Welcome to the City of Port Adelaide Enfield Website

Local History Collection

Historical House

The City of Port Adelaide Enfield Local History Collection is located in the Port Adelaide Library and provides resources and assistance to people researching the history of the City of Port Adelaide Enfield area.

Significance Assessment

In 2011 the Library Service received a Community Heritage Grant to conduct a significance assessment of the Local History Collection at Port Adelaide Library.  The Community Heritage Grants Program is managed by the National Library and is funded by the Australian Government through the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Office for the Arts; the National Archives; the National Film and Sound Archive; the National Museum of Australia and the National Library. The purpose of the grant is to fund significance and preservation needs assessments of collections and then provide funding for conservation treatments, preservation training, digitisation, storage materials and/or environmental monitoring equipment.

The Significance Assessment, prepared by Dr Susan Marsden stated “The Port Adelaide Local History collection is unique and of high significance.  The significance …lies in two parts: firstly, in the historical and archival value of a collection documenting the development from the 1830s through to the present of the Port Adelaide region - SA’s main port, its second city, and largest working-class district; and secondly, in retaining a selection of books and documents that formed part of the Port Adelaide Institute library. This is the last intact collection of books from the major cultural institution in the port’s history.

The original Port Adelaide Institute was founded in 1851 but closed a few years later due to lack of funds.  It reopened in 1859 in Nile Street, Port Adelaide, and in 1876 opened a second juvenile service (a first for South Australia).  In 1951 the Institute collection relocated to a new building in St Vincent Street.  In 1979 the Institute Library closed and ownership of the collection was transferred to the City of Port Adelaide with the Port Adelaide Public Library opening in the former Port Adelaide Institute building.  In 1990 a new purpose built library was built to house the Port Adelaide Public Library Collection with space allocated for the Local History Collection. 

"The Collection also maintains a considerable number of maps which form a significant collection that visually documents the character of Port Adelaide and its region and the changes which have occurred, including the phases of subdivision, and the transformation of an area of water, sand and swamp with urban, suburban, port and commercial development in an important Australian region."

Significant items within the collection include:

Frederick Sinnett, An account of the colony of South Australia1862

"The first glimpse of land after a long voyage is always interesting and exhilarating and when the land so seen is the one that the voyager has crossed half the globe to reach – his expected home - the place which certainly for many years, and perhaps for the remainder of his earthly existence is to be the battle-field of his life, he must be very unimpressionable indeed if those first hours spent in sight of Australian shores are not deeply marked upon his memory.  It is more than a dozen years since I have had this experience and I have travelled over a large part of Australia, and seen its coast for many hundreds of miles since then; but my first sight of the Adelaide hills is as fresh in my memory, as the last look I took of them today.  We had made a voyage of one hundred and three days from Plymouth – which, in those times, was not considered a despicable passage, and we had sighted Kangaroo Island shortly before nightfall....."


Plan of the subdivision of Block 81, Alberton, for sale by auction at Langley's Hotel, Alberton by Charles Hains on Monday evening, 1st August, 1892

 Other resources include:

  • Published and unpublished resources relevant to the area
  • Published histories of other localities in South Australia
  • Port Adelaide Rate Assessments 1875 – 1902
  • Enfield Rate Assessments (microfiche) 1868 – 1993
  • Birth, Death, and Marriage indexes for South Australia
  • Birth, Death, and Marriage certificates for the District of Port Adelaide
  • Cemetery records
  • Messenger Newspapers 
  • Government Gazettes 1843 – 1998 (some exceptions)
  • Police Gazettes 1862 – 1947 (CD Rom)
  • Passenger Lists 1836 – 1851 (CD Rom)

Resources are available in the following formats:

  • Photographs
  • Books
  • Ephemera
  • Video
  • DVD
  • Original papers
  • Newspapers
  • Oral histories
  • Maps
  • CD books

Assistance is available during Local History opening hours


10.00 am to 1.00 pm


2.00 pm to 5.00 pm


2:00 pm to 5:00 pm


 City of Port Adelaide Enfield Local History Room:

Port Adelaide Library
2 Church Street Port Adelaide SA 5015
Phone: 08 8405 6580

For further details please contact our Local History Officer:

  • Port Adelaide Library: (08) 8405 6580 or email