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Research Guides


Good British Stock: Child and Youth Migration to Australia


4. Genealogical Sources

Image 10: Department of Immigration form for child migrants.

Image 10: Department of Immigration form for child migrants.
NAA: PP93/10, ISHMAEL, D E
Enlarge image - View image gallery

The National Archives holds many records which are likely to contain information of interest to those wishing to trace the individual histories of child and youth migrants to Australia. These sources include records such as immigration case files (usually known as migrant selection documents), ships passenger lists, ships nominal rolls and naturalisation files. Essentially, the records held by the National Archives relating to individual child and youth migrants relate to their entry to Australia rather than to their day-to-day care once they had they arrived.

A number of the policy and administrative files described in Chapter 3 contain lists of names and other details of individual child or youth migrants. In some instances these records are likely to be important sources for genealogical research. Each of these types of records is described later in this chapter.

In addition to consulting the records of the National Archives described in this chapter, it may be necessary for researchers to consult the holdings of a number of other archives and institutions in order to locate all the available records on a particular child or youth migrant. For much of the twentieth century the administration of Australian migration programs was the responsibility of the Australian State governments. Details of relevant holdings of these institutions are listed in Appendix 4. And because the migrants were almost exclusively leaving from the United Kingdom, there may be embarkation records in the United Kingdom Public Record Office. Further details are also listed in Appendix 4.

Because the day-to-day care of child migrants who came to Australia remained with the charitable or religious bodies which ran the migration programs, detailed information about the care of individual child and youth migrants will not normally be found in Commonwealth or State Government archives; rather, it will be found in the records of the religious and charitable bodies which ran the homes and orphanages in which the children lived. Details of the holdings and contact addresses for these institutions are listed in Appendix 4.

Image 11: Department of Immigration form for child migrants.

Image 11: Department of Immigration form for child migrants.
NAA: PP93/10, ISHMAEL, D E
Enlarge image - View image gallery

Child migration was a separate category from youth migration or juvenile migration. Child migrants were apparently-abandoned, illegitimate, poverty-stricken children of primary school age who were usually in care in the United Kingdom before their despatch to Australia. On arrival in Australia, child migrants were placed in care (ie in children's homes or orphanages) for further training before placement in employment. Many of these children, separated from their parents and familiar surroundings, suffered from the disruption and dislocation, and this part of a family history can be a distressing one to uncover.

On the other hand, youth (or juvenile) migrants were 15 to 19-year-olds who came from ordinary family backgrounds and made their own decisions to come to Australia, often to work in rural areas.

An area touched on in the introduction to this guide and which has been widely aired in the media over recent years is that of child abuse in certain Australian orphanages during the child migration era. There is little mention of such incidents in the records described in this guide, not through any attempt to avoid discussing them, but rather because the records in the collection of the National Archives do not mention such allegations or incidents.

The reason for this was mentioned in passing above. Child and youth migration schemes were managed and administered by charitable bodies and the churches. While approved and supported financially by Commonwealth and State governments, who provided the ground rules, gave some financial support and monitored activities, it was the voluntary associations that did most of the day-to-day work with juvenile migrants. Consequently, the records held by the National Archives deal mainly with policy and administration, relations between the Commonwealth Government and the State government immigration departments, and relations with the church and charitable organisations in relation to the schemes they administered. Persons seeking to pursue research relating to the care of individual child migrants in particular orphanages or homes should consult the records held by the institutions listed in Appendix 4.

Records held by the National Archives

1. Migrant selection documents and related migration forms

Migrant selection documents were normally completed by the person applying to migrate to Australia. They consist of the completed application form, a medical report and other associated forms that accompanied the application. In the case of child or youth migrants the application was usually completed by a guardian and the associated forms would usually include items such as extracts of birth certificates, school reports, maintenance guarantees, and even police character reports. These documents may also have the name of the particular organisation which sponsored the migration (such as the Christian Brothers or the Fairbridge Society).

As the majority of migrant selection documents are arranged chronologically by date of ship arrival in Australia, it is important to have the name of the ship, the approximate date of arrival, and the state in which the person arrived. Records of arrivals in a particular state will usually be held by the office of the National Archives in that state. If you do not have this information, you may need to examine the migrant selection documents of all states to locate the information you are seeking.

Migrant selection documents for child and youth migrants are not generally arranged separately to the documents for migrants as a whole. Exceptions to this are a small number of collections in our Melbourne and Perth offices, which are listed separately below.

