History at Willoughby

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Picture Willoughby

Picture Willoughby is an extensive collection of mostly black and white photos of the local area. The images date from the 1890s to the present day and each is presented with a description and explanatory historical note.

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If you have photographs of the Willoughby area - people, places, houses, parks, occasions etc - the Local Studies team at the library would love to have them to add to their collection of 5,000 photos of past and present Willoughby. If you are able to date the photographs and add a caption, even better. If you do not wish to donate the photos, the Library can copy them and return them to you. Contact the Local Studies team on 9777 7900.

Fact Sheets

A variety of fact sheets on Willoughby's history have been written by the Local Studies team. Topics covered include Artarmon, Castle Cove, Castlecrag, Chatswood CBD, Chatswood and Chatswood West, Middle Cove, Naremburn, Northbridge and Willoughby.

Your House

The Library holds the Willoughby City Council Valuation and Rate books from 1872 to 1984. These can help you find out when your house was built, if it had a name, and who used to live there. For more information, read this brochure:

 House Trace Brochure

For details of your house the Library offers:

  •  a house trace tutorial if you would like to do the research yourself, or
  •  a service where staff does the research for a fee.

For more information, complete this form.

 Willoughby Walks

Willoughby Walks - app button

Willoughby Walks is a free, interactive self-guided walking tour app brought to you by Willoughby City Library.


There are a number of printed Heritage Walks which focus on architecture and historical places, as well as bushwalks.

Downloadable versions available: 

For any enquiries please phone the Local Studies section on 9777 7900 or email library@willoughby.nsw.gov.au.

Your Family

We have a selection of shipping lists, convict lists, pioneer registers, births, deaths and marriages indices, electoral rolls, early telephone directories, census records, Sands directories and cemetery transcripts which can be used for family history research. See our online family and local history resources, or read  Guide to Family History.

Ancestry Logo  Come to Chatswood Library to search Ancestry.com for your family history in Australia, the UK, Ireland, the US and other countries.

Family History Group

Join our monthly Family History Group, bringing novice and experienced family historians together to learn and share knowledge and stories.  dss

Your Council

Most of the minutes of Willoughby Council from the first Council Meeting in 1865 onwards are held at the Library. Current minutes are available under Agendas and Minutes. A selection of publications and miscellaneous reports issued by Council are held in the archives. See more Local, State and Federal Government online resources

Heritage Plaques 

The Civic Heritage Plaques record Willoughby City's history since it became a Municipality.

Gore Hill Memorial Cemetery

Willoughby City Library is the repository for the Gore Hill cemetery archives. For information about Gore Hill Cemetery and to access online records see the Gore Hill Cemetery webpage.

Walter Burley Griffin

Chatswood Library holds a great deal of information about Walter Burley Griffin, who was responsible for naming and planning Castlecrag. There are books, photos, maps and plans of the Castlecrag subdivision as well as material on the Griffin Incinerator. See also the Walter Burley Griffin Society website.