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Research Guides

Government Records about the Australian Capital Territory


During the opening ceremony for the Sydney Building in December 1927 Prime Minister Bruce prophetically noted that ‘few of us have the imagination to see what will happen in this city in the next 50 or 100 years’. The Walter Burley and Marion Mahony Griffin original design for Canberra assumed a population of 75,000, yet in 2013 the population is 367,000. Through periods of war and depression, and particularly since 1958, the Territory has grown beyond anything that was envisaged when it was first established in 1911.

Government Records about the Australian Capital Territory tells the story of the administration of Canberra and Territory over the last 100 years. The National Archives of Australia and ArchivesACT have been delighted to work together to produce this research guide to mark the centenary of the naming of Canberra as the national capital.

Both institutions hold fascinating collections documenting the history of the Commonwealth and Territory governments and their interaction with the people of the ACT. Government Records about the Australian Capital Territory draws extensively on records held not only by the National Archives and ArchivesACT, but also other collecting institutions such as the Australian National University Archives, ACT Heritage Library and National Library of Australia.

Structured according to functions that are essentially the responsibility of the Australian Government or the ACT Government, this publication primarily draws together records from two separate institutions and uses them to present one consolidated history of the ACT. Diverse, and sometimes surprising, topics are covered, from Federation, early administration and the national capital’s iconic buildings, through to bus shelters, the arts and public gardens. A rich and informative publication, it will also highlight areas for further research.

We commend and thank Ted Ling and all others involved in the development of this research guide. It is an invaluable research tool showcasing and consolidating archival records relating to the ACT and its people.

Danielle Wickman
Director of Territory Records
Territory Records Office/ArchivesACT

David Fricker
National Archives of Australia