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Research Guides


Citizenship in Australia: A Guide to Commonwealth Government Records


3. Civic Identity

Modes of incorporating migrants

As a settler society seeking a continual and regulated influx of immigrants throughout the century, Australian governments always sought to incorporate newcomers into the Australian population and nation. Immigration marked just the beginning of a process of incorporation while, for many policymakers, naturalisation constituted its culmination. In between these poles, strangers were subjected to a series of expectations about appropriate behaviour, and were observed and controlled by several agencies of the state. 'Incorporation' describes the sets of expectations and the various policies which applied to the conduct, relations and identities of immigrants and groups of immigrants. Policies of incorporation were intended by the state to ensure that immigrants entered into prevailing modes of social cohesion and allegiance, and thereby entered into the forms of governance which already applied to the native-born. Two forms of incorporation have been of enduring significance in Australia during the twentieth century: assimilation and multiculturalism.

Between Federation and the First World War little attention was paid to the incorporation of aliens. Official attitudes towards Europeans were relatively tolerant and welcoming, and naturalisation was liberally offered. This period, reaching back into the nineteenth century, was distinctly cosmopolitan in contrast to what followed. The First World War produced a stark and fundamental change in official attitudes and policies towards Europeans: the Commonwealth saw no danger in the presence of the slight number of Europeans in Australia until foreigners were reconceptualised during the war in close relation to subversion and disloyalty. With the First World War assimilation emerged as the dominant mode of incorporation for more than fifty years, and it was frequently articulated as a set of expectations about the appropriate conduct for strangers by which they would cease to be identifiable as foreigners and would acquire characteristics designated Australian.

Assimilation meant the incorporation of strangers into the national citizenry, such that they were indistinguishable and unrecognisable from the wider population. Strangers were to disperse rather than congregate, participate in Australian schools and social institutions, form relationships with Australians rather than others of foreign origin, and adopt Australian traits. Assimilation thereby enclosed aspects of private conduct (marriage and reproduction, personal relations, identity, language and cultural tradition) in objects of public import and governance (social cohesion, national unity, and allegiance).

Simultaneously, assimilation operated as a process of incorporation into the nation's network of kinship, of the intermingling of blood through marriage and reproduction. Here close similarities can be found with the policies of assimilating Aboriginal people, which postulated the submersion of Aboriginality within the greater Australian population such that there would cease to be distinct groups. This meant not only the disappearance of Aboriginal practices and beliefs but of different physiological characteristics.

The policies and meanings of assimilation shifted after the Second World War, and some important changes can be identified. Whereas after the Second World War assimilation manifested in measures intended to encourage and coerce the foreigner to assimilate, during the inter-war years assimilation primarily appeared in disqualifications and in policies of disrupting foreign practices which inhibited assimilation. Commonwealth policy shifted from observing, assessing and excluding the foreigner who was incapable or unwilling to assimilate to positively assisting assimilation.

The postwar immigration program was accompanied by a host of new assimilationist measures, and an attitude of encouraging, facilitating and sometimes forcing assimilation. This approach derived from the necessity of ensuring that the large influx of non-British European immigrants was not a threat to social cohesion and was acceptable to an Australian public regarded as intolerant of difference and cautious of immigration's effect on employment levels, a new emphasis on inculcating and celebrating the privileges and obligations of Australian citizenship, and an expanded and well-resourced administrative apparatus. The scope of state management of assimilation expanded considerably. Many instances could be cited here, but the Citizenship Conventions held between 1950 and 1968 are a good example. Calwell intended the first Convention to encourage settlers to become 'British subjects and Australian citizens' in a 'full sense', not merely a legal one. It would enable many voluntary organisations and churches to deliberate on the obstacles to assimilation and recommend measures for its advancement:

so that all may contribute their share in the achievement of the ideal of one Australian family, devoid of any foreign communities, thus preserving our homogeneity and solidarity as a nation.39

The records of the Citizenship Conventions offer insights into the Commonwealth's efforts to engage large sections of the public in the national endeavour of assimilating hundreds of thousands of new European immigrants. (These records are described in the previous chapter, since the Conventions discussed a wider range of citizenship issues than assimilation alone, and are not repeated here.)

