Databases and Indexes

Databases and Indexes

Databases and indexes

This page presents links to a variety of newspaper indexes, online archives and databases, and registers of archival material in public and private hands. The databases and indexes listed cover a variety of media formats including newspapers, Australian literature, radio, television, country music, and other audio-visual collections.

Full-text searches of many Australian newspapers are available via databases such as Factiva and ProQuest ANZ Newsstand, to which many major Australian libraries subscribe. The National Library of Australia’s Trove search engine is an exceptional, and constantly expanding, resource providing access to digitised records of multiple media forms and links to related archives.

AustLit Colonial Newspapers and Magazines Project

The aim of the new horizontal approach for the Colonial Newspapers and Magazines Project, scoped in 2013 and properly underway in 2014 with funding provided by UNSW Canberra, is to index all extant newspapers, and literary and general magazines published in these years.

Australian Media History Listserv

The Australian Media History Listserv, hosted by Macquarie University, focuses on histories of advertising, newspapers, magazines, radio, television, film and the new media.

The Australian Media History Listserv provides:

  • a mechanism for disseminating information about events, new publications and education courses in Australian media history;
  • an outlet to share information about resources for researching Australian media history;
  • a means for posting queries about research and gaps in the field; and
  • a place for discussing broader research and epistemological issues pertaining to Australian media history.

Australian Council of Film Societies (ACOFS), Film Screening Handbook

The Australian Council of Film Societies publishes the ACOFS Film Screening Handbook, a comprehensive 96 page guide to forming and running a film society. It also contains valuable information for groups or organisations screening films non-commercially, including where to obtain films and the technical aspects of good presentation. ACOFS also publishes the National Feature Film & Video Catalogue, the most comprehensive listing of feature length films available on 16mm and VHS in Australia which is a little out of date but could be useful as a reference. Contact the president of ACOFS for a copy (for contact details follow hyperlink above).

Australian Newspaper Plan

The Australian Newspaper Plan is an ambitious, ongoing project designed to collect and preserve every newspaper published in Australia, guaranteeing public access to these important historical records. There are similar plans for New Zealand's newspapers. The Australian Newspaper Plan, formerly NPLAN, was set up in the early 1990s. The aim of ANPLAN is to ensure that newspapers published in Australia are preserved for long term access. At least one hard copy of every Australian newspaper should be collected by a State or Territory Library or by the National Library of Australia and stored in such a way to ensure its long term preservation.

Australian Periodical Publications 1840-1845

Australian periodical publications are a digital library of Australian journals that began publication between 1840-1845, developed as part of the Australian Cooperative Digitisation Project.

Australian Women’s Archives Project

The National Foundation for Australian Women established the Australian Women’s Archives Project (AWAP) in 2000, to enhance public knowledge and appreciation of the contribution women and their organisations have made to Australia. The Register includes women with career involvement in the mass media, including journalism, radio and television broadcasting.

The Women's Pages: Australian Women and Journalism since 1850 highlights the achievements of Australian women journalists and their contributions to the nation's public life and culture. Women from around the nation, across time and all forms of media, have been included. A list of women Walkley Award winners is included to demonstrate the range and quality of women's journalism that has been produced since the inaugural awards in 1956, a time that roughly coincides with the emergence of the second wave feminist movement.

Australian Women's Weekly 1946-71 Index

The Australian Women's Weekly 1946-71 Index is a collaborative research project produced by researchers in the Women's Studies Department at Flinders University in Adelaide, South Australia. Key authors are Barbara Baird, Kate Borrett and Kylie O'Connell.

The Index is part of a larger research project and was conducted as a preliminary task to the writing of a cultural analysis of the Australian Women's Weekly over the period 1946-71. It has been created principally to suit the research project which has generated it. That project was conducted at the Flinders University Women's Studies Department by Chief Investigators Professors Lyndall Ryan and Susan Sheridan. A book that analyses this material, Who Was That Woman? The Australian Women's Weekly in the Postwar Years, was published in 2002 by University of New South Wales Press (by Susan Sheridan, with Barbara Baird, Kate Borrett and Lyndall Ryan).

