The National Archives has many files that contain information about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
We created the Bringing Them Home name index to help First Australians use these files to find information about themselves, their country and their history.
What's in the files?
Our files about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people contain information on:
- places and events
- social welfare activities
- children’s institutions
- reserves and stations
The information comes from files that cover:
- the Northern Territory from 1911 to 1978
- Aboriginal Affairs in Victoria from 1860 to 1970
- Australian Government activities about Aboriginal affairs
What's in the Bringing Them Home name index?
We have created an index of names from our files about First Australians. The index contains:
- the names of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
- the names of non-Indigenous people related to or associated with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
- the names of missions, stations and institutions where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have lived
The index itself only contains names – not extra information. You will need to see the files to find further details about people and places.
How can the index help you?
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can ask our staff to search the index to see if your family name is mentioned. You can also ask our staff to search for place names.
If we find the names you are looking for, you can can ask for copies of records that mention the name or view the records in the research centre where they are held.
Sometimes the files you read may contain distressing or offensive information. They were created by government officials many years ago and were written in the insensitive language of the day.
What information do we need to search the index?
The more information you can give us, the easier it is to find your family stories in the files.
It will help if you can give us:
- the name of the person – including nicknames, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples' names and any different spellings
- their date of birth and death or the age at which something important happened
- family connections – the names of their sisters, brothers or other relatives
- their language group, country or homeland
- the place where they were born, lived, worked or were sent to
- the years when the person lived, worked or was sent to a place
- any other details you would like to mention
Our staff will keep all the details of your request confidential.
Viewing restricted information
Some information has been withheld from public access for privacy reasons. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people tracing their families may look at the files. This is because the National Archives signed memorandums of understanding (MOU) with Aboriginal advisory groups in Victoria, the Northern Territory and South Australia.
You will need to fill out a form to see the files under the MOU. Our staff can help with this.
If you can’t visit a National Archives office, we can supply photocopies of the files. There is no charge if you are researching for family reunion under the MOU.
It’s important to remember that, if you read about other people, you must keep it confidential.
Who else can help?
Not all families are mentioned in our files and not all files are indexed because there are so many. Once you’ve read a file, you might find it only contains a small amount of information.
To learn more, you might need to find other records in the National Archives or in your state or territory archives. Or you could talk to your local Link-Up service.
The Family History Unit of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) might also be able to help.
Our staff can give you contact details.
Please contact us if you would like National Archives staff to search the Bringing Them Home name index for you.