Chinese people in NT

The contribution of the Chinese to the Northern Territory (NT) has been varied and significant. 

In the Territory the Chinese formed the major part of the population in the late 1880s. 

In 1888 the Chinese population was 7,000 and the European population was between 1,000 to 2,000. As Aboriginal people were not included in the census it is not possible to include them in this comparison. 

The White Australia policy and the depression of the 1890s, however, meant that by 1910 the population figures had changed dramatically and were more evenly balanced between the Chinese and the Europeans.

The first Chinese arrived in the NT in 1874 through recruitment by the government to work on the goldfields and later the building of the railway line from Palmerston to Pine Creek. Subsequently they worked their own claims, established market gardens and engaged in industry and commerce.

The strength of the holdings at the Northern Territory Archives Service (NTAS) relating to the Chinese is mostly in the oral history area. 

There are also examples of personal, government and non government records that have among their contents some records relating to the Chinese. 

This shows the range of areas that the Chinese were involved with in the NT.

For other government records relating to the Chinese in the NT consult the National Archives of Australia (the Commonwealth was responsible for the administration of the Northern Territory from 1911 to 1978) and the South Australian Archives (South Australia was responsible for the administration of the Northern Territory from 1863 to 1910)

This guide is by no means comprehensive and will be updated periodically as further material is located within NTAS holdings or deposited with NTAS.

The series of records listed here may not all be immediately available on open public access. NTAS staff will advise you about access.

For up to date information see the NTAS List of Holdings or List of Government and Community Records Relating to Chinese people in the Northern Territory (26.1 kb) - oral histories are not included in this list. 

Contact the NTAS for more information.

Oral histories

The strength of the holdings at the NTAS relating to the Chinese is mostly in the oral history area. 

The records within this category are listed against the name of the person who has been interviewed. 

The interviews are in the format of tapes and transcripts.

AH TOY, Lily
NTRS 226 Oral history interview TS 1 (1-2)

CHAN, Albert
NTRS 226 Oral history interview TS 376

CHIN, Joyce Cheong
NTRS 226 Oral history interview TS 670

CHIN, Mook Sang
NTRS 226 Oral history interview TS 92

CHIN, Ron
NTRS 226 Oral history interview TS 648

CHIN GONG, William
NTRS 226 Oral history interview TS 367

CRAMMOND, Ellen
NTRS 226 Oral history interview TS 483

D'AMBROSIO, Ruby
NTRS 226 Oral history interview TS 186

D'AMBROSIO, Ted
NTRS 226 Oral history interview TS 555

FONG LIM, Alec
NTRS 226 Oral history interview TS 211

FONG LIM, Norma
NTRS 226 Oral history interview TS 849

FONG, Ernest
NTRS 226 Oral history interview TS 634, TS 401

FONG, Mrs Shu Ack
NTRS 226 Oral history interview TS 210

GOONPAN (Wong), Fred
NTRS 226 Oral history interview TS 745

GOONPAN (Wong), Ted
NTRS 226 Oral history interview TS 752

GOREY, Alex
NTRS 219 Oral history interview TP 528

HALL, Dorothy
NTRS 226 Oral history interviews TS 228

HALL, Noel
NTRS 226 Oral history interview TS 230

HASSAN, Selina
NTRS 226 Oral history interview TS 236

HOUNG ON, Charlie
NTRS 226 Oral history interview TS 246

HOUNG ON, Mrs Myrtle (nee Fong)
NTRS 226 Oral history interview TS 246

HUMBLE, Elisabeth (Betty)
NTRS 226 Oral history interview TS 604

KING, Kath
NTRS 226 Oral history interview TS 72

LEE, Bobby
NTRS 219 Oral history interview TP 517

LEE, Henry
NTRS 226 Oral history interview TS 261

MOFFLIN, A.C. (Dave)
NTRS 226 Oral history interview TS 94

QUE-NOY, Albert
NTRS 226 Oral history interview TS 597

QUE-NOY, Ivy
NTRS 226 Oral history interview TS 596

ROBINSON, Bessie
NTRS 226 Oral history interview TS 112

SCOTT, Thomas (Con)
NTRS 226 Oral history interview TS 616

SEE KEE, Charles
NTRS 226 Oral history interviews TS 320, TS 401

THOMAS, Peggy
NTRS 226 Oral history interview TS 617

WONG, Bill
NTRS 226 Oral history interview TS 671 & TS 823

WONG, Herbert
NTRS 226 Oral history interview TS 822

WONG, Rhonda
NTRS 226 Oral history interview TS 824

Personal papers and photographs

The following is a series listing according to the surname of the person who created or deposited the records with the NTAS.

The series listed in this category are mainly personal papers and photographs.

The NTAS holds few personal papers and photographs series that relate exclusively to the Chinese community. There are some series listed below that have among their contents some records relating to the Chinese to show the range of areas that the Chinese were involved with in the NT.

MITCHELL, Justice Samuel James
NTRS 324 Album of appointments and official communications 1884-1925
(eg Congratulations from Chinese Wah On Society 10/06/1910, Farewell letter from Lee Chong Lim 1/3/1912, Farewell letter from the Chinese community , 8/4/1912)

LO, Rev Shui Kwong
NTRS 1079 Typescript, "From my Darwin Notebook", and photographs 1941-1989
(eg Photo of Chinese school, Darwin, 1946; photo of Chinese diggers at Pine Creek 1910; photo of Chinese inhabitants of Darwin in 1889 ; photo of Chinese celebration of the Goddess Chui outside Man Fong Lau's in Chinatown, Darwin, 1914.)

