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National Archives of Australia

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National Archives of Australia
NAA 312 RGB.jpg
Agency overview
FormedMarch 1961
Preceding agencies
JurisdictionGovernment of Australia
HeadquartersQueen Victoria Terrace, Parkes, ACT
35°18′18″S 149°07′50″E / 35.304877°S 149.130574°E / -35.304877; 149.130574Coordinates: 35°18′18″S 149°07′50″E / 35.304877°S 149.130574°E / -35.304877; 149.130574
Employees404[1]
Annual budgetA$82.733 million (2018–19)[2]
Minister responsible
Agency executive
  • David Fricker, Director-General
Parent agencyAttorney-General's Department
Key document
  • Archives Act 1983
Websitenaa.gov.au

The National Archives of Australia is an Australian Government agency that collects, preserves and encourages access to important Australian Government records. Holding 'the biggest single body of records documenting the history of Australia', it is 'the memory of the nation'.[3]

The Archives’ collection includes over 40 million documents, files, objects, images and audiovisual items.[4] These records trace events and decisions that have shaped the nation and the lives of all Australians. They capture everyday experiences – such as work, leisure and fashion – alongside major issues such as immigration, war, democracy and national government. The National Archives therefore informs personal and family stories, social and technological developments, and local and national history.

Parliament – elections – electors at polling booth, 1958

All visitors are welcome to explore the collection, both online and in person at reading rooms located in Canberra and in each state capital. The National Archives of Australia is the only national cultural institution with a physical office in each state, and is currently planning for a new national headquarters adjacent to the National Library of Australia.

National Archives staff work with Australian Government agencies to identify, classify and preserve significant records, now largely in digital formats. The Archives also shares materials through mounting exhibitions, publishing books and guides to the collection, delivering educational programmes and participating in collaborative projects.

History[edit]

The current National Archives of Australia national office on Queen Victoria Terrace in Canberra.

After World War I the Commonwealth National Library (later National Library of Australia) was responsible for collecting Australian Government records. The library appointed its first archives officer in 1944.

In March 1961 the Commonwealth Archives Office formally separated from the National Library of Australia. It was renamed as the Australian Archives in 1975.

The Archives Act 1983 gave legislative protection to Commonwealth government records for the first time, with the Australian Archives responsible for their preservation.[5]

The agency was renamed the National Archives of Australia in February 1998.

Collections[edit]

Among the most popular National Archives items are defence service and immigration records, which often contain valuable sources for family history. They capture the lives, movements and networks of many individuals, and may include photographs, samples of handwriting and signatures. The collection also includes the correspondence and reports of a vast number of Australian Government agencies, documenting activities such as Federation, Governors-General, Prime Ministers, Cabinet and Ministers.

Locating records is somewhat different to using a Google-style search, as they are organised according to the Australian Series System. Most records over 26 years old are released for public access on request (this interval is gradually reducing to 20 years). Cabinet notebooks have a longer closed period, gradually decreasing from 50 years to 30 years by 2021. However, some exemptions include documents relating to defence and security and sensitive personal information. Access to items of cultural sensitivity to Indigenous Australians may also be restricted.

Notable collections[edit]

William James (Jack) Mildenhall photographed in 1927

There are several notable collections held by the National Archives of Australia. They include:

  • founding documents, including the Royal Commission of Assent, the Constitution Act and other records created when the six colonies federated to create the Commonwealth of Australia on 1 January 1901
  • World War I and World War II service records. Some 376,000 service records for men and women who served in World War I have been digitised and are available online at the Discovering Anzacs website.
  • the Griffin drawings – Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahony Griffin's winning entry for the design of Australia's Federal Capital
  • Mildenhall glass plate photographs taken by government photographer Jack Mildenhall – the 7700 images record Canberra during the 1920s and 1930s
  • more than 34,000 immigration photographs
  • copyright, patent and trademark registration records documenting Australian creativity and ingenuity.

Recent modernization efforts and collaborations[edit]

Discovering Anzacs digital partnership[edit]

In 2014, the National Archives of Australia, in partnership with Archives New Zealand, created the digital repository Discovering Anzacs to commemorate the centenary of World War I and each nation's role in the war effort at home and abroad. The repository features the complete and fully digitized service records of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC). Service records are also displayed geographically on a map of the world to indicate each individual's place of birth, enlistment, death and burial. Users are encouraged to transcribe the official records to improve access and add personal comments, photos and stories to give greater context to each record.[6]

Digital initiatives[edit]

Digital Continuity 2020[edit]

On October 27th, 2015, the National Archives of Australia announced its Digital Continuity 2020 program to modernize the information management practices of the government for the digital age. The policies of Digital Continuity 2020 issued by the authority of the National Archives apply to the whole of the Australian government and seek to improve efficiency and access of all services.[7]

Deadline 2025[edit]

Deadline 2025 is a collaboration between the National Archives of Australia and the National Film and Sound Archive to prioritize digitization of valuable media stored on magnetic tape which may deteriorate to the point of being unusable by 2025.[8]

Diversity initiatives[edit]

In 2014, the National Archives of Australia announced its Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) to foster better relations with its indigenous population, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The RAP is a multifaceted approach to drawing attention to the history of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, engaging and illustrating their culture respectfully, and providing improved access to their historical records. A main feature of this initiative is the Bringing Them Home name index which leverages the National Archives' collection of records to facilitate genealogical research for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The National Archives also seeks to have 3% of their workforce be those who identify themselves as indigenous to foster diversity and increase representation in the archival profession.[9][10]

Facilities[edit]

The Archives’ National Office is in Canberra. It has temporarily been relocated to Old Parliament House until the end of 2019 when it will return to East Block. In 1998 the Canberra reading room, galleries and public areas of National Archives moved into a heritage listed building East Block in the Parliamentary Triangle. The building, one of the national capital's original offices, was built in 1926 beside the Provisional Parliament House. Over the years East Block housed various government departments and served as Canberra's first post office and telephone exchange.

In addition to the National Office of Canberra in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), the National Archives has offices and reading rooms in each state capital:

  • South Australia - Adelaide
  • Queensland - Brisbane
  • Northern Territory - Darwin
  • Tasmania - Hobart
  • Victoria - Melbourne
  • Western Australia - Perth
  • New South Wales - Sydney[11]

On Friday, June 9th 2017 (International Archives Day), the National Archives of Australia officially opened the new, purpose-built National Archives Preservation Facility in Canberra, separate from the National Office which houses the reading room and galleries. The building is 17,000 square meters and will add storage for more than 100 kilometers of paper and audiovisual records.[12] On September 21st 2018, the National Archives Preservation Facility was officially renamed the Peter Durack Building after the Hon Peter Durack QC who introduced the bill creating Australia's National Archives in 1983.[13]

National directors[edit]

  • 1944–68 – Ian MacLean, Chief Archivist
  • 1968–70 – Keith Penny, Chief Archivist
  • 1970–71 – Keith Pearson, Director, Commonwealth Archives Office
  • 1971–75 – John Dunner, Director, Commonwealth Archives Office
  • 1975–84 – Robert Neale, Director-General, Australian Archives
  • 1984–89 – Brian Cox, Director-General, Australian Archives
  • 1990–2000 – George Nichols, Director-General, Australian Archives/National Archives of Australia
  • 2000–03 – Anne-Marie Schwirtlich, acting Director-General, National Archives of Australia
  • 2003–11 – Ross Gibbs, Director-General, National Archives of Australia
  • 2011–12 – Stephen Ellis, acting Director-General, National Archives of Australia
  • 2012–present – David Fricker, Director-General, National Archives of Australia

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "National Archives of Australia National Archives of Australia Advisory Council Annual Report 2017–18". National Archives of Australia. Retrieved 13 November 2018.
  2. ^ "Portfolio Budget Statement 2018-2019 National Archives of Australia" (PDF). Australian Government Attorney-General's Department. Retrieved 13 November 2018.
  3. ^ "About Us". National Archives of Australia. 17 October 2018.
  4. ^ "Managing Our Collection". National Archives of Australia. Retrieved 5 July 2019.
  5. ^ "Archives Act 1983". Federal Register of Legislation. Retrieved 5 July 2019.
  6. ^ "About". Discovering Anzacs. Retrieved 20 November 2018.
  7. ^ "Digital continuity 2020 the future of e-government" (PDF). National Archives of Australia. Retrieved 25 November 2018.
  8. ^ "Annual Report 2017-18" (PDF). National Archives of Australia. 12 September 2018. Retrieved 25 November 2018.
  9. ^ Fricker, David (1 July 2014). "Reconciliation Action Plan 2014-15". National Archives of Australia. Retrieved 25 November 2018.
  10. ^ "Annual Report 2017-18" (PDF). National Archives of Australia. 12 September 2018. Retrieved 25 November 2018.
  11. ^ "Locations and Opening Hours". www.naa.gov.au. Retrieved 20 November 2018.
  12. ^ "Safeguarding the nation's memory". National Archives of Australia. 9 June 2017.
  13. ^ "National Archives facility named in honour of former Attorney-General Peter Durack QC". National Archives of Australia. 21 September 2018.

External links[edit]