The tone of debates at successive Citizenship Conventions, first held annually and then biennially for nearly twenty years, reveals a gradual widening of spaces for difference in assimilationist discourses. While assimilation meant the complete effacement of difference during the inter-war years, during the 1950s there emerged a recognition that immigrants would also change the character of Australia as they assimilated. Calwell, with his enthusiasm for American history, spoke of the metaphor of the 'melting pot' with its image of immigrants from many places blending to make a new cohesive national family. This remained the tone of Commonwealth policy into the 1960s, and the idea crept into public statements on postwar immigration policy. For instance, in a 1959 lecture, AR Downer, then Minister for Immigration, praised the economic, cultural and intellectual contributions of European immigrants to Australia and their invigoration of 'our rather stodgy Anglo-Saxon communities'; even if at the same time he expressed a wish for more British migrants and a concern that 'our basic British characteristics... [not] become too diluted or submerged'.40

These changes led to the displacement of the term 'assimilation' by 'integration' in Commonwealth policy from 1964. 'Integration' reflected a more benign and inclusive set of expectations, in which the demands for the effacement of foreign characteristics were slightly diminished. However, it remained a variant of assimilation which emphasised the harmonious merging of difference into a new homogenous totality; suggestions of cultural or racial pluralism were consistently rejected by conservative governments in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Rather, it was Al Grassby, Minister for Immigration in the newly elected Whitlam government, who declared in 1973 that Australia had become multicultural.41 For Grassby, Australia's national images were all too narrow: they contained no space for 'the Maltese process worker, the Finnish carpenter, the Italian concrete layer, the Yugoslav miner or... the Indian scientist'.42 He postulated 'social and cultural rights' as a domain of personal identity and activity irrelevant to national cohesion. A multicultural Australia could embrace cultural diversity. Multiculturalism in the 1970s departed from assimilationist modes of incorporation by detaching social cohesion from racial and national origins, and by encouraging the retention of non-British Australian practices and languages other than English to a limited extent. By adopting a notion of social and cultural rights, already enunciated in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966), multiculturalism located aspects of social and cultural identity and practice in the private domain; although with the riders that the state would protect these rights, ameliorate inequalities produced by difference, and govern through ethnic organisations. The beginnings of multiculturalism in the 1970s, which mark the end of the period with which this guide is concerned, were based upon a recognition that prevailing discourses of Australian nationalism did not accommodate a large number of people already in Australia, and that assimilation imposed unrealistic expectations on immigrants which were unjust and no longer indispensable for social cohesion.

CORRESPONDENCE FILES, ANNUAL SINGLE NUMBER SERIES, 1903–38
Canberrra
This series contains the general filing of the Department of External Affairs (I) and its successors. It includes a diverse array of topics, including many files on the administration of immigration, naturalisation, and passports. Research in this series is time-consuming, since it is organised as an annual single number series, and files tend to deal with individual inquiries and responses, rather than themes over a period of time. Within this series many documents on inter-war immigration policy are preserved, including reports and assessments of aliens in Australia.
Series: A1
Quantity: 445.7 metres
Recorded by: 1901–16: Department of External Affairs (I) (CA 7); 1916–28: Department of Home and Territories (CA 15); 1928–32: Department of Home Affairs (II) (CA 24); 1932–39: Department of the Interior (I) (CA 27)
Influx of Aliens to Queensland, 1925–26
This file contains the report of, and correspondence surrounding, the 1925 Ferry Royal Commission into the presence of aliens in Australia. Established by the Queensland government, the Commission reported an array of findings on the particular characteristics of groups of southern Europeans in Queensland. While northern Italians were deemed desirable by the Commissioner, southern Italians, Greeks, and Maltese were described as preferring low living standards. Although the report's findings were rejected by the Prime Minister, SM Bruce, it had a significant impact on the political atmosphere of the 1920s.
A1, 1925/18474
Limitation of number of aliens immigrating to Australia, 1924–27
This file in divided into five parts, each of which deals with southern European immigration in the 1920s. Various opinions on the assimilability of different racial groups are put forward, and documents on the restriction of southern European immigrants are present.
A1, 1925/21985
CORRESPONDENCE FILES, MULTIPLE NUMBER SERIES, THIRD SYSTEM, 1934–50
Canberra
Like A457 and A458 this series is based on a multiple number system with a letter prefix denoting individual files. The contents of this series are more substantial than its two predecessors since much useful material was top-numbered into it.

