Remember, it is always easier to work from the present to the past when tracing your family history. A good place to start is with yourself: write down your date of birth and then other important dates such when you were married and when your children were born. Continue recording this basic information working back through the generations, your parents, grandparents, great grandparents...
Your responsibilities when using our facilities and how to handle original (uncopied) State archives. Our reading room staff are also on hand to provide expert and professional advice to help you get the most out of your visit.
Archives are the 'raw material of history'. The State archives document the business of government in New South Wales - and its interaction with people and groups in our society - from the arrival of the First Fleet in 1788 until today.
NSW State Archives has one of the most popular NSW government websites. We serve a large and diverse community of researchers, interested in accessing the NSW State Archives Collection, as well as NSW government agencies seeking recordkeeping rules and advice. The new website's Drupal CMS foundation enables richer tagging and categorisation of site content, easier content-editing and publishing, integration with social media, and a new online shop. The new style guide for the website is modern, clear, mobile-responsive, and accessible.
This page provides a brief overview of features and how to use the new website.
Get the most research out of your day by pre-ordering your Request for the Reading Room in advance of your visit. We recommend that you make your request at least 2 working days ahead of your visit to the Western Sydney Reading Room.
Information about our guarantees of service include services for the reading room; enquiries; copying; outreach; publications orders; and website.
When State archives that are damaged are requested by a reader, to view in the reading room, they are assessed and treated by our conservators. Damage may have been caused by poor storage practices, unfortunate disasters, or bad handling in the past. We refer to these archives as being “Too fragile to issue” and these archives cannot be accessed either by staff or readers until they have been treated by Conservation.
This page provide information about the level of research advice offered by NSW State Archives and how to have research carried out on your behalf.
We have made some of the most useful State archives for family and local history available in the Archives Resources Kit, located at 40 community access points around NSW
This page includes fees and guarantees on our copy services.
If you are considering publishing, reproducing, printing, displaying or transmitting State archives (either entire documents or extracts therefrom) to other people you need to ask for permission to use State archives. This guide includes information on how to request permission to publish and how to cite records accurately.
The ARK is held by 40 community access points across NSW. The majority of access points are libraries. The ARK consists of microfilm copies of our most popular and heavily used colonial records. Included are records relating to 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).
In these days of Web 2.0 and the use of high tech tools and databases which can answer research queries in an instant, the challenge presented by reading and interpreting handwritten archival documents often comes as a surprise to first time researchers. In fact interpreting old handwriting can be a laborious and time consuming task for even the most experienced.