The purpose of the Archives is to collect, house and make available records pertaining to Australian women. The Archives aim to collect documents of significant historical value which show the activities of individual Australian women and Australian women’s groups.

The Archives hold records that show the contributions of women in the building of Australian society. The focus of the collection is on Australian women although some international material is included where it is relevant. The Archives aim to augment and complement the Library’s books, serials and poster collections and ensure that primary source material on the lives and activities of Australian women is preserved and made available for research.

The material held is mostly contemporary, documenting second wave feminism dating from the late 1960s to the present day. A few collections date back to the turn of the 20th century. Much of the collection does not fit within conventional archival collection policies.

Emily Pankhurst illumination

Emmeline Pankhurst illumination

The Archives include letters, diaries, photographs, banners, newspaper cuttings and ephemera, plus the minutes, correspondence and other records of women’s organisations. The size of the collections varies from just one tiny file to extensive collections of more than 10 metres. We hold the storyboards created by participants to record the women’s protests at Pine Gap and Cockburn Sound in the 1980s. We also hold an impressive collection of badges dating from early in the 20th century.

The foundation of the Archives is the range of material received from the former Canberra Women’s Archive in 1993. We now hold about 200 collections which document the influence of the women’s movement in Australian women’s lives. Issues that influenced and shaped women’s lives, particularly over the past 50 years, are also reflected through the records of women’s community groups.

The papers cover topics such as women and the church, women’s rights, abortion law reform, family planning, contraception, women’s refuges, rape crisis centres, health care, discrimination against women in the workforce, equal pay, child care, the peace movement, women in advertising, women in government as well as the papers from academic sources that cannot find a home in a university.


Using the Archives Collection

Prior arrangements are required for the use of the archives. Please contact the Archivist directly by telephone or email.

Donating material to the Archives

Complete the Archives Donation Form to let us know about the material you would like to donate.


Email the archivist