State Archives and Parliament

Exhibition of State Archives at Parliament House marks 800th anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta.

A display of some of Western Australia’s most important and evocative archives have gone on show at Parliament House to mark the 800th anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta.Display of State Archives at Parliament House

Also online through the State Records Office’s website, State Archives and Parliament draws the link between the State’s founding and constitutional documents and the Magna Carta, the ultimate archival document from which Australia’s parliamentary system and the rule of law originates.

One of the founding documents is the 1890 Proclamation of Responsible Government, which granted Western Australia self-government and the ability to determine its own affairs. This is accompanied by Queen Victoria’s signed assent to the British Act to confer a Constitution on WA, dated 15 August 1890. 

Western Australia was one of the first places in the world to grant women the vote and the display includes a letter, dated 26 August 1899, from the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, thanking Sir John Forrest for ‘emancipating women’ by this action. The display documents WA’s resounding vote for secession from the Commonwealth of Australia in 1933. It features a program from the festival staged to celebrate the pro-secessionist vote, which includes the words of Westralia Shall be Free, the WA secessionist victory song.

Some of the most poignant archives include a ‘Ticket of Leave’ and a ‘Certificate of Freedom’. These heavily stained archival documents are stark reminders of Western Australia’s convict past. A 1905 drawing depicting the chaining of Aboriginal prisoners is described as an improved “new method” of restraint.

WA’s economic development and wealth of resources is indicated through the inclusion of the Police report of the 1892 discovery of gold at Kalgoorlie by Paddy Hannan and Thomas Flannagan.

There is also an online version of State Archives and Parliament for the public and to allow remote access to the display.