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Additions to the Collection


Part 3 refers to the accessioning of 65 photographic collections comprising 12,971 items. Highlights are:

  • Peter Willis collection comprising 4,808 black and white negatives taken in the Kununurra region featuring Miriwoong people and activities in the early 1970s [Miriwoong/Miriuwung K29]
  • Dorothy Tunbridge collection of 496 images from fieldwork with the Adnyamathanha people in the Flinders Ranges, SA in the 1980s. [Adnyamathanha L10]
  • Darwin Welfare Branch collection (a subdivision of the Northern Territory Administration) consisting of 3,358 black and white negatives taken at various locations in the Northern Territory between 1965 and 1987. Events include the Barunga Festival and NAIDOC celebrations.

Audio recordings

Accessioning of 769.5 hours of audio recordings, 10,400 feet of films and 2 hours of videos, including:

  • 14 collections of audio recordings made by the Society of the Catholic Apostolate (Pallottines) between 1960 and 1993, comprising approximately 197 hours of recordings in Great Sandy Desert and Kimberley regions languages. [Karajarri language A64, Nyangumarta language A61, Nyulnyul language K13, Jaru language K12, Mangala language A65, Juwaliny language A88, Walmajarri language A66, Yulparija language A67, Gunin language K36, Nyikina language K3, Yawuru language K1, Wajarri/Wadjarri language A39, Kukatja language A68]
  • Audio recordings that contain interviews on the life story of Wenten Rubuntja, a renowned artist from the Hermannsburg School, political activist, and cultural historian. [Arrernte language C8]
  • 16 mm films made by Adam Kendon in about 1978 which were part of his investigation into sign language among the Warlpiri at Yuendumu. [Warlpiri language C15]


156 manuscript accessioned and 24 finding aids created, including:

  • Peter Worsley: fieldwork with Anindilyakwa people on Groote Eylandt, 1952–1953 (MS 1857), a manuscript collection which includes 37 fragile and oversized rock art sketches and 17 genealogies hand-drawn on kitchen paper. [Anindilyakwa language N151]
  • Professor Jon Altman’s third accession of manuscript material. The Jon Altman collection is the largest manuscript collection held by AIATSIS, amounting to approximately 430 boxes of material. [Kunwinjku language N65]
  • Research on and integration of material connected to the Alice Moyle collection (MS 3501) which fills a large gap of correspondence to and from Alice Moyle during 1965. [Pitjantjatjara language C6]

Other additions

  • 688 new published items were accessioned, including rare books and rare serials, representing a 5.85% increase of published items in the Collection
  • 206 different languages and 246 different people groups were added to new catalogue records to describe collection material by the Descriptive Metadata and Cataloguing team. Numerous collection items were added that included Arrernte language C9, Wiradjuri language D10, Gamilaraay/Gamilaroi/Kamilaroi language D23, Warlpiri language C15 and Gupapuyngu language N122.1
  • A number of art works by emerging and established Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists were acquired to fill gaps and strengthen existing stories in the Collection.

Significant additions to the AIATSIS Collection

Utopia batik artist movement

A large mixed-media collection from Jenny Green representing a significant record of the development of the Utopia batik artists movement between 1977 and 1999. The collection consists of audio recordings, photographic materials, interviews, transcripts, field notes and other documentation.

Papers relating to Mimbi Caves and Gooniyandi Country

A collection of personal materials (field notes, photographs, draft reports, booklets, correspondence and an artwork) collected by anthropologist Sandy Toussaint, who worked on the Kimberley Cultural Tourism Project and other initiatives with the Mimbi Gooniyandi Traditional Owners and Custodians in the 1990s and 2000s.

Aboriginal Tent Embassy and La Perouse Photographs

Six colour slides taken by Leon Arundel, depicting police activity at the Aboriginal Tent Embassy in 1972 (AIAS696.130520), and 3 photographs taken by social worker Esma Banner at the La Perouse camp for Indigenous children in the early 1950s (AIAS699.020620).

Mabo Photographs

A significant collection of 369 digital photographs from the 1989 production Land Bilong Islanders and personal photographs of Eddie Koiki Mabo and his family, offered by filmmaker Dr Trevor Graham under the Cultural Gift program.

Blackfella Films material

Feature documentary and associated production materials for In my own words and Maralinga Tjarutja, offered by filmmaker Rachel Perkins (Blackfella Films Pty Ltd) under the Cultural Gift program.

The Jon Altman Collection

Professor Jon Altman’s third consignment of manuscript material. Jon Altman is a social scientist with a disciplinary focus on anthropology and economics. He has undertaken research in the Maningrida region, central Arnhem Land for over 20 years, as well as other locations including north Queensland, the Torres Strait, the Kimberley and Central Australia. The Jon Altman collection (MS 4721) is the largest manuscript collection held by AIATSIS, amounting to approximately 430 boxes. The collection covers a broad range of subject matter relating to Aboriginal Australians including visual arts and crafts, mining, tourism, royalties, land rights, native title, outstations and economic development.

Collection discoverability and accessibility

Table 15 measures AIATSIS' performance in relation to discoverability and therefore accessibility of the collection. However, it does not contribute to the target published in the PBS and Corporate Plan which can be found in Table 1, Part 3 Performance.

Table 15: Number of finding aids, descriptions and catalogue records

Performance criterion: Collection accessibility

Performance measure: Increase in discoverability aids

Target: Contributes to online collection discoverability and accessibility

Number of finding aids, descriptions, catalogue records

2018–19 result

2019–20 result

2020–21 results by media

2020–21 result

Change from 2019–20


Film /video

Photo graph

Print / manuscript

Art and object

Catalogue records created










Catalogue records upgraded










Finding aids created










Photographic item level descriptions created










Audition sheets










Outcome: The creation of audiovisual audition sheets and finding aids has declined since 2018–19 as at present they are only created on a demand basis. The Collections Transformation Strategy aims to implement improved workflows and new systems, including the creation of discoverable finding aids for unpublished formats. The number of catalogue records upgraded and photographic item level descriptions has again increased on previous years. This work fluctuates depending on the volume and format of additions to the collection and can vary significantly year on year.