6. Stories of Migration


Alderbury Poor Law Union

Emigration to Australia

Manuscript, c. 1850–59


English poor law unions and workhouses, as portrayed by Charles Dickens in Oliver Twist, were by-products of the growing economic problems for the lower classes in Victorian England. This four-page letter appeals to the able-bodied labourers of the Alderbury Poor Law Union in Harnham, England, to find ‘independence’ in what is described as a ‘rapidly rising colony’. The wages and rations outlined in the letter would have been very attractive to the poor. As a companion piece to this letter, there is in the collection a pamphlet from 1841, Dietary of the Union Workhouse: Order of the poor-law commissioners… for the Alderbury Union, that shows the meagre subsistence experienced in the workhouse




The Australian emigrant's manual : or, a guide to the gold colonies of New South Wales and Port Phillip

John Dunmore Lang 1799–1878

The Australian Emigrant’s Manual: Or, a guide to the gold colonies of New South Wales and Port Phillip

London: Partridge and Oakey, 1852


The 1851 discovery of gold in the colony of New South Wales gave rise to a large influx of prospectors, merchants and labourers to Australian shores. Lang believed that Australia would be a great empire within a few decades and that all that was needed was a ‘…population—and not population merely, but a highly intelligent, enterprising, energetic, British Protestant population’. The title is misleading as Lang tries to deter people from going to the goldfields and dedicates more pages to cotton growing. This copy is from the second thousand printed, with an appendix: ‘The cotton and gold fields of Australia’.





Ralph Hargrave

Log Book of the Ship Joseph Tarratt

Manuscript, 1856–57


Travelling to the new colony with his father John Fletcher Hargrave, who was soon to become solicitor-general for New South Wales, Ralph Hargrave boarded the ship Joseph Tarratt in 1856. This personal account of emigrant life includes poetry, a traveller’s code of conduct, maps, geographic coordinates, cabin arrangements and seating plans. Having established himself in Sydney, John Hargrave sent his son back to Greenwich for his wife and remaining children. One of these children, Lawrence, would become the renowned aeronautical engineer and explorer after whom, in part, the Hargrave-Andrew Library at Monash University is named.




New South Wales, the mother state of Australia : a guide for immigrants and settlers

New South Wales Intelligence Department

New South Wales, the Mother State of Australia: A guide for immigrants and settlers

Sydney: New South Wales Intelligence Department, 1906


Immigration manuals like the one displayed here were produced by each state over many years and in many editions. They provided practical information for the journey as well as for arrival and settlement. The final chapter of this manual explains aspects of assisted migration.





Refugees : Hitler's loss, our gain

Brian Fitzpatrick 1906–65

Refugees: Hitler’s loss, our gain

Melbourne: Jewish Council to Combat Fascism and Anti-Semitism, 1944


Published by the Jewish Council to Combat Fascism and Anti-Semitism, this pamphlet highlights the benefits to Australia from an intake of Jewish refugees. It was published at a time when war threatened to block Australia’s borders. While initial resolutions were to receive 5,000 refugees a year, the war cut short the scheme to a total of only 8,000. Of the 3,500 male refugees aged between 18 and 45, almost every man volunteered for Australian military service. The cover art is by Noel Counihan.




Europa to Oceania

Angela Cavalieri and George Matoulas, artists Antoni Jach, author

Europa to Oceania

Melbourne: La Bella & Messofa Press, 2016


As stated by the artists: ‘Europa to Oceania looks at the migration of the artists’ families from Europe to Australia and the culture they brought with them. Themes include the voyage to Australia, who they are through documentation, religion, entertainment and food. The author both responds to the images and illustrates his own family’s migration and assimilation.'





Peter Lyssiotis


Melbourne: Masterthief, 2012


Peter Lyssiotis’s family migrated to Australia from Cyprus in 1953. Lyssiotis is a photographer, artist and writer with longstanding ties to Monash University Library. Much of his work centres on issues around identity and the immigrant experience. In this work he uses the imagery of suitcases to represent his family’s departure from postwar Europe and their arrival in their adopted country.