Documents on assimilation are mostly contained in files dealing with immigration. Files on foreign migrants employ the identifying number of 349/3, while files on Commonwealth immigration policy are denoted by 349/1/2. A large number of files on foreign migrants are contained here, and many bear on the policy of assimilation.

Series: A461
Quantity: 143.8 metres
Recorded by: Prime Minister's Department (CA 12)
Immigration – Policy, 1944–46
During the Second World War an interdepartmental committee considered various aspects of migration in preparation for the resumption of immigration at war's end. This file contains the committee's report on 'white alien migration'. It offers views on the desirability of various European groups measured in part by their ability to assimilate.
A461, A349/1/2 part 5
Alien Communities, 1943–45
This small file contains resolutions from the United Country Party and a returned soldiers organisation calling for the prevention of alien communities. A letter from the Queensland Premier to the Prime Minister discusses Chinese businesses in Brisbane.
A461, J349/3/1
CORRESPONDENCE FILES, CLASS 2 (RESTRICTED IMMIGRATION), 1939–50
Canberra
This series deals with restricted immigration files, and is organised similarly to A434, A435, A436 and A437. It contains a large amount of interesting material, although like the other series mentioned, some of the most significant files and documents were top-numbered into A445 and A446.
Series: A433
Quantity: 12.6 metres
Recorded by: 1939–45: Department of the Interior (II) (CA 31); 1945–50: Department of Immigration (CA 51)
Assimilation of aliens – Question of prohibiting foreign schools, 1925–40
The most interesting correspondence in this file dates from 1925 when an interdepartmental conference on alien migration recommended the prohibition of foreign language schools in Australia. Since the Commonwealth did not have the power to implement such a policy, the states were asked to do so, and their responses are found here.
A433, 1943/2/4227
CORRESPONDENCE FILES, CLASS 6 (ALIENS REGISTRATION), 1946–50
Canberra
This series is one of several policy series maintained by the Department of Immigration between its establishment and 1950, when it adopted a single general policy file series (A445). Files in this series are mostly concerned with aliens registration policy, although some files bear on naturalisation policy.
Series: A437
Quantity: 2.2 metres
Recorded by: Department of Immigration (CA 51)
Italian–Australian Association. Assimilation of Italians, 1950
The folios in this file cover a suggestion to the Minister for Immigration that the Italian–Australian Association was infiltrated by communists. ASIO was asked to investigate.
A437, 1950/6/153
CORRESPONDENCE FILES, MULTIPLE NUMBER SERIES (POLICY MATTERS), 1951–55
Canberra
This series contains general policy files of the Department of Immigration for the period 1951 to 1955. Many files include top-numbered material from previous series. The series is organised thematically as a multiple number series, making for easy research.

There does not appear to be much material on naturalisation in this series, since those files dealing with the Nationality and Citizenship Act were top-numbered into A446. However, some files on other subjects contain documents bearing on naturalisation.

The series contains a considerable amount of material bearing on assimilation in the 1950s, across the range of the Department of Immigration's activities.

Within this series the minutes of the Commonwealth Immigration Advisory Council are preserved. The Council was established to advise the government on an extensive range of matters referred to it within the ambit of the postwar immigration program. Assimilation and citizenship matters were frequently considered by the Council. Its minutes are found under the number 140/4.

