Information for Researchers

  • About the Northern Territory Archives Service
  • What kinds of archives are available
  • How to research the archives
  • What access conditions apply
  • Using the Public Reading Room
  • Standards of service for Reading Room clients
  • How to cite archives
  • Copyright in archives
  • About the Northern Territory Archives Service

    The Northern Territory Archives Service (NTAS) was established by the Northern Territory Government in 1983 as the archival authority of the Northern Territory Government. It is responsible for the preservation, management and use of Territory records, both government and non-government.

    What Kinds of Archives are Available?

    The archival records available for research at the NTAS, most of which were created within the Northern Territory, relate to the Northern Territory.

    The NTAS holds Northern Territory Government archives which have been created since the Government’s establishment in 1978. The NTAS has also inherited records from the periods of administration by the South Australian Government (1863-1910) and the Commonwealth Government (1911-1978) which relate to the functions transferred to the NT Government with the granting of self-government.

    The NTAS also takes responsibility for the preservation and availability of non-government archives which it collects from the wider Territory community. These community archives include personal papers and photographs from a large range of individuals as well as the archives of organisations. Some non-government archives date back to the middle of the 19th century.

    A large collection of oral history archives is also available.

    For further information about the archives which are held at the Northern Territory Archives Service, see The Archives Collection.

    How to Research the Archives

    Before accessing the archives researchers are advised to consult potentially relevant published sources and to gain as much background information as possible.

    It is important to identify any government agencies, non-government agencies or individuals whose activities have related to the topic of research. This is because archives are primarily listed under the name of the creating agency or individual.

    Information about Archives Navigator, our online access point to archives, is available on our Archives Navigator page. This page also has information and links to our other reference tools, such as the List of Holdings, Subject Guides and Information Leaflets. 

    Individuals seeking information from the collection are expected to do their own research in the Reading Room. Researchers should make an appointment with reference staff prior to visiting the Reading Room to ensure that required records and appropriate assistance will be available.

    What Access Conditions Apply?

    Government Archives

    Most government archives are available for public inspection 30 years after the end of the year in which they were created. This closed period is basically applied to ensure the availability of the archives or records for continued administrative use if necessary and/or to protect their potential confidentiality.

    A small number of government archives may be closed or in restricted access for longer periods because of specific legal requirements or ongoing confidentiality issues.

    Researchers who wish to access government archives which fall within the restricted access period are able to apply for access in writing through Northern Territory Archives Service. The responsible government agency will then consider the granting of access on a case by case basis.

    Non-government and Personal Archives including oral history archives

    The conditions of access to non-government and personal archives are determined by the depositors. Similarly, access conditions for oral history archives are primarily determined by interviewees and, in some case, interviewers. The vast majority of these archives are available with open access for research purposes.

    Some archives may be withheld from access because of their fragility. In these cases, copies will be made available whenever possible.

    Access to all archives will only be provided in the Reading Room. See our information leaflet about Conditions of Access for more information.

    Using the Public Reading Room

    Researchers should contact us before visiting the Reading Room. All researchers must obtain a Search Ticket and must observe the rules and conditions set down by Northern Territory Archives Service.

    Computers and cameras may be used in the Reading Room, subject to the approval of the Northern Territory Archives Service staff.

    Opening Hours and Locations

    Information about opening hours and the locations for the Reading Rooms in Darwin and Alice Springs can be found on our Contacts page.

    Standards of Service for Reading Room Clients


    Staff will provide information and assistance to researchers accessing archives, about searching, using our finding aids, possible access restrictions, usage of equipment such as microform reader printer and ordering reproductions.

    Reference staff will not undertake detailed research on your behalf.

    If you have details of the records you wish to see, you can order them in advance of your visit by fax, post, telephone or e-mail.

    There is a 12 to 24 hour turnaround time for making records available in the Reading Room once you have placed your order. You will be advised if there is a delay due to access restrictions or physical condition of the records.

    Staff will not tell third parties about the topic of your research or the records you have used without your permission.

    You may use the Reading Room computer to access our guides and finding aids as well as the Internet, provided these activities are related to your research.

    Reproduction Services

    Self service copying is not permitted, except from microform readers.

    Prints from microform are subject to the regular black and white photocopy fee. When copying from the microform reader printer you are required to complete the standard photocopying order form, enabling staff to determine the total charge for copying.

    The condition of the original item may affect the quality of the copy being produced. Staff will provide the best reproduction within your order specifications.

    Time taken to complete photocopying orders will vary according to the size of the order and the physical condition of the records. Orders of up to 100 pages will be completed within 10 working days. Variations to this timeframe based on the condition of the records or a larger volume of copies will be advised by Reference staff.

    If the condition of the original record prevents its handling for photocopying an alternative may be offered. Staff will discuss the options and associated cost.

    See our Reproduction Fees Leaflet for more details.

    For those unable to visit

    Reference staff do not undertake detailed research on your behalf. If your enquiry requires substantial research (i.e. more than three hours) we will send you a list of research agents with whom you can make private arrangements.

    Research enquiries will be acknowledged on receipt. Staff will respond to your initial request for information within one month of receipt of query.

    How you can help

    The NTAS aims to provide a quality service so we appreciate any feedback about our services.

    How to Cite Archives

    References to archives and records which have been used in research should always be included in finished works. For further information see Citing Archives.

    Copyright in Archives

    The archives collections in the custody of the NTAS fall within the definition of literary works as defined by the Copyright Act 1968.

    While the Northern Territory Government owns most of the archives collections in the custody of the NTAS, it does not necessarily own copyright in all of them. 

    For further information see our leaflet about Copyright.