Publications and other resources about Indigenous Australians
The National Archives of Australia holds large quantities of files, also known as records. Some contain information about Indigenous people, mainly in Victoria and the Northern Territory.
To help find records about themselves or their family, the Archives has published books, guides, fact sheets and articles. Below is a list of key resources.
Between Two Worlds: The Commonwealth government and the removal of Aboriginal children of part descent in the Northern Territory
by Rowena MacDonald, IAD Press & Australian Archives, Alice Springs, NT, 1995.
Based on a long-running exhibition, this book examines the separation of Aboriginal children of part descent from their families and their placement into two Northern Territory 'half-caste' institutions run by the Australian Government. It includes oral histories, documents and photographs and shows what happened to the children. Browsing copies available in Archives reading rooms.
Family Journeys: Stories in the National Archives of Australia
National Archives of Australia, 2008.
One of the stories in this collection of family histories focuses on the Cubillo family of the Northern Territory. It talks about the migration of Antonio from the Philippines and his marriage to Lily of the Larrakia people. It is illustrated with various archival records.
Footprints: The Journey of Lucy and Percy Pepper
National Archives of Australia and the Public Record Office Victoria, 2008.
Developed in consultation with the Pepper family of Victoria, this book tells the story of the family's struggle to stay together, at a time when laws and government policy defined who was ‘Aboriginal’ and who was not. Browsing copies available in Archives reading rooms.
Aboriginal Deaths in Custody: The Royal Commission and Its Records, 1987–91, by Peter Nagle and Richard Summerrell, National Archives of Australia, 1996 (revised 1998).
A comprehensive listing of the records of the 1987 Royal Commission examining deaths of Aboriginal people while in custody.
Finding Families: A Guide to the National Archives of Australia for Genealogists, compiled by Margaret Chambers, National Archives of Australia, 1998.
A comprehensive guide to finding records related to family history in the National Archives. Chapter 3 deals specifically with records on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
walata tyamateetj: A guide to government records about Aboriginal people in Victoria, Public Record Office Victoria and National Archives of Australia, 2014.
A guide to help Victorian Aboriginal people find records about their family and country. It includes a historical overview by Richard Broome. It will also assist anyone researching the history and administration of Aboriginal affairs in Victoria to find relevant records.
Tracking Family: A Guide to Aboriginal Records Relating to the Northern Territory, National Archives of Australia, 2015.
A guide to help Indigenous people of the Northern Territory find records in various government agencies, church archives and libraries. Includes a list of all NT church-run missions and homes where Aboriginal children were placed.
Bringing Them Home (BTH) name index
This index is a list of names of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who appear in government files. Staff at the Archives can search the BTH index for particular names. They can also search a list of World War I Indigenous servicemen. For assistance, contact our Reference Service.
Information about National Archives records on the administration of Indigenous affairs by the Commonwealth Government.
The main database of the National Archives, RecordSearch, can be searched online, and at the National Archives offices in all capital cities. It provides access to millions of records in the collection.
Fact sheets are available online or in hard copy in National Archives reading rooms. They list records on specific topics.
- Pastoral industry in the Northern Territory
- The Royal Commission into Aboriginal deaths in custody
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
- Memorandum of Understanding with NT Aboriginal People
- British nuclear tests at Maralinga
- Albert Namatjira
- The 1967 Referendum
- Bringing Them Home name index
- Memorandum of Understanding with Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency
- Memorandum of Understanding with South Australian Indigenous people
- The Wave Hill 'walk-off'
- Charles Nelson Perkins
- Neville Bonner
- Finding records relating to an Indigenous person
- Aboriginal petitions
- Indigenous family history beyond the National Archives
Breaking the silences in the Constitution, by Larissa Behrendt, Memento, no. 39, 2010 (pdf, 6mb), pp 11–12.
Professor Larissa Behrendt argues that the decision of the framers of our Constitution to exclude human rights protections needs to be amended by including clauses to protect fundamental rights.
Gwalwa Daraniki: land rights struggle on record, by Philip O'Brien, Your Memento, Issue 3, 2011.
The story of the 1972 Larrakia petition – one of the most important documents in the history of Indigenous Australian's struggle for land rights.
In memory of Dhakiyarr Wirrpanda, Memento, no. 27, 2004 (pdf, 2.3mb), pp 10–11.
The story of Dhakiyarr Wirripanda, the first Indigenous Australian to be represented in the High Court of Australia.
Man on a mission, Memento, no. 21, Sept 2002 (pdf, 827kb), pp 16–17.
In 1910 the vast expanse of the Northern Territory and its people came under the control of the Commonwealth government. The government sent a scientific expedition to report on its potential for development. One member of the group was W Baldwin Spencer, an anthropologist who was known for his studies of Indigenous Australians.
Native title records kept for the future, by Kellie Abbott, Memento, no. 39, 2010 (pdf, 6mb), pp 28–29.
Valuable records about native title will be preserved for the future, with the signing of a new records authority.
The 1967 referendum: remembering the struggle, by Sue Taffe, Memento, no. 33, 2007 (pdf, 2.8mb), pp 15–17.
On 27 May 1967, a successful referendum was held to change the Australian Constitution. These changes allowed the Australian Government to legislate for Aboriginal people and to count Indigenous Australians in the national census. Historian Sue Taffe examines a little-known part of the story: the decade-campaign in support of the referendum proposals.
This website features biographies of remarkable Australians. See the story of Dhakiyarr Wirrpanda, a Yolngu elder, who was the first Aboriginal person involved in a High Court case.
This website offers easy access to archival records for teachers and students. A keyword search on 'Indigenous' will find a wealth of material.