The Migration Collection provides an overview of the many and diverse people who have migrated to Victoria since the 1830s, their motivations for coming, the material they brought with them, items accumulated on the journey, and the objects they made and acquired after settling here.

This material is varied and includes personal effects, domestic and work-related items, clothing and other textiles, luggage, shipboard souvenirs, photographs, art and craft works, and personal and immigration documents. The growing collection of documents relating to Australian immigration policy and promotion, and the processes by which people are selected, managed and organised, provides a critical bridge between the personal narratives and the narratives of nations - Australia's and others. Local community activity relating to migration is also represented, including cultural organisations formed to maintain cultural traditions; government and community support and administrative groups, such as the Good Neighbour Council; and protest and political movements, for and against immigration, multiculturalism and diversity.

Scope of existing collection
The collection consists of around 6,000 items relating to individuals, families, communities and organisations. Acquisition is primarily by donation. Objects include personal items, artworks, work-related items, luggage, costumes, textiles, domestic equipment, documents and ephemera. Almost 60 per cent of the collection consists of 12 sub-collections of 50 items or more.

There are also many objects in other History and Technology collections, notably the Numismatics and Transport collections, which have direct relevance to the Migration Collection. The collection also includes a modest oral history collection relating to individual and family migration stories, as well as discreet oral history projects such as the Immigration and Artistic Practice Collection, the South Melbourne Tramworkers project, Melbourne Migrant Women Textile Workers, and Australian and Migrant-born Female Glory Box Experiences.

Significant items:

  • Caroline Chisholm scrapbook, 1840s-60s, documenting philanthropic and assisted-migration work of Chisholm in Australia and England
  • Weaving loom, brought to Australia by Latvian displaced couple Anna and Ervins Apinis in 1950. Made from discarded timbers found in the German camp and used there and here to record and maintain traditional Latvian weaving. Also an unplying machine, weavings, the crate the loom was packed in and Anna's original notebooks kept in the displaced persons camp documenting Latvian weavings designs
  • Immigration and Artistic Practice Collection, including 169 original artworks, tools, materials and equipment, and working drawings, as well as photographs and oral histories of more than 30 Victorian immigrant artists
  • Ada Perry craft collection, 43 toys, quilts and rugs created by English migrant Ada Perry in regional Victoria between the 1930s and 1960s
  • Greek popular shadow puppet theatre collection, consisting of around 130 shadow puppets, props and accessories made between 1940 and 1960 in Greece and performed in Melbourne by Karagiozis master Dimitri Katsoulis
  • William Nicol shadow puppet collection, 54 aluminium shadow puppets and scenery pieces used by Scottish migrant William Nicol as he toured Aboriginal missions collecting children's art and traditional stories. Includes an Aboriginal story set
  • Culturally specific costumes, representing 19 cultural groups from the 19th century to the present day (including 14 complete costumes)
  • Museum Victoria Italian Historical Society Collection: more than 420 items documenting Italian experiences of migration and settlement in Victoria
  • Immigration policy, process, and journey documents collection. Around 600 19th & 20th-century items, including migrant ship and shipboard material, letters and diaries, government promotional material, personal identity and immigration documents, process forms, information sheets and correspondence, and English-language-learning publications
  • Post World War II Hungarian community material: approx 100 objects from people who migrated to Australia after the 1956 Hungarian uprising
  • Broadmeadows Hostel Arrivals and Departures registers: 3; 1950-52 documenting procedures, duration of stays, destinations and staff duties; - Migrant luggage, around 50 suitcases, trunks, bags and crates, 1840s-1970s
  • Standard (flag) of the Minyip Caledonian Society, 1906
  • Personal stories collections, representing the experiences of 19th and 20th century migrants from Vietnam, Hungary, Latvia, Greece, Italy, Romania, England, Croatia, Bulgaria, Japan, Germany, Austria, Sudan, China, and Czechoslovakia.
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