James Battye

James Sykes Battye (1871–1954) was an Australian librarian who was the first chief librarian of the Victoria Public Library in Perth, Western Australia. He was a leading historian, librarian and public figure in Western Australian and also served as a Chancellor of the University of Western Australia.

James Sykes Battye
J S Battye bust at Battye Library.jpg
A bust of Battye located in the
State Library of Western Australia
Years active1894 – 1954
Known forInaugural chief librarian in Western Australia

In 1951, The West Australian newspaper designated him as the Principal librarian and secretary of the Public Library, Museum and Art Gallery of Western Australia[1]

Battye Street in the Canberra suburb of Bruce is named in his honour.[2]


James Sykes Battye was born at Geelong, Victoria, on 20 November 1871. His father Daniel Battye, was a wool-weaver from Yorkshire in England. His mother was Maria, (née Quamby).[3]

He married Sarah Elizabeth May in Melbourne on 15 May 1895.[4]

Battye came to Western Australia from Victoria in 1894 to take up the position which he held until his death in 1954.[5]

Although not directly within his professional role, he developed a strong interest in Western Australian history and began collecting material from early in the century.

Battye died on 15 July 1954.[6]

The J S Battye Library is named in his honour. "Battye" is a local term for the library and also his History of Western Australia volume published at the time of the Western Australia centenary celebrations in 1929.

Published worksEdit

Battye was involved in a number of publishing projects – the Cyclopedia of Western Australia before the First World War, and the History of Western Australia, as well as the commemoration of the state's centenary in 1929 he was involved in the organising committee.

  • Battye, J. S. (1912). The Cyclopedia of Western Australia: an historical and commercial review: descriptive and biographical facts, figures and illustrations: an epitome of progress. 2 volumes (Illustrated ed.). Adelaide: Cyclopedia Company by Hussey & Gillingham. p. 1025. Facsimile edition published in 1985 by Hesperian Press, Carlisle, W.A. ISBN 0-85905-072-6.
  • Battye, J. S. (1924). Western Australia: a history from its discovery to the inauguration of the Commonwealth (Facsimile edition: (1978) with an introduction by B. K. de Garis. Nedlands, W.A. University of Western Australia Press). Oxford: Clarendon Press. ISBN 0-85564-136-3.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Personal column". The West Australian. 14 November 1951.
  2. ^ ACT Planning and Land Authority. "Street and Suburb Names - Battye Street, Bruce". Retrieved 8 July 2013. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  3. ^ http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/battye-james-sykes-5156 ADB Biography
  4. ^ "Family Notices". The West Australian. 11 (2, 894). Western Australia. 28 May 1895. p. 4. Retrieved 4 October 2016 – via National Library of Australia. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  5. ^ "Who's Who in W.A." The Daily News. LV (18, 968). Western Australia. 4 January 1936. p. 7 (GOLDFIELDS EDITION). Retrieved 4 October 2016 – via National Library of Australia. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  6. ^ "W.A. Historian And Librarian Dies". The West Australian. 70 (21, 211). Western Australia. 16 July 1954. p. 3. Retrieved 4 October 2016 – via National Library of Australia. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)

Further readingEdit

  • Cyclopedia of Western Australia - has his biography until 1912 at - Vol. 1, pp. 532–533
  • Garrick, P. (1984) Two historians and the aborigines: Kimberly and Battye, commentary on their different attitudes. Studies in Western Australian History, No.8 (Dec. 1984), pp. 111–130

External linksEdit

Academic offices
Preceded by
Sir Walter James
Chancellor of the University of Western Australia
1936 – 1943
Succeeded by
Sir Walter Murdoch