2/1st Australian Army Topographic Survey Company, Kokoda, New Guinea 1944

Second World War topographic map of Kokoda showing the location of villages, tracks, a canoe route, seaplane bases and mission stations.

A guide to collections of digitized documentary materials relating to the history, culture and people of the Pacific region.

Featured collections have been formed within the Pacific and in significant education and cultural heritage institutions internationally. All collections are freely accessible via the Internet. Materials include digitised photographs, line drawings, diaries, log books, maps, nautical charts, rare books, newspapers, theses and audio recordings.

Many collections featured reflect a European experience of the Pacific: its discovery, colonisation, governance, study and wartime significance. Other collections reflect the experience of indigenous inhabitants. It is hoped that more indigenous collections can be added to this site in the future.

This guide therefore aims to provide researchers with easy access to a variety of online primary resources existing within and beyond the National Library of Australia's collections. Such resources help to build a picture of the significant events and catalysts for change which have occurred in the Pacific region in recent centuries, as well as the Pacific’s myriad of traditional and enduring cultures.

Australian collections


The National Library of Australia's digital collections contain pictures, rare historical maps, sheet music, manuscripts belonging to famous Australians, selected printed works and audio recordings. The collection includes a number of significant Pacific materials, including Captain Cook's Endeavour Journal and early Pacific maps.


Trove is a national discovery service built and managed by the National Library of Australia. Trove is the Library’s primary vehicle to assist users to access digital- and physical-format content held in over 1000 libraries, archives, museums and galleries across Australia. Trove allows searching and access to digitised collections in many of these Australian cultural institutions. It includes materials related to Australia's Pacific mining interests, wartime involvement, governance, strategic and diplomatic alliances during the 20th century as well as material about Pacific life and scenery.


The South Seas Project documents the history of European voyaging and cross-cultural encounters in the Pacific between 1760 and 1800. It features full texts of James Cook's Endeavour Journal, as well as journals kept by Joseph Banks and Sydney Parkinson. It also features digitised engravings and related images. Hosted by the National Library of Australia. This website is now archived and available through Trove.


The Pacific Manuscripts Bureau (PMB) is based in the College of Asia and the Pacific at The Australian National University. It aims to copy and preserve documentary heritage materials from the Pacific Islands, such as archives, manuscripts and rare printed materials. Anyone with Internet access can search the Pacific Manuscripts Bureau catalogue. Many of their photographic collections can be viewed on the catalogue online from any location. PMB also developed a range of finding aids to assist researchers navigate PMB collections. The Pacific Manuscripts Bureau Database of digital collections is available through the National Library's eResources and other PMB member libraries.


The University of Adelaide has a nationally significant Pacific collection. The Library's Special Collection currently includes includes a small number of digitised Pacific materials plus the H. E. Maude Digital Archive comprising material from the original papers of Henry Maude (MSS 0003).


The National Archives of Australia manages documents relating to the activities of prominent Australians, the judiciary and the Australian Government since federation. Its collection includes paper files, photographs, audiovisual and sound recordings, maps and other objects. Digitised materials such as those relating to Australia's wartime involvement in the Pacific and its governance of Papua New Guinea can be accessed online through its 'PhotoSearch' or 'RecordSearch' services.


The Australian War Memorial collections include digitised materials documenting Australia's wartime involvement in the Pacific. The Official histories: Second World War gives a retrospective narrative account of events. The Australian Army war diaries: Second World War gives first hand reports and intelligence reviews of the conflict, including accounts of activities in New Guinea and the active role played by indigenous inhabitants.


The Pacific And Regional Archive for Digital Sources in Endangered Cultures is a facility for digital conservation for endangered materials from the Pacific region. Collection metadata is available via guest login and many collections are freely accessible. Of particular interest are the Arthur Capell (1902-1986) and Stephen Adolphe Wurm (1922-2001) fieldnotes collections. Capell was a linguist and ethnographer who recorded and documented Australian Aboriginal and endangered languages in the Asia-Pacific region. Wurm was Emeritus Professor of Linguistics at ANU and his collection features records relating to his Solomon Islands research.


The Cochrane Papua New Guinea collection comprises several hundred images collected by Percy and Renata Cochrane in Papua New Guinea from 1949-66. The collection comprises sound recordings, black & white photographs, colour slides, manuscripts, correspondence, publications.

New Zealand collections


The National Library of New Zealand's digitized collections are a gateway to numerous electronic resources and digitised collections relating to the people, history, culture and places of New Zealand. It includes the digitised Maori magazine Te Ao Hou which was published from 1952 to 1975, and the online Rangiatea exhibition which documents the history of the oldest Anglican Maori Church until it was destroyed in 1995.

  • Index New Zealand - an online index to magazine and newspaper articles held by the National Library of New Zealand, including abstracts.
  • Te Puna Search - lists titles of books and serials held in libraries throughout New Zealand.
  • Papers Past - database of historical newspapers published in New Zealand (1839-1949) and Samoa (1877-1930). Also available via Papers Past are full text magazines, letters and diaries and the NZ Parliamentary papers (which include reports from the Pacific and reports on New Zealand’s Pacific territories). Hosted by the National Library of New Zealand.


The University of Auckland has a very strong Pacific focus and is responsible for developing and managing a number of digital collections. The Library's New Zealand and Pacific digital collections include a digitised social anthropology and archaeology photographic archive, and digitised maps.


