Photograph Archive


The Royal Western Australian Historical Society owns a collection of rare photographs dating back to the introduction of photography in Western Australia in the 1850s. The collection consists not only of paper-based photographic images but also of glass plates which were first used in photography, and of tintypes and ambrotypes. Many of the earliest photographs are images of people and reflect the practice that developed of leaving photographs in place of calling cards when visiting friends and relatives.  There are approximately 40,000 photographs in the collection; about 20,000 records, including images, have been digitised and can be accessed from this website. From this website you can search the catalogue at the Research Western Australian History page.

Where records include thumbnail  images you may print off copies of these low resolution images for research or private use. Higher resolution copies are available for sale through our on-line Shop (see below for associated conditions). 

Two buggies with passengers and people standing by each wheel in front if a house.
RWAHS M1999_3218


Do you wish to obtain a JPEG copy of one or more of the Society’s images?

Online JPEG images (either 300 ppi or 600 ppi) may be electronically ordered, supplied and paid for via our online Shop and sent to you by email.  If you want a higher resolution image (if one is available) you may order and purchase it via our online Shop but it will be posted to you on a disc.  Before you can complete the purchase order for any of the Society’s images you will be required to agree to its Conditions of Use of Photographic Images.

Should you wish to obtain a copy of one or more copyrighted images you will need to contact the Library via the online Photograph Collection Enquiry Form giving the title and accession number of the photograph/s.  

It should be noted that the Photograph Archive is managed by Volunteers on a part-time basis and although they will do their best to respond to your order quickly it may take up to fourteen days before they will be able to do it.  

Should you wish to publish in any way images (including commercial, social media use) from the Society’s historical collections databases, you must declare in writing your intention to publish and obtain permission from the Society as the custodian of the image/s. It is the responsibility of the purchaser to obtain permission to publish.  Copyright holder information is not always available from the Society.

Declaration of intention to publish can be made at the time of ordering image/s or by post to the Hon. Librarian, Royal Western Australian Historical Society, 49 Broadway, Nedlands, 6008 or by email to  Within a week you will receive a Permission to Publish Request Form which is to be signed by you and returned to the Administrative Officer, Royal Western Australian Historical Society, 49 Broadway, Nedlands, W.A., 6009.  You will receive the Society’s response within two weeks

We will let you know if you need to contact a copyright owner before you can use the image.

For further details on access to and use of the photograph archive complete and submit the Library Research Enquiries Form or telephone: +61 8 9386 3841 . 

In front of a mine there is a man in a buggy in front of which is a man with a bicycle, another man standing beside the buggy and another beside the bicycle
Goldfields - Burbank's Birthday Gift, 1900   RWAHS P1999_1469