We recognise it may be difficult to identify a relevant agency to your search. To assist, we have compiled subject guides (Research A-Z) and indexes (Online Indexes) to our most popular records.
Use the options above as a starting point. If you need to delve further into the State Archives Collection, you need think about the ways NSW Government agencies may have been involved in a chosen research topic, or how individuals may have interacted with NSW Government agencies, to be able to identify relevant records.
How to begin your research depends on what you ultimately wish to find. The two most common search categories may be grouped as:
- Name (person, place, organisation, structure, landmark)
- Subject (event, activity, process, system, service, project)
When looking for a person in the records, think about how or why that person may have interacted with the NSW Government during their life (e.g. land, law, employment), or in the event of their death (e.g. estate, inquest).
- Start searching for the name of a place or person in our KeyName Search, which draws names from across our Online Indexes into one simple search.
- Follow this with a search of our catalogue using Collection Search. Note that many records relating to a person or place will not include the name in the series or item title in our catalogue - this is because records are described according to purpose (e.g. registration, communication, process documentation, or visual documentation). The person's or place's name may appear within a register, letter, file, or photograph that includes many people or places, not just the one you are looking for. Therefore...
- Search next for agency correspondence records (letters received or sent) in Collection Search, including index and register series of letters received or sent, which are sometimes the only record surviving.
- For this type of research, first check our guides at Research A-Z;
- Then try Collection Search using key words.
- Next think about the agency which may have created records relating to the subject and search for that agency in Collection Search, making sure the ‘agencies and persons’ filter is selected. Click on the relevant agency, and a list of series created by that agency will be displayed at the bottom of the agency description page.
- Search next for agency correspondence records (letters received or sent) in Collection Search, including index and register series of letters received or sent (these are sometimes the only record surviving).
Correspondence records are often the best place to find information on an activity, process or event. If the correspondence on a particular subject covered many years, government officials often bundled documents together. These are known as special bundles.