National History Challenge – Special Category

2018 National Archives Special Category prize winner Olivia Nolan with Michelle Hughes, Assistant Director Learning and Visitor Experience and Caroline Webber, Director, Public Programs.

Category Title: Using Primary Sources

We award prizes to entrants in the National History Challenge. Our Special Category prize is for excellence in the use of primary sources (archival records) from our collection.

Theme for 2019

This year the theme is 'Power and People'.

Content: Primary sources from National Archives of Australia

Format: Any format

Explore this year's theme of People and Power using primary archival sources from the National Archives of Australia's collection. You might consider how people and power led to change or how power has affected people.

In considering your research for the category Using Primary Sources, you may wish to research the following topic areas or identities, using keyword searches in Vrroom and RecordSearch


Records of Australia's security, intelligence and law enforcement. Some identities with records in the National Archives' collection are:

  • suffragettes including Vida Goldstein and Adela Pankhurst
  • Jessie Street, who was a prominent campaigner in the movement to give women the right to vote
  • the Aarons family, who were prominent figures in the Communist movement in Australia
  • 'enemy aliens'. Under the War Precautions Act 1914 and National Security (Aliens Control) Regulations 1939, these were people with citizenship of enemy nations during the world wars.


You can research the influential Indigenous people below on Vrroom and explore factsheets on Indigenous Australia.

  • Faith Bandler – an Australian civil rights activist
  • William Cooper – a Yorta Yorta Elder who petitioned King George V on the issue of Indigenous rights
  • Charles Perkins – an Indigenous activist, leader and public servant
  • Oodgeroo Noonuccal – an Aboriginal poet, artist, conservationist and political activist
  • Neville Bonner – the first Indigenous person to be elected as a member of the Australian Parliament in 1971
  • Vincent Lingiari – Gurindji Elder and Aboriginal activist.


You can discover personal stories of immigration to Australia at

Destination: Australia and records on Vrroom about:
  • refugees
  • postwar migrants
  • the Immigration Restriction Act 1901.


On Vrroom you will discover records on:

  • Antarctic expeditions
  • the Snowy Mountains Scheme
  • Lake Pedder
  • uranium mines
  • nuclear bomb testing.

You may also choose to explore People and Power through your own topic selected from the Archives' collection. Entries are accepted in all formats, however they must be received, and will be judged, digitally.

It is a requirement of this category that primary sources from the Archives' collection must be central to supporting your arguments. However, you may also draw on primary sources from other collections, and secondary sources.

Other research sites to explore are:

Further information

Email: or visit the National History Challenge.

Copyright National Archives of Australia 2019