Series: A445
Quantity: 28.8 metres
Recorded by: Department of Immigration (CA 51)
Commonwealth Immigration Advisory Council – Committee on Social Welfare, 1951–52
This committee of the Commonwealth Immigration Advisory Council was appointed to inquire into the establishment of a social work service for migrants. Transcripts of some of its meetings and its report are on file.
A445, 140/5/6
Assimilation film 'No Strangers Here', 1949–55
This file contains papers on the production of a Department of Immigration film on the topic of assimilation. An Eastern European family of four are the central characters, as they arrive in Australia and take up residence in the nonexistent town of 'Littleton'. Comment from Departmental officers on the script is in the file, as well as correspondence with cinemas and other parties over the film's screening. Two versions of the film – long and short – were ultimately produced for screening to different audiences. The film is preserved at ScreenSound Australia, formerly the National Film and Sound Archive.
A445, 261/5/1
CORRESPONDENCE FILES, ANNUAL SINGLE NUMBER SERIES WITH BLOCK ALLOCATIONS, 1953–
Canberra and Sydney
This series is the main correspondence series for the Department of Immigration and its successors from 1953. The series contains both case files and policy files. The latter are numbered above 65000, while case files are numbered below that figure. Despite heavy culling of files from this series, much valuable material remains. This series contains an extensive amount of material that has not yet been opened for public access, and it warrants considerable attention from researchers. The series contains many files on the adoption and amendment of the Nationality and Citizenship Act. Those listed below are particularly helpful.
Series: A446
Quantity: 2708.3 metres in Canberra; 700 metres in Sydney
Recorded by: 1953–74: Department of Immigration (CA 51)
Established Immigration Policy – Part 11, 1963–67
The title of this file is the euphemism employed in the 1960s to refer to the 'white Australia policy'. Deliberations over the liberalisation of the conditions of entry for Asians turned on social homogeneity as the principal aim of immigration policy, and the associated question of whether Asians could be assimilated.
A446, 1966/45348
CORRESPONDENCE FILES, SINGLE NUMBER SERIES WITH 'N' (NEW SOUTH WALES) PREFIX, 1952–77
Sydney
During the 1950s and 1960s the Department of Immigration carried out much of its administration in the state capitals. This series contains a considerable amount of policy material, including memoranda sent from Canberra to state offices, and documents on local activities. Series such as this provide a useful source for researchers unable to visit Canberra, and sometimes include material which has not been preserved in Canberra. Extensive files on naturalisation policy and procedure were maintained by the Department of Immigration office in New South Wales.
Series: C3939
Quantity: 38.7 metres
Recorded by: 1952–74: Department of Immigration, New South Wales (CA 957)
Australia's assimilation of its migrant population, 1956–63
This file contains the text of a 1956 talk by NW Lamidey, then head of the Assimilation Division of the Department of Immigration, on assimilation. He discusses the meaning of assimilation (making somewhat false claims), migrant settlement, the Good Neighbour Movement, and naturalisation.
C3939, N1956/75135
Brisbane
Misleadingly titled 'case files', this series also contains records concerning policy and the activities of the Queensland branch of the Department of Immigration, along similar lines to the NSW series C3939. The process of locating policy files is complicated by the enormous quantity of case files in the series, but useful material is preserved here.

This series contains a large amount of material on assimilation policies and activities in the postwar decades.