The New Zealand Electronic Text Centre is an online archive of significant New Zealand and Pacific Islands materials. It contains born-digital content as well as searchable heritage manuscripts, journals and other texts. It also includes many accompanying images such as postcards, newspaper clippings and cartoons, line-drawings and photos. The NZETC is part of the Victoria University of Wellington Library.


The University of Canterbury Library holds a large number of Pacific images that are currently in the process of being digitised. Collections online so far include the AC Graham Photographs, the Canterbury Mountaineering Club Records and Photographs and the John Macmillan Brown Collection, which feature photographs and glass plates of people, clubs and landscapes from both the 19th and 20th centuries. The Canterbury Frozen Meat Company photographs feature company images from a similarly broad period. Navigate to these collections by clicking on the search option under 'Photographs'.

Other Pacific collections


The collections of the Oceania Digital Library are made up of the individual collections of the partner insitutions, ie. the University of Hawai'i Library, the University of Auckland Library and The University of California San Diego Libraries. Currently these include digitised photographs, fulltext journals and books, video and sound files.


The University of Hawaii at Manoa Library's digital and digitised collections have a strong Hawaiian focus, but also feature some wider Pacific content. The Trust Territory Photos Archive contains digitised images of Micronesia from 1947-1988 when the islands were administered by the U.S. and known as the U.N.’s ‘Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands.’


The Hawaii State Archives digital collections include digitised genealogical indexes, details of government office holders, records of land divisions, traveller details, tax ledgers and WWI service records from Hawaii.


The Archives of New Caledonia includes a small selection of digitised photographs documenting life, scenery and developments in the colony from the mid-19th century until the 20th.


PapuaWeb is an information network for students, researchers, development workers, community leaders, government agencies and others working on issues relevant to Papua, Indonesia (formerly Irian Jaya). It contains a document archive, which includes theses and other research materials covering various topics in the humanities and sciences fields. There is also an image archive, which features an illustrated html version of Alfred Wallace’s 1869 publication, The Malay Archipelago: the land of the orang-utan, and the bird of paradise: a narrative of travel with studies of man and nature, as well as illustrations from 19th century books and recent and historical maps of Papua. Jointly hosted by the University of Papua, Cenderawasih University and the Australian National University.

European collections


The Memory of the Netherlands is a project of the Koninklijke Bibliotheek, the National Library of the Netherlands. It is responsible for digitising important sources of the Netherlands' cultural heritage and offers access to 62 digital collections from 58 heritage institutions. The collection has major strengths relating to Dutch exploration of the East Indies, but also contains items relevant to the broader Pacific region such as early cartographic depictions. Hosted by the Koninklijke Bibliotheek.


Gallica is the digital library of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France. It contains digitised printed and graphic materials as well as sound recordings. It is a huge repository of resources many of which relate to Pacific exploration and the colonisation of New Caledonia, Tahiti and Vanuatu.


Images Online provides access to thousands of the images from the collections of the British Library. It includes manuscripts, rare books, musical texts, maps, illustrations, drawings, paintings and photographs. The collection includes material relating to Exploration and Maps and Landscapes and can be browsed under these terms. It features a vast array of resources documenting the increasing English presence in the Pacific from the 16th century onwards.


The National Library of Scotland's Digital Gallery includes a small collection of materials belonging to 19th century storyteller and poet Robert Louis Stevenson. This includes digitised letters, sketches and photographs documenting his travels through the Pacific Islands.

American collections


  • Prints and Photographs Online - contains many digitised Pacific photographs, maps and drawings particularly from the 19th to the mid-20th century. The World's Transportation Commission Collection features late 19th century photographs of transportation systems, life and scenery from Australia, New Zealand and some Pacific Islands.
  • Veteran's History Project - contains digitised oral histories and other materials related to first-hand accounts of US veterans in 20th century wars and conflicts. It includes accounts related to American involvement in and around the Pacific Islands during WWII.
  • Exhibitions - includes the online Margaret Mead: Human Nature and the Power of Culture. It features digitised manuscripts, photographs, letters, notes and publications of this early 20th century anthropologist documenting her studies in Samoa, Papua New Guinea and Bali.


The U.S. National Archive's Digital Vaults contains some digitised photographs and documents relating to Hawaii and WWII Pacific involvement. It includes the 1897 Petition Against Annexation signed by more than 21,000 native Hawaiians and addressed to the U.S. President.


The UCSD’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography Library Collections holds over 250,000 prints, slides, negatives and digital images of people, ships, oceanographic instruments, tourist brochures, buildings, meetings, events, and marine environments and specimens. The Capricorn Expedition Photographs (1952-1953) collection includes many images of scenery, local life and people and from the Institute’s expedition through Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, Marshall Islands, Marquesas Islands, Cook Islands and Tahiti.


The University of Washington's digital collections include the Lauren Donaldson collection. It features digitised personal logs, photo albums, ephemera and papers relating to radiological surveys undertaken after atmospheric nuclear weapons testing conducted by the United States in the South Pacific between 1946 and 1964.

Tags: Pacific

Australian Joint Copying Project

Australian Joint Copying Project (AJCP) is a collection of unique historical material relating to Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific, which is digitised and available through Trove. It filmed over 8 million documents dating from 1560 to 1984.

Detailed descriptions and digitised images are also accessible through online finding aids, which are accessible at Australian Joint Copying Project.

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