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Valuable NT history archive gets re-vamp

By Leanne Miles

Dr Stephen Hamilton is working on the Arafura Research Archive spanning almost 100 years of NT history Dr Stephen Hamilton is working on the Arafura Research Archive spanning almost 100 years of NT history

An archive housing key documents and research behind some major political decisions in the Northern Territory’s history is being revamped to provide further access to researchers and historians.

Spanning almost 100 years, the Arafura Research Archive holds documents recording the passage of euthanasia legislation through parliament, official papers leading to the establishment of bi-lingual education in remote communities, and records that chronicle the growth of tertiary education in the Territory.

Historian and archivist Dr Stephen Hamilton said that the Archive at Charles Darwin University was being re-organised to improve access to the collections.

“Most of the material has been donated by university researchers or members of the public who have worked in areas of interest to the researchers,” Dr Hamilton said. “The Archive houses the research papers of some of the NT’s most prominent historians.”

Dr Hamilton said the Archive was not only a valuable resource for university researchers, but also freelance historians, novelists and students.

“A collaborative research project is already underway between staff and students using materials from the archive,” he said.

“A law student is assisting in the preparation of a finding aide to the Euthanasia Papers. This will contribute to an undergraduate law paper and to the writing of a book on the NT Euthanasia legislation by a lecturer in the School of Law.”

Dr Hamilton said that the most important aspect of enabling access to the collections was ensuring confidentiality agreements were adhered to. The proper acknowledgement of contributors and donors was also paramount.

“Although some collections are digitised in order to make them more accessible, it is vital that the original hard copies are preserved. As I trawl through these unique records I am finding more and more hidden treasures.”

The Arafura Research Archive at Charles Darwin University is part of the Special Collection of the University Library.

For further information about the Archive or to offer material that might be of interest to researchers, please contact the Library on 08 8946 7016 or email