Passenger Lists and Immigration

The State Records Office holds records relating to the arrival and departure of passengers and crew from overseas and interstate up until the early 1900s.

Passenger records are an important resource for those undertaking family history research and are particularly useful for researchers attempting to trace the arrival of immigrants to Western Australia prior to Federation.

In addition to inwards and outwards passenger and crew lists, the State Records Office maintains records dealing with the administration and implementation of several early immigration schemes.

Passenger Indexes

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To assist in accessing information from the Inward and Outward Passenger Lists housed within the State Records Office, a number of indexes to passenger names have been created:

  • Passenger Arrivals into Western Australia, 1839-1890 [CD-ROM] : This index was compiled by the Western Australian Genealogical Society (WAGS) from passenger arrival information held by the State Records Office and the Battye Library of Western Australian History. It records details of over 26, 000 immigrants arriving into Western Australia including Convicts and their Guards.
  • Passenger Arrivals into Western Australia, 1898-1925 [CD-ROM] : This index was compiled by the Western Australian Genealogical Society (WAGS) from Immigration Department records held by the National Archives (WA Branch) and from passenger lists held by the State Records Office. It records over 430, 000 passengers into Western Australia arriving from overseas as well as other Australian ports.

These indexes are available for purchase from FamilyHistoryWA.

The following microfiche indexes are also useful for identifying passenger arrivals:

  • Fremantle Passenger Arrivals Index, 1829-1890 [microfiche]: This index was compiled from official and newspaper passenger lists held by the State Records Office and the Battye Library and records passengers arriving at Fremantle and some other ports in the period 1829-1890.
  • Fremantle Interstate Passenger Arrivals Index, 1885-1908 [microfiche]: Compiled by WAGS this index covers passengers arriving at Fremantle from interstate. The bulk of the entries are for the 1890s and not all passenger lists in this period have been indexed.
  • Shipping Passenger Arrivals from Overseas, Albany, Western Australia, 1873-1925 [microfiche]: This index was compiled by the Western Australian Genealogical Society (WAGS) from Immigration Department records held by the National Archives (WA Branch) and from passenger lists held by the State Records Office. Only passengers disembarking at Albany have been recorded, but people continuing on to the Eastern States are included on the original passenger lists.
  • Albany Interstate Passenger Arrivals Index, 1873-1924 [microfiche]: Another index compiled by WAGS, indexing passengers arriving at Albany from interstate. The bulk of the entries are for the 1890s and not all passenger lists in this period have been indexed.
  • Ships Index (All Ports), 1829-1890 [microfiche]: An alphabetical index to all ships arriving in Western Australian ports between 1829 and 1890. Each card represents a specific voyage and provides details on the date of arrival, place of arrival, place of departure, and lists available references relating to the voyage, including newspaper articles and passenger lists.

Copies of the WA passenger lists up to the early 1900s have also been digitised and indexed by (accessible on the 3rd floor of the State Library / State Archives).

Passenger & Crew Lists

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The State Records Office holds a significant collection of passenger lists, particularly for the pre-Federation period. These passenger lists are heavily used by family history researchers and genealogists.

Early passenger lists appear in the records of the Colonial Secretary's Office (CSO) and in newspapers. These early references can be located through the Fremantle Passenger Arrivals Index 1829-1890 (described above) and in most cases can be accessed through the microfilmed CSO correspondence (Acc 36) available for use in the Search Room Microforms Area.

In addition to passenger lists contained within the CSO correspondence it is also possible to identify distinct passenger registers and passenger lists. Passenger registers generally contain information on date of arrival, name of ship, port of embarkation, where bound. Passenger lists tend to provide more detailed information on individual passengers and sometimes include age and profession.

The level of detail included within passenger lists varies widely. Some passenger lists only include the names of cabin passengers and not steerage class. Most passenger lists do not contain the names of the crew.

From 1901 responsibility for immigration passed from the States to the Commonwealth. As a result passenger list records for the post 1900 period are generally held by the WA Branch of the National Archives of Australia. See also further information on the National Archives.

Most of the passenger lists described below are available on microfilm from the State Records Office Microforms Area.


Prior to the completion of Fremantle Harbour in 1898, Albany was a major port of call for ships arriving from overseas and the eastern colonies. During the gold rush many newcomers arrived in Albany before proceeding to make their way on foot to the goldfields, or by train to Perth.

  • Registers of Outward Passengers, 1888-1890, 1895 & 1902-1923, Acc 110, AN 371
    Alphabetical list providing date of departure, name of ship, where bound.
  • Registers of Inward Passengers, 1888-1924, Acc 111, AN 371
    Alphabetical list providing date of arrival, name of ship, port of embarkation, where bound.
  • Passenger Lists, 1873-1932, Acc108, AN 371
    Unbound lists of arrivals and departures for the port of Albany. This series, which contains the names of passengers and crew, is divided into 4 sequences: (1) Vessels to and from Overseas; (2) Vessels to and from Eastern States; (3) Vessels to and from Fremantle; (4) Coastal Vessels inwards and outwards.