Series: J25
Quantity: 1855.2 metres
Recorded by: 1946–74: Department of Immigration, Queensland (CA 958)
Assimilation policy and procedure, 1949–63
This item contains some interesting correspondence on the Department of Immigration's assimilation activities. In 1952 the Secretary of the Department, THE Heyes, arranged for information on assimilation to be distributed to departmental officers since it appeared they were largely unaware of the role they were intended to play. Monthly reports of state branch activities in the field of assimilation were compiled for the next two years. These covered a great range of activities; to take just one example, on Coronation Day (2 June) '400 New Australian children, both British and foreign… sang "Waltzing Matilda" at the Brisbane Exhibition Grounds'. The song was recorded by the ABC which sent the record to London for inclusion in a world broadcast.
J25, 1958/9262
Assimilation. New Settlers' League. General policy, 1952–65
Many of the documents in this file contain the names and addresses for the Good Neighbour Councils and the New Settlers' League around Australia. Also on file is a copy of the Handbook of the Good Neighbour Movement, along with some earlier drafts.
J25, 1961/9500
CORRESPONDENCE FILES, ANNUAL SINGLE NUMBER SERIES WITH 'SA' PREFIX, 1948–66
Adelaide
This series contains administrative files from the Department of Immigration branch office in Adelaide.
Series: D400
Quantity: 462.8 metres
Recorded by: Department of Immigration, South Australia (CA 959)
Assimilation – Paper by JE Bromley, 1954
This file contains a copy of a paper by JE Bromley of the Australian National University, titled 'Primary group solidarity and social change in migrant community'. This is a study of young men's subgroups among Italian immigrants from Molfetta, now living in Port Pirie, South Australia. It examines their social groupings and considers problems with their assimilation.
D400, SA1954/1805v
Assimilation – Registration of Non-British Subjects for National Service, 1954–55
This item contains various documents from Canberra on the registration of New Australians for National Service.
D400, SA1954/3272
CORRESPONDENCE FILES, SINGLE NUMBER SERIES WITH 'W59' PREFIX, 1959–73
Perth
As in New South Wales, the Department of Immigration's records are organised into separate series for policy and case files. See the description for C3939 above. This series contains well-organised policy files on naturalisation.
Series: K403
Quantity: 22.2 metres
Recorded by: Department of Immigration, Western Australia (CA 962)
Nationality – General Policy and Procedure, 1947–69
These items contain similar material to files on naturalisation in other state offices, mentioned above. One memorandum (9 February 1958) in Part 2, informs state offices that they may approve naturalisation for people with adverse character reports where offences related to drunkenness, offensive, indecent or disorderly behaviour, so long as such behaviour had been infrequent.
K403, W59/428 Part 1
Nationality – General Policy and Procedure, 1947–69 K403, W59/428 Part 2
Nationality – General Policy and Procedure, 1947–69 K403, W59/428 Part 3
Nationality – General Policy and Procedure, 1947–69 K403, W59/428 Part 4
Nationality – General Policy and Procedure, 1947–69 K403, W59/428 Part 5
Nationality – General Policy and Procedure, 1947–69 K403, W59/428 Part 6
Nationality – General Policy and Procedure, 1947–69 K403, W59/428 Part 7
SECRET CORRESPONDENCE FILES, SINGLE NUMBER SERIES WITH BLOCK ALLOCATIONS AND 'S' (SECRET) PREFIX, 1972–
Canberra
This series constitutes an invaluable and largely untapped source of material on the Department of Immigration's activities during the postwar period. The series was established in 1972 from the Department's existing secret and top secret files in A445 and A446. Accordingly, few documents with these classifications remain in those series. Material contained in this series stretches back to the inter-war years since the Department of Immigration took over various Department of Interior files.
Series: A6980
Quantity: 80.3 metres
Recorded by: 1972–74: Department of Immigration (CA 51)
Establishment of Security Organisation in Australia, 1949–50
This file deals with ASIO's establishment and its entry into the field of assessing naturalisation applicants. One letter records a 1950 discussion of the Director-General of Security, Charles Spry, and the Secretary of the Department of Immigration, Tasman Heyes, on the kind of applicants to whom security objections should be made.
A6980, S250188
Naturalisation of Aliens in Time of War, 1939–56
This file contains extensive correspondence on changes to naturalisation procedure and policy from the outbreak of war in 1939 till 1942. The file then jumps to a 1956 debate over whether enemy aliens should be treated separately from other aliens in the event of war.
A6980, S250200
Grant of Naturalisation to Communists, 1955–78
