Military history: a quick guide to online resources

Anzac Day 2017

29 March 2017

PDF version [278KB]

Dr Nathan Church
Foreign Affairs, Defence and Security Section


The purpose of this quick guide is to provide parliamentarians and their staff with helpful resources for researching various aspects of Australian military history. This document will be periodically updated when additional resources become available. All website links below are accessible as at 27 March 2017.


Online military history resources

The Australian War Memorial (AWM) website

The AWM website provides an extensive amount of military history resources, including:

The Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) website

DVA offers a variety of resources, ranging from lists of anniversaries and commemorative events, nominal rolls for the Second World War, Korea and Vietnam (with preliminary work beginning on the Gulf War) and information on the Office of Australian War Graves.

The DVA website also contains a research tips guide and approximately 50 media backgrounder fact sheets on various aspects of Australia’s military history, including involvement in wars and conflicts, commemorations and related themes.

DVA has also published the following reference websites Gallipoli and the Anzacs, Australians on the Western Front 1914–1918, Australia’s War 1939–1945, Australia’s involvement in the Korean War and Australia and the Vietnam War.

The National Archives of Australia (NAA) website

The NAA website contains an array of primary source military history documents and thematic fact sheets. These include service records, administrative records, internment records and national service records. The NAA guide to researching war service webpage provides useful information, as well as a link to the RecordSearch database. The 376,000 First World War service records have been digitised in their entirety, following the three year ‘Gift to the Nation’ digitisation project. Digitisation of other records remains ongoing.

The NAA has also created the Discovering Anzacs website, featuring profiles of Australian military personnel, an image gallery and a mapping tool highlighting the places of birth and enlistment of those who served in the Boer War and First World War.

The AIF Project website

This is a database coordinated by academic historian Peter Dennis which allows the searching of Australian First World War personnel by name, service number or location of birth/place of residence upon enlistment.

The National Library of Australia’s Trove website

As a result of the National Library’s newspaper digitisation program, more than 1,000 different newspapers across all states and territories have been digitised, spanning the early 1800s to the mid-20th century (full list available here). These newspapers are keyword-searchable and provide substantial media coverage of the war front and the home front during the First and Second World Wars.  

The Australian Dictionary of Biography website

This website contains searchable biographic articles of notable personalities, including those involved in the military. It is an initiative of the National Centre of Biography at the Australian National University.

ParlInfo website

The Parliament of Australia ParlInfo database provides for keyword searching across House of Representatives and Senate Hansard, committee reports and proceedings and Bills debated within the Parliament. This database is useful in identifying the parliamentary proceedings during times of conflict.


Parliamentary Library resources


Thematic topics

Honours and awards

The Department of Defence website contains information regarding the different types of Australian and Imperial military awards. The Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet’s It’s an Honour website provides further details on Australian honours, including the ability to search by an individual or a specific award or medal. 

Australia’s defence force services

  • The Australian Army History Unit website contains primary source materials regarding the Australian Army forces’ contribution to conflicts spanning pre-Federation to Vietnam, support to peacekeeping operations and information regarding unit histories and formations.
  • The Royal Australian Air Force website contains overview information of the RAAF’s contribution to Australian military operations. The heritage of the RAAF is also described, including a listing of famous RAAF personnel. The RAAF website also gives information regarding the traditions of the red poppy, the last post, the dawn service and Remembrance Day.
  • The Royal Australian Navy website contains reference material regarding the histories of various ships, submarines and naval bases, customs, traditions and navy personnel.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander military service

  • The Australian War Memorial website contains an overview of the history of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander military service, including specific sections regarding its involvement in Australia’s various military conflicts.
  • In May 2014, the Indigenous Liaison Officer for the AWM, Gary Oakley, delivered the lecture ‘Aboriginals in the First Australian Imperial Force, a Secret History’, as part of the Parliamentary Library’s series Parliament, War and Empire. This lecture can be downloaded as an MP3 file, with an accompanying PowerPoint presentation and slide notes.
  • In October 2006, the Kurbingui Star published a list of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander personnel who served in the First World War, including their place of birth. This document is contained on the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies website, which also provides details of other online and hardcopy resources regarding the military service of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander personnel.  

Soldier settlement

  • The Year Book Australia 1925, published on the Australian Bureau of Statistics website, contains an overview of the soldier settlements schemes across Australia.
  • The Public Records of Victoria website, Battle to Farm, holds the digitised records for soldier settlers in Victoria from 1919 to 1935.
  • A Land fit for heroes?: a history of soldier settlement in New South Wales from 1916 to 1939, developed by the Australian Research Council, Monash University, the University of New England, DVA and State Records NSW.


For copyright reasons some linked items are only available to members of Parliament.

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