Introduction to the Aboriginal Australian records and archives

This is case study illustrates all of the above different types of archives and is relevant to a number of students and researchers at La Trobe University. Public records about Aboriginal Australians are often more difficult to find given the history of how they have been treated by the government, so we created a specific page to facilitate access to these records. 

Content note

Language

There are words and descriptions in resources highlighted in this session which may be culturally insensitive and which might not normally be used in certain public or community contexts. Terms and annotations which reflect the author's attitude or that of the period in which items were written may be considered inappropriate today in some circumstances.

Deceased persons

The resources covered in this guide contain images, sounds and names of deceased Indigenous people.

“Galleries, libraries, archives and museums are considered sites of memory, spaces to engage with history and identity, but for me these places are sites of forgetting, erasure and distortion. They are built on stolen land. Their names validate the place names that colonisers used to confirm their occupation of stolen land and to nullify the history that took place before colonial invasion.

My ancestors are in these memory institutions, but their voices are missing from the words written, the art created and the cultural objects taken. All of their cultural knowledge and their history is recorded and interpreted through the colonisers’ lens.” - Nathan Sentance

Identifying keywords and events

Community publications and archive projects

News and media archives

Victorian collections

Victorian Collections

Museum Victoria Collections

National collections, resources, and consultation

Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) collections, guides and exhibitions

Australian Museum

Public Records Office of Victoria

Informit - Indigenous Collection

Scholarly search strategies

Phrase searching: This requires terms to be searched in the exact order specified within the “quotation marks”

  • “1967 Referendum”

Truncation: A truncation symbol allows you to fine word variations or alternate spellings by adding a truncation symbol to the end of terms:

  • Australi* = Australians, Australia, Australian, Australiana

Wildcard: Substitute a symbol for a single letter (character) of a word with (use for alternative spellings):

  • Organi?ation = organisation or organization

Use AND to combine key words, places, events and/or concepts and narrow your search:  “1967 Referendum” AND “Aboriginal activis*”

Use OR to find synonyms and other related words and broaden your search: aboriginal OR indigenous

Use NOT to exclude certain words: Aboriginal NOT Canadian