About Early Encounters in Australia and New Zealand

Early Experiences in Australasia: Primary Sources and Personal Narratives 1788–1901 provides a unique and personal view of events in the region from the arrival of the first settlers through to Australian Federation at the close of the nineteenth century. Through first-person accounts, including letters and diaries, narratives, and other primary source materials, we are able to hear the voices of the time and understand the experiences of those who took the great challenge in new lands.

From the earliest settlers to convicts and free settlers and those who later answered the call of the Gold Rush, these letters and diaries tell us about life on ships and in settlements in a particularly intimate way.

Alexander Street Press has collaborated with libraries across the region to scope and source materials, and special care has been taken to curate a collection that represents a cross section of ideas and experiences. These unique primary-source materials, drawn from archives, have been difficult to access before now. Scholars and students not only gain new access to the items sourced, but can for the first time cross-search personal writings from the time. More than 90 percent of the collection is previously unpublished, fulfilling our specific goal to bring important material to light and to “make silent voices heard.”

The experiences of men and women, settlers and indigenous peoples, explorers, soldiers, and officials can now be discovered through Alexander Street’s deep semantic indexing, letting users explore content by writer, region, audience, personal and historical event, environmental features including fauna and flora, and more. Supporting material such as images, maps, and photographs supplement the first-person narratives and provide additional context.

Incorporating 100,000 pages of letters, diaries, and other narratives, along with additional contextual material, and covering over 100 years of history, Early Experiences in Australasia will be a rich resource to support research, teaching and learning in a wide range of disciplines, including history, ethnology, anthropology, literature, genealogy, local studies, women’s studies, and comparative studies.

Key Features

  • Thousands of unique documents including letters, diaries, and photographs, covering the early Australasian experience.
  • Detailed semantic indexing that allows the sources to be browsed and searched in a variety of ways, by date, person, subject, and more.
  • Sources spanning over 100 years of Australasian history from repositories located across Australia and New Zealand.

Cultural Sensitivity

Members of Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and Maori communities are advised that this catalog contains names and images of deceased people. All users of the catalog should also be aware that certain words, terms or descriptions may be culturally sensitive and may be considered inappropriate today, but may have reflected the author’s/creator’s attitude or that of the period in which they were written.

Editorial Policy

Our goal is to create a vast collection of high-quality images that illuminate the personal letters, diaries, and manuscripts detailing the experience of life in Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands from 1788-1901.

Sensitivity Statement and Takedown Policy

Materials contained on the Alexander Street platform include historical content that may contain offensive language, negative stereotypes or inaccurate representations. Alexander Street does not endorse the views expressed in such materials, but believes they should be made available in context to enable scholarly comparison, analysis and research.

In making material available online, Alexander Street and our content partners act in good faith. To the best of our knowledge, content contained within these collections has been cleared for publication by the appropriate rights holders and has not been placed under any restrictions for privacy, cultural or other sensitivities. If you have found material for which you believe you hold the copyright without proper attribution, which contravenes privacy laws, or which is a breach of the protocols determining accession provision for heritage materials which reflect indigenous history, culture, language or perspective, please contact us in writing at history@alexanderstreet.com. Please include with your query:

  1. Your full name
  2. Your contact information
  3. URL to the content in question
  4. The reason for your inquiry

Upon receipt of inquiries, the following steps will be undertaken:

1. Inquirer will receive confirmation of receipt.
2. Alexander Street will contact the holding source and/or any related copyright holder to notify of the inquiry.
3. Alexander Street will make all possible efforts to resolve the takedown request quickly and to the satisfaction of all parties involved. Possible outcomes include: Access to content remains unchanged on the Alexander Street platform; Access to content is modified on the Alexander Street platform; Access to the content is removed from the Alexander Street platform.

Alexander Street strives to provide the broadest possible online access to content where permissions have been granted by the known rights holders and/or the content holding institution. Permanent access restrictions will be considered only as an exceptional response.