Research Centre services
Research Centre collections
Reading Room services
Preparing for a visit
Visiting the Reading Room
Copying services
What we cannot do
Research Centre Reading Room opening hours
Unable to visit the Reading Room

Research Centre services

The Research Centre is a key resource for researching Australia's military history. Its roles include:

  • managing, developing, documenting and providing public access to the Memorial's collections;
  • handling public enquiries about Australian military history and the Memorial's collections; and
  • providing reference and research services in response to visitor enquiries and telephone, fax and email enquiries.

Research Centre collections

The Research Centre holds original and printed material documenting all major conflicts involving Australians, from the conflicts in New Zealand in the 1860s to the Gulf War and United Nations (UN) peacekeeping operations in the 1990s. As well as providing research materials, these collections play an essential part in the Memorial's commemoration of those Australians who served and died in war. They provide information on the historical background to and the effects on Australian society of conflicts, as well as documenting Australian involvement in war and warlike operations. The collections include:

  • official records - records created by an official agency or person, including unit war diaries, squadron records and the papers of the official historians;
  • private records - consisting of the personal records of individuals, such as letters and diaries, and of private organisations;
  • printed and special collections - such as books, serials, newspapers, maps, plans, charts, aerial photographs, military forms, stamps, souvenirs, postcards, sheet music, Christmas cards, leaflets and cigarette cards.

Reading Room services

The Reading Room is the only venue where the Research Centre's collections can be accessed directly.

A wide range of online services are available, including access to the Memorial's collection databases and direct access to related websites. There are also hardcopy indexes, finding aids and other information about our collections and how to use them, and a reference collection of books and serials, microform resources, and film and sound recordings.

During Reading Room opening hours, the Information Desk is staffed by professional reference officers who can provide advice on the collection and help make best use of the collection materials, associated finding aids and equipment.

There are desks, carrels for private and audiovisual research, equipment for viewing microform materials, and an area for browsing new books and serials. Wireless network access is available in the Reading Room.

Preparing for a visit

Before you visit, we suggest you:

  • obtain personal records of the service people concerned if you are researching family history (see also Information Sheet Researching Australian military service).
  • search the Memorial's collection databses to identify relevant private records, books and serials, photographs, film and sound resources.
  • search RecordSearch on the National Archives of Australia website to identify official records.
  • read background information to increase your knowledge of the topic and its historical context. Your local library can assist you to locate books, encyclopedias and other published works.
  • contact us to discuss how we can facilitate your research. For example, you may be able to arrange for some records to be available on your arrival. You can submit a visiting the Research Centre form through our ReQuest service.

Visiting the Reading Room

On your first visit, you will need to register to access original records and other items from our closed stack area. A request slip is to be completed for each item you wish to view. The requested item will be delivered to the Information Desk for you to collect.

To help preserve our records, we ask readers to bring into the Reading Room only essential items such as pencils, notes, purses, wallets, laptops. Belongings not related to the research being undertaken (such as pens, bags, books, newspapers, umbrellas, mobile phones) should be placed in the lockers provided. The hire of these lockers requires a $2 coin, which will be refunded when you have emptied the locker.

We ask that all collection items be handled with extreme care. Pencils only should be used in the Reading Room. Collection materials must not be removed from the Reading Room.

Copying services

Reading Room visitors can copy books and serials on a book photocopier provided. Printouts from microform readers can be made by readers. Readers may also make their own recordings from reference video copies of film collection items in the Reading Room (which include time code information).

The Research Centre can generally provide copies of original collection material. Visitors to the Reading Room may make photocopying requests at the Information Desk.

A commercial copying service for material from the photograph, film, sound, and art collections is also available.

Copying may not be possible if it would pose a risk of damage to the material concerned, or if copying would breach legislative provisions or copyright, or violate donor instructions.

Copyright holder permission may be required if copied material is to be reproduced for purposes other than personal use.

Prepayment for all copying requests is required (see also Information Sheet Copying services).

What we cannot do

While we will help you as much as possible to make effective use of our collections, we are unable to do research for you. Please bear in mind that our large quantity and diversity of material requires time to access.

Although our focus is the history of Australia at war, we do not hold personal service records.

We are obliged to abide by restrictions imposed on official records by the Archives Act 1983, and on personal records by donors. Some restrictions on copying may result from compliance with the Copyright Act and donor conditions.

Special arrangements are required for access to items in other Memorial collections (Art, Military Heraldry and Technology) not on display in the galleries.

Unable to visit the Reading Room 

If you are unable to visit the Reading Room in person, you can submit a reference question online through ReQuest, our online reference service. Your enquiry will be responded to within 3-10 working days. You can also contact the Research Centre by telephone, letter, fax or email.  

Please note that only limited research assistance can be provided in response to reference enquiries. For example, we will tell you whether we hold records that are relevant to your enquiry or advise you of possible alternative sources.

If your enquiry requires substantial research, you can contact a private research agent to undertake your research. See the information sheet Research agents.

Photocopying requests can be made by letter, fax, telephone or online through our ReQuest service. Such requests should make clear precisely what material is being requested for copying. The information required can be found on our online collection databases. A quotation will be provided before a firm order is processed. For more information, see the information sheet Copying Services.

Our website contains information about our services, facilities and collections. It also provides access to numerous databases, finding aids, information sheets to assist research, articles and summaries relating to Australians at war, and an increasing number of digitised documents and images.

Printer-friendly version (PDF file 234Kb)