People of Aboriginal descent can use the records in our collection to find information about family members. This can be helpful when families have been separated as a result of past government policies.

We hold material documenting the written history and experience of Aboriginal people including:

  • Native Title
  • Aboriginal heritage
  • Reconciliation, and
  • family and community history.

Advice and Assistance

Our Aboriginal Access Officers are 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).

We have also produced a range of guides to Aboriginal history which may assist with your research.

Contact us for assistance from our Aboriginal Access Officers.

SA Link-Up

We have an arrangement with SA Link-Up to provide research assistance and copies of records to SA Link-Up clients looking for information to help with family reunion.

Researching the Records

Many of the records relating 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  in our catalogue is GRG52.

You may also find information in records created by:

  • The Chief (formerly Colonial) Secretary's Office
  • Lands Department
  • Education Department and schools
  • Department of Correctional Services
  • Police Department
  • Government Resident of the Northern Territory
  • South Australian Museum
  • Public hospitals

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


We have 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
  • 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.

Contact our Aboriginal Access Officers to request a search of AIMS.

This series consists of correspondence files of the Advisory Council of Aborigines.  Established in 1918, the Council reported and made recommendations on matters relating to the Aboriginal population in South Australia.

Index for GRG52/10 - Correspondence files- Advisory Council on Aborigines, 1921 - 1939

This series contains photographs that were maintained by the Aborigines' Department, probably for publicity and scholarly purposes. The Special Lists are arranged numerically, and also contains a description of the photograph.

Special list index for GRG 52/45 - Photographs and negatives, Aborigines' Office and successors, c1900 - c1940 - items 1 - 77

Special list index for GRG 52/45 - Photographs and negatives, Aborigines' Office and successors, c1900 - c1940 - items 77a - 170

Special list index for GRG 52/45 - Photographs and negatives, Aborigines' Office and successors, c1900 - c1940 - items 171 - 249

The photographs were taken mainly at Mission Stations, between the late nineteenth and mid-twentieth centuries and came from a variety of sources:

  • the Government Photolithographer
  • staff at the missions
  • local constables and private photographers.

This series contains newspaper clippings predominantly from South Australian newspaper articles that relate to individuals as well as a wide range of issues affecting Aboriginal people including citizenship, achievement, sport, art, culture, education, assimilation, living conditions, pay equality, discrimination, crime, and Aboriginal rights.

Language used within articles reflects attitudes of the time. Please note that the newspaper clippings contain names and images of deceased person which some readers may find distressing.

Special list index for GRG52/90 - Newspaper cuttings relating to aboriginal matters, Aborigines' Office and successors, 1918 - 1970

Page last updated: 5 September 2022