Local Government Records

The State Records Office maintains a considerable volume of records collected from the various Local Government authorities throughout the State. Through these records it is possible to trace the growth and development of local municipalities over the years.

Town Hall, Boulder City. c. 1900. [9925B] Local Government Authority Records

The types of records held for Local Government authorities vary between municipalities. Records held include rate books, minute books, general correspondence, subject files, account books, building permits and so on.
To identify which records are available for a given Local Government authority it is necessary to search the catalogue using the locality of the required local authority (e.g. Wanneroo). Local Government authorities exist under a variety of titles such as Shires, Roads Boards, Cities, Towns and Municipalities.

The following represent some of the most commonly used types of Local Government records.

Rate Books

These are an excellent information source for those wishing to trace the history of a specific property - particularly for suburban areas. Rate books provide details such as the name of the owner of a property, amount paid in rates, address of owner and the address of the property. Early rate books listed the occupiers of a place of residence as well as the owners. Through searching rate books an indication of when a particular property changed hands can be established. Municipal rate book series can sometimes include Local Board of Health Rate Books.

Rate books are available for many municipalities from throughout the State. The most significant collection of rate books is the City of Perth Rate Book collection available on microfiche in the State Records Office Microform Area. Entries in these rate books are by Ward and give: Surname, Given Name, Occupation, Owner, Improvements, Street, Lot No(s) and Rates.

Minute Books

Minute Books for council meetings are among the most common Local Government records maintained by the State Records Office. These records provide detailed accounts of the inner workings of Local Government councils and document the development of communities. As well as the general council minutes many municipalities have also maintained sub-committee minutes for areas such as Town Planning, Special Meetings, Nomenclature Committees, Works, Health, Buildings, and Finance. The following are selected examples of Local Government minute books:

Correspondence Files

General files may deal with a variety of subjects including rates, water supply, building inspections, health inspections, subdivisions, private hospitals, naturalisations, immunisations, roads, local libraries, elections, cemeteries, legal issues and other such matters of concern to Local Governments. Selected examples of correspondence files available include:

House Plans

The only significant Local Government collection of house plans held by the State Records Office is that of the Perth Roads Board (Acc 1712 & 2775). These consignments hold plans for most of the residential dwellings constructed between 1917 and 1947 north of Walcott St which now forms part of the City of Stirling and Town of Vincent. The plans are available on microfilm and can only be accessed by first locating the relevant application number within the corresponding Building Permit Registers (Acc 2784). The State Records Office has indexed all such plans in the collection and can search this index on behalf of clients to see if the relevant house plan exists. Please telephone our enquiry desk on (08) 9427 3600 for this free service.
Further information on how to access these plans can be found on our Maps and Plans Information Sheet.

Other Local Government Records

A wide variety of other Local Government records are also available such as report books, correspondence registers and indexes, registers of deeds, licensing registers, electoral rolls, burial registers, cash books and building permits. The following are selected examples of some of the other Local Government records available:

Departmental Records

In addition to the records of individual Local Government authorities the State Records Office also holds files from the Department of Local Government, the agency responsible for overseeing the functioning of municipal councils and providing guidance for Local Government operations.

Listings of records for the Department of Local Government can be found in the catalogue.

General Files, Series 1 & AN 107

General files cover a broad range of administrative and policy records, including files on Acts, by-laws, cemeteries, honours lists, quarries, roads, traffic, superannuation, elections, financial records, district boundaries, and other issues relating to the functioning of all municipal councils. The following are selected examples of the general files:

Municipality Records, Series 2

These files relate to specific municipalities and deal with a range of matters such as district boundaries, administration matters, wards and memberships, by-laws, finance and water supply. Selected examples include:

Beverley Roads Board Offices, 1949. [008030D] Other Local Government Related Records

It is possible in some cases to locate Local Government records in other related collections held by the State Records Office. The following are examples of some of these related collections.

Colonial Secretary's Office (CSO) Records

References to Local Government matters may be found within the Colonial Secretary's Office correspondence. Records can be located through the Subject Indexes situated in the State Records Office Search Room, under the name of the required locality or Roads Board.

Further information on the Colonial Secretary's Office can be found on our Colonial Secretary's Office records page .

Heritage Council of Western Australia

The Heritage Council aims to promote conservation and appropriate management of heritage sites within Western Australia, through the promotion of awareness of cultural heritage within local communities. Records held by the State Records Office from the Heritage Council may be relevant to researchers interested in Local Government involvement in cultural heritage. For example, Series 2160 entitled "Heritage Committee" includes submissions for funding from Local Governments.

Heritage Council records can be located through the catalogue. The records of the Council's predecessor agency, the Western Australian Heritage Committee, also contain information relating to Local Government authorities.

Local Boards of Health

The State Records Office holds the records of numerous Local Council Health Boards and Health Committees. Local Health Boards were established to coordinate health matters within local communities and were responsible to the Central Board of Health, and later the Public Health Department.

Generally the records for Local Boards of Health can be located within the records of the Local Government authority for the relevant district, particularly in the case of the early Roads Board records. However, records relating to Local Boards of Health may also be found in the Health Department General Files listed in Series 268. Records relating to particular Health Boards and Health Committees can also be located through the catalogue.

Royal Commissions and Committees of Inquiry

The State Records Office holds records relating to a number of Royal Commissions that have conducted investigations into Local Government in Western Australia. Examples include Royal Commissions into matters such as the Local Government Bill (1950), Municipal Boundaries (1948-1949) and the inquiry into the Perth City Council Administration (1938). The types of records available for these Royal Commissions can include transcripts of evidence, exhibits registers, correspondence, press cuttings and final reports.

Royal Commission and Committee of Inquiry records can be located through the State Records Office hardcopy finding aids at AN 537 and AN 545 respectively. Relevant records may also be listed online under the title of the required Commission or Committee.

Please Note: There is a 30 year access restriction on both Royal Commission and Committee of Inquiry records. See also further information on our Accessing Restricted Records page.

Further Information

State Records Office staff at the Enquiry Desk can provide additional information on the range of Local Government records available from within the State Records Office collection. For more information contact us by telephone on (08) 9427 3600, by facsimile on (08) 9427 3368, via email at sro@sro.wa.gov.au or in person.