Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander collections

Explore the diversity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures through the photographs, manuscripts, oral histories and digital stories collections of the John Oxley Library.


This significant collection consists of material collected and recorded by Margaret Lawrie during her visits to the Torres Strait Islands from 1964 - 1973. The collection was added to UNESCO's Memory of the World Australian Register in 2008. [Acc TR 1791]


In 1928 Norman Tindale commenced his research, visiting Aboriginal people living on government missions and documenting their family genealogies. Records include his visits to the missions established in Queensland. [Acc 7489]

John Oxley Library

Explore a selection of significant historical collections, photographs and oral histories celebrating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and history in Queensland. Learn more by accessing the records on the catalogue One Search and link to the information describing the importance of how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history was recorded and documented. 

Jo-Anne Driessens photographs 1997 – 2000

This collection of digital images, prints and album entitled Cherbourg Today 1998, documents everyday life, people, places and events around Queensland in the late 1990s and early 2000s. 

Jo-Anne Driessens was born in Brisbane in 1970 and adopted into a white family. An interest in photography led her to finding and documenting her blood family during during the early 1990’s. She completed a Cadetship in Photography in 1999. [Acc 30299]

Laura Aboriginal Dance Festival Photographs 2009

This collection of 79 photographs records the importance and cultural highlight of the Laura Festival to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. It is the premier celebration of Aboriginal culture held in Cape York. Held every two years the Festival celebrates the culture of Aboriginal people of Cape York Peninsula through song, dance ceremony and performance. Queensland photographer Sarah Scragg accompanied State Library of Queensland representatives to document the festival events for the collections of the John Oxley Library.


Scragg, Sarah. (n.d.). Dancers Performing at the Laura Aboriginal Dance Festival, 2009, Collection reference: 10183 Laura Aboriginal Dance Festival photographs.

Bloomfield River and District Photographs 1880-1886

The Bloomfield River mission was established on land belonging to the Kuku-Yalanji people. This collection includes images of the Bloomfield River, local people and industry established from 1880 – 1886 in the district. A selection of digital images are available.      [APE-61]   

Pearl Divers, Torres Strait 1920

Two gelatin silver print photographs, each with the full signature of the photographer, Thomas McMahon, bearing his handwritten descriptions. He states the pearlers oil their bodies before diving & wear rubber covered goggles, remaining under water for a very long time and are very smart at their work of collecting pearls & pearl shell & other marine products. [Acc 29819]

Reverend James Tait Scott Torres Strait Islands Papers 1870s-1890s

The album contains approximately 52 letters by Eliza and the Reverend James Tait Scott to Eliza's parents, Mr and Mrs Mitchell. They were sent from various locations including Murray Island, Thursday Island, Darnley Island, Cooktown and more. [Acc 29018] 

Invasion Day rally photographs, 2018

'Invasion Day' march held in Brisbane on Australia Day in 2018 reflects the rally in front of Parliament House, with participants proceeding along George Street, across Victoria Bridge, ending in Musgrave Park, West End. Participation in 2018 rose largely due to the #changethedate movement and increased scrutiny surrounding the meaning of Australia Day. The images by documentary photographer Hamish Cairns represent the response in Brisbane.