One of Australia’s most valuable record collections for local and family historians is the Australian Joint Copying Project (better known as the AJCP), and it’s about to get a whole lot easier to access.

The collection contains 7.5 million records, and is held on 10,419 microfilm reels … so that kind of speaks for itself doesn’t it! And that’s apart from having to visit one of the few libraries around the country that holds these films to view them.

But that’s all about to change, as thanks to the National Library of Australia the Australian Joint Copying Project is being digitised and is going online.

But first … WHAT IS THE AJCP? This is a project began back in 1945 as a collaborative project to copy historical records that relate to Australia and the Pacific, that were held in archives in the United Kingdom and Ireland. Microfilming started in 1948 and continued through until 1993. The records contained on the microfilms date from 1560 to 1984.

With details on politicians, explorers, scientists, religious and missionary societies, convicts and businesses held by private organisations as well as individuals, the records filmed by the AJCP are diverse, and are divided into two main sections: the PRO (Public Record Office) Series, and the M (Miscellaneous) Series.


The PRO Series includes the following:

  • Colonial Office – There house the bulk of British colonial administrative records, and included the governor’s reports or dispatches collected comprehensively with enclosures and minutes, departmental registers and indexes.
  • Admiralty Office – This Department was responsible for Shipping and the command of the Royal Navy. The records include masters logbooks and surgeon’s journals for ships on voyages to Australia, ships musters, correspondence of the Admiralty and Medical Departments, and records of the Australia, China and Pacific Stations. Many of these records relate to the exploration of Australia and the Pacific by European explorers including William Bligh and Matthew Flinders.
  • Home Office – The Home Office Department was responsible for administration of convicts, so this will be a popular one. It includes the records of convict trials, imprisonment and transportation registers as well as convict musters and censuses in New South Wales and other convict colonies.
  • War Office – This Department administered British regiments who were serving in Australia and New Zealand for most of the colonial period. The records include Muster Books and Pay Lists for British Regiments 1789-1977; Monthly returns; Military Pensions; and Description and Succession Books relating to the New South Wales Corps and arranged alphabetically, containing such information as each man’s description, age, rank, date of enlistment, service, and trade.
  • Other departments that have been the focus of AJCP filming include: Air Ministry, Audit Office, Board of Trade, Cabinet Office, Dominions Office, Foreign Office, Meteorological Office, Ministry of Transport, Prison Commission, Privy Council and the Treasury.

The records in the Miscellaneous (M) Series come from the following repositories:

  • National Libraries
  • University Libraries
  • Public Libraries
  • Museums
  • City and County Record Offices
  • Religious Archives
  • Business Archives
  • Collections in private hands

The project to digitise the content of the AJCP has already begun, and the National Library of Australia have announced that it will be completed by 30 June 2020. But you don’t have to wait until then to check it out, as they are releasing updates every month! You can head over to the NLA website to search what’s already there

So thank you to the National Library of Australia and those associated with it, for making this truly valuable resource readily available for everyone.