Noel Butlin Archives Centre

Subject guides are written by archivists at the Noel Butlin Archives Centre to introduce researchers to the various topics that can be researched at the Centre. They cover many popular research areas.

Australia in the Second World War

Australian companies and unions were all affested by the World War.

Australia in the Second World War, 1939-1945


Australian–Indonesian relations, 1945–1949

When, on 17 August 1945 the Indonesian Republic was proclaimed, Indonesian soldiers, sailors and airmen in Australia refused to fight for the Dutch against the newly declared republic. They secured the support of the maritime unions, who refused to load any ships taking military supplies to the Netherlands East Indies forces or any ship declared ‘black’ by the Indonesians. Initially held for a period of nine months, the boycotts grew to become an official ACTU action. Thirty-one Australian trade unions and four unions of Asian seamen (temporarily organised in Sydney) became involved, to varying degrees, between 1945 and 1949.

Guide to archives about Australian-Indonesian relations, 1945-1949

Family History sources in the ANU Archives

The Australian National University archives holds information about some of the staff and students who have worked and studied here.

Family History sources in the ANU Archives


Gold mining

The Noel Butlin Archives Centre holds records of a number of companies involved in gold mining.

Archives about gold mining in the Noel Butlin Archives Centre



War in South Vietnam

The Australian trade union movement’s involvement in anti-Vietnam war campaigns is documented in the records of many unions and organisations.

First World War

Australian companies contributed to the war effort through manufacturing and shipping for troops and supplies. Many maintained Rolls of Honour to commemorate staff who served in the armed forces. After the war pastoral companies were involved in soldier settlement schemes for providing farms to veterans.

Records of CSR Limited relating to employees

CSR Limited was founded in 1855 by Edward Knox as the Colonial Sugar Refining Company and adopted its present name in 1973. From sugar refining, milling and distillery operation, the company has diversified into mining, building materials, chemicals and other interests.

Communist and socialist publications

Family history sources in the Noel Butlin Archives Centre

An archives of business and labour records may not be an obvious source of information for family history. The records we hold are not primary resources in the same way as birth, death and marriage records – but they can assist in filling in details of your ancestor’s life, whether a Newcastle coal miner, a NSW hotel licensee, a waterside worker or a chemist employed in a Queensland sugar mill.

Intercolonial Trade Union congresses

The Intercolonial Trades Union Congresses were a means for Australian labour organisations to collectively organise themselves and to discuss issues of concern to all unions in all states. The first Congress met in Sydney in 1879. The Congress report states that ‘it was established that the labour organisations of Australasia were practically unanimous in holding certain opinions in social politics’. Political reform remained high on the agenda of subsequent Congresses.

Peace movement

Just as the wars in which Australia has fought have had irrevocable impacts on Australian society, so too have the peace and social movements associated with them and with Australia’s foreign policy. The Archives holds a significant number of records relating to these movements. Records deposited by trade unions, as well as the personal papers of activists, academics and others, include a significant amount of documentary material relating to the peace movement. Most of the Australian Peace Congresses held from the 1940s to the 1960s are documented in the records of the trade unions which sent delegates to the Congresses.

Aboriginal People

The records of many unions and organisations include files about Aboriginal organisations and issues.

Spanish Civil War

We hold a number of collections which include original material of Australians who volunteered to serve in the International Brigades in the Spanish Civil War. There are also files and publications relating to protests against the war.