The 'Aboriginal Archives in Italy' project


The Aboriginal Archives in Italy research project began in 2020 as part of my doctoral studies at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS). It was developed in collaboration with the Jumbunna Institute for Indigenous Education and Research at UTS and other partners in Australia and Italy. Its key goal is to facilitate access and promote reciprocal and collaborative research on archival records related to the histories and experiences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities that are held in Italian institutions.

The digital archive you are navigating has been primarily created for community members interested in knowing more about the collections held in Italy. It is a prototype that will be growing and changing according to communities needs and feedback. You may not have access to everything on the site. There are different cultural protocols, rights, uses, and permissions associated with it. These will change according to the consultation of the peoples and communities connected to those stories. 

By no means is the data collected for this study exhaustive. On the contrary, it has been gathered to provide a set of information, examples and resources which could be added to and re-used into the future. 


What is included

The Aboriginal Archives in Italy is a dynamic and growing digital space that includes:

  • secondary accounts created by Italian missionaries, priests, travellers, immigrants, explorers and scientists about Aboriginal peoples and communities from the partners‘ collections;
  • curated resources and subject guides to assist communities and researchers in contextualising the records further;
  • interviews and other contents created by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities;
  • contextual information published by individual researchers about the collections.


How to use this archive

You can browse all the photographs and other archival documents and contact us to find out how to get involved or how to add information to the records. 


Acceptable searches

We try to keep the experience of delving into the collections as culturally safe as possible. For this reason, we sometimes edit the titles of the items to ensure Aboriginal peoples do not have to search for information that could relate to them, inserting offensive keywords. The original titles and all the other information from the institutions are of course included. 


Cultural protocols and warnings

Some of the contents in this archive can include information, photographs, or images that can be distressing or offensive. For this reason, every document on this site has different rights, uses, and permissions associated with it. Different levels of permissions are set during consultation about the material. ‘Warnings’ signs have been applied to content that can include sensitive or offensive content in today's context. These contents are still accessible after clicking on the ‘Warning’ sign. Please get in touch with us if there is any information on the site related to your community or family which shouldn’t be visible to the overall public.


Provenance of collections

Some of the biggest challenges for people trying to access collections held in collecting institutions include a lack of provenance and information scattered among different archives, countries, and languages. Hence, most parts of the peoples represented in these archives haven’t been identified yet, and their stories come from all over Australia. For this reason, in this archive, we often use general terms such as ‘Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders peoples’ and do not refer to a particular Aboriginal Nation or language group. We have tried to link the Italian collections to existing archival documents held in Europe and Australia wherever possible. This attempts to include as much information as possible about the documents and to increase the chance of locating the people represented in the photographs and the documentation.



As many of these collections have been created by Italian people, many of the contents in this archive are expressed in Italian. Wherever possible, Italian content has been translated into English to increase accessibility. 


Standardised tools

I have used standardised tools (such as AUSLANG and the AIATSIS Language and Peoples Thesaurus) to ensure that the information in this archive could be linked to other datasets in the future. 


Rights to reproduce

Rights to reproduce material are listed in the ‘Rights’ field for each piece of content. If you are a community member or would like to use this material for your own use, please contact us.