The Immigration Photographic Archive – Fact sheet 254

After World War II, the Australian Government began an immigration program designed to provide the population and labour force needed to equip the country for postwar development. Migrants came to Australia from the United Kingdom and southern and western Europe, including from refugee camps. Most immigrants arrived on assisted passages or resettlement programs, as child and youth migrants and through employment and family reunion programs. From the 1960s immigration schemes saw migrants from Asia, the Pacific, the Middle East and Africa settle in Australia.

The Department of Immigration was responsible for implementing Australia’s postwar immigration programs. From its creation in 1945, the department employed photographers to record the arrival and resettlement of migrants and their integration into the Australian community. Their photographs were used to advertise and promote Australia to potential migrants, to illustrate reports and other publications, and as a resource for research into immigration.

The National Archives holds this collection of images as the Immigration Photographic Archive (series A12111). The collection comprises 36,000 black and white and colour images and is catalogued with the subject and a consecutive number with a year prefix. For example, a photograph relating to ‘Bring Out a Briton (BOAB) Scheme’ taken in 1958 could be identified as ‘1/1958/7/1’. Colour images have a ‘C’ prefix.

Access to the Immigration Photographic Archive

More than 10,000 images from the Immigration Photographic Archive have been digitised and can be accessed through PhotoSearch. Search for ‘A12111’ as the series number, and then refine the search using keywords.

Captions for all photographs in the Immigration Photographic Archive are listed on our collection database. Undertake an Advanced search – Items with ‘A12111’ as the series number and any keywords.

Examples from Immigration Photographic Archive (A12111)


 Title or description of recordDate rangeSeries number
PhotoMacKeon family of 13 arrives from Ireland1957A12111, 57/4/6
PhotoThe Aurelia brings Hungarian refugees1957A12111, 57/5/32
PhotoThirty Danish migrants aboard the Castel Felice1958A12111, 58/4/8
PhotoThe Orsova – Rotary ship of ‘Bring Out a Briton’ arrivals1958A12111, 58/7/3

Hostels and reception centres

 Title or description of recordDate rangeSeries number
PhotoMeal time for families at Bonegilla1949A12111, 49/22/9
PhotoBathurst reception centre1951A12111, 51/22/31
PhotoGreta migrant centre – children’s story group1955A12111, C55/22A/1


 Title or description of recordDate rangeSeries number
PhotoArthur Calwell at naturalisation ceremony in the Great Hall, Melbourne University1949A12111, 49/12A/2
PhotoAthletes naturalised before going to Rome Olympics1960A12111, 60/12/10

Settling in

At home

 Title or description of recordDate rangeSeries number
PhotoDutch family at home near Sydney1960A12111, 60/21/2
PhotoEstonian Senior Citizens Home – Thirlmere, New South Wales1961A12111, 61/13/22
PhotoSuburban homes for British migrants in Frankston, Victoria1972A12111, 72/21/10

Child and youth migrants

 Title or description of recordDate rangeSeries number
PhotoSt Vincent’s Foundling Home – Leederville, Western Australia1948A12111, 48/8A/12
PhotoChildren have a lesson in the Bonegilla school1955A12111, 55/22/82
PhotoFairbridge Society home in Tasmania1958A12111, 58/8/3
PhotoPromotion for youth – Dutch farm boys’ visit1960A12111, 60/34/1

Events and festivals

 Title or description of recordDate rangeSeries number
PhotoCoronation celebrations – Enoggera Centre, Brisbane1953A12111, 53/17/22
PhotoTenth festival of Latvian music and arts1960A12111, 60/17/51
PhotoUkrainians celebrate Christmas – Canberra1962A12111, 62/17/6
PhotoGreek National Day in Adelaide1963A12111, 63/17/1
PhotoFinnish National Festival – Melbourne1963A12111, 63/17/11

Ministers for Immigration

Further information about immigration to Australia

Our fact sheet on Immigration records contains an overview of records relating to the arrival and resettlement of migrants, and includes a list of other fact sheets about immigration to Australia. We also have information on migration and citizenship, and you can search our collection using NameSearch to find records about individuals.

Destination: Australia features more than 20,000 photographs of migrants who arrived in Australia from all over the world after World War II. Visit us to share your migration story.

Copyright National Archives of Australia 2019