  • Register of Inward and Outward Passengers, 1893-1896, Acc 113, AN 371
    Chronological list of persons arriving by sea or land showing vessel, date of arrival and port of embarkation. Register of departures 1895-1896. Chronological list showing vessel, date, destination.
  • Esperance Police Station, Index to Arrivals and Departures, 1899-1903, Acc 782
    Provides name of passenger, date of arrival or departure, name of ship, where bound or where from.


Lists of Emigrants by Colonial Land and Emigration Commissioners' Ships, 1851-1867, Acc 115, AN 371

This is the only series that refers to a country of origin for British migrants.

  • Survey Office, Passenger Lists - Inwards from Overseas, 1829-1930, Acc 297
    Incomplete register listing names of immigrants arriving during the period.
  • Arrivals and Departures for Fremantle and Outports, 1898-1915, Acc 457, AN 371
    Mostly inwards and outwards for Eastern States with a few listings of arrivals from overseas for the period 1898-1911. Outports include Albany, Geraldton, Carnarvon, Bunbury, Esperance and Eucla among others. Also contains overland arrivals recorded at Eucla.
  • Colonial Secretary's Office, Passenger and Crew Lists, Manifests Inwards for Fremantle, 1880-1898 (incomplete), Acc 503, AN 371
    Small collection of passenger lists.
  • Colonial Secretary's Office, Passenger Lists of Immigrants for Certain Ships, 1876-1877, Series 1243, Consignment 633
    Includes lists for the following ships: Fitzroy, Hastings, Helena Mena, Lady Louise, Daylight and Robert Morrison. Lists provide name, date of arrival in WA, age sex, date of agreement.

Convict Arrivals

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Passenger lists for the majority of convict ships arriving in Western Australia between 1850 and 1868 contain information such as physical descriptions, sentence, age and former occupation.

Individual convicts can be identified using the Fremantle Passenger Arrival Index or the WAGS Convict Lists (Acc 128) Index, both of which are available on microfiche from the State Records Office Microforms Area.

Additionally, convict passenger lists for some ships can be located among the Colonial Office despatches received by the Governor (Acc 41). These lists give the convicts name, borough and date of conviction.

Convict ship listings generally do not include the names of the crew or of the pensioner guards accompanying the prisoners.

See also further information on convict records available from the State Records Office.

Other Passenger Records

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In addition the main series of passenger and crew lists it is possible in some instances to identify information on passenger arrivals for smaller ports through the records of other agencies, particularly those of local police stations and courthouses. These records often note the names of people arriving at a particular place by ship, road or rail.

In most cases these records only provide the name of the person, date of arrival, ship arrived on and occasionally where from. If the record is a police station occurrence book, then the names of passengers will be in the entry for the day of arrival.

Relevant police station and courthouse records can be obtained through the listings online or the hardcopy AN 5 and AN 17 finding aids available at the State records Office Search Room.

Examples of these types of records include:

  • Albany Police Station, Occurrence Books, 1863-1902, Acc 364, Items 1-45, AN 5
    After 1872 arrivals and departures of ships are generally recorded. During the period 1872-1873 the names of some overseas passengers arriving are noted and some records of people travelling between Albany and Perth by mail coach. From 1883-1894 there are full passenger lists, but from 1894 on only a note of the number of passengers carried. In these later years there is often a record of the arrival by train of Members of Parliament, government officials etc and notable people by ship.
  • Busselton Police Station, Occurrence Books, 1860-1934, Acc 410, AN 5
    Some names of passengers by ship and mail van included.
  • Busselton Courthouse, Diary - Court Events, 1855-63, 1875-76, Acc 594, Item 4, WAS 1596
    Contains names of visitors to town.
  • Resident Magistrate Busselton, Ships' Manifests - Inward and Outward, 1851-1900, Series 1593, Consignment 594, Items 8/1-8/39
    Provides name of vessel and tonnage, name of captain, number of crew usually stated and names of any passengers. From 1891 shipping reports and manifests for the port of Hamelin are included.
  • Busselton Water Police, Inward and Outward Shipping, Crew and Passenger Lists, 1873-1903 (incomplete), Acc 3315, Items 1-16, AN 5
  • Carnarvon Police Station, Occurrence Books 1882-1902, Acc 250, Items 1-10, AN 5
    Some volumes contain arrivals and departures overland and by sea.
  • Dongara Police Station, Occurrence Books 1868-1882, Acc 417, Items 1-6, AN 5
    In years 1868-c1880 ships' arrivals and departures and lists of passengers are given.
  • Esperance Police Station, Occurrence Books, 1888-1894, Acc 781, Items 2-3, AN 5
    Names of passengers included for this period.
  • Wyndham Police Station, Occurrence Book, 1886-1888, Acc 741, Item 1, AN 5
    Shipping arrivals and departures given, but no passengers listed before July 1887.


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Police station occurrence books often noted the names of people passing through a town or district. Police stations known to have recorded this information in their occurrence books include Albany, Fletcher Creek, Hall's Creek, Mount Barker, Nannup, Norseman, Pinjarra and Youanmi among others.

