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John Oxley Library

It’s worth reading the fine print: Looking for South Sea Islander names in Queensland State Archives’ records

By JOL Admin | 6 September 2013

Recordkeeping is an important task undertaken by public servants today and it was a task made explicit by various pieces of legislation pertaining to South Sea Islanders arriving and working in Queensland in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. For instance, the instruction beside the asterisk in this Register of Pacific Island Labourers, 1865 – 1904; Digital Image ID 23968. says: 

Digital Image ID 23968 - Register of Pacific Islander Labourers. Image Queensland State Archives

 * The name should be spelt strictly according to the sound, and each syllable should be shown separately. European names to be rejected.

This instruction was provided to assist the recordkeeper with names that were unusual to their ear and consequently difficult to spell.
This register and many others created by the Inspector of Pacific Islanders and the Immigration Department have been indexed and the information in the index will provide a page reference and Item ID. Two indexes referring to South Sea Islander records are:
• Online index: Australian South Sea Islanders 1867-1908
• Online index: Coloured labour and asiatic aliens in Queensland 1913
In many cases the items have been digitised and are available to view online. These alphabetical lists can be pored over for spelling and pronunciation variations.
The name Ree-ra-mai can be found in the Index to Australian South Sea Islanders 1867 – 1908 and this list provides a page reference and an Item ID. Both these pieces of information can help a researcher locate the relevant record.

Index to South Sea Islanders 1867 - 1908, Queensland State Archives.

On page 312 of Item ID 18845 (Digital Image ID 24099), Register of labourers (Pacific Island labourers employed on plantations) the name Ree-ra-mai can be found.
Digital Image ID 24099. Register of Labourers, Queensland State Archives.

Queensland State Archives’ website

Niles Elvery - Manager Public Access, Queensland State Archives


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