The ArchivesSearch catalogue describes the hard copy original records held in our collection.

ArchivesSearch does not contain digital or digitised copies of records.

Entries in the catalogue may mention online copies or microfilm.

Any public user can order records which are open for general public access.

You will need authorisation for access to restricted records, including records which are fragile. Our staff must order these records on your behalf, or can help you view a copy.

If you are unable to pre-order the records yourself, you can ask us to pre-order for you.

How to order using ArchivesSearch

You do not need to be logged in to ArchivesSearch to search for records.

You do need to be registered as a Public User and logged in to order original records (units and items) for viewing in the Research Centre.

  1. Log in with your User ID and password, if you think you might want to order later

  2. Search to locate the record (unit or item)

  • If you know the reference, try Direct Search
  • If you don't know the reference, try Keyword Search
  1. Click on the unit or item to see the unit or item details
  • If your search results take you to a Series Description page, you can scroll down to the Consignment ID to find a list of units and items.
  1. Click the Request Unit or Request Item button.
  • You can request other units and items before completing your order
  1. Click Current Request in the left hand menu to see units or items requested.
  2. Select the unit or items required by ticking the box and click the Place Order button.
  • We will deliver up to 10 units or items morning and afternoon. Records are able to be held over to view on later visits.
  1. You will receive a confirmation of units or items ordered.
  2. Click the LOGOUT button at the bottom of the left hand menu.

Other ideas

Not all records have been described at their item (file) level. Try searching by type of information, or by government agency that would have created the information.

Some records have been digitised, and can be accessed online. Check our Online Records page.

Some records have been listed in an index or special list. Check our Indexes and Special Lists page.

Browse our subject-based finding aids for ideas. These are available on our website or in our Research Centre.

Experiencing issues?

You cannot order records which are restricted from general public access.

You must be registered and have a Public User ID and password to order.

If the left hand menu is dark blue or the Request Unit or Request Item is not showing your browser may be incompatible.

ArchivesSearch is only fully operational using Windows Internet Explorer browsers. Use our guide Access to ArchivesSearch using Internet Explorer to improve compatibility for Internet Explorer.

Pre-ordering records

We know not everyone can use ArchivesSearch to pre-order so we can do it for you. Staff are also available to assist with on-site ordering.

Let us know 1-2 business days ahead of your visit by sending an email to or leaving a message on 08 8343 6800.

Please include:

  • Unit or item references for the records you are hoping to view
  • the date of your planned visit, and
  • your name and User ID
  • your phone number and email address in case we have a problem with the order.

Records available on microfilm or in digital format

A number of frequently accessed records are available for viewing within our Research Centre on:

  • microfilm
  • microfiche or
  • in digital format .

These copies do not need to be pre-ordered.

Some records are also available online and can be viewed outside our Research Centre.

Series descriptions in ArchivesSearch indicate whether the records are available in this format.

Extra information

Viewing records at our Research Centre

Our collection is housed in our repositories at Gepps Cross and Collinswood.

We retrieve records from our Collinswood repository once per week for delivery to the Gepps Cross Research Centre.

We retrieve records from our Gepps Cross repository throughout the day. Retrieval times are explained on our Research Centre page.

Registration and ordering

It is a good idea to try and pre-order before you visit, but is not essential. You will need to be registered and logged on using a Public User ID and password to be able to pre-order records.

To register as a public user:

  • Complete the Public User Registration through ArchivesSearch.
  • A membership card will be provided when you visit, or if you register on-site.

Searching using ArchivesSearch

Different search options will provide you with different outcomes:

  • Keyword Search see if a specific name or place is listed, or to find an agency or a series from words in catalogue descriptions
  • Direct Search ...if you already have a series (eg GRG35 176) or agency reference (eg GA30)
  • Search in a Series ...if you are looking for a specific name within a known series
  • WWI Photos locate a packet within GRG 26/5/4 Photographs of South Australian soldiers, sailors and nurses engaged in World War One
  • Name Search find an individual whose name has been indexed within a record (note: not all names have been indexed; a Keyword Search will also return these results)
  • Passenger List Search limit a name search to GRG 35/48/1 Official Assisted Passage Passenger Lists ,1845–1886

Archival terms

Searching for records in an archive is very different from searching for books in a library; for example:

  • records are arranged by the Government Agency that created them, not by subject
  • not every item in the collection is listed in a subject index or catalogue
  • records are stored in a repository and cannot be browsed
  • records have to be identified and ordered prior to viewing in our Research Centres

The Series is the basic unit of archival arrangement - a grouping of similar types of records created by the same agency.

Records in our collection are assigned a series number, series title, a description of the creating agency and its administrative history and a broad description of the content of the series.

A Series is made up of Consignments (groups of records), Units (such as boxes, map drawers or bundles) and Items (individual records, such as files, volumes, maps).