Finding your Aboriginal History

State Records’ collection includes many records that can assist with Aboriginal history research. Records relating to Aboriginal people are important sources of historical information. People of Aboriginal descent can use the records to obtain information about family members they have been separated from because of past government policies.

Records relating to Aboriginal people may also provide information for native title issues.

The Family History section of State Records’ website may also be of use to people researching Aboriginal history.

Records relevant to Aboriginal research

Many of the records that relate to Aboriginal people were created by the Aborigines Office, the Aborigines Department and the Department of Aboriginal Affairs. The government agency reference for these authorities is GRG52.

Researchers may also find information in records created by:

  • The Chief (formerly Colonial) Secretary's Office (GRG24)

  • Lands Department (GRG35)

  • Education Department (GRG18)

  • Department of Correctional Services (GRG54)

  • Police Department (GRG5)

  • Government Resident of the Northern Territory (Series GRS 1 to GRS 17)

  • South Australian Museum (GRG19 and GRG46)

  • Public hospitals (various references)

Records of these agencies can be searched for on our catalogue, ArchivesSearch.

Aboriginal Information Management System (AIMS)

State Records holds a searchable database of names of Aboriginal people identified in key series within our collection, known as the Aboriginal Information Management System (AIMS). The database is an important resource for Aboriginal people researching their personal, family and community histories.

The database comprises more than 140,000 entries and includes tribal names, nicknames, age, sex, location, description of record, and a State Records reference number. Safeguards are in place to protect sensitive information about individuals.

The earliest South Australian record references in AIMS date from 1836. AIMS also identifies relevant references in Northern Territory Records to 1911.

A search of AIMS is available via the Aboriginal Access Team.

Advice and assistance

State Records’ Aboriginal Access Team is available to assist with Aboriginal history research. Services include searching for and sourcing relevant records from within the collection, and advising on the process for obtaining permission to access records (where the agency responsible has imposed restrictions).

SA Link-Up

State Records has an arrangement with SA Link-Up for the provision of copies of records to SA Link-Up clients who are seeking information for the purposes of reunification.

Additional sources of information

Other government and non-government agencies in South Australia hold information relating to Aboriginal people. A selection of sources are provided below.

Federal Government

South Australian Government

Other organisations

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