Finding Family

One woman's obsession with family history.

In my constant quest for information, photos or documents relating to my ancestors I find that it’s easy to get ‘tunnel vision’ in thinking that the only place where such resources can be found is in the State Library. Though this is often the case there are also many gems to be found within local libraries.

The beauty about local libraries is that the information they have is specific to that particular area. They are run by local councils and most general information can be found via their websites. Quite a few libraries in particular have an online library catalogue and some even have their own historical catalogue complete with digitised images.

Ruth Faulkner Library
City of Belmont

An online library catalogue which includes online images is provided by the Ruth Faulkner Library. The Belmont Museum is located near the library and also has an onsite collection relating to the local history of Belmont and surrounding areas.


Mrs Milne’s Shop, Newsagent & Stationer (1915)

The Grove Library
Town of Cottesloe, Shire of Peppermint Grove and Town of Mosman Park

The Grove Library has a community history collection which provides various resources (books, photos, oral histories etc.) about people, places and events within Cottesloe, Peppermint Grove and Mosman Park. Their images are available to search online and are a wonderful resource for people researching these areas.

Osborne Hotel

Osborne Hotel in Claremont

Fremantle City Library
City of Fremantle and Town of East Fremantle

Fremantle City Library has an online catalogue and also has a searchable local history catalogue which includes oral histories, photos, reports and maps etc. Catalogue entries found can be viewed in the library. The also have an online local history photo collection which includes photos of people and places found within Fremantle and East Fremantle.


Fremantle Asylum (1897)

City of Greater Geraldton

The City of Greater Geraldton has an online library catalogue which includes digitised images. They also hold a large oral history collection consisting of over 350 interviews with local residents. Some oral histories have even been digitised and are available to download.

City of Joondalup

The City of Joondalup has a local history collection consisting of photos, oral histories, maps (coming soon), family history events, resources and local history films. Their website ‘Picture Joondalup’ is a fine example of a digitised historic photo collection with photos in a variety of formats showing Joondalup’s early settlement to the present day.

City of Stirling

The City of Stirling’s library catalogue is available to search online. They also have a local history online catalogue (currently under development) which allows you to search through their books, photos and CDs relating to the local history of the area.

City of Vincent

The City of Vincent’s Library and Local History Centre has an online catalogue as well as an amazing image library filled with photos of people and places from North Perth, Perth, Mt Lawley, Highgate, Mt Hawthorn, Leederville, West Perth and East Perth. With my family having spent many years living within Vincent; this library and collection definitely holds a soft spot for me.

City of Wanneroo

The City of Wanneroo has an online library catalogue and also has an online images catalogue called ‘Picture Wanneroo’ which is run by the Community History Centre. Along with the digitised photo collection, the Community History Centre  also has onsite resources including maps, books, newspapers and oral histories. This catalogue was one of the earliest local history photo collections that I used and was a great help to me when I discovered quite a few photos of my first cousins four times removed, Eli and Charles Ashby.

Of course not every council library has a digitised photo collection online but this does not mean that they don’t actually have a local history collection. If you’re searching for information about ancestors or even a particular area I strongly advise you to visit the local library. Most generally have local history collections even if this is not stated online. A full list of all the Local Councils for Western Australia can be found on the WA Local Government Association website:

Another important fact to note is that while quite a lot of the collections come from the library or council itself many particular photos of individuals who lived in these areas are donated in some way by their descendants. Without the donations of these people many of the amazing photos on these sites probably wouldn’t be available to view in a public manner.


  • Photo of Mrs Milne’s Shop obtained courtesy of the Ruth Faulkner Library (Image: M0095-01).
  • Photo of Osborne Hotel obtained courtesy of The Grove Library (Image: CPM00683).
  • Photo of Fremantle Asylum obtained courtesy of Fremantle City Library (Image: 494).
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