Pacific Manuscripts Bureau – Information about the Pacific Islands at State Library of Queensland

Queensland and the Pacific Islands have much in common historically. The importation of Pacific Island labourers into Queensland has created strong bonds between Queensland and the islands. However, trade between the islands and Australia has also created a network of interrelationships as has our war time experiences.

South Sea Islanders, recruited for the Queensland canefields, being carried in boats to the Para Image number: 65320 John Oxley Library

South Sea Islanders, recruited for the Queensland canefields, being carried in boats to the Para
John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Image number: 65320. http://hdl.handle.net/10462/deriv/128158

Do you want to read business records from island plantations, shipping records for the South Pacific, New Guinea Patrol Reports, or mission reports form Pacific Island? Examples of all of these are available through the Pacific Manuscripts.

Based at the Australian National University in Canberra, the Pacific Manuscripts Bureau (PMB) website has a variety of catalogues and indexes available online. The Pacific Manuscripts Bureau copies archives, manuscripts and rare printed material relating to the Pacific Islands. The aim of the Bureau is to help with long-term preservation of the documentary heritage of the Pacific Islands and to make it accessible.

The State Library of Queensland holds a selection of Pacific Manuscripts Bureau (PMB) materials on microfilm, especially where it has some relationship with Queensland or the islands nearby. The microfilm needs to be requested from storage. Ask State Library staff for assistance.

The Pacific Manuscripts Bureau microfilm collection is the most extensive collection of non-government primary documentation on the Pacific Islands available to researchers. Included in the collection are:

  • letters, diaries, notebooks;
  • genealogies and other personal or family records;
  • unpublished novels, stories, plays, poems, songs, music and drawings;
  • grammars, vocabularies and dictionaries;
  • mission and church records;
  • plantation, mining, trading, shipping and other business records, including cooperatives;
  • papers of political parties, trade unions, environmental organisations, women’s groups, youth groups, community associations and non-government organisations;
  • papers of Pacific regional organisations;
  • scientific, technical and medical papers;
  • newspapers, newsletters and other serials

Most recently, the staff of the PMB have been in the Solomon Islands where they have digitised the SIBC National News Bulletins for the years 1991-1998. These Bulletins were typed on single-sided A4 paper. Over 28,000 digital images were taken and processed creating the following PMB title:

PMB 1414 Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation, National news bulletins, 1980-2015. PDF. Available for reference.

On the PMB website, another useful resource is the Catalogue of Photographs relating to the South Pacific (beginning from 1848).

State Library holds a number of indexes to the material of the PMB including:

The Pacific Manuscripts Bureau allows ease of access to material from each of the Island nations that may not otherwise be available to Australian researchers. Whilst the State Library of Queensland does not hold the entire collection of PMB microfilm it may be possible to obtain other film reels through our document supply section. The Pacific and its history is important to our Australian journey and access to this information is a valuable source for historians.

Illustrated front cover from The Queenslander, May 26, 1927 ; State Library of Queensland

Illustrated front cover from The Queenslander, May 26, 1927
John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland
Image number: 702692-19270526-s001b. http://hdl.handle.net/10462/deriv/224952

More Information

Pacific Manuscripts Bureau – http://asiapacific.anu.edu.au/pambu

Catalogue of Photographs relating to the South Pacific (beginning from 1848) – http://asiapacific.anu.edu.au/pambu/docs/CatalogueofSouthSeasPhotographCollections.pdf

Complete annotated catalogue : PMB printed document series, microforms PMB Doc. 1-400 Australian National University. Pacific Manuscripts Bureau ; Bess FloresCanberra : Pacific Manuscripts Bureau, Research School of Pacific Studies, Australian National University : 1991 – http://onesearch.slq.qld.gov.au/SLQ:SLQ_PCI_EBSCO:slq_alma21134344430002061

The P.M.B. book of Pacific indexes / edited by Robert Langdon ; Canberra : Pacific Manuscripts Bureau, Research School of Pacific Studies, Australian National University, 1988 – http://onesearch.slq.qld.gov.au/SLQ:SLQ_PCI_EBSCO:slq_alma21123307720002061

Where the whalers went : an index to the Pacific ports and islands visited by American whalers, and some other ships, in the 19th century / Robert Langdon 1924-2003; Australian National University. Pacific Manuscripts Bureau Canberra : Pacific Manuscripts Bureau, Research School of Pacific Studies, Australian National University : 1984 – http://onesearch.slq.qld.gov.au/SLQ:SLQ_PCI_EBSCO:slq_alma21118670890002061

Ask Us service – http://www.slq.qld.gov.au/services/ask-us

Document Supply service – http://www.slq.qld.gov.au/services/copies-loans/document-supply

Christina Ealing-Godbold
Senior Librarian, Information Services