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The Australian National University

Microfilm and Digitial Manuscript Collections

The Pacific Manuscripts Bureau manuscripts collection amounts to over 4,000 microfilms and over 150,000 digital pages.

The Pacific Manuscripts Bureau's text-based collections are split into three series:

Manuscript Series (PMB)

The PMB Manuscript Series consists of  over 1,400  titles holding copies of unpublished records of organizations and people assoiated with the Pacific Islands. The records include manuscripts, diaries, files, minutes, correspondence, linguistic materials and research papers. Use the online catalogue to search for documents in the PMB Manuscript Series.

Printed Document Series (PMB Doc)

The PMB Printed Document Series of  Microfilms consists of approximately 540 titles, mainly rare published material, including newspapers, newsletters and other serials published by organizations which have interests in the pacific Islands, as well as semi-published ‘grey literature’. Use the online catalogue to search for documents in the PMB Printed Document Series.

Oceania Marist Province Archives Series (OMPA)

The Oceania Marist Province Archives Series (OMPA) is the result of a special project during which records of the Catholic Church in islands of the Western Pacific were copied onto 398 reels of microfilm. Individual indexes were prepared for each of the six dioceses and for material copied in Rome. The indexes were published collectively as The Catholic Church in the Western Pacific: a guide to records on microfilm, (Robert Langdon, ed.), Canberra, 1986.

This catalogue has been digitised and can be accessed below. It assembles information on the microfilmed records of the Catholic Church in islands of the Western Pacific entrusted to the Marist Order as a field of evangelisation. Since 1966, the islands have been subdivided into two archdioceses and six dioceses. The archdioceses, called Suva and Noumea, respectively cover the islands of Fiji, including Rotuma, and New Caledonia and its dependencies. The dioceses are those of Wallis and Futuna, Tonga, Samoa and Tokelau, Vanuatu (formerly New Hebrides), North Solomons (with Headquarters at Kieta) and South Solomons (with Headquarters at Honiara).

The Marist Order (Society of Mary) which was canonically approved in April 1836 after the Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith in Rome had sought means of evangelising the western half of the Pacific. The eastern half had been entrusted to the Sacred Heart (Picpus) Order in 1833. The Marists, originally an informal grouping of diocesan priests, accepted the task in the Western Pacific provided they were recognised as an independent religious order.

The first Marists sailed for the Pacific in December 1836 under the leadership of Bishop Jean-Baptiste Pompallier. The Bishop established his headquarters in New Zealand while some of his missionaries were left on the islands of Wallis and Futuna. However, the huge vicariate under Pompallier's care soon proved too large to be practicable and in 1842 part of it was carved off to form the Vicariate of Central Oceania. This new vicariate comprised the islands of Wallis, Futuna, New Caledonia, New Hebrides, Samoa, Tokelau, Fiji, Rotuma, Niue and the Gilbert Islands. A few years later, before any Marist missionaries had set foot there, the Gilbert Islands were made part of a new vicariate of Micronesia. The records described in this catalogue cover the islands embraced by the Vicariate of Central Oceania excluding the Gilbert Islands, plus the North and South Solomons which were reinstated as Marist responsibilities in 1897-98.

As will be seen, the catalogue contains eight separate inventories. Seven of them relate to records of the Marist Order copied on nearly 400 reels of microfilm under a project carried out by Father Theo B. Cook, SM, while serving as archivist of the Oceania Marist Province Archives, Suva, Fiji. The other inventory concerns similar records microfilmed in 1972 by the Pacific Manuscripts Bureau.

The microfilms containing the material described in the first seven inventories are numbered OMPA 1 to OMPA 400 inclusive except that numbers OMPA 75 to OMPA 79 were not used. The microfilms of the remainder bear the prefix PMB. The inventories are individually paginated. They appear in the volume as follows:

1 - 25: Diocese of Tonga (PDF 9.23MB)
26-74 Diocese of Samoa and Tokelau (PDF 17MB)
80-100: Marist Fathers, Rome (PDF 2.9MB)
101-126: Diocese of Wallis and Futuna (PDF 7.61MB)
127-178: Diocese of Port Vila (PDF 3.89MB)
179-360: Archdioceses of Noumea (French) PDF 180KB)
179-360: Archdioceses of Noumea (PDF 10.5MB)
361-400: Oceania Marist Province Archives (PDF 191KB)
PMB (various): Archdiocese of Suva (PDF 1.78MB)


Charles Hunter Brown diary extract
Pacific Manuscripts Bureau master negative microfilm reels in cool storage at W.& F. Pascoe in Sydney.

Updated:  14 November 2019/Responsible Officer:  Dean, ANU College of Asia & the Pacific /Page Contact: