More Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander records on Trove

Post date: 
Thursday, 21 July 2016

We are broadening our horizons when it comes to sharing our information with the world. Located within the walls of our humble building on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin in Canberra is the world’s most extensive collection focussed solely on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. But not everyone can make the trip to the Capital to visit us.

AIATSIS on Trove

Trove’s constantly evolving online discovery platform for collections is an important tool to ensure our collection is accessible and valued. With many of our potential clients living in some of the most remote parts of Australia, delivering information using the latest technology is essential.

While records of the majority of our printed collections already exist on Trove, we have been working hard on a project with the National Library of Australia to load our unique catalogue and index records relating to other parts of our collection.

Pamphlet collection

Our latest addition to Trove is 12,000 records describing pamphlets from our collection. Our pamphlet collection includes printed material, both contemporary and historical, about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, stories, histories, health and wellbeing, law and people.

A selection of titles from the AIATSIS pamphlet collection.
A selection of titles from the AIATSIS pamphlet collection.

Pictorial collection

We hold the world's most comprehensive photographic record of Australia's Indigenous people, some 650,000 photos in all. Over 800 pictorial collection records, rich in metadata, have now been added to Trove.

The records feature the AIATSIS Pathways Thesaurus headings for culturally appropriate subjects, place names and language groups. A summary in each record gives descriptions of images including names of persons photographed. This helps clients find unique images taken or collected by missionaries and researchers across Australia.

A lantern slide from the United Aborigines Mission collection - Colebrook Home being prepared for scanning.
A lantern slide from the United Aborigines Mission collection - Colebrook Home being prepared for scanning.

Moving image collection

Our moving image collection holds more than 5,000 video titles and 6.5 million feet of film, which if placed end to end would stretch from the top to the bottom of Australia. It holds original and unique film, analogue video and born digital items, including original ethnographic films, documentaries and footage featuring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages, ceremonies, oral history, research seminars and important events.

Over 300 moving image records are viewable on Trove. Of particular note are records for Indigenous Communities Stories, a project recording oral histories of Aboriginal people in Western Australia. A short film is produced for each story and published online, whilst the raw footage is archived at Perth's Film and Television Institute as well as with us.

Audio collection

Most of our audio collection is unique and unpublished and houses approximately 40,000 hours of recordings. The recordings document Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages, songs and oral histories, and in many cases are the only places these ceremonies and stories are recorded. With many Indigenous languages at risk of disappearing, they may soon become the final record of this important cultural knowledge.  

Over 2,700 audio collection records are now on Trove.

Biographical index

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Biographical Index (ABI) is a person and place name index to published works in our print collection. It is focussed predominately on ‘ordinary people’ and was designed for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander family history researchers.

The second stage of the project to migrate the information from the ABI is complete, with approximately 55,000 records, relating to over 33,000 individuals, now available on Trove.

Importance for community

Family history research is one of the main reasons communities and individuals use our collection. We play a vital role in helping to reunite Indigenous people who have been separated from their families and communities. Other important uses include Native Title claims, publications, documentaries and the establishment of keeping places in remote communities.

We are very excited about providing a new discovery avenue to our collection to people all across Australia, and especially to those in remote communities. What was once deep within a database is now visible to the world!

Last reviewed: 29 Sep 2016