Dr Kate Bagnall

Ian Maclean Award 2012

Topic: Paper trails: Travels with Anglo-Chinese Australians, 1900–1939

Biographical note

Dr Kate Bagnall is a historian whose research interests focus on Chinese-Australian families, the early administration of the White Australia Policy and the documentary heritage of Australia's Chinese communities. Her groundbreaking PhD was the first large-scale study of intimate relationships between Chinese men and white women in Australia. 

Kate was Early Career Summer Fellow at the Centre for Historical Research at the National Museum of Australia in 2009 and is co-convenor of the Dragon Tails annual conference. She actively writes and presents in both academic and community circles and has published in scholarly journals and edited volumes, family and community history publications and online. 

Kate spent her early career working at the National Archives of Australia where she developed an interest in using online technologies to provide access to and greater understanding of archival collections. She will be blogging about the progress of her project at The Tiger's Mouth.


The Paper Trails project is investigating the overseas travels of Australians of Anglo-Chinese descent in the early decades of the 20th century, exploring their experience of overseas travel and their negotiation of bureaucratic processes under the Immigration Restriction Act. It aims to demonstrate the possibilities for using new technologies to access and understand archival records and show how archives can reveal the history of marginalised communities from Australia's past In the early 20th century, Anglo-Chinese Australians travelled overseas, primarily to Hong Kong and China, on holiday, for education and business and to visit family. When they travelled, they were subject to the regulations of the Immigration Restriction Act (later the Immigration Act), under which they did not have an automatic right of return to Australia even though they were Australian-born British subjects and, ethnically, half-European. 

The project will involve the creation of an online database about the travels of around 150 individuals, which will form the centre of a website that will also include introductory essays, maps and visualisations, case studies, a gallery of archival material and a guide to understanding the records.

Copyright National Archives of Australia 2019