What's in the collection

Our collection documents Australian history, from dramatic events that shaped the nation to decisions that touched the lives of individual Australians.

Consisting of more than 40 million items, the collection includes records received, created or kept by Australian Government agencies since Federation in 1901, including those of departments, statutory authorities, royal commissions, military units, security and intelligence agencies, diplomatic posts, law enforcement agencies, and Cabinet.

We hold the key documents relating to the birth of the Australian nation, as well as records on immigration, military service, transport, Indigenous Australians, the environment, communications, security and intelligence, foreign affairs and the arts.

Also included are some significant 19th-century records dealing with activities that were transferred from the colonies to the Commonwealth including customs, patents, defence, lighthouses, naturalisation, shipping, and postal and telegraphic services.

We also hold records of the High Court of Australia, as well as the papers of prominent individuals closely connected with the government, such as governors-general, prime ministers, ministers, High Court judges and senior public servants.

While most of our records are paper files, we have photographs, audiovisual records and sound recordings, maps and plans, posters, objects, and digital records.

It is a unique and irreplaceable collection.

Copyright National Archives of Australia 2019