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Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples

As a result of past Government practices in relation to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, Queensland State Archives holds extensive archival records that include information about individuals, family and community links, historical material, native title determination and other legal matters.

How do I find the records?

You can view our records on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples by searching our records if you know the name and location of the person you are looking for. For more information on resesarching, see Start your research. You can also contact Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships (DATSIP) who provide a research service for people wanting to discover their family history or connection to place. Please note that some records have restricted access for up to 100 years.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ records

Read the Brief guide: Records relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, which contains information about family and community links generated by the Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships (DATSIP) and its predecessor agencies.

Colonial Secretary's correspondence relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples 1859-1903

After separation from NSW in 1859, the administration of Aboriginal affairs was transferred to the Colonial Secretary for Queensland and from 1896 to the Home Secretary’s Office.

The correspondence records of the Colonial Secretary’s Office consists of letters and reports covering a wide range of topics such as blanket distribution, reports from the Native Police, letters relating “outrages” committed by Aborigines and requests for Native Police protection, lists of prisoners, medical assistance to Aborigines and suggestions from private individuals on administrative changes to Aboriginal policy.

There are also several references to Torres Strait Islanders, mainly in the reports from the Government Resident at Somerset (Cape York) and the Government Resident on Thursday Island.

Please note: To do a keyword search within a PDF file, press the Ctrl and F (or Command and F for Mac computers) buttons on your keyboard and type in your keyword, then press Search.

Notes about this index

  • Many words in the descriptive text have been transcribed as per the original record.
  • Check all possible spelling variants as many names have been spelt phonetically in the original record. The spelling of names varies considerably throughout indexes.
  • Indigenous names have not been anglicised and appear as in the original record.
  • The year is listed first, followed by the number of the correspondence. For example, 59/62 indicates 1859 Letter No. 62.

Original series

This index was compiled from Series 5253, Inwards Correspondence, 1859-1903. The index was created by Mark Copland and Andrew Walker with the assistance of a grant from Communities and Personal Histories Unit, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Services, Department of Communities.

Correspondence relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people 1894-1915 – Deebing Creek

The correspondence records of the Home Secretary’s Office from 1894 to 1905 and from 1906 to 1915, Chief Protector of Aboriginals and the Southern Protector of Aboriginals Offices relating to Deebing Creek and Purga Missions are a valuable source of information relating to Deebing Creek.

The Deebing Creek mission was founded by the Aboriginal Protection Society of Ipswich around 1887. In 1896 the Deebing Creek Industrial School was established and some of the children from the Myora industrial school were transferred there.  In 1915 the mission was completely relocated to Purga.

Aboriginal War Census returns 1915-1916

Search our Index to census records of the Aboriginal population in 1915-1916, which includes details about men aged from 18 to 45 years collected for war purposes, but also includes all women and children and residents of other ethnic backgrounds such as South Sea Islanders and Rotumans.

Search the catalogue

ArchivesSearch provides access to QSA’s collection of records, including documents, letters, land orders, maps, plans and images. For help searching, read the ArchivesSearch help guide.

Why can’t I find what I’m looking for?

There are a number of reasons why you may not find a record at QSA.

  • Some records have not survived.
  • Records may be held by the Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships (DATSIP) or previous administrating agencies
  • Some records may have restricted access.
  • The name may have been incorrectly indexed as the handwriting is sometimes difficult to read. Clerks often wrote the names as they heard them so think about names being spelt as they were heard.
  • Indigenous and Islander names have not been anglicized and appear as recorded in the original record.

Protocols for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander content

QSA supports the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Protocols for Libraries, Archives and Information Services.

Contact us

Contact us if you need further help.