From 1950 it was common practice for naturalisation to be denied to anyone ASIO identified as having links to the Communist Party of Australia or any communist-influenced body. This file contains correspondence from 1955 when the Minister for Immigration, Harold Holt, prepared a Cabinet submission on the topic, and subsequently received Cabinet's approval for the practice to continue.
A6980, S250755
Rejection of Applicants for Naturalisation on Political Grounds, 1957–78
In the late 1950s several Labor party parliamentarians began to frequently question the government over its refusal of naturalisation to various people for political reasons. Questions asked in parliament produced a correspondence between ASIO and the Department of Immigration over how these questions should be answered. While ASIO recommended that 'none' might be answered to such questions since applicants were refused on 'security' rather than 'political' grounds, one Immigration officer thought this approach was 'too cavalier'.
A6980, S250756
CORRESPONDENCE FILES, MULTIPLE NUMBER SERIES, FIRST SYSTEM, 1915–23
Canberra
This series contains general files of matters considered by the Prime Minister's Department during and shortly after the First World War. Helpfully, it is organised in a multiple number system, making research relatively simple. A list of the meaning of the numbers in the system is available in the reading room at the National Archives in Canberra. Several files on naturalisation dating from the period just after the First World War can be found in this series. Files on naturalisation are readily located by the number 111/2, to which letter prefixes are affixed; for instance, item R111/2 is titled 'Naturalisation Czecho-Slovaks'.
Series: A457
Quantity: 18.3 metres
Recorded by: Prime Minister's Department (CA 12)
CORRESPONDENCE FILES, MULTIPLE NUMBER SERIES, SECOND SYSTEM, 1923–34
Canberra
This series continues the records of the Prime Minister's Department from A457. A new numbering system was adopted with this series, but it works similarly to the system in A457, again simplifying research. In this series naturalisation files are denoted by the number 158/1. Individual files are allocated letter prefixes, as in A457.
Series: A458
Quantity: 49.9 metres
Recorded by: Prime Minister's Department (CA 12)
Naturalisation Aliens, 1922–33
In this item are documents on the effect on foreign citizenships of naturalisation in Australia. This matter exercised the interests of policymakers considerably since they regarded dual nationality as an impossible conflict of allegiances which must be avoided.
A458, G158/1
CORRESPONDENCE FILES, MULTIPLE NUMBER SERIES, THIRD SYSTEM, 1934–50
Canberra
Like A457 and A458 this series is based on a multiple number system with a letter prefix denoting individual files. The contents of this series are more substantial than its two predecessors since much useful material was top-numbered into it.
Series: A461
Quantity: 143.8 metres
Recorded by: Prime Minister's Department (CA 12)
Naturalisation – Main Policy File, 1914–50
These two large files cover naturalisation policy from 1914 to 1950. The records contained in the first part, which stretch from 1914 to 1946, are invaluable for research on several aspects of naturalisation.
A461, A349/3/6 Part 1
Naturalisation – Main Policy File, 1914–50 A461, A349/3/6 Part 2
CORRESPONDENCE FILES, ANNUAL SINGLE NUMBER SERIES WITH OCCASIONAL 'G' (GENERAL REPRESENTATIONS) INFIX, 1956–
Canberra and Sydney
This series deals with topics directly under the control of the Prime Minister, and reflects the coordinating role of the Prime Minister's Department with its diverse array of topics. Among these topics are some files on citizenship and naturalisation matters. Given the nature of the role of the Prime Minister's Department, these files do not provide the insight into policy deliberations which can be found in the records of agencies with direct responsibility for policy formulation.
Series: A463
Quantity: 543.7 metres in Canberra; 184 metres in Sydney
Recorded by: Prime Minister's Department (CA 12)
Citizenship rights under naturalisation – general
This file contains documents on an assortment of topics about naturalisation. Of particular interest is the 1954 announcement by the Minister for Immigration, Harold Holt, that the Coronation and the Queen's visit to Australia had each sparked considerable interest among migrants to take out Australian citizenship.
A463, 1957/2783
CORRESPONDENCE FILES, SINGLE NUMBER SERIES WITH YEAR PREFIX, 1916–27, AND 'C' PREFIX, 1927–53
Canberra
The Commonwealth Investigation Branch became a crucial element in the naturalisation approval process during the 1920s, responsible for interviewing and assessing applicants and making recommendations to the Department of Home and Territories on each application. The Branch's particular angle on the significance of naturalisation and the allegiance of applicants provides fascinating insights into naturalisation policy from the First until the Second World War. Documents on naturalisation policy and procedure are contained in the various parts and attachments of file C1145.
