Our digitisation service

Digitisation of collection material is an accepted practice of collecting institutions all round the world. The National Archives digitisation service makes our unique collection accessible to all at a time or place of their choosing. It reduces handling of the collection, helping to preserve it for future generations.

The National Archives has been digitising records and making them available on its website since 2001. Now, over 27 million images of archival records are available online for viewing through the Archives online database RecordSearch. New images are made available each week.

This service provides online access to records held in the National Archives collection across Australia and features both on-demand and proactive digitising.

Digital images of records are linked to contextual information in RecordSearch. This information identifies the Commonwealth agency that created a particular record, and provides other information including the date range, access status and the location of the original record.

Digital images are mostly presented in two sizes – a smaller viewing image and a larger image suitable for printing. Images are optimised for online viewing and provide an accurate representation of the original.

Proactive digitisation service

Under the proactive digitisation service, the National Archives digitises collection material and makes it available for viewing through RecordSearch without cost. Through the proactive service the National Archives digitises every item in a series. For example, the whole series of those who served with the First AIF – series B2455 – has been digitised.

Researchers are welcome to nominate record series for proactive digitisation. To nominate a series, contact the National Reference Service with the series title and number. We assess all nominations against selection criteria to ensure that high-use, high-value or at-risk material is digitised first.

Printing images

We recommend that you download the images you require and print them from image software, rather than printing directly from your web browser.

If you wish to reproduce material from our collection, you need to comply with the provisions of Australian copyright legislation.

Digitisation standards

Professional high resolution document scanners are used to digitise the records. Bound and fragile items are scanned using overhead digital scanners, Book scanner or camera system to ensure that these items are not damaged through the scanning process.

The National Archives RecordSearch access images are scanned at 300ppi. A standard of approximately 4700 pixels along the longest edge for an A4 size sheet of paper is used. The pixel dimensions are then relatively larger or smaller depending on the size of the original. Images will display on our website at 72dpi regardless of the resolution at which they were captured.

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