Australian Joint Copying Project (AJCP)

Subject Librarian

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Lois McEvey
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Subject Librarian

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Jane Miller
Contact me via our online reference service citing my name and the title of this guide

Family history guides


Welcome to State Library Victoria's guide to the Australian Joint Copying Project.

The Australian Joint Copying Project (AJCP) is a collection of government and administrative material relating to Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific covering the period 1560 to 1984. The collection includes correspondence, registers, reports and other documents and is a primary source for the history of Australia's settlement and government by Great Britain. Commencing in 1945, the project microfilmed documents from the British government departments with direct connection to activities in the colonies.  These records can be very helpful for exploring your family history.

The National Library digitising project (2017-2020) digitised over 8.2 million microfilm images and converted over 10,000 pages of descriptive text of this vast collection, which are now available online through Trove, Library catalogues and search engines.

There are a few things to bear in mind when using the handbooks and documents themselves:

  • Most of the collection is not indexed.
  • The  handwritten documents are difficult to decipher, so finding information is time-consuming.
  • Class Numbers and PRO Reels are not usually subject indexed.  You will need to identify relevant records by other means such as time period, creator, place and record type.
  • Use other material to narrow your search such as published histories of the armed forces in the colonies, Trove newspapers reporting on places and events.
  • AJCP descriptions - rather than the content itself - are searchable by personal names, organisational names, subjects, geographical locations or date range.

These records reflect Australia in a historical context and the information within may not reflect current understanding. Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are advised that these records may contain information which may be considered culturally sensitive and may cause distress, including names and images of Aboriginal and Torres Islander people now deceased.

More on the AJCP.

Using the AJCP

The AJCP is divided into 2 series: 

1. Public Record Office (PRO) Series

The Public Records Office, London (now The National Archives of the UK)  series includes mainly the records of the Colonial Office and Dominion Office. Almost half the AJCP records are taken up by dispatches, correspondence, letter books and registers, dating from 1788 to 1951 of these two departments.

Air Ministry
Board of Customs
Board of Longitude
Board of Trade
British Transport Commission
Cabinet Office
Colonial Office
Dominions Office
Exchequer and Audit Department
Foreign Office
Home Office
Maps and Plans
Meteorological Office
Ministry of Labour

Ministry of Transport
Paymaster General's Office
Personal Collections (PRO 30)
Prime Minister's Office
Prison Commission
Privy Council
War Office

2. Miscellaneous (M) series

The Miscellaneous (M) Series includes largely non-government records - from individuals and organisations.

Introduction to AJCP - Webinar

From the M series

The 'H Tree' Hutt 1840/41. Sketchbooks of Edward Charles Frome,  [M987], 1835-1853, Sketchbook No. 2. South Australia/File 33.


Archival terminology

Understanding the terminology and record hierarchy can help with identifying what you will find where, and with deciphering your results.

Fonds -  a group of documents that share the same origin and that have occurred naturally as an outgrowth of the daily workings of an agency, individual, or organization. e.g. General records of the War Office and predecessors and successors 1789-1858.
Series - the main grouping of records with a common function or subject, e.g. registers, unnumbered papers, correspondence.
Sub-series - a further grouping under series level.
Piece - a folder, file, volume or box of documents.
Item - can be a page or a bundle, stored within a piece.
Child - an item, or group of items at the next level below.

More here: National Archives - Glossary for discovery

Amanda Bevan. Tracing your ancestors in the National Archives