Book Review
Rama Gaind
By Rama Gaind
PS News Books

Commonwealth Government Records about the Northern Territory
   By Ted Ling (National Archives of Australia, 291 pages)

Limited free hard copies available, free downloads from

This is a timely publication in 2011 as it marks the centenary of the Commonwealth Government’s acquisition of the Northern Territory from South Australia.
   Although, its administration ended with the granting of self-government on 1 July 1978, the Commonwealth “still maintains a strong presence in the Territory for particular functions”.
   Historian and archivist Ted Ling has spearheaded a compilation that’s a significant ‘record’ of the Commonwealth Administration of the Territory from 1911 to self-government in 1978.
Commonwealth Government Records about the Northern Territory by Ted Ling.
Commonwealth Government Records
about the Northern Territory
by Ted Ling.
   He has been ably assisted by staff at the Northern Territory Archives Service and the National Archives of Australia in Darwin and Canberra. Other contributors have also invested endless hours on research, writing, checks, counter-checks, verification and publication of this research guide.
   The major focus of this manual is on the Commonwealth’s period of administration (often referred to as ‘the Commonwealth era’), although it does begin with a chapter on the South Australian period from 1863 to 1911; has descriptions of earlier attempts at settlement; and there is selected coverage of Territory issues and events after 1978.
   There are also enjoyable sections on a variety of topics of interest, not only to Territorians, and include Aboriginal people, Territory personalities, social services, customs, immigration, population, environment and law and order.
   As well, the end of each major section captures key archival records relating to the subject covered.  
   While “the guide does not claim to be exhaustive: it does not seek to include every record associated with the Northern Territory”, it does succeed with its key objective that is to inform, educate and shed light on other areas of further research.
   Revealed is the Northern Territory’s uniquely rich history: an invaluable handbook.

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