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 In 1980 the registration system was superseded by the record group system where collections are accessioned by collector or donor.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.