Archives collection

Archival information is made available to the local and international community through publication, promotion, education and exhibitions. The specialised knowledge contained in the Museum’s archives contributes to a better understanding of Indigenous culture, geological diversity and biodiversity.

To supplement the South Australian Museum’s research interests, documents have also been collected via donations, bequests and acquisitions. Fellow scientists, missionaries, Aboriginal organisations, artists, police inspectors, medical doctors and photographers from the mid-1800s have all contributed to the wealth of knowledge contained in the Museum archives.

The South Australian Museum Archives was formally established in the 1940s when the Curator of Anthropology, Norman B. Tindale, recognised the need to manage the collections and aid their retrieval. In 1966 Graeme Pretty, Tindale's successor, developed the system further by adding a classification system linking objects to the archives. In 1980 the registration system was superseded by the record group system where collections are accessioned by collector or donor. This system continues to be used today.

The majority of corporate records dating pre-1940 were transferred to State Records of South Australia. Many of the archive collections are still unprocessed. See the complete list here.

For South Australian Museum Archive requests please send us your research request and contact details via, GPO Box 234 Adelaide 5001 or fax 8207 7222. Once your request has been received, you will be contacted to discuss the procedures required to process your application.

The Museum charges a fee for reproduction and use of archival materials and other collection items. Other fees may also apply where extra services are requested. 

For South Australian Museum Archive requests relating to Aboriginal Family and Community History please fill in the family history application form and/or contact Family History staff. For all other Archive requests please contact the Archives Collection Manager. 

To view collection items in person a minimum of two weeks’ notice is required. The South Australian Museum Archives and Reading Room are in the Museum's Science Centre, off North Terrace, and available by appointment only.

The Archives Collection can also be viewed online or you can conduct a search of the collection.

Opening hours are from 10am to 4pm Monday to Friday.

An Aboriginal woman and two children in an old black and white photograph

Mapping family resource

Mapping family is a guide for Australian Aboriginal people derived from the genealogies and data cards recorded during the Harvard and Adelaide Universities expedition, 1938–1939.

Coming up next


Up next:

Australian Polar collection