City of Perth History Centre
The History Centre is the go-to place to discover the City of Perth’s fascinating history.The centre is dedicated to collecting and preserving items related to the history of the City and houses a collection which includes the Aboriginal occupation and the early days of European settlement right through to the present day.
Although concentrating on the area that has been the City of Perth since the Local Government boundary changes in 1994, former suburbs in the Towns of Victoria Park, Cambridge and Vincent are also included until that date.
The collection includes books, reports, maps, photographs, oral history interviews and a range of memorabilia.
Search the History Centre's collections using the City of Perth Library catalogue search below.
To request historic building plans please complete the City's Archive Plan Search Form.
City of Perth Library, Level 2, 573 Hay Street
Perth WA 6000
Weekdays by appointment
Library Catalogue search
Learn and Discover
Interesting Perth History
- Museum of Perth
- A Tour Through Time: Perth (curated by the WA Museum)
- Perth's Prohibited Area (curated by the State Records Office WA and WA Museum)
- Fanny Balbuk: Perth Resistance Fighter (curated by the National Trust WA)
- Founding of Perth 1829 (curated by the National Museum of Australia)
- Perth's Changing Skyline 1829-2017 (by RAC)
- WA Stories (curated by the State Library of WA)
- Indigenous history of the Swan and Canning rivers (PDF)
Origin of street names
The first accurate plan of Perth with street names was prepared by Alfred Hillman under the direction of the Surveyor General. It was issued in 1838 and revised in 1841 and 1845. The first plan of Perth showed some rather peculiar phases. For instance, it demonstrated that it was never intended that the centre of the City should be around Barrack and Hay Streets. The centre of the city as originally laid out was at the intersections of Goderich and Lord Streets, the site of the Roman Catholic Cathedral. The main portions of the city were at the intersections of St Georges Terrace and William Streets as well as James and Stirling Streets. This was evident as these streets were all surveyed as the widest streets in the city.
Townsite of Perth in Western Australia : from actual survey 1838, signed A. Hillman
State Library of Western Australia. MAPR0000115 (Call Number: 9024.P4G45)
Many of the names of the streets have been changed since the original plan was drawn. The plan was first changed in 1897 when the City of Perth decided to re-arrange street names and get rid of the anomaly of having two names for different portions of the same street.
Dates given are from the original plans in the Department of Land Administration which the street names were first shown.
Click to view Perth Street Name History (click on any street on the map).
- State Library of Western Australia (online catalogue)
- State Records Office of WA (online catalogue)
- Royal Western Australian Historical Society (online catalogue)
- West Australian Post Office Directories
- State Heritage Office - inHerit (Heritage Places search)
- Heritage Perth (Heritage Places search)
- National Trusts of Australia Register of Significant Trees
- WA Museum (online collections)
- Culture WA
- National Archives of Australia
- Historical Panoramas
- Trove (digitised newspapers search)
Search Online Maps
City of Perth Online Maps Start mapping in ArcGIS Online, visit the Heritage map and click on the 'Layer List' icon in the top right corner to view older maps and plans of Perth. Search early maps and plans of Perth and WA. RetroMaps View Perth's 'Sewerage Plans' from up to 100 years ago. Landgate Map Viewer View historic aerial imagery of Perth by entering the address and selecting 'Buy Aerial Photos' to scroll through images from 1953 to the present day. Gnarla Boodja Mili Mili / Our Country on Paper
Noongar place names throughout the Perth CBD
Aboriginal Heritage Inquiry System Provides information concerning Aboriginal heritage places in Western Australia. City of Perth - Trees in the City
Find out more about any tree located in the City of Perth.
Request historic building plans
Historic building and architectural plans may be requested through the respective council where the property sits in the present-day boundaries. Please visit the links below to request archival building plans.
Family History Research
Ancestry.com Library Edition Free access at the City of Perth Library and the State Library of Western Australia. Family History WA Formerly the Western Australian Genealogical Society, provide specialised assistance with family history research to members and non-members alike. Western Australian Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages Offers free online historic index searching of births (from 1841-1932), deaths (from 1841-1971) and marriages (from 1841-1936) in W.A. Metropolitan Cemeteries Board Maintains records for all interments, cremations and memorials at cemeteries in W.A. dating back to 1899. East Perth Cemeteries
Search burial records Post Office Directories Information by locality, individual surname, government service, and by trade or profession in Western Australia during the period 1893-1949. State Library of WA Family History Guides
Find detailed information on resources available for family history research both within the State Library and online. State Records Office of WA
Search records such as passenger lists, convicts records, hospital and health records, court case files and wills. National Archives of Australia Search over 100 years of government records relating to immigration, military service, transport, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, colonial activities and many other topics. National Library of Australia’s Family History Research Guides A wealth of family-history related resources with research guides. Trove Early historical newspapers between 1803 and 1955 are freely available online through the National Library of Australia’s Trove database.
Nearby local histories