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Using the Archives Resources Kit (ARK)

The ARK consists of microform copies of our most popular and heavily used colonial records. Containing over 1565 items (962 fiche and 604 reels) the ARK has been distributed to 40 Community Access Points across New South Wales.

In this Guide


Access for All

Access for All is an important initiative to provide people in regional and rural New South Wales with better access to the State's archives.

The first stage of this initiative was the distribution of the Archives Resources Kit (ARK) to 40 community access points throughout New South Wales.

The ARK builds on the Genealogical Research Kit, and the Colonial Secretary's Papers, 1788-1825 issued in the 1980s and already held by some of the community access points. It includes explanatory material and links to information available on our web site.

In the second stage of the initiative, starting in 2000/01, State Records will make preservation microfilm copies of more of our most important 19th century records. At the same time, it will progressively digitise the most heavily used records to make them available on the Internet.

Community Access Points

State Records has established community access points at the following places:

Albury, Armidale, Bathurst, Bega, Bourke, Broken Hill, Canberra, Casino, Cobar, Coffs Harbour, Cooma, Deniliquin, Dubbo, Forster, Gosford, Goulburn, Grafton, Griffith, Inverell, Kempsey, Lake Macquarie, Lismore, Lithgow, Maitland, Moree, Mudgee, Muswellbrook, Newcastle (Newcastle Region Library, University of Newcastle), Nowra, Orange, Parkes, Port Macquarie, Tamworth, Taree, Tenterfield, Wagga Wagga, Wollongong (Wollongong City Library, University of Wollongong), Young.

About the ARK

Each community access point holds our Archives Resources Kit which consists of microfilm copies of our most popular and heavily used colonial records. Included are records to do with:

  • convict arrivals
  • assisted immigrants
  • births, deaths and marriages
  • publicans' licences
  • electoral rolls
  • naturalisation
  • returns of the colony ('Blue Books')
  • land grants, and
  • the wide range of functions of the Colonial Secretary (1788-1825).

A selection of Guides and printed explanatory material is also included.

Conditions applying to the use of the ARK

Holders and users of the kit are reminded of the following conditions which apply to its use.

The ARK is copyright. It is supplied subject to the provisions of the Copyright Act 1968, as amended in 1980, and also to State Records' usual conditions governing access to, photocopying, and publication of State archives. These conditions are set out on the reels and microfiche of the kit and summarised below.


The photocopying of archives reproduced in the kit is permitted providing that the provisions of the Copyright Act are complied with. However, this does NOT extend to the following records of the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages:

  • Registers of Births, Deaths and Marriages, 1787-1856 (48 reels)

Reproduction, by any means, of the above-named records, is not permitted. Certified copies of these entries may be obtained from the:

New South Wales Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages
GPO Box 30 SYDNEY NSW 2001

Duplicating of Microforms

No further duplication of microforms supplied with the kit is permitted.

Guides and other explanatory material

Archives Investigator | Subject Guides and Leaflets | Archives in Brief | Indexes

Archives Investigator

Archives Investigator is our online archives access and information system. It provides descriptions of our archival records and functional and administrative contextual information about them, to help you evaluate what records might be relevant to your research.

We are continuously adding more information as new records are received and older material is converted from existing systems.

To find out more about Archives Investigator, see Archives in Brief 52.

State Records holds substantial quantities of records which have been transferred or designated for transfer to regional repositories (records are currently stored in Newcastle, Wollongong, Armidale, Wagga Wagga and Broken Hill). This material chiefly consists of selected Mines, Local Court, Police and Lands records, along with smaller quantities of Public Works, Education and other records in some repositories. Regional records which have actually been transferred to regional repositories are generally not listed in Archives Investigator and details concerning these records are available on request.

Subject Guides and Leaflets

In addition to Archives Investigator, a range of other finding aids have been produced to assist users in locating records likely to be relevant to their research. These include:

Subject Guides

Government (Colonial) Architect, 1837-c.1970

This guide lists correspondence, designs and architectural plans of public buildings. There are a number of separate alphabetical listings in the guide and care should be taken that the various listings have been consulted for a possible reference.

Colonial Secretary: Naturalization and Denization records

This guide lists Indexes, Registers, Certificates and related records for those persons naturalised in New South Wales 1834-1903.

Clerk of the Peace Part 1: Quarter Sessions Records, 1824-1920

This guide provides information on the office of the Clerk of the Peace and Quarter Sessions. It lists and describes the surviving records of the Court and the Office. Appendices include a list of court papers 1824-37 arranged by place which lists individuals' names.

