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Using Archives

Information on archival and primary source research, and how to access the University of Melbourne Archives

About the University of Melbourne Archives

The University of Melbourne Archives (UMA) was established in July 1960 to collect and preserve the records of the University and Victorian business for historical research. In the early 1970s UMA broadened its collection scope and began to collect the archives of trade union and other labour-related bodies, professional associations and community, women’s, peace and political organisations. Complementing all of these organisational collections are the personal papers of individuals prominent within them.

Archival records are collected to be used for historical research, and UMA’s highest priority is to make its collections available for academic and public research. Whether interested in the history of architecture, manufacturing, economics, the labour movement, publishing, theatre, mining, science, politics, the professions, biography, education, law, the women’s movement, pacifism or war, researchers will find major resources in the UMA collections.

UMA’s holdings extend over 20 kilometres and are stored off-site in a purpose-built repository in Brunswick. Researchers can access material through the Cultural Collections Reading Room on level 3 of the Baillieu Library, University of Melbourne.

Collection strengths

UMA's collection strengths include:

University of Melbourne
The University’s official records date from its foundation in 1853. The archives of the University document its governance and administration and include minutes of Council, Professorial Board and Faculty committees, and the records of Vice-Chancellors. In addition there are departmental records, student records, archives of student clubs and societies, architectural plans, a large collection of photographs, and records of University-affiliated bodies such as the literary journal Meanjin, Melbourne University Press and the Melbourne Theatre Company.

Business
UMA holds the archives of more than 300 Victorian businesses, along with the personal papers of many individuals prominent within them. The businesses date from the earliest years of colonial Victoria to the present day and include the industrial sectors of manufacturing, retail and wholesale trade, transport and shipping, engineering and construction, law, architecture, pastoralism, finance and property.

Professional associations and community organisations
This part of the collection includes professional, welfare, temperance and advocacy bodies such as the Australian Psychological Society, Australian Association of Social Workers, Law Institute of Victoria, Citizens’ Welfare Service of Victoria, Royal Australian Chemical Institute, Melbourne City Mission, Royal Victorian College of Nursing, Woman’s [sic] Christian Temperance Union, Liberty Victoria, Commercial Travellers’ Association and many more.

Labour and politics
The archives of more than 100 extant and defunct Australian trade unions are represented in UMA’s labour holdings, especially Victorian and Federal branches, along with the Victorian Trades Hall Council, several Victorian provincial trades and labour councils and the personal papers of some prominent union leaders and activists. UMA also holds the Malcolm Fraser Collection.

Women
Collections relating to the women's liberation and feminist movements include the Germaine Greer Archive, the Working Women’s Centre, Women’s Electoral Lobby, the 120 separate collections that comprise the Victorian Women’s Liberation and Lesbian Feminist Archives, Victorian Women Graduates’ Association and Young Women’s Christian Association.

See the UMA subject guides for more information.

Collection indexes

Information about all collections held at the University of Melbourne Archives is available through our online catalogue. The catalogue search will search collection-level information (such as the content note or the historical note about the creator of the collection). Most of the collections are listed in further detail in the PDF finding aids that are attached to collection's catalogue entry. The search function does not search the finding aids. 

All digitised material is available through the online digitised images database