Protests, activism & dissent in Victoria

Research the history of activism, protests, rallies and campaigners in Victoria using pamphlets, posters, badges, images, articles, interviews and books.


What information can I find?

Metropolitan, country and local newspapers can all include reports, letters and images about political movements and protest groups.

Newspapers are sometimes the only record of campaigns, especially if a campaign was short-lived, or related to an issue of interest only to a local community.

The Library's Newspaper Collection includes an extensive range of Victorian metropolitan, suburban and regional newspapers.

Many newspapers are accessible in the Library's Newspapers and Family History Reading Rooms. Others are stored offsite and need to be pre-ordered for use. Some are available online, many of which can be accessed from home by Victorian registered library members. Search the catalogue to find out how to access your newspaper of interest, or read the research tips below. If you are searching the catalogue to find relevant newspapers, try a search using:

- a place name and the word 'newspapers', or
- the name of the newspaper

Many newspapers are not indexed, which means that you will need to browse for relevant articles. To save time, try to narrow down the date range of your search using books or dated ephemeral sources.

Some newspapers are indexed. Newspaper indexes may include information under headings like Protests or Demonstrations, or under subject-based headings, for example Abortion or Identity Cards.

You might like to start your search in the following mainstream newspapers:

The Herald Sun (Melbourne)

Indexes to the Herald Sun (1992-1999) are available on CD-ROM at the Library.

Microfilmed copies of the Herald Sun (historic and current) can be found in the Newspapers and Family History Reading Rooms.

The Age (Melbourne)

Digitised copies of The Age dating from 1854 to 1954 are available to search online on Trove Newspapers.

Indexes to The Age (1993-2006) are available on CD-ROM at the Library.

The microfiche Agesearch index provides references to articles published between 1982 to May 1992. Each year is individually indexed, by topic.

Some earlier issues of The Age (1854 to 1989) are available on Google. You can browse or search issues (if you are searching you will need to specify that you want to search The Age, and put in a date range). The search engine seems only to search some of the text.

Microfilmed copies of The Age (historic and current) can be found in the Newspapers and Family History Reading Rooms.

Local newspapers

The free Leader community news website reproduces content from Victorian suburban local newspapers published by the Leader group. It includes papers from the last 2 months.

The ProQuest Australia & New Zealand Newsstream database includes content from many local papers including the Leader group. Most content dates back to about 2007. You can access this database at the Library, or at home if you are a registered Victorian library user.

Search the catalogue to find historic copies of local newspapers in the Library's collection.

The Weekly Times

This newspaper focuses on issues affecting rural Victoria. The text of articles from 2010 onwards are available from the ProQuest Australia & New Zealand Newsstream. You can access this database at the Library, or at home if you are a registered Victorian library user.

Indexes to The Weekly Times (1993-1999) are available on CD-ROM at the Library.

Digitised copies of The Weekly Times dating from 1869 to 1954 are available to search online on Trove Newspapers.

Microfilmed copies of The Weekly Times (historic and current) can be found in the Newspapers and Family History Reading Rooms.

The Argus (Melbourne)

The Melbourne Argus, published from 1846-1957, was one of Melbourne's key newspapers for over one hundred years.

The Argus has been digitised and much of the content can be searched online. Not all of the digitised text is fully searchable, so printed indexes (divided by topic, and sometimes by name) can still be useful:

Microfilmed copies of the Argus can be found in the Library's Newspapers and Family History Reading Rooms.

The Herald and The Sun (Melbourne)

The Herald was published from 1840 to 1990. The Sun was published from 1922 to 1990. These popular Melbourne newspapers then joined to become the Herald Sun.

Digitised copies of The Herald are being made available online on Trove Newspapers.

Card indexes to The Herald and The Sun are available for use in the Newspapers and Family History Reading Rooms. They index articles by subject, personal name and by-line (article author) for the following dates:

  • Herald:  January 1926 - 12 November 1970
  • Sun:  January 1929 - 12 November, 1970

Microfilmed copies of the Herald and the Sun can be found in the Newspapers and Family History Reading Rooms.

The Advocate (Melbourne)

The Advocate reported on issues of interest to Melbourne's Irish and Catholic communities, including political and religious causes. It operated from 1868 to 1990.

Digitised copies of The Advocate dating from 1868 to 1954 are available to search online on Trove Newspapers.

Microfilmed copies of the The Advocate can be found in the Newspapers and Family History Reading Rooms. A microfiche index to The Advocate is also available in the room.

Subject-based newspaper indexes

Editorials in Australian newspapers related to homosexuality

For the record: 160 years of Aboriginal print journalism

Aborigines general 1924 to 1972 (index to newspaper articles)

Australian Aborigines in the news (1981-1992)

Read all about it: women's suffrage sources from the newspapers of South Australia, 1885-1894

The Library's online Australiana Index helps you find newspaper articles dating from about the 1990s onwards. References to some earlier articles are also included.

Earlier references can be found in the Australian Subject Index. This card index gives references to newspaper reports and journal articles. It may also direct you to the Library's Local History or Subject Files, or publications held by the Library. Examples of headings used in this index include:

  • Demonstrations - Anti-war
  • Demonstrations - Eight Hour Day
  • Demonstrations - Farmers

The Australian Subject Index is located in the Arts Reading Room.

Carmel Shute Collection

Collected by trade union activist, writer and feminist Carmel Shute, this collection includes newspaper clippings, broadsheets and serials on the subject of feminism in Australia, spanning a quarter of a century (1970-1995).

Some of the collection is listed - see below. The collection is not yet represented on the Library's catalogue. Please contact us for access. Items will need to be requested several days before your visit.

There are many more feminist collection items in the Library's Riley & Ephemera Collection. To find these items, search the catalogue using word combinations like riley feminism or riley women or riley feminist.

Radical newspapers

Radical newspapers offer opposing views from that of the mainstream media.

State Library Victoria

Note - we have just upgraded our Library catalogue and are updating some links on our guides.

As we do this some catalogue links may not resolve correctly.