Guide to Shipping and Free Passenger Records

This guide lists records of arrivals in and departures from New South Wales including Port Phillip (Melbourne) 1839-51 and Moreton Bay (Brisbane) 1848-59. It also contains information on records relating to ships' captains and crew, the registration of vessels and shipwrecks.

Surveyor General: Select List of Maps and Plans, 1792-1886 and Supplement

These two guides list the earliest surveys of New South Wales including towns, villages, squatting districts, counties and parishes, roads, rivers, mountain ranges and explorers' expeditions (listed under "I" for Interior). The guides list the old Surveyor General's map number and the State Records map number which has been assigned to it.

Convict Guide Supplementary List: Microfiche copies of Indents

This guide includes notes on the transportation system, how to use the microfiche copies of the Bound Indents and a detailed listing of the Convict Indents.

Handbook to the Papers of the New South Wales Colonial Secretary, 1788-1825

This handbook provides historical and background information on the Colonial Secretary's office and papers. It provides detailed information on the arrangement and description of the records. It also provides a list of subject headings used in the Index.

A Guide to New South Wales State Archives relating to Aboriginal People

The guide consists of a listing and description of records held by State Records which relate to Aboriginal people. It includes the records created and used by the Aborigines Protection Board - renamed the Aborigines Welfare Board in 1940 - which was established in 1883 and held its final meeting in 1969. This was the main New South Wales State Government agency which implemented and administered the legislation and policy having an impact on Aboriginal people throughout New South Wales.

There is also a list of material created by other New South Wales Government agencies which contain significant mention of Aboriginal people. It should be borne in mind, however, that this is not an exhaustive list of sources which can be used in tracing Aboriginal family and personal history. References to Aboriginal people are likely to be found throughout the records of various Government agencies held by State Records and may be located by means of the various guides, finding aids and indexes available in the State Records' Reading Room. The guide is also available on the State Records' Web site.

A Guide to State Archives, Relating to the Teaching of English to Post World War II Migrants

The guide helps to commemorate cultural diversity in NSW by bringing together State archives that document the provision of education to migrants in the latter half of the 20th century. The records listed in the guide reflect the changing role of government administration in adapting to a new era in immigration.

The guide aims to list and describe those records of the Adult Migrant Education Service which celebrated 50 years of service in 1998. These records include information on pupils, teachers, classes and lessons.

Short Guides

Short Guides are issued from time to time to provide easy reference to a particular series or subject area (these were previously known as Information Leaflets). Included with the kit are the following Short Guides:

  1. Electoral Rolls
  2. Birth, Death and Marriage Records
  3. Returns of the Colony - 'Blue Books'
  4. Attorney General and Justice - Registry of Births, Deaths, and Marriages: Microfilm copies of Register of Baptisms, Burials and Marriages, 1787-1856
  5. Index to Abstracts of all Licences for Marriage granted to Free Persons, March 1813 - December 1827
  6. Department of Education: Subject files, 1875-1948
  7. 1901 Census
  8. Land Grants, 1788-1856

In addition, two Information Leaflets which have been discontinued have been included as they contain much useful information:

  • 41 Professions and Occupations: A Select list of Sources (now Short Guide 10)
  • 43 An Introduction to Sources for Genealogical Research

There are also a number of Information Leaflets which, while not included in the kit, are available for use in State Records' reading room. These are mainly those which provide detailed listings of particular records and subject bundles, for example:

  • Listings of Special bundles or Correspondence files for such agencies as Agriculture, Attorney General and Attorney General and Justice, the Premier's Department, Public Works Department, the Treasury), and
  • Specialised listings of particular series or groups of records (1891 Census Collectors' books; Glass negatives and Lantern slides; Returns of hearings in the Sydney Bench of Magistrates for 1788-1820).

If you are visiting the reading room please enquire at the reference desk for these Leaflets if you are interested.

Archives in Brief

Archives In Brief are designed to provide information, in a concise way, about our facilities and procedures, as well as to give an indication of our holdings on particulars topics or groups of records. Archives In Brief, which are produced regularly, are an excellent starting point for any research.


The indexes which are included in the kit index specific series of records and record the names of individuals which are listed alphabetically. Where there is an index to a series, it should always be consulted first.

  • Index to Abstract of all Licences for Marriage Granted to Free Persons, 1813-27
  • Index to Assisted Immigrants Arriving Port Philllip, 1839-51
  • Index to Assisted Immigrants Arriving Moreton Bay (Brisbane), 1848-59
  • Index to Assisted Immigrants Arriving Sydney, 1844-59
  • Index to Assisted Immigrants Arriving Sydney, 1860-79
  • Index to Assisted Immigrants Arriving Sydney, 1880-96
  • Index to the Colonial Secretary's Papers, 1788-1825

Note: These immigrant indexes are available online