The following are selected examples of available police occurrence books:

  • Albany Road, 36-Mile Police Station, Occurrence Book, 1879-1883, Acc 696, Item 1, AN 5
    Arrival and departure of travellers noted.
  • Halls Creek Police Station. Occurrence Book 1886-1888, Acc 1422, Item 1, AN 5
    Sometimes names of men passing through to goldfields are noted.
  • Mount Barker Police Station, Occurrence Books, 1872-1877 and 1888-1893, Acc 427, Item 1-2, AN 5
    Names of traveller passing through are given.
  • Pinjarra Police Station, Occurrence Books, 1886-1892, Acc 367, Item 1-2, AN 5
    Names of passengers passing through by mail coach between Bunbury and Perth are noted.


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Prior to 1901, when the Commonwealth of Australia came into being, immigration was the responsibility of the Western Australian Government. Early references to immigration can be found in the Colonial Secretary's Office (CSO) records, which can include passenger lists, naturalisation documents and files relating to aliens. See also further information on accessing CSO records.

Generally, after Federation in 1901 the State Records Office will only hold information on assisted or nominated migrants. Records relating to other migrants may be located by searching records of the National Archives of Australia.

From the early 1920s to 1973 the Department of Lands and Surveys was responsible for the operation of State assisted migration. Consequently, files relating to assisted immigration can be found in the Lands and Surveys Department General Correspondence series.

The records listed below are selected examples of the types of immigration records held by the State Records Office.

Immigration Schemes

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Throughout the first half of the century, Western Australia was involved in a number of immigration schemes with Britain, which were intended to encourage immigration to the State. References to many of these schemes, particularly for the 1900s-1920s, can be found in the files of the Agent General to London.

The most significant immigration scheme began in 1921 and was known as the Group Settlement Scheme. Under this scheme, settlers were to work in small groups to develop a number of dairy farms in the South West of the State. Britain and Australia agreed to share the costs of the migrant's passages, as well as the costs associated with developing the settlements.

Unfortunately few records relating to Group Settlement have survived. The following represent the most significant records relating to Group Settlement held by the State Records Office:

Information on particular leases within a Group Settlement locality may also be available in some cases.

The National Archives of Australia also holds further material relating to the Group Settlement Scheme (as immigration is covered under the Commonwealth jurisdiction).

Records for other immigration schemes, such as the War Service Land Settlement Scheme, can generally be located in the records of the Department of Lands and Surveys through the listings at hardcopy AN 3 finding aid available at the State Records Office Search Room or by searching online. Some immigration scheme records can also be uncovered through the records of the Department of Community Welfare listed at the hardcopy AN 320 finding aid available at the State Records Office Search Room.

Child Migration

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The State Records Office holds a number of records connected with various child migration schemes, many of which can be located through the records of the Lands and Surveys Department. The Department's General Correspondence files contain nomination forms for child migrants arriving in Western Australia on board the Jervis Bay (1934), Otranto (1934 and 1935), Ballarat (1934), Oronsay (1934 and 1937), Moreton Bay (1934 and 1935), Baradine (1934) and Balranald (1935). The nomination forms provide name, date of birth and family details in England and Australia. Files relating to other child migration schemes are also held, such as the Young Australia League Boys Scheme (Consignment 541, Item 1927/6569) and the Chandler Scheme (Consignment 541, Items 1925/3747& 1933/0103).

Other significant collections relating to child migration schemes include:

  • Community Welfare Department, Indentures of Child Migrants, 1947-1952, Acc 2868, Items 1-4, AN 320/10
  • Community Welfare Department, General Files - Child Migration, 1947-1960, Acc 2868, Items 5-14, AN 320/10
    Files relating to Clontarf, Fairbridge, Tardun, Castledare, Methodist Homes, Nazareth House (Geraldton), St Joseph's Orphanage (Subiaco), St Joseph's Trade and Farm School (Bindoon), Swan Boys Home 1947-1960. Names of children and sometimes ship arrived on are noted.
  • Guardian of Juvenile Immigration, Letterbook, 1847-1852, Acc 488, Item 5, AN 24
    Volume containing accounts current between the Guardian and the juvenile immigrants.

NOTE: Some child migration records held by the State Records Office may have a restricted access period.

For records relating to earlier juvenile immigration check the heading Parkhurst Boys in the Convict Records section.


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Prior to 1871, naturalisation was effected by separate and individual Acts of the Legislative Council. The Naturalisation Act of 1871 (35 Vic. No. 2) provided for the granting of a certificate of naturalisation to any non-British subjects who requested it by means of a memorial to the Governor, and who agreed to take the prescribed oath. In 1903, naturalisation was transferred to the Commonwealth jurisdiction and consequently naturalisation records for the post-1903 period are available through the National Archives of Australia.

The main set of naturalisation records held by the State Records Office are the Supreme Court Naturalisation Certificates, 1871-1903, Series 61. These certificates verify that the applicant had addressed a memorial to the Governor, "stating his age, occupation, and the duration of residence" in the Colony.

The State Records Office also holds the following naturalisation registers although it is not necessary to consult these to locate a certificate as the certificates have been individually listed by the name of the person naturalised:

Page reviewed 5 February 2021