State Records of South Australia holds many records relating to immigration to South Australia from 1836 onwards. 

A full set of digitised passenger lists dating from 1845 - 1940 is available online.

Immigration schemes

Most immigration records at State Records relate to government-run immigration schemes. These schemes provided assistance to passengers by paying a full or partial fare for the voyage to South Australia. Records created as part of these schemes usually refer to 'assisted passage'.

These schemes were originally run by the imperial, and later colonial governmment and funded by land sales in the colony (known as the Emigration Fund). After Federation, the sate of South Australia continued to administer immigration schemes alongside the Commonwealth of Australia. State Records holds passengers lists up to 1940, and after this time these records can be found at the National Archives of Australia.

Passenger lists

Most family historians interested in the arrival of their ancestors in the colony start with passenger lists. Passengers lists are sometimes referred to as 'manifests' or 'ships manifests'.

Passenger lists dating between 1845 - 1886 record emigrants selected by the Colonisation Commissioners London, whose passage were paid for out of the Emigration Fund. Those dating between 1888 and 1940 are the official passenger lists for people arriving in Port Adelaide from overseas.

Series IDSeries DescriptionDate rangeAccess
GRG 56/68/5List of Passengers Arriving in South Australia from Overseas Ports1836 -1845

Open, Special List available

GRG 56/68/52Miscellaneous Passenger Lists1837 - 1839Open
GRG 41/8Manifest of incoming ships at Port Adelaide1838 - 1842Open
GRG 41/10Manifest of Shipping Departing from Port Adelaide1840 - 1844


Open, Special List available

GRG 56/68/7Index to Persons Arriving in SA from overseas as recorded in the Newspapers1846 - 1887


Open and available online

GRG 35/48/1Official Passenger Lists of Emigrants Selected by the Colonization Commissioners1847 - 1886Open and available online
Source 1531Immigrants arriving from Hamburg1855 - 1886Open
GRG 41/34Official List of Passengers Arriving in SA1888 - 1892, 1894, 1896 - 1940


Open, available online. See also Special List available

GRG 41/35Outgoing passengers Departing from Port Adelaide for Overseas Ports1888 - 1893, 1896 - 1940Open

Applications and nominations

Other records relating to immigraition can also be useful for family history research, as different types of records were created during the process of administering the various schemes regulated by immigration Acts. The schemes which these Acts controlled included:

  • Early assisted passenger schemes (land-sale funded) 1834-1886

  • Farm labourers 1911 onwards

  • Female domestic workers 1911 onwards

  • Barwell Boys and Big Brothers in the 1920s

Later schemes administered by the South Australian government included those run in the 1950s and 1960s, targeting mostly British migrants.  State Records also hold records of schemes run by the State on behalf of the Commonwealth. 

See GRG35/39 and immigration related series within GRG7 for records relevant to applications and nominations.

Back to the top