Child and Youth Migrants: 1924 – 1976

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Different sorts of records

We understand the great importance of records to Child and Youth Migrants, many of whom were provided with misleading information about their families and the circumstances that led to their deportation to Australia.

For support in searching for records from the child’s birthplace and place of origin, please contact The Child Migrants Trust. This may include a full birth certificate, child health records, migration records, and departure records. There may also be records for various parents and other family members.

The National Archives of the UK have a useful guide to child migrant records. The National Archives of Australia also have a useful guide on Child migration to Australia.

A range of different sorts of records were created at various points during the process of relocating children to Tasmania between 1924 and 1976.

  • Firstly, there were pre-arrival records created during the re-location and journeying processes, which may have been through the various government-supported schemes or through the Big Brother or Fairbridge societies. These include immigration files, and sponsorship applications.
  • Secondly, records were created by the state around social welfare and the care of the child in Tasmania. Children who arrived though state-funded schemes were made Wards of the State, while those who arrived through private societies may not have come in contact with Tasmanian state welfare at all. Amongst these records are also adoption records, as some Child Migrants were adopted by local families.
  • Thirdly, records were created when care occurred outside of state institutions. A majority of migrant children lived in out-of-home care institutions (like Clarendon Home in Kingston) that were run by Non-State churches and private societies. These records include those produced by the various care homes themselves, as well as societies and churches more broadly.

Each of these different sorts of records have different ways and means of accessing them. In general, we can separate records on child and youth migrants into two broad categories, State records and Non-State records:

  • State records were created by Tasmanian government departments. For Child Migrants these records include immigration files, Ward of the State files, adoption, custody, child protection and Welfare files. It also includes school and health care records.
  • Non-State records were produced by private institutions such as churches and community care groups, and private care homes in Tasmania. For Child Migrants, these also include records of the Fairbridge Drake Society of Tasmania and the Big Brother Movement.

It is important to remember that Child Migrant records are not collated together in one file under one name: there might be three or four separate files. It is likely that your files might exist across both State and Non-State collections, and that even within these, there might be several files in different series. For example, you may have been a Ward of the State but placed into a Non-State care home.

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