The Immigration Photographic Archive

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.

Examples from Immigration Photographic Archive (A12111)

You can search our collection using Photosearch to find records about individuals.