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South Australian History: Religion

This guide covers a range of topics relating to the history of South Australia, including the South Australian Company, researching Aboriginal history in South Australia, mines and mining, and the South Australian experience of religion and education

Books and pamphlets

Bolton, Barbara. Booth's drum: the Salvation Army in Australia, 1880-1980. Sydney: Hodder and Stoughton, 1980.

Brauer, A. (Alfred). Under the Southern Cross: history of Evangelical Lutheran Church of Australia. Adelaide: Lutheran Publishing House, 1956.

Byrne, F. History of the Catholic Church in South Australia. Adelaide: Hansen, 1914.

Cameron, John Rev. In Stow's footsteps: a chronological history of the Congregational Churches in S.A., 1837-1977. Glynde, South Australian Congregational History Project Committee, c1987.

Centenary in Australia of Society of Jesus: a tribute to pioneer Jesuits in South Australia. Norwood, S.A.: St. Ignatius', 1948.

Chant, Barry. Heart of fire: the story of Australian Pentecostalism. Fullarton, S.A.: Luke Publications, 1973.

Crowley, F. K. South Australian history: a survey for research students. Adelaide: Libraries Board of South Australia, 1966. Ch.16 'Religion.'

Ey, Anna Victoria. Early Lutheran congregations in South Australia: memoirs of a pastor's wife, Anna Victoria Ey, widow of pastor J.M.R. Ey, covering 1847-1914. Payneham, S. Aust.: A.P.H. Freund, 1986.

The Flinders history of South Australia. Social history. Edited by Eric Richards. Netley, S. Aust.: Wakefield Press, 1986. Ch.8 'Religion' and index.

Goldthorpe, Ruth. Our honourable inheritance: a history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Australia. Adelaide: Ruth Goldthorpe, 1989.

Haslam, James. The history of Wesleyan Methodism in South Australia from its commencement to its jubilee. Adelaide: South Australian Methodist Historical Society, 1958.

Hilliard, David. Godliness and good order: a history of the Anglican Church in South Australia. Netley, Wakefield Press, 1986.

Hughes, H. Estcourt. Our first hundred years: the Baptist Church of South Australia. Adelaide: S.A. Baptist Union, 1937.

Hunt, Arnold D. The Bible Christians in South Australia. Adelaide: Uniting Church Historical Society, 1983.

Hunt, Arnold D. This side of Heaven: a history of Methodism in South Australia. Adelaide: Lutheran Publishing House, 1985.

Islam in Australia, 1863-1932, edited by Mohamed Hasan Musakhan. Adelaide: Mahomet Allum, 1932

Kiek, Edward S. Our first hundred years: the centenary record of the South Australian Congregational Union. Adelaide: S.A. Congregational Union and Home Mission, 1950.

Leske, Everard. For faith and freedom: the story of Lutherans and Lutheranism in Australia 1838-1996. Bowden, SA: Friends of Lutheran Archives, 2009

Loos, Noel. White Christ black cross: the emergence of a black church. Canberra: Aboriginal Studies Press, 2007 

Mary MacKillop and a nest of crosses: correspondence with Fr Julian Woods - 1869 to 1872, arranged and edited by Sheila McCreanor, North Sydney: Trustees of the Sisters of St Joseph, 2011.

McLellan, J. The Anglican Church in South Australia: index to churches, the establishment of services, mission centres, etc., as recorded in the Reports of the Adelaide Diocesan Synod (1855-1888), the Year book of the Church of England (1889-1937/8), the Willochran August 1915 to October 1938. Adelaide: John McLellan, 1938.

McLellan, J. Methodist index, 1836-1938: comprising references to the Bible Christian, Methodist New Connexion, Primitive Methodist, United Methodist Free, Wesleyan Methodist and Methodist churches. Adelaide.: J McLellan, 1939.

Nicholls, William T. The royal blood-washed, 1880-1990: a history of the first hundred years of the Adelaide Congress Hall Corps. Adelaide: Adelaide Congress Hall Corps, 1987.

Of pioneers & progress: Seventh-day Adventists in South Australia, 1886-1986. Prospect, S. Aust.: South Australian Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, c1986.

Paterson, Roslyn M. A select bibliography of South Australian religious history. Hindmarsh, S. Aust: Public Libraries Branch, 1990.

Peake, Andrew Guy. Sources for South Australian history. Dulwich, S. Aust.: Tudor Australia Press, 1987. Ch.10 Church records.

Press, Margaret M. From our broken toil: South Australian Catholics 1836 to 1905. Adelaide: Catholic Archdiocese of Adelaide, 1986.

Rutland, Suzanne D. Edge of the Diaspora: two centuries of Jewish settlement in Australia. Sydney: Collins, 1988.

