For those with connections to Western Australia one of the key resources has been the ‘Bicentennial Dictonary of Western Australians’ series of books. Produced as a set of 10 volumes, the first 5 were released in 1988 in time for Western Australia’s Bicentennary, with the other 5 released during the 10 years that followed.
The information for these first 5 volumes was actually from a series titled “Dictionary of Western Australia”, it was just reworked and retitled to release for the Bicentennary.
However the ‘orginal’ information has a history that dates back in the 1970s. Well known Western Australian historian, Rica Erickson began work on creating the Western Australian Biographical Index (WABI) with the assistance of government funding. Requests for information was sent out through local libraries, historical groups and the local press in which members of the public were asked to provide genealogical information from the 19th century up to 1914 from their family records including arrivals in Western Australia, occupations, dates of birth, marriages and deaths of their ancestors. Historical material such as diaries, letters, business records, minute books, maps, family trees and photographs, were also sought for copying. Information relating to ordinary citizens, rather than just prominent identities was sought. Submissions for the index closed in December 1979. The highly successful project quickly accumulated vast quantities of primary source material.
Additional data was collected through passenger lists, church registers, almanacs and directories, the index to the Western Australia A Government Gazettes, and old newspapers. All the information was condensed and handwritten on individual cards and sorted alphabetically by surname and filed at the J S Battye Library on microfilm.
Now the Western Australian Biographical Index (WABI) has recently been transcribed and made available on the State Library of Western Australia website, and thanks to Creative Commons Attribution licence it is also now available on the Western Australian Genealogical Society (WAGS) website – and in an easier form.
The transcribed the data on the WA Genealogical Society website is in text form, together with images of the original index cards, and contains a total of 85,403 entries.
Click here to search to Western Australian Biographical Index now.
The WA Genealogical Society has also just released a subset of the Western Australian Biographical Index (WABI), covering the Eastern Goldfields cards. You can view the database of 1854 entries here.