BIRT, Gordon R.
NTRS 1518 Photographic copyprints of Darwin, Katherine and Timber Creek , 1929-1980
(eg no.65 is photo of Chinese Consul General with some of leading Chinese residents, 1933)

AH TOY FAMILY
NTRS 234, CP 812
(2 chinese labourers at pine creek or Burrindie, 1910)

JONES, Timothy G.
NTRS 234 Personal photographs of Arltunga, Brocks Creek, Maranboy and Chinese activities in Darwin, 1879-1959
(eg CP 188 Palmerston Chinese shanties, 1880. CP 200 - Chinese timber merchant Darwin 1915)

UNKNOWN
NTRS 1425 Photographic copyprints of Darwin, Pine Creek and various Northern Territory locations and identities c.1884+
(eg Gathering at Residency - Vice Regal visit to the NT about 1905? where eight Chinese members of the community are listed in the photo)

BOGLE, Rev. Archibald James
NTRS 834 Diary kept by Rev A J Bogle whilst in the Northern Territory ( microfilm copy) 1875-1881 Dec 1876)

IVINSON, Lorna
NTRS 285 Two Chinese gambling tickets copy of ballot paper - North Australian Workers' Union election 1955-1956

KILGOUR, John
NTRS 1516 Photographic copyprints of series F 318 and F 319 c.1900- 1913
( eg Item no10, Chinese children 1900 - 1913)

JEPHCOTT, Debra Annie
F 398 Photograph album, "Pleasant Recollections of an Unpleasant Country" 1886-1900
(eg Item no 9, Chinatown)

GILRUTH, Dr John Anderson
NTRS 1423 Personal photographs of Gilruth family and activities carried out whilst Administrator, 1912-1919
(eg Item no 38, Chinese hawker)

TAMBLYN, Jessie
NTRS 234 Photographic copyprints of May Day in Darwin, and Chinese merchants n.d.
(eg CP 527 Chinese businessman 1910, CP 528 Ah Toy 1910 Pine Creek)

EDWARDS, Roy
NTRS 234 Photographic copyprints of Koolpinyah Station n.d.
(eg CP 130, Chinese New Year 1930s)

WINTERBOTHAM, Keith
NTRS 234 Photographic copyprints of Darwin 1939
(eg CP 759 - 761 1939 street scenes with Chinese)

Government organisations

The records series within this category are listed under the title of the government organisation which created the records. 

Series entries include the control number (NTRS or F), the series title and the date range of the series.

NT Archives holds few government record series that relate exclusively to the Chinese community. However, the Chinese community is well represented in a wide range of government records as a result of its demographic and economic significance.

The following listing includes some examples of record series and individual records which are likely to be of interest.

Government Resident of the Northern Territory (South Australia)
NTRS 829 Master microfilm copy of inwards correspondence (Copy of NTRS 790) 1870-1878..
(eg Police report on claims for compensation by Ah Hing & Ah Ling when their huts were destroyed at outbreak of smallpox. 1886. Various pieces of corro relating to Soo Hoo Yoke's market garden in parklands near Palmerston. 1886. Strike by coolies at Tumbling Waters, 1875)

COMMISSIONER OF POLICE
NTRS 22 , Inquest book - Darwin Police Station , 1875-1905

DEPARTMENT OF LANDS - Land Administration branch (Commonwealth)
F 5, Correspondence files - alphabetical single number series 1908-1947
(eg Item C145 Chin Look - Application for timber licence (Licence No.11) 1918; C238 Chin Loong Tang - Applying for lease of land, adjourning his occupation licence, held by Mrs Fisher 1926)

F 29, Correspondence files 'OL' series (occupation licences) 1913-1981

F 628, Correspondence files 'TLL' series (town land leases) 1913-1982

F 662, Register of:
1) Timber and other miscellaneous licences, 1889-1930
2) Royalty payments, 1926-1929

F 663, Perpetual town lease register, 1913-1929

DEPARTMENT OF NORTHERN TERRITORY - Mines branch (Commonwealth)
F 141 Correspondence files, single number series 1913-1925
(eg F141 (1913) Box 1, item 1. (b) Chinese illegally mining; item M8 (a) Chinese mining south of Adelaide River; Item (c) Tributes granted to Asiatic; Item 36 36 Playford-Warden: b) Indigent Chinese fossickers; item M610A Umbrawarra Proclamation - objection by Miner's Association to Chinese)

F 330 Time book, Chinese 1942-1943

DARWIN PRISON
(Previously Palmerston Gaol, Darwin Gaol and Labour Prison)
F 516 Keeper's journal, Palmerston Gaol 1885-1887

NTRS 1315 Darwin Gaol and Labour Prison, prisoners work record book 1889-1890

NTRS 1316 Darwin Gaol and Labour Prison, general orders and warrants to gaoler 1905-1941

Non-government organisations

NEW ZAPOPAN GOLD MINING COMPANY
F 465, Chinese time checks, 1906 - 1907

Last updated: 11 October 2017