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Research Guides

More People Imperative: Immigration to Australia, 1901–39

Suggestions for further research

Official sources for the period 1901–39 focus on assisted immigrants, for example, land settlers, child migration schemes and the like, since they were accountable to governments and non-government organisations and careful records were kept. Very little is known about unassisted immigrants, those who were not directed to rural areas and who often went straight to the cities and became the main source of labour for the industrial expansion of the interwar years. What were their experiences and how did they fare?

There is little research to date on the volume and nature of emigration from Australia. Emigration was greatest at times of depression, but even during prosperous years when the intake was high, such as 1912 and 1927, the number of departures was considerable, sometimes over half the number of arrivals. Who left and why? The proportion appears to be greater for unassisted migrants than for assisted? Was this because of a sense of obligation to stay and make good or because assisted migrants by their very nature, were less well off and therefore less able to relocate? Did they return to their former homelands or did they remigrate to other immigrant receiving countries, such as the United States, Canada or New Zealand?

More work needs to be done on comparative state policies and immigrant experiences in the pre-World War One period. The inter-war years are comparatively well covered. Most of the published work on the peak period of immigration between 1910 and 1914 is on Victoria and New South Wales. Further detailed studies for the other states would provide a useful balance.