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Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Family History: Searching the JCU Library Collection

This guide has been written to assist Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and South Sea Islander family historians locate sources available to them at James Cook University, as well as some suggestions for resources located elsewhere.

How to start searching at JCU?

Where to search?

The three main places to search the library collection are:

  1. One Search- for books and eBooks, journal articles, DVDs, NQ collection, rare books and some Special Collection holdings, microfiche and microfilm including any newspaper holdings
  2. Tropicat- as above but this does not search for Journal articles
  3. Special Collections Archival Holdings- for items usually of an unpublished nature e.g. personal journals, photo collection, some cattle station records, union records, and sugar company records.

Please note when offcampus One Search gives limited access to non-JCU students or staff for some online items due to Copyright Laws and our paid subscription details.

How do I search?

A training video for One Search, is located at the bottom of this page.

I would like someone to explain to me face to face.

If you would like a face to face explanation on how to use One Search contact the InfoHelp Desk  at the campus library you will visit or the Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Library Liaison Officer for assistance in Townsville.

After my search what information do I need to find the items?

To assist you with locating physical items in the library please take note of the call number.

For example the following book  "Mossman family history stories" can be located in Special Collections by the call number 929.2099436 MOS. Compare the records from Tropicat and the same item in One Search

Note the campus location -Townsville or Cairns-  and in which collection the item can be found, for example Main collection (you can freely browse the shelves), or North Queensland collection (located in Special Collections area, access is through the Special Collection staff).

Further explanations are located below.

Where do I go to find the book?

After searching, you will need to find the item to read it. You will find the results fall loosely into two categories, those available online in a digital format, or those in traditional physical form such as books, journals, newspapers and DVDs.

Each year more of the Library collection is available online, but this is mostly restricted to recently published books, academic journal articles and some digitized and scanned historical items out of copyright. Some online items will not open unless you are a current JCU student or staff member with a working password. If you discover an item and are not able to access it please contact the Library InfoHelp desk.

Physical items at JCU are stored at the two campuses in Australia which are Cairns and Townsville, and the third campus overseas at Singapore JCU campus.

For physical items you will need to have the call number, the collection and the campus details to find the book or item on the shelf.

Campus Location:

Eddie Koiki Mabo Library Townsville TSV

Cairns Library CNS


The items are separated into distinct collections with items shelved in different areas of the library.


MC  Microfiche Collection NQ   North Queensland Collection
MF  Microfilm Collection Periodicals
R Reference Collection

Main  & Main 2 day loan


The Collections: General Location, Access and Description


These are books, DVDs, videotapes and can be browsed without borrowing.


These are academic journals, magazines, newspapers although some have been bound into books.

North Queensland Collection

This is a collection of books, journals and some audiovisual materials relating to North Queensland. Items in this collection may not be borrowed. Some titles are held in the general collection as well.

Microfiche and Microfilm

This is like old fashioned film and needs a special reader. Almanacs, directories and newspapers are among the material held in the Microform collection. Special machines are required to read and print from them. If you are unfamiliar with the operation of this equipment, please contact the InfoHelp Desk  (4781 5500) and state what campus you will visit to make an appointment on weekdays to have its use demonstrated.


The Library Archives may contain useful material, including station records, journals and company records. Archives are not included in One Search, but an online list is available of the items.  You must make an appointment in advance to use this collection as these are often not published and one of a kind. This can be done by contacting Special Collections on (07) 4781 5002.

Reference Collection

Encyclopedias and dictionaries are materials that can help in searching for words and meanings. Items in this section may not be borrowed but can be photocopied or scanned


One Search

One Search is a good place to start searching for books, ebooksjournal articles, and our e-journal content all at once.

  • Use the Content Type, Subject Terms and Publication Date options on the left to refine your search.
  • For eBooks  tick 'Full Text Online' and 'Book/eBook'.

One Search is also available on the Library home page.

One Search logo

One Search tutorial

We acknowledge the Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the first inhabitants of the nation and acknowledge Traditional Owners of the lands where our staff and students, live, learn and work.Acknowledgement of Country