Series: A367
Quantity: 66.6 metres
Recorded by: 1916–19: Special Intelligence Bureau (CA 746); 1919–46: Commonwealth Investigation Branch (CA 747); 1946–53: Commonwealth Investigation Service (CA 650)
Naturalisation, 1914–49
These items contain fascinating material on the ideas of the military and intelligence agencies about the meaning of naturalisation during the First World War, and the system of assessing naturalisation applicants set up initially by the military, but then taken over by the Investigation Branch in 1919. Further documents track the development of the Investigation Branch's thinking and practice in this area through the 1920s and 1930s, and the controversies surrounding naturalisation and the treatment of aliens during the Second World War.
A367, C1145 Part 1
Naturalisation, 1914–49 A367, C1145 Part 2
Naturalisation, 1914–49 A367, C1145 Part 3
CORRESPONDENCE FILES, SINGLE NUMBER SERIES, 1941–49
Canberra
This series contains records created by the Security Service during and shortly after the Second World War. The Service became a central point for the assessment of naturalisation applicants, and had a wider role in determining naturalisation policy through its responsibility for aliens control matters. Many of the records in this series are correspondence and reports surrounding the deliberations of the Aliens Classification and Advisory Committee. Files bearing on naturalisation are scattered throughout the series.
Series: A373
Quantity: 7.4 metres
Recorded by: 1941–45: Security Service (CA 660); 1945–46: Commonwealth Investigation Branch (CA 747); 1946–49: Commonwealth Investigation Service (CA 650)
Objections to Naturalisation, 1943
In this file is found documentation of the reasons for which the Security Service denied naturalisation to applicants during the Second World War. The objections of SH Jackson in Melbourne are of particular interest, since he simply reverses the onus of proof, refusing applications because there was no reason to approve them.
A373, 2778
Amendment of Naturalisation Policy, 1943
The treatment of enemy aliens during the Second World War became the subject of a battle between the Security Service which adhered to the notion that a person's citizenship status equalled their political allegiance and behaviour, and the Aliens Classification and Advisory Committee which believed that the political behaviour of aliens did not necessarily flow from the civic status. Ultimately, the Committee prevailed. This file contains interesting correspondence between the parties to this controversy and the Attorney-General. The second of the Committee's reports can be found here.
A373, 8203
Aliens Tribunals Submission of Reports, 1942
This file contains correspondence between the Attorney-General, HV Evatt, and the Minister for the Army, FM Forde, over the division of responsibilities between the Army and the Security Service, and the particular duties of the Service.
A373, 1336
INVESTIGATION FILES, SINGLE NUMBER SERIES WITH 'N' (NEW SOUTH WALES) PREFIX, 1920–57
Sydney
The Investigation Branch maintained offices in the mainland state capitals which carried out much of the work of the Branch. Often correspondence which has not survived in the records of the Branch's central office are preserved in state holdings. State offices also hold the majority of case files held by the Investigation Branch, although a large number of files were transferred into ASIO's custody at the time of its creation.
Series: SP1714/1
Quantity: 10.8 metres
Recorded by: 1920–46: Commonwealth Investigation Branch, NSW (CA 904); 1946–57: Commonwealth Investigation Service, NSW (CA 912)
Naturalisation Files, 1930–48
These items contain correspondence between the New South Wales and central offices regarding naturalisation policy. Many case files are also found in this series.
SP1714/1, N18035 Part 1
Naturalisation Files, 1930–48 SP1714/1, N18035 Part 2
Naturalisation Files, 1930–48 SP1714/1, N18035 Part 3
CORRESPONDENCE FILES, SINGLE NUMBER SERIES WITH 'V' (VICTORIA) PREFIX, 1924–62
Melbourne
Like SP1714/1 above, this series contains the investigation and policy files of a state office of the Investigation Branch, in this case the Victorian office. Although it seems that policy files of the sort kept in New South Wales were never compiled or have not survived, some select documents on naturalisation can be located.
Series: B741
Quantity: 29 metres
Recorded by: 1924–45: Commonwealth Investigation Branch Victoria (CA 907); 1945–60: Commonwealth Investigation Service Victoria (CA 916); 1960–62: Commonwealth Police Force (II) Victoria (CA 955)
Victoria. Naturalisation, 1922–24
This file contains documents from 1923 instructing that naturalisation should be denied to members of the Australian Communist Party, the Friends of the Soviet Union, and the Russian Association.
B741, V/389
