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Research Guides

A Nation's Imagination: Australia’s Copyright Records, 1854–1968

Immigration policies

Correspondence files, class 6 (aliens' registration), 1946–50

This series consists of files of correspondence, decisions, policies, reports and newspaper cuttings about the assimilation, welfare and education of displaced persons who migrated from Europe to Australia, internees and prisoners-of-war.

Series: A437
Quantity: 2.16 metres
Recorded by: Department of Immigration (CA 51)
J C Williamson Theatres Limited – play about assimilation, 1950–52

For theatrical historians the company that ultimately became J C Williamson's has many entries on the Archives' RecordSearch database. One of the more intriguing of these occurs in this item, which contains correspondence relating to a play called Fusion. Written by John Watson, its theme was the assimilation of postwar migrants. The company had hopes of obtaining some government sponsorship for the production. Among the correspondence is a letter from an Immigration Publicity Officer that provides a synopsis of the play and his opinions about it:

It is a well-written and carefully constructed play dealing with most of the main obstacles in the way of the assimilation of non-English-speaking migrants.

The author is obviously a craftsman. His characters live, his dialogue is smooth flowing and natural, and there are some fine flashes of humour, some of which are somewhat broad (although in character).

Nonetheless the Immigration Publicity Officer counselled against the Department sponsoring the play primarily because of its heavy use of colloquial language. He feared that the colloquial language might alienate worker audiences, although he agreed that 'the dialogue is a pretty fair reflection of the poor English used by a large number of Australian workers on the job'.57

A437, 1950/6/634
Correspondence files, 1953

This series comprises individual case files and policy files dealing with matters of interest to the Immigration Department. Subject matter includes applications for assisted passage, passports and naturalisation, deportation orders and related policy material. Some general administrative files in this series deal with investigative activities in relation to immigration matters.

Series: A446
Quantity: 2643 metres
Recorded by: 1953–74 Department of Immigration (CA 51); 1974–75 Immigration Group, Department of Labor and Immigration (CA 1775)
Coloured boxers and theatrical artists – exemption policy, 1935–70

During the period of the White Australia policy theatrical companies had to make special requests for exemptions to the policy's provisions and special arrangements for some overseas artists – even boxers – to enter the country. While the files often have quite general titles, references to specific artists may be found within them. This file is one of several (not all of which are in this series) relating to overseas artists.

This file includes advice on a ministerial decision to approve exemption applications on merit for 'coloured boxers and wrestlers' to come to Australia without evidence of good character being supplied to the department beforehand in order to shorten delays in approvals. Misbehaviour in Australia would, however, lead to cancellation of the exemption, with the sportsman's guarantors required to pay his passage out of the country. Later correspondence discusses television performers.

A446, 1964/46333


Chapter notes | All notes

57 This letter was written by Hugh J Murphy, Immigration Publicity Officer, to Mr R E Armstrong, Secretary, Department of Immigration, 10 January 1951.


Chapter 5
Searching Further Afield in the Archives