Records relating to Italian migration held in Brisbane

Large numbers of Italians migrated to Queensland in the period following World War I to the 1930s, and again after World War II. Many Italian workers were recruited to the sugar industry in North Queensland, where they settled before their families joined them.

The National Archives in Brisbane holds many records documenting the relationship between Italian migrants and the Commonwealth Government. These records are a valuable source for those searching for a particular Italian person, or researching the general Italian experience in Australia.


Records documenting Italian migration to Queensland include passenger lists, nominal rolls and correspondence files relating to reception and resettlement. Details of records held in Brisbane are listed below.

Collection references

Title or description of record Date range Series number
Inwards passenger lists – Brisbane (For details of holdings of passenger lists of arrivals at other Queensland ports see Fact Sheet 190 – Passenger records held in Brisbane) (available on microfilm) 1852–1964 J715
Files relating to the reception and employment of Italian migrants to Queensland 1945–70 J25
Personal documents of Italian migrants entering Queensland 1946–57 BP145/1
Visas issued to Italians for admission into Australia 1954–57 BP384/27
Nominal rolls of Italian migrant cane cutters arriving at Cairns 1956–57 BP311/1

Alien registration

Records on aliens (i.e. non-British residents of Australia) are held for the two periods of compulsory registration. Aliens were first registered in 1916 during World War I, under the War Precautions Regulations 1916–1920, and again from 1939, under provisions of the Aliens Registration Act 1939. These measures continued beyond the war with the Aliens Act 1947 until 1971. Registration forms were collected by Customs and Immigration officials or local police. During World War II enemy aliens were required to present their alien registration to the local police station each week.

Alien registration

Title or description of record Date range Series number
Aliens travel documents 1909–41 BP313/1
Alien registration forms 1916–44 BP4/3
Alien registration cards 1920–78 BP289/1
Personal statements and declaration of aliens entering the state of Queensland 1927–49 BP9/3
Alien registration papers 1939–85 BP25/1

Service with Civil Construction and Civil Alien Corps

During World War II many aliens served in the Civil Construction Corps and the Civil Alien Corps, which undertook projects to support the war effort. The Archives in Brisbane holds personal files for those who served with both corps.

Civil Construction Corps and Civil Aliens Corps

Title or description of record Date range Series number
Personal history cards for Civil Construction Corps members 1942–46 J1732
Personal files of members of the Civil Construction Corps 1942–46 J1736
Personal files of members of the Civil Alien Corps 1942–51 J1737


The office in Brisbane holds naturalisation files for persons naturalised in Queensland after 1945 in the series J25. Naturalisation files for earlier years are held by the National Archives’ office in Canberra. Microfiche copies of naturalisation certificates for the years 1904–37 are also held. Please see Fact sheet 68 – Naturalisation records held in Canberra for further information on naturalisation records.


The Brisbane office holds many records relating to Italians who were investigated and interned. During World War II, Italians living in Australia were considered ‘enemy aliens’, including those born in Australia of Italian parentage. Concerted efforts were made to restrict the movement of those considered to be a threat on the home front. Enemy aliens, naturalised and Australian-born persons of enemy alien descent, and Australians whose political activities or loyalty was called into question were interned in camps administered by the Australian Army. Italians suspected of involvement with secret societies such as the Black Hand (Mana Nera) were particularly targeted during police investigations. Members of the Black Hand were suspected of being involved in organised crime during the 1930s in north Queensland, and were often held responsible for cases of extortion, kidnapping and murder.

Enemy aliens transferred from overseas and prisoners of war captured in war zones were also held in Australian internment camps. The majority of Italian internees from Queensland were sent to camps in Barmera and Loveday in South Australia and to Cowra in New South Wales, predominately during the period 1940 to 1943. Most internees were away from home until the end of the war. For those on the land this meant leaving their farms to be maintained by their wives and children.

Collection references

Title or description of record Date range Series number
Indexes of aliens interned (Digital copies of some records in these series can be viewed on the RecordSearch database) 1914–17 BP230/11
Correspondence files relating to national security (many files relate to individuals interned during WW II) 1924–71 BP242/1
Identity cards for Italian prisoners of war * 1943–45 J3118
Italian prisoner of war and internee pay sheets 1944–45 J2255