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The National Archives of Australia is a body established by the Government of Australia for the purpose of preserving Commonwealth Government records. It is an Executive Agency of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and reports to the Cabinet Secretary, Senator Joe Ludwig.

The national office is in Canberramarker with offices in each state capital and Darwinmarker. As of June 2007, the National Archives had 437 staff, of which 246 (56.3%) are women. The Archives' budget for 2007-2008 is $86.98 million, with $66.8 million provided by the Commonwealth government. The chief executive officer is the Director-General. The agency is divided into five branches: National Coordination, Access and Communication, Archive Operations and Preservation, Government Information Management and Corporate, each headed by an Assistant Director-General.

In addition to caring for its collection, the National Archives develops and tour exhibitions, publishes books and guides to the collection and delivers educational programs. It also advises other government departments and agencies on records management.

History

The National Archives of Australia national office on Queen Victoria Terrace in Canberra, May 2007.
The foundation stone for a National Archives was laid by the Edward, Prince of Wales in Canberra in 1920 but no building was constructed after the ceremony. The Federal Parliamentary Library (later the National Library) was responsible for collecting Commonwealth Government records after World War I.

Dr Theodore Schellenberg, Director of Archival Management at the National Archivesmarker in Washington DCmarker, visited Australia in 1954 on a Fulbright Scholarship and advocated the separation of Australia's national archives from the National Library. In March 1961 the Commonwealth Archives Office was formally separated from the National Library of Australiamarker with offices spread across several Canberra suburbs, including in Nissen huts. The organisation was renamed the Australian Archives in 1975.

The Archives Act 1983 gave legislative protection for Commonwealth archives for the first time and gave the Australian Archives a legislative mandate to preserve government records. The agency was renamed the National Archives of Australia in February 1998 and became an Executive Agency of the Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts on February 28, 2001. On May 1, 2008 it was transferred to the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.
Eastern facade of the current home of the National Archives of Australia, 2009.


Collections

The National Archives' collection covers public records pertaining to Federation, Governors-General, Prime Ministers, Cabinet and Ministers and most of the activities with which the government has been involved. The Archives' repositories are "closed access" so the public cannot browse its 300,000m of shelves, but items can be requested for viewing in the reading rooms or copies made. Most records over 30 years old are released for public access, while a small proportion are released with some exempt information deleted. Exempt information includes documents relating to defence and security (such as the design and construction of weapons and records of Australian intelligence agencies) and private information (including medical records and raw census data). Cabinet notebooks are released after 50 years. Access to items of cultural sensitivity to Indigenous Australians may also be restricted.

Several collections, including all Australian military service records from the Second Boer War to the Vietnam War, have been made available online and are popular with researchers. On November 6, 2002 the Archives placed World War II service records online. Migrant selection documents and naturalisation papers more than 30 years old were made available in 2005.On April 11, 2007 the Archives placed 376,000 World War I service records online. Digitising offiles is an ongoing process, and new images are being added to the web site on a regular basis. The public canalso request particular files to be digitised,for a fee.

Notable collections

William James (Jack) Mildenhall photographed in 1927
There are several notable collections held by the National Archives of Australia. These 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 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 on the National Archives' website (www. naa.gov.au)
  • the Griffin drawings - Walter and Marion Griffin's winning entry for the design of Australia's Federal Capital
  • the Mildenhall photographs - taken by government photographer Jack Mildenhall, 7700 images which document the building of Canberra during the 1920s and 1930s
  • a series of immigration photographs comprising some 34,000 images
  • copyright, patent and trademark registration records documenting nearly a century of Australian creativity and ingenuity


Facilities

National Archives of Australia, Canberra
Document repositories were opened in the Canberra suburbs of Mitchell in 1981 and Greenway in 1989. In 1998 the Canberra reading room, galleries and public areas of National Archives moved into a heritage listed building in the Parliamentary Trianglemarker. The building is the former East Block, one of the national capital's original office buildings, located next door to the Provisional Parliament Housemarker. East Block held various government departments and served as Canberra's first Post Office and telephone exchange before it became the head office of the National Archives of Australia.

Reading rooms, repositories and offices for the National Archives are also located in each State capital and in Darwin.

Publications

The National Archives of Australia publishes a free magazine, Memento (ISSN 1327-4155) twice a year. It also publishes books, research guides to the collection, exhibition catalogues and a range of other publications.

Commonwealth Record Series (CRS) System

The Commonwealth Record Series (CRS) is the system used to organise and describe records held in the National Archives of Australia. It was developed in the 1960s based on an idea of an archives staff member, Peter Scott. Under the CRS system, agencies (government departments, and statutory authorities) create series (that is groups of related records created by the agency) which are made up of items (records of any sort).<<EM>Documenting a Nation by Hilary Golder>

National directors

  • 1944–1968 - Ian MacLean, Chief Archivist
  • 1968–1970 - Keith Penny, Chief Archivist
  • 1970–1971 - Keith Person, Director, Commonwealth Archives Office
  • 1971–1975 - John Dunner, Director, Commonwealth Archives Office
  • 1975–1984 - Robert Neale, Director-General, Australian Archives
  • 1984–1989 - Brian Cox, Director-General, Australian Archives
  • 1990–2000 - George Nichols, Director-General, Australian Archives/National Archives of Australia
  • 2000–2003 - Anne-Marie Schwirtlich, acting Director-General, National Archives of Australia
  • 2003–current - Ross Gibbs, Director-General, National Archives of Australia


References

External links




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