INVESTIGATION CASE FILES, SINGLE NUMBER SERIES WITH 'SA' (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) PREFIX, 1917–69
Canberra and Adelaide
This series contains both policy and case files for the Investigation Branch in Adelaide, as B741 does for the Melbourne office.
Series: D1915
Quantity: 1.6 metres in Canberra; 37.3 metres in Adelaide
Recorded by: 1919: Commonwealth Police Force (I) (CA 2919); 1919–46: Commonwealth Investigation Branch, SA (CA 905); 1945–60: Commonwealth Investigation Service, SA (CA 914); 1960–69: Australian Security Intelligence Organization, SA (CA 4716)
Naturalisation of Aliens Procedure, Policy, 1920–48
This file contains some material on naturalisation policy and procedure in South Australia, and includes copies of memoranda sent from Investigation Branch headquarters in Melbourne (until 1927).
D1915, SA194 Part 1
Naturalisation of Aliens Procedure, Policy, 1920–48 D1915, SA194 Part 2
Functions of Investigation Branch, 1931–56
This item contains details of the activities of the Investigation Branch's South Australian office. Statistics on the number of inquiries undertaken by the South Australian office into various matters, including naturalisation, are laid out in successive annual reports. These figures provide an insight into the activities of the Investigation Branch and the division of its resources, which is not available elsewhere. Similar figures do not appear to have survived in any other state, making this file particularly valuable.
D1915, SA870
CORRESPONDENCE FILES, SINGLE NUMBER SERIES WITH 'Q' (QUEENSLAND) PREFIX, 1924–61
Brisbane
Like the series created by other state offices of the Investigation Branch, this series contains both policy and case files, and some useful material on the Investigation Branch's conduct of inquiries into naturalisation applicants.
Series: BP242/1
Quantity: 46.4 metres
Recorded by: 1924–46: Commonwealth Investigation Branch Qld (CA 753); 1945–60: Commonwealth Investigation Service Qld (CA 913); 1960–61: Commonwealth Police Force (II) Qld (CA 952)
Applications for Naturalisation (Queensland), 1921–33
This file mainly contains memoranda from headquarters, and includes a lesser amount of local material.
BP242/1, Q569 part 1
Aliens for Naturalisation (List), 1941–42
Lists of candidates for naturalisation during the early years of the Second World War are contained in this file. Given tight eligibility rules during the war, most applications were not approved.
BP242/1, Q17182
SUBJECT FILES, MULTIPLE NUMBER SERIES, 1949–
Canberra
Unlike most government agencies which are required under the Archives Act to deposit all records more than 30 years old with the National Archives, ASIO's records are transferred to the National Archives only after a researcher requests files on a certain topic. Accordingly, this series consists of policy files opened at the request of researchers, and does not contain all of ASIO's holdings. The file numbering system is accordingly one imposed by the Archives. ASIO took an active role in naturalisation matters from soon after its establishment. It took over the vetting of applicants, and generally offered advice to the Department of Immigration on naturalisation policy.
Series: A6122
Quantity: 42.3 metres
Recorded by: Australian Security Intelligence Organization (CA 1297)
Security Checking of Applications for Australian Citizenship, 1949–66
These files cover ASIO's role in naturalisation policy from 1949 until 1967. They contain invaluable information on the government's conceptions of national security, and the kind of people regarded as unsuitable to be granted Australian citizenship.
A6122, 1834
Security Checking of Applications for Australian Citizenship, 1949–66 A6122, 1835
Security Checking of Applications for Australian Citizenship, 1949–66 A6122, 1836
Security Checking of Applications for Australian Citizenship, 1949–66 A6122, 1837
Security Checking of Applications for Australian Citizenship, 1949–66 A6122, 1838
Protective Security Memoranda Volume 1, 1950–62
These items contain copies of ASIO's 'protective security memoranda', policy instructions for ASIO's vetting activities. These memoranda cover the full range of ASIO's vetting activities, and include several on naturalisation and the registration of British subjects as Australian citizens.
A6122, 1425
Protective Security Memoranda Volume 2, 1950–62 A6122, 1426

Notes

Chapter notes | All notes

39 Letter, AA Calwell, Minister for Immigration to JB Chifley, Prime Minister, 20 August 1949, NAA: A461, P349/1/1.

40 Text of speech by AR Downer, Minister for Immigration at the Millions Club, Sydney, 9 July 1958, NAA: A446, 1966/45420.

41 Jordens, Redefining Australians, pp. 163–6.

42 AJ Grassby, 'A multi-cultural society for the future', 1973, reproduced in John Lack and Jacqueline Templeton, eds, Bold Experiment: A Documentary History of Australian Immigration since 1945, Oxford University Press, Melbourne, 1995, pp. 143–4.


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Chapter 3
Civic Identity