The Library has a large number of pictures and photographs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Although many of these photos were taken for a European audience, photographic and picture collections of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are now very useful for tracing family history.

Our catalogue

Tips for finding pictures and photos using the Library's catalogue:

  • Try different ways of spelling the names of people, groups or places. Often there are many different ways of spelling the name of an Aboriginal group (eg: Gaagudju is also spelled Gagadju and Gagadyu).
  • People and places might be known by an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander name, or by a European name.
  • Many of the photographs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders show people whose names have not been recorded. If you can't find anything through a name search, try searching more broadly; for names of Aboriginal language groups, tribes or peoples (eg: Bundjalung).


Try searching for pictures and photos on Trove. Trove searches the combined pictures and photograph collections of a large number of libraries, including the National Library and all of the State Libraries, as well as numerous galleries and museums. Via Trove, you can browse over 60,000 catalogue entries for images relating to Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander people, places, objects and culture. Many of these images have been digitised and can be viewed online.

Other Collections

  • State Library of Western Australia Storylines Project
    The State Library of Western Australia Storylines Project aims to digitally repatriate Library collections to community. The archive contains a large number of images of people, places, objects, and occassional family trees. Some fo the Aboriginal people in the photographs have been identified, however many have not. The State Library of Western Australia is working closely with community to help identify people in photographs.
  • Indigenous Photography Portal
    The Berndt Museum of Anthropology at the University of Western Australia oversees the Indigenous Photography Portal, a website that aims to return photography collections housed in European institutions to their living descendants today. The portal allows people to search the historical photographic collections of Indigenous Australians and communicate with the museums to interrogate the photographs, correcting cataloguing information and allowing family and community members to reconnect with historical figures.
  • The University of Queensland Anthropology Museum photograph collection
    The University of Queensland Anthropology Museum  has a considerable collection of photographs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Many of these collections are not well described. To address this, the University of Queensland is digitising their photos and making them available online. Search their catalogue online.
  • The Macleay Museum photograph collection
    The Macleay Museum, at Sydney University, has over 10,000 photographs with content relevant to Aboriginal, Torres Strait, and Pacific Islander people. The collection is focussed on Northern Australia, Western Australia and the Pacific, and is not fully itemised or digitised. To arrange access to this collection please contact their curator of ethnography.



Check out our Video:

Can I get copies of items from the Library?

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