Scrimgeour, R. J. Some Scots were here: a history of the Presbyterian Church in South Australia 1839-1977. Adelaide: Lutheran Publishing House, 1986.

Stevenson, Charles. The millionth snowflake: the history of Quakers in South Australia. North Adelaide, S. Aust.: The Religious Society of Friends Adelaide Meeting, 1987.

Taylor, H. R. The history of Churches of Christ in South Australia, 1846-1959. Adelaide: Churches of Christ Evangelistic Union, 1959.

Tsounis, M. P. The story of a community: a short pictorial history of the Greek Orthodox Community in South Australia. Adelaide, S. Aust: Greek Orthodox Community of South Australia, 1990?

Twain, Mark. 'Religions in South Australia' in Following the Equator: a journey around the world, Hartford, Conn.: American Pub. Co., 1897, p.p. 181-182.

Vine Hall, N. J. Parish registers in Australia: a list of originals, transcripts, microforms, & indexes of Australian parish registers. Middle Park, Vic.: N. Vine Hall, c1990.

Whitehead, John. Adelaide, city of churches. Magill S. Aust.: M.C. Publications, 1986.

Library catalogue

The resources listed on this page are selective. Check the library catalogue for books, journals, images and archival material. As a suggestion, you may find it useful to search on the name of the church or denomination, rather than simply searching on religion. Suggested subject searches:

Greek Orthodox Community of South Australia History
Lutheran Church South Australia History
Methodist Church South Australia History
Catholic Church South Australia History
Aboriginal Australians Missions South Australia
Islam Australia

Archival material


The Archival Collection holds extensive records of the following churches. For some churches of these denominations, the library holds baptismal, marriage and burial registers for various periods, many of which have been microfilmed.

As the records can be complex, Finding Aids are available for these Society Record Groups (SRGs). They list specific records and their reference numbers.

Anglican Church in Australia. Province of South Australia 

Congregational Union of South Australia 

Adelaide Hebrew Congregation 

Methodist Church of Australasia. South Australia Conference 

Presbyterian Church of Australia. South Australian Assembly 

Society of Friends in South Australia 

Uniting Church in Australia. S.A. Synod 

Records relating to the Catholic Church in South Australia are held at the Adelaide Catholic Archives.

Records relating to the Lutheran Church for the whole of Australia are held at the Lutheran Church Archives and Research Centre in Adelaide.

Religious periodicals

Newsletters and magazines published by churches and religious organisations are a rich source of historical material. The library has compiled a Bibliography of SA religious periodicals which lists the publications issued by a wide range of these organisations. Search the library catalogue by title or keyword to find the library holdings for each item.

Finding resources online

Biographical information on influential religious South Australian's, such as Mary MacKillop, Catherine Helen Spence and David Unaipon can be found by using the Australian Dictionary of Biography Online.

Newspaper articles on religious issues, events and people up to 1955 can be searched using the National Library's Trove Digitised Newspapers website.

History SA

Religious History Association

Home access to eResources
The library has electronic resources which can be used at the library. In addition, the home access service allows you to access full-text journal articles online from home. You need to be a South Australian resident to use the service.

Journal articles

The Journal of the Historical Society of South Australia may contain useful articles on various aspects of religious history. The journal, from 1994 to the present, is available online at the State Library or at home to registered users of the library's Home Access service. Selected articles are listed below.

No.17, 1989, pp.62-77. Dicky Brian. 'The origins of the Church Missionary Society of South Australia, 1910-1917.'

No.11, 1983, pp.92-104. Hilliard, David. 'Dissenters and dissent: The Unitarians in South Australia.'

No.16, 1988, pp.70-86. Hilliard David. 'Emmanual Swedenborg and the New Church in South Australia.'

No.10, 1982, pp.15-31. Hunt, Arnold. 'The Bible Christians in South Australia.'

No.22, 1994, pp.32-48. Hyams, Bernard. 'Establishing a congregation: The Jewish community in South Australia 1836-1870.'

No.14, 1986, pp.123-136. Stevenson, Charles. 'Boundless Salvation: The rise of the Salvation Army in South Australia.'

No.19, 1991, pp.165-172. Stevenson, Charles. 'From pariah to pacesetter: The Adelaide media and the Quakers 1915-1923.'

References from other periodicals:

SA Life, Vol 3, No. 5 May 2006, p. 58-63. LeFevre, Carol 'Say a little prayer in any language you like'

References to the Mosque and Mohammedanism in South Australia. Research note no. 615. List of newspaper references from the 'Observer', 1890-1898 on the Adelaide Mosque and Islamic faith in South Australia.