The ArchivesSearch catalogue describes the hard copy original records held in our collection.

ArchivesSearch does not contain digital records or digitised copies of records however entries in the catalogue may mention online copies or microfilm.

Any public user can order records which are open for general public access.

You will need authorisation for access to restricted records, including records which are fragile. Our staff must order these records on your behalf, or can help you view a copy.

Please note that an appointment is required to visit the Research Centre and view original records. To book an appointment visit our Research Centre page. 

Searching using ArchivesSearch

An online video tutorial shows the steps to conduct Keyword and Direct searches on the catalogue.

You do not need to be logged in to ArchivesSearch to search for records.

Different search options will provide you with different outcomes:

  • Keyword Search see if a specific name or place is listed, or to find an agency or a series from words in catalogue description
  • Direct Search ...if you already have a series (eg GRG35 176) or agency reference (eg GA30)
  • Search in a Series ...if you are looking for a specific name within a known series
  • WWI Photos locate a packet within GRG 26/5/4 Photographs of South Australian soldiers, sailors and nurses engaged in World War One
  • Passenger List Search limit a name search to GRG 35/48/1 Official Assisted Passage Passenger Lists ,1845–1886

Archival terms

Searching for records in an archive is very different from searching for books in a library; for example:

  • records are arranged by the Government Agency that created them, not by subject
  • not every item in the collection is listed in a subject index or catalogue
  • records are stored in a repository and cannot be browsed
  • records have to be identified and ordered prior to viewing in our Research Centres

The Series is the basic unit of archival arrangement - a grouping of similar types of records created by the same agency.

Records in our collection are assigned a series number, series title, a description of the creating agency and its administrative history and a broad description of the content of the series.

A Series is made up of Consignments (groups of records), Units (such as boxes, map drawers or bundles) and Items (individual records, such as files, volumes, maps).

Other ideas

Not all records have been described at their item (file) level. Try searching by type of information, or by government agency that would have created the information.

Some records have been digitised, and can be accessed online. Check our Online Records page.

Some records have been listed in an index. Check our Indexes and Special Lists page.

Browse our subject-based finding aids for ideas.

Records available on microfilm or in digital format

A number of frequently accessed records are available for viewing within our Research Centre on:

  • microfilm
  • microfiche or
  • in digital format .

Some records are also available online and can be viewed outside our Research Centre.

Series descriptions in ArchivesSearch indicate whether the records are available in this format.

Pre-ordering records

Once you have booked an appointment, let us know at least 24 hours ahead of your visit the records you would like to view by sending an email to or calling us on 08 7322 7077.

Please include:

  • unit or item references for the records you are hoping to view (e.g. GRS 1334/1 Unit 38 File 3296 OR GRG1/42 Unit 1)
  • the date of booked appointment
  • your name and User ID (if you are a registered user)
  • your phone number and email address in case we have a problem with the order.

A maximum of 10 records can be ordered per appointment.

Experiencing issues?

You cannot order records which are restricted from general public access.

If the left hand menu is dark blue or the Request Unit or Request Item is not showing your browser may be incompatible. ArchivesSearch is only fully operational using Windows Internet Explorer browsers. Use our guide Access to ArchivesSearch using Internet Explorer to improve compatibility for Internet Explorer.

Further information about using the catalogue is available on our Using ArchivesSearch guide. 

    Extra information

    Viewing records at our Research Centre

    Our collection is housed in our repositories at Gepps Cross and Collinswood.

    We retrieve records from our Collinswood repository once per week for delivery to the Gepps Cross Research Centre.