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Online resources

The Pacific Manuscripts Bureau offers the following Pacific history research materials online. The catalogues and papers are in digital format and are regularly updated.

PMB Finding Aids

The Bureau has developed a range of finding aids to assist researchers navigate the Pacific Manuscripts Bureau collections. They include subject specific finding aids such as climate change and linguistics as well as country specific finding aids including Fiji, Kiribati, Vanuatu and the Cool Islands. If you have a suggestion for a finding aid, please email the Bureau:

PMB Digitisation Standards 2015

This document explains the digital image capture standards that the Pacific Manuscripts Bureau uses when digitising archival documents. It includes image capture standards for digital master and derivative files.

PMB Digitisation Equipment and Software

This document explains the digitisation equipment and software that the Pacific Manuscripts Bureau uses when digitising archival documents.

Introduction of Animal and Plant Species to German Micronesia

This data consists of two tables: Table 1. Animal Species introduced to German Micronesia and Table 2. Plant Species introduced to German Micronesia. The available data on plants for the Marshall Islands is less detailed than for the rest of Micronesia, so this area is excluded from Table 2. The data was produced by Dirk Spennemenn and is supplementary to his article ‘Trial and Error: The Introduction of Plants and Animals to German Micronesia 1885–1914’ in The Journal of Pacific History. Spennemann’s article traces the introduction of plant and animal species by the German administrators as they assessed the agricultural potential in the Islands Territory of Micronesia.

Resources for the study of environmental transformation in the Pacific: Pacific collections at the Australian National University

This booklet was compiled by staff of the ANU Library, the Pacific Research Archives and the Pacific Manuscripts Bureau for Causes and Consequences of Environmental Transformation in the Pacific: a workshop for staff and students of the ANU, 21 October 2011. It includes a summary of some of the Pacific resources that are held at the ANU for the study of environmental transformation in the Pacific.

A gazetteer of obsolete / alternative names of the Pacific Islands with their current equivalents and A gazetteer of current names of the Pacific Islands with their obsolete /alternative names.

This gazetteer was first developed as an aid to the use of PMB microfilms of log books of Yankee whaleships sailing in the Pacific. It was published as Part 4 of  Bob Langdon's, American whalers and traders in the Pacific: a guide to records on microfilm (PMB, 1978). It was also published in the Pacific Islands Year Book (Pacific Publications), 12th-15th editions, 1977-1984.   

Papers and presentations on Pacific archives

Pacific Manuscripts Bureau: 50 Years of Preserving and Improving Access to Pacific Histories (December 2018) (2MB)

This paper was delivered by Kari James, Executive Officer for Pacific Manuscripts Bureau, at the European Society for Oceania conference held in Cambridge, UK, 7-10 December 2018. Part of the 'Intervening Archives of Oceania' session, the presentation reflected on the Bureau's 50 year history, and looked to it's future. While PMB exists within traditional institutions, it does so across institutional and geographic boundaries. Unlike traditional archives, constrained by legal deposit obligations and prescribed collecting policies, PMB copies materials across the region and across disciplines, gathering a range of voices, such as whalers, missionaries and scientists. The dominance of European voices in the archive, and the historical concentration of sponsoring libraries outside of the islands, undoubtedly effects who, how and what some come to know of the Pacific. This paper argued that PMB’s recent transition to digital has enabled the slow dismantling of some of these barriers, with libraries in thirteen Pacific Island countries now able to access PMB digital collections at reduced cost using their existing ICT infrastructure. Consequently, there is greater Pasifika representation in PMB’s management, creating new opportunities for community collaboration, improved access to stories told by Pacific voices and perhaps the shifting of perspectives.

From Microfilm to Digital: 50 Years of the Pacific Manuscripts Bureau (December 2018) (1.8MB)

This presentation was delivered by Kari James, Executive Officer of the Pacific Manuscripts Bureau, at the biannual Pacific History Association conference held in Cambridge, UK, 3-5 December 2018. The paper was part of a panel titled ‘Access and discovery: Engagement with Pacific Islands archives’, co-convened by Kari and PMB Archive Assistants Myjolene Kim, and Eve Haddow. Kari reflected on 50 years of the Pacific Manuscripts Bureau and looked to the future, considering contemporary challenges and opportunities.

Tips for Searching the Pacific Manuscripts Bureau Catalogue (July 2018) (187KB)

This 'cheat sheet' was prepared for students at the University of the South Pacific who attended an interactive workshop on searching the PAMBU catalogue.

Big Shoes to Fill: 50 Years of the Pacific Manuscripts Bureau (May 2018) (3.6MB)

This presentation was delivered by Eve Haddow, ANU PhD candidate and Pacific Manuscripts Bureau Archives Assistant, at the Ke Au Hou - Generations of Pacific Librarianship Conference. The conference was held at the University of Hawaii Manoa from 1-3 May 2018 in celebration of the 50th anniversary of UHM's Pacific collection. The paper was co-authored with Executive Officer Kari James who was unable to attend the conference. The paper was part of the 'Honoring Our Past' panel, and told the history of PAMBU, starting with the discussions which led to its inception, through the achievements of the various Executive Officers to the present day. The paper reflected on the ways these legacies remain with us today and are constantly called upon as resources in our daily work.

PAMBU: 50 Years of Engaging with the Pacific Islands (Sep 2017) (2.45MB)

This presentation was delivered by Kari James, the new Executive Officer of the Pacific Manuscripts