Curator with gloves holding historic images. "Help Save Queensland's Stories 2024 Appeal" graphic overlay.

Truth-telling and healing: digital archives

Our 2024 Appeal aims to preserve and share more of our collections through digitisation. All donations over $2 are tax deductible and your donation will help save Queensland’s heritage for future generations. Thank you.

Books from the Kurilpa archives

At Queensland Museum Kurilpa in Brisbane, the team is working on digitising materials in the Archive collection. 


Queensland Museum’s Research Library was founded in 1876 and comprises of rare books and monographs, journals, special collections and the Archives Collection.


The Archives Collection includes items such as diaries, letters and personal papers, as well as correspondence to and from Queensland Museum from the 1860s to the 1980s. Over the course of a century, these written documents record the historic collecting practices and the prevailing social attitudes of the time. The early correspondence in the Archives reveals hidden stories that provide evidence of how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples were viewed and treated by settlers in the colony.


Queensland Museum has embarked on an important project to digitise and transcribe this correspondence from the Archives.

Man digitising objects under lighting and camera

“Queensland Museum has a valuable role to play in Queensland’s truth-telling and healing process. This can help all of us understand how past laws, policies and practices have impacted, and continue to impact, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples,” explains Dr Bianca Beetson, Queensland Museum’s Director, First Nations.

The museum’s Librarian, Shannon Robinson, is also involved in the project. “The Archives are a rich source of information for due diligence to inform the work of the museum curators, but external researchers, students and the wider community can’t easily access this content.”

Supporting Curator of Archaeology, Nick Hadnutt explains, “We’re supporting curators’ work by documenting, photographing and transcribing selected correspondence between 1860 and 1905, relating to Queensland’s frontier conflict and the role of the Queensland Native Mounted Police. Digitisation enables us to capture metadata such as dates, names, places and keywords, while transcription enables searchable text for advanced research capabilities.”

Queensland Museum staff member showcasing historic book

With additional support, Queensland Museum can complete the next stage of this initiative - an online data map and search index.

This will help users to identify historic records that may be relevant to the truth-telling and healing process. Following appropriate community consultation and approvals, access to the digitised archives of sensitive correspondence can then be easily facilitated for researchers, historians and, most importantly, First Nations communities.

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