What's in the collection

The National Archives' collection contains records about key events and decisions that have shaped Australian history.

With more than 40 million items, our collection mainly includes Australian Government records from Federation in 1901 to now.

Records come from Australian Government:

  • departments
  • statutory authorities
  • royal commissions
  • military units
  • security and intelligence agencies
  • diplomatic posts
  • law enforcement agencies
  • Cabinet

We hold some key records that document Australia's birth as a nation.

We have records about:

  • immigration
  • military service
  • transport
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
  • the environment
  • communications
  • security and intelligence
  • foreign affairs
  • the arts
  • many other topics

We also hold some important 19th-century records about colonial activities that were transferred to the Australian Government. These include:

  • customs
  • patents
  • defence
  • lighthouses
  • naturalisation
  • shipping
  • postal and telegraphic services

We hold some High Court of Australia records and papers from high profile Australians.

Governors-general, prime ministers, ministers, High Court judges and senior public servants have sent records to the National Archives.

While most of our records are paper files, we also have:

  • photographs
  • audiovisual records
  • sound recordings
  • maps and plans
  • posters
  • objects
  • digital records

Our collection is unique and cannot be replaced.