Migrant selection documents – child and youth migration
Melbourne
British under-age migrant selection documents (1947–63) B4061
Personal documents of British Child Migrants (1947–65) MP765/1
Personal documents of British Child Migrants (1955–56) MP485/1
Perth
Child migration selection documents – British children (1947–59) PP93/10
Child migration selection documents – Maltese children (1947–59) PP93/11
Migrant selection documents – all migration
Sydney
Migrant selection documents – all migration (1947–48) SP104/1
Migrant selection documents – all migration (1948–49) SP104/2
Migrant selection documents – all migration (1949–50) SP122/1
Migrant selection documents – all migration (1951) SP231/1
Migrant selection documents – all migration (1952) SP274/1
Migrant selection documents – all migration (1953–54) SP343/5
Migrant selection documents – all migration (1955–56) SP388/1
Migrant selection documents – all migration (1956–57) SP427/1
Migrant selection documents – all migration (1957–58) SP476/1
Migrant selection documents – all migration (1958–60) SP500/1
Migrant selection documents – all migration (1960) SP516/1
Migrant selection documents – all migration (1960–63) SP593/1
Migrant selection documents – all migration (1961) SP550/1
Migrant selection documents – all migration (1962–63) SP643/1
Migrant selection documents – all migration (1963–64) SP646/1
Migrant selection documents – all migration (1964) SP669/1
Migrant selection documents – all migration (1964–65) SP716/1
Migrant selection documents – all migration (1965) SP725/1
Migrant selection documents – all migration (1965) SP731/1
Migrant selection documents – all migration (1965) SP745/1
Migrant selection documents – all migration (1965–66) SP763/1
Migrant selection documents – all migration (1966) SP785/1
Migrant selection documents – all migration (1966) SP791/1
Migrant selection documents – all migration (1967) SP835/1
Migrant selection documents – all migration (1967) SP849/1
Migrant selection documents – all migration (1967–68) SP874/1
Migrant selection documents – all migration (1967–68) SP884/1
Melbourne
British migrant selection documents (1947–61) B3986
Maltese migrant selection document (1948–61) B3985
Personal and medical documents of British migrants (1947–50) MP80/1
Personal and medical documents of British migrants (1950–52) MP195/1
Personal and medical documents of British migrants (1954–55) MP250/2
British migrant selection documents (arrival by aircraft) (1960–68) B3593
British migrant selection documents (arrival by vessel) (1962–68) B3954
Brisbane
British migrants (free or assisted passage) personal papers (1947–51) BP23/1
Nominal rolls of British Migrants arriving at Queensland under the Assisted Passage Scheme (1961–62) BP384/23
Adelaide
Personal documents of British migrants (including ex–service) in receipt of free and assisted passages (1947–55) AP67/1
Personal Documents – British Assisted Migrants (1957–62) AP306/1
Personal Documents – British Assisted Migrants (1958–59) AP175/1
Personal Documents – British Assisted Migrants (1963–65) AP366/1
Personal Documents – British Assisted Migrants (1965) AP320/1
Personal Documents – British Assisted Migrants (1965–66) AP381/1
Personal Documents – British Assisted Migrants (1966–67) AP457/1
Personal Documents – British Assisted Migrants (1967–68) AP504/1
Correspondence files re British Citizens' assisted passages to Australia AP576/1
Other migration records
Melbourne
Ships' files relating to the assisted passage scheme (1921–37) B4094
Brisbane
Register of aircraft flights – assisted passage migrant scheme (1946–53) J921
Adelaide
Application forms, medical examination documents and related papers of British and Foreign Immigrants (including Ex-Service) in receipt of free and assisted passages (1947–54) D1989
Ships nominal rolls and personal documents of assisted British migrants. (1955–58) AP120/1

2. Passenger lists

Passenger lists and ship and aircraft nominal rolls can be useful in determining the name of a ship or aircraft in which a particular migrant (or group of migrants) arrived. From this information it may be possible to locate further details on other files, as well as extend a search to the records of the state archives or other institutions. Passenger lists can also be used to determine a migrant's exact date of arrival in the country, and can help in locating the names of other child migrants who arrived in the country on the same ship or aircraft.

Lists of passenger arrivals and departures are held by the National Archives for most Australian ports. Some of the earlier years have been microfilmed, and for the majority of these copies are available in each office of the National Archives. The following table lists the passenger lists which are available.

Canberra – (for all ports and terminals)
Ships' passenger lists – inwards (1924–64)
Passenger lists from July 1924 to June 1936 have been microfilmed and copies are held in each office of the Archives
A907
Aircraft passenger lists, inwards (1934–46) A1230
Incoming passenger cards – aircraft (1946–64) A1225
Inwards passenger manifests – aircraft (1946–) A1231
Incoming passenger cards (1965–72) A1197
Sydney
Inwards crew and passenger lists for Australian ports (1915–22) SP83/11
Passenger lists, inwards ships, Sydney (1923–) C1115
Passenger lists, inwards aircraft, Sydney (Rose Bay and Mascot) (1936–64) C3456
Manifests, passenger – inwards aircraft (1964–72) SP1150/1
Manifests, passenger – inwards ship (1949–72) SP1151/1
Passenger cards (aircraft) (1948–51) SP140/1
Melbourne
Volumes of inward passenger lists – ships (1924–64)
Microfilm copies of this series are also located in Canberra
B4397
Passenger manifests (Melbourne) (1965–66) MP905/1
Passenger manifests (Melbourne) (1966) MP990/3
Inward passenger manifests – Aircraft (1962–66) MP1163/2
Incoming and outgoing passenger cards (aircraft) (1949–50) MT19/1
Brisbane
Ships passengers lists, Brisbane inward (1852–64) J715
Aircraft passenger cards inwards (1947–60) BP215/2
Perth
Inward passenger manifests for ships and aircraft arriving at Fremantle, Perth Airport and outports (1898–78) K269
Inward passenger lists, outports (1904–23) PP261/3
Inwards passenger/migrants nominal rolls (1918–32) PP444/4
Inward passenger lists, outports (1923–35) PP240/3
Nominal rolls (inward) of ships passengers (1953) PP353/1
Nominal rolls (inward) of ships passengers (1954) PP378/1
Ships nominal rolls (1952–) PP9/3
Ships nominal rolls (1955) PP93/6
Ships nominal rolls (1956) PP93/7
Ships nominal rolls (1957) PP132/6
Ships nominal rolls (1958) PP135/1
Ships nominal rolls (1959) PP139/1
Nominal rolls (ships and aircraft) (1959–61) PP202/7
Nominal rolls (ships and aircraft) (1962–64) PP222/2
Nominal rolls (ships and aircraft) (1965) PP256/3
Nominal rolls (ships and aircraft) (1966) PP262/3
Incoming aircraft passenger cards (1948–56) PP9/6
Incoming aircraft passenger cards (1957) PP50/5
Incoming aircraft passenger cards (1958) PP93/4
Incoming and outgoing aircraft passenger cards (1959) PP110/4
Incoming and outgoing aircraft passenger cards (1960) PP135/3
Incoming and outgoing aircraft passenger cards and lists (1960) PP142/1
Adelaide
Ships passenger lists – inwards (1941–64) D5077
Ships nominal rolls (Foreign) (1947–50) D2002
Inwards passenger cards (surface vessels) (1948–50) AP475/1
Aircraft passenger manifests, inwards & outwards (1951–72) AP1174/2
Shipping passenger manifest – inwards & outwards (1965–76) AP1174/3
Hobart
Passenger lists and crew lists (inward) – Port of Hobart (1903–51) P2005
Passenger manifests, inwards ships (1967) P1666

3. Naturalisation files

The process of naturalisation in Australia prior to 1949 conferred British nationality on the applicant. Therefore, it was not necessary for British immigrants (including children) to become naturalised because they were already British citizens. However, with amendment to the naturalisation legislation which took effect from 26 January 1949, all migrants wishing to become Australian citizens were required to make an application for naturalisation, regardless of their country of origin. In cases where particular child migrants became naturalised citizens, the naturalisation collections held in the National Archives and listed in the table below will contain relevant records.

Canberra
Correspondence files (1903–38)
This large correspondence series contains many naturalisation files
A1
Name index cards, naturalization (1911–56) a1652
Correspondence files, Class 4 (naturalization) (1939–50) A434
Correspondence files, Class 1 (general, passports) (1939–50)
This series also contains more than 9 000 naturalisation case files
A659
Correspondence files, Class 11 (Migrants A–C) (1949–52) A439
Correspondence files, Class 12 (Migrants D–G) (1951–52) A440
Correspondence files, Class 13 (Migrants H–K) (1951–52) A441
Correspondence files, Class 14 (Migrants L–N) (1951–52) A442
Correspondence files, Class 15 (Migrants O–S) (1951–52) A443
Correspondence files, Class 16 (Migrants T–Z) (1951–52) A444
Correspondence files (1953–)
This correspondence series contains many naturalisation case files.
A446
Melbourne
Case files, annual single number series with 'V' (Victoria) prefix (1955–) B44
Sydney
General correspondence files with 'N' (New South Wales) prefix (1951–67) SP1122/1
Brisbane
Case files (1946–) J25
Perth
General correspondence files with 'H' infix (1926–50) PP6/1
Adelaide
Correspondence files with 'SA' prefix (1948–65) D400
Hobart
Microfilm of aliens, new arrivals and naturalisation registration cards (1948–74) P2691
Case files, annual single number series with 'T' (Tasmania) prefix (1951–) P3
Numerical register of Certificates of Naturalization (1951–88) P1948
Darwin
Correspondence files with 'I' (Immigration) prefix (1947–75) E601
Correspondence files (1949–) E37

4. Policy files and lists of child migrants

In Chapter 3 it is noted that a number of the policy files contain lists of the names and other details of many child and youth migrants. This information was compiled in the context of recording ship arrivals, claims for equipment allowance and the vaccination or immunisation of migrants, to name but a few. The records below are those noted to contain such information during the compilation of this guide. It is likely that other files not listed here will be found to contain similar lists upon examination. The files are listed under the sections in Chapter 3 in which (in most cases) they are more fully described.

Policy records containing details of name-identified child or youth migrants
Child migration policy
Child Migration within the Empire (1930) A1, 1932/7707
Schedules of group nominations under the UK free and assisted passage agreements (1947–59) MP541/3
The Dreadnought Scheme
Dreadnought Boys A659, 1943/1/1892
Fairbridge Farm Schools
Fairbridge Farm School. File 1 (1927–28) A436, 1946/5/597 Part 1C
Fairbridge Farm School, Pinjarra, WA (1946–50) A445, 133/2/12
Fairbridge Farm School, Molong NSW Part II (1947–50) A445, 133/2/11
Fairbridge Farm School, Pinjarra Western Australia (1951–54) A445, 133/2/64
Big Brother Movement
Big Brother Scheme (1926) A436, 1945/5/2217
Big Brother Movement, NSW nominations (1938–42) A659, 1942/1/3374
Big Brother Movement – Nominations. Claims for equipment allowance (1950–61) C3939, N1957/75099 Part 1
Big Brother Movement, NSW Part 4 (1953–55) A446, 1962/65571
Big Brother Movement – Nominations. Claims for equipment allowance (1961–67) C3939, N1957/75099 Part 2
Big Brother Movement – Nominations. Claims for equipment allowance (1967–70) C3939, N1957/75099 Part 3
The Roman Catholic Church
Catholic Emigration Association, London – Scheme to emigrate children to Catholic institutions in WA (1937–44) A659, 1945/1/499
Child migration to Catholic institutions, WA (1937–45) A461, M349/1/7
Clontarf bus accident – Public Subscription Fund – Deputy Crown Solicitor's Office (1944–69) PP352/1, WA12229
CEMWA – Equipment Allowance Payments – Child Migrants (1947–49) A436, 1950/5/5597
CEMWA – Request for children from Malta (1950–53) A445, 133/2/90
Child migration – CEMWA – subsidies (1952–78) K403, W59/86
The Church of England
Swan Homes Anglican Orphanage – equipment allowance (1954–65) K403, W59/115
The Salvation Army
Training – Riverview (1927–28) CP211/2, 74/39
The Presbyterian Church
Dhurringile Farm School for Migrant Children (1950–53) A445, 133/2/106
Jewish child migration
Polish Jewish Relief Fund: migration of children (1937–42) A434, 1941/3/1039
The Children's Overseas Reception Board Scheme
Children's Overseas Reception Board Nominal Rolls (1940) A2908, M54 ANNEX
Overseas Children Scheme – Nominations forwarded to London from Queensland (1940) A659, 1940/1/6453
Overseas Children Scheme – Record of custodians and children (WA) (1940–43) A659, 1943/1/4132
Overseas Children Scheme – Record of children and custodians (NSW) (1941–44) A659, 1944/1/355

The Personal History Index

The Personal History Index (PHIND) computer database has been developed by the Christian Brothers, the Sisters of Mercy and the Sisters of Nazareth in Western Australia. It records the location of records held by a variety of institutions in Western Australia concerning child migrants who were cared for in that state by the three participating organisations. Information recorded on the database includes:

  • name;
  • date and place of birth;
  • parent's names (if known);
  • age at departure from the United Kingdom;
  • shipping details;
  • name and location of sending order in the United Kingdom;
  • destination order in Western Australia;
  • initial residence, as well as any transfers between homes and schools; and
  • location of records on the subject, including medical, social, educational, baptismal, and immigration records – as well as sources of any records available in the United Kingdom.

Records held by other archives and institutions

As referred to briefly in the beginning of this chapter, it is highly probable that researchers will need to contact other archives and institutions around Australia, and possibly in the United Kingdom, if they wish to find all relevant records relating to a particular individual. The contact addresses for these institutions are included in Appendix 4.


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