This index offers a detailed index of the Australian Women's Weekly in the years 1946, 1951, 1956, 1961, 1966 and 1971. The decision to adopt a 'slice approach', to index only one year in every five for the period 1946 to 1971, was to place priority on a detailed index of six years over the twenty-five year period rather than a much less thorough index of all twenty-five years.


AustLit is a non-profit collaboration between eleven Australian Universities and the National Library of Australia providing authoritative information on hundreds of thousands of creative and critical Australian literature works relating to more than 94,000 Australian authors and literary organisations. Its coverage spans 1780 to the present day. AustLit indexes and describes Australian literature published in a range of print and electronic information sources. It also makes available selected critical articles and creative writing in full text. For example, AustLit includes Australian literary content from over 1,000 periodicals and major Australian newspapers. AustLit also funded a special research project to map the history, span, editorship and content of around 100 twentieth century Australian magazines. The collection also houses a subset on Drama dating from the late 18th century which includes records for nearly 6,000 plays including radio plays, musicals and operas, and about the creators of these works, including full bibliographical records for published plays by Australian writers. The collection also includes a subset entitled 'Banned in Australia' which describes publications that were prohibited imports in twentieth-century Australia, from 1900 to 1975. The subset aims to comprehensively list the titles that were banned, or allowed restricted circulation only, by the practices of federal censorship.

Bibliography for the History of Communication Research

This bibliography, maintained by Jeff Pooley, Associate Professor of Media & Communication at Muhlenberg Collge in Allentown, Pennsylvania, contains more than 1800 English-language works on the history of communication research and cognate fields. It can be searched by tag, author, title or keyword.

Bonza, AFI Research Collection, RMIT University

Bonza is a fully accessible and searchable online Australian and New Zealand film history database compiled by Cinema Studies students at RMIT University. The database is idiosyncratic and evaluative in a way that most databases-of-record are not. Students gather information on self-selected areas of interest from either the New Zealand or Australian film industries. The information they collect is recorded into any of the three related databases (for biographical, bibliographical and production based material) which make up the entire bonza database. The students then prepare hypermedia essays that incorporate words, sounds and image and link this work to each other’s projects, additional online sources and the information gathered in the bonza database.

Centre for Culture & Communication Reading Room, Murdoch University

The Reading Room for the Centre contains information and publications on Australian filmAustralian televisionAustralian radioWestern Australian screen,PhotographyDocumentary, and Indigenous, Media, and Public Ideas. The site also contains archives for the journal Continuum, as well as the Australian Journal of Cultural Studies (volumes 1-4), the publication Critical Arts, and Span (six numbers complete: 32-37). The site contains other useful links to media, communications and cultural policy materials. The Centre for Research in Culture & Communication was in existence 1990-2003. These pages have been left here as an archive of the former Centre's work, but will no longer be updated.

Encyclopaedia of Australian Radio Show Database

EarsDB is a computer based database that lists Australian Radio Shows of the Golden Age and beyond. The aim is to list all Australian radio shows aired during the Golden Age of Australian Radio and beyond. Over 5700 shows are listed as are nearly 1900 people involved. It is administered by the Australian Old Time Radio Shows group.

Historiography and Mass Communication

Historiography and Mass Communication is a free online journal that publishes essays dealing with the study of mass communication history and of history in general.

History of Country Music in Australia

History of Country Music in Australia is a website dedicated to preserving and promoting the history of Australian country music.

A History of Women’s Pages

An archived public list, together with notes, in the National Library’s Trove searchable database of digitised newspapers, developed by Dr Justine Lloyd, Centre for Media History, Macquarie University.

Indexes in Australian Libraries: A Towards Federation Survey

Indexes in Australian libraries: A Towards Federation 2001 Survey, by Margaret Henty and Rachel Jakimow. National Library of Australia, 1995. ISBN 0642106576

Libraries and other collecting institutions are the guardians of the nation’s past, of its social, intellectual, artistic and cultural heritage; they also provide the information springboard for the nation’s development. This publication arose from the conference Towards Federation 2001: Linking Australians and their Heritage held in Canberra on 23-26 March 1992. Invited participants were drawn from across the nation’s libraries, archives, national collecting institutions and a range of other organisations concerned with publishing, collecting and preserving Australia’s recorded documentary heritage. By the year 2001, the aim is to have in place a comprehensive plan for collecting, conserving and communicating Australia’s documentary heritage, enabling Australians to have maximum possible bibliographical and physical access to their recorded documentary heritage. Resolutions arising from the conference deal with collecting issues, bibliography, political issues, physical access, preservation, issues relating to special communities, and copyright. The resolutions are providing a working agenda for action by libraries and other collecting institutions. The complete papers consisting of the Final Report, Agenda Papers, Working Papers and Background Papers are now available in one consolidated volume published by the National Library of Australia.

The newspaper and journal indexes can be found on pages 70-73.

Leader Community newspapers

Provides access to Leader Group community newspapers for the Greater Melbourne region of Victoria.

National Registry of Audiovisual Collections, National Film & Sound Archive

The National Registry of Audiovisual Collections is a unique initiative of the National Film and Sound Archive—an eclectic listing of collections of moving image and recorded sound materials, as well as related documents and artefacts, from across Australia. The first edition was published in June 2007, describing over 80 collections held by institutions as diverse as libraries and museums, community groups, political parties, historical societies, research centres, film societies, broadcasters, distributors, production companies and foreign legations, as well as individual collectors.

Newcastle Morning Herald Index 1869-1943 and 1944-1980

A subject index to the Newcastle Morning Herald, the Newcastle (NSW) newspaper since the 1860’s containing valuable information about the development of the Newcastle area. The index has been compiled by the Newcastle Region Library. This is a freely accessible site.



Out of the Question: Women, Media, and the Art of Inquiry

The Out of the Question website is based on a documentary of the same name by award-winning filmmaker Naomi McCormack. It provides details about the film, messages from its makers, and information about the history of women in the American media. While the film focuses on five women significantly involved with American media production from the 1940s, the website provides further biographical material on a number of women media-makers active in the middle decades of the twentieth century. It provides both teaching resources and new materials on these pioneering women with the aim of ‘documenting, understanding, and honoring the work done by this long-marginalized and largely forgotten group of women.’

Papers Past

Papers Past is a service hosted by the National Library of New Zealand. It contains more than three million pages of digitised New Zealand newspapers and periodicals. The collection covers the years 1839 to 1945 and includes 90 publications from all regions of New Zealand (also includes much reporting of Australia).

Popular Memory Archive

Digital games make up a significant but little known chapter in the history of the moving image in Australia and New Zealand. The Popular Memory Archive site aims to exhibit some of the significant local games of the 1980s era, and collect documentation in order to remember early games through popular memory. It features a curated exhibition of information about fifty 1980s Australian and New Zealand Games, and the Creators and Companies behind them.

Ryerson Index

The Ryerson Index site is aimed specifically at genealogists, and is an index to death, funeral, and probate notices, plus some obituaries, published in Australian newspapers. We concentrate on contemporary notices, because information about recent deaths is one of the most difficult areas for genealogists. We currently include notices from 236 newspapers - predominantly NSW, but with Victoria, South Australia and Queensland also well-represented. Within NSW, the bulk of the entries are from the two Sydney papers, the Sydney Morning Herald and the Daily Telegraph. The collection exceeds 4.5 million entries as of mid-2014.


With over 24,000 entries - the result of 16 years of research - Scoop! represents the most comprehensive biographical dictionary of British and Irish journalists ever compiled and an invaluable resource for anyone interested in newspaper history. Subscription required.

Sounds of Australia: The National Registry of Recorded Sound

The National Film and Sound Archive’s Sounds of Australia is a public registry of recordings that celebrates the unique and diverse recorded sound culture and history of Australia. It was launched in February 2007 with a foundation list of 10. Each year, public nominations are called and 10 recordings added to the Registry, selected from the nominations by a panel of experts from the recorded sound industry and cultural institutions.

Sydney Morning Herald Archives

Search every edition of The Sydney Morning Herald and The Sun-Herald between 1955-1995 in our unique online archive. All articles, captions and advertisements are fully keyword searchable and full-text results are returned in an exact digital reproduction of the printed pages as they were originally published. Search birth, death and marriage notices. Explore Australia’s history through the big stories of the day.
The SMH archives contains 820,000 pages in almost 13,000 issues spanning 1 January 1955 to 2 February 1995. The contents of all issues are fully text searchable and reflect the full context and layout of each page as it was originally published.

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