Australian Joint Copying Project (AJCP)

Searching the AJCP collection

The AJCP records can now by accessed through several search options, as well as browsing.
A few caveats:

  • Most of the collection, while digitised is not indexed by name or subject
  • Handwriting in the documents varies and can be difficult to decipher
  • Many of the guides and indexes do not provide access to document level
  • Not all AJCP records have been digitised

So, while research in this collection can be time consuming, it is possible to find relevant material by:

  1. Browsing the AJCP portal
  2. Searching via Trove
  3. Using the Trove widget
  4. Searching via the National Library of Australia's catalogue
  5. Searching within a collection
  6. Using other databases for access to selected resources
  7. Using published indexes
  8. Internet searching

1. Browsing the AJCP portal

  • Under Item description you will see a list of the various series (also known as fonds) in the collection.
  • Click on a series to display the subcategories. The example below displays the many convict collections that are held in the Home Office Criminal Department.
  • Click on a series to display further information on the collection:

You can then scroll through the information that appears towards the right hand side of the screen - illustrated below - and click on the thumbnails to view the digitised files:


2. Searching via Trove

It's possible to search across the whole AJCP collection by using Trove. This is particularly useful if you don’t know which government collection to use or you are looking for material on a specific topic. It's also an easy way to go straight to an AJCP reel number.

By keyword

  • Go to Trove and choose Diaries, letters and archives from the category list at the end of the search box.


  • Enter search terms together with the acronym AJCP which will help limit the results to this collection. If you get too many results try adding additional keywords, such as: 40th regiment AJCP  or  40th regiment AJCP muster or  40th regiment AJCP muster 1861.
  • Click on the Search button to display the results.

By series number
Record series are towards the top of the hierarchy - there are date range divisions in most series, that can help you navigate to items of interest. The Handbooks and Finding aids can also be helpful here - identified on each page of this guide.

By reel number

  • Go to the Diaries, letters, archives section of Trove.
  • Enter the reel number into the search box. The most effective way to search for a reel number is to use the following punctuation:
    "AJCP Reel No: 3783".
  • Click on the Search button to display the results.
  • Once you have identified the relevant collection on the Trove results page, click on the View online button.


  • On the next screen click on the Browse the collection button.

Trove record displaying the Browse the collection option

  • You should now see pages with thumbnail images of the collection. Browse through to find the relevant piece number and document.

3. Using the Trove widget

On the main NLA AJCP page you will find  a search option that adds a unique identifier  (nuc:"ANL:AJCP") to each search. We have added the Trove search box to this guide (see below).

Use this function to search through collections, the names of people and organisations and subjects or keywords..

4. Searching the National Library of Australia's catalogue

Searching the National Library of Australia's catalogue will retrieve both online resources as well as records for the microfilm.
You can limit to online resources and then follow the links through to the records:


5. Searching within a collection

You can search for a name or topic in the title of an item, but not the names or places within the registers. Date ranges, state names and other information such as regiments can help to focus your research.

There are some records for individual ships, for example, here in the Admiralty Series - you can use the Ctrl F command to search on the page for the name of a ship.

See boxes 6 and 7 below for other resources to help with searching for relevant records.

6. Using other databases for access to selected resources

Ancestry and Find my past  include some digitised National Archives (UK) records in their collections.
Aside from the AJCP content, these databases can help with locating your ancestor in a particular place at a particular time to identify useful records. They are available onsite at the State Library or by individual subscription.

Family history databases at State Library Victoria

The following databases are available from home for Victorian residents with a current membership.

7. Using published resources

Published resources and websites can direct you to relevant AJCP records.
Historical records of Australia, (1788-1842) also available online and Historical records of New South Wales. (1762-1811) are compiled principally from National Archives (UK) records. Both these series have indexes for searching within the volumes.
There are other published resources listed, on further pages in this guide.

Research guides
National Library of Australia
State Library of New South Wales

8. Internet searching

If you have a file (piece) number and/or a reel number and your search on Trove with that reference was not successful - you can do the same search on the Internet - to get a result.

You search on broader terms adding in AJCP NLA to your search terms to exlude other resources covering the AJCP more generally.

AJCP handbooks

Digitised copies of the original AJCP handbooks can be viewed on Trove. From the list of handbooks click on the thumbnail image of the relevant handbook. Then click on the Browse button to display individual pages.

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