Contact Us page.