Asian Studies Program

Chinese Australia

Guides to Researching Chinese Australian Historical Records


A number of published guides related to Chinese Australian history can also be found in the Chinese Australian History Resources Database. The following are a small selection of guides available online.

Some files are in Adobe Acrobat format. If you do not have a copy of this program it can be downloaded from here. Click here to download a copy of Adobe Acrobat

Bagnall, Kate, 'Digging deep: Sources for Chinese-Australian history in NSW'.
Click here to download (35kb Adobe Acrobat)
This article was originally published by the Centre for Community History, University of New South Wales in their journal Locality (volume 11, number 2). This paper provides an overview of the types of sources that are available in New South Wales for the researcher of Chinese Australian history. Governmental reports, immigration archives, oral history, newspaper, personal papers, photographs and a wealth of local material are all canvassed. Not neglected are Chinese language sources, in particular the many Chinese language newspapers that were published in Sydney around the turn of the century.

Jones, Paul, Chinese–Australian Journeys: Records on Travel, Migration and Settlement, 1860–1975

Click here to see paper (published on the 'National Australian Archives' website)
By the mid-nineteenth century many thousands of Chinese were living in the Australian colonies. Adaptable and hardworking, they were considered interlopers in British Australia. With Federation, their lives were increasingly subject to bureaucratic scrutiny and restriction, the legacy of which is a rich and diverse collection of records held in the National Archives. This guide is a valuable resource for genealogists, researchers and anyone interested in the history of Chinese in Australia.

Murphy, Nigel, 'Researching Chinese New Zealand Individuals and their Families - Some Guidelines and Sources'.
Click here to see paper (published on the 'Chinese in New Zealand' website)
This paper was presented at ‘Chinese in Australasia and the Pacific: Old and New Migrations and Cultural Change’ Conference at The University of Otago in November 1998.

Williams, Michael, 'Guide for tracing a Chinese ancestor: Using Australian Archives (NSW) files of the Immigration (Restriction) Act'.
Click here to download
(14kb Adobe Acrobat)
This guide was developed as a result of research done for the Michael Williams' thesis 'Sojourn in your native land'. During this research it was realised that simple lists of archives were of little help in navigating through the files of the Immigration Restriction Act. What was needed was an understanding of the administration and bureaucracy behind it. As the administration Act was done on a State by State basis until the creation of the Department of Immigration in the 1940s each States' archives are quite different in many respects. Thus this guide can only relate to files of New South Wales.

Williams, Michael, 'Appendix 1 - Chinese language considerations'.
Click here to download
(54kb Adobe Acrobat)
This appendix is part of Michael Williams' thesis 'Brief sojourn in your native land: Sydney's huaqiao and their links with south China during the first half of the twentieth century', MLit, University of New England, 1998. It describes the complications, with examples, created through the romanisation of Chinese names in the records.

Williams, Michael, 'State records NSW: Sources for the history of the Chinese in regional NSW'.
(from Golden Threads website, Adobe Acrobat)
A guide of records at the State Records Office of NSW with focus on rural NSW. Compiled by Michael Williams for the Golden Threads Project.

Williams, Michael, 'Tracing your Chinese ancestors in the administrative files of the Immigration Restriction Act'.
(from Golden Threads website, Adobe Acrobat)
A guide to using the files held in the State Records Office of NSW and the National Archives of Australia related to the Immigration Restriction Act. Compiled by Michael Williams for the Golden Threads Project.

 

Chinese Heritage of Australian Federation Project - Guides to Researching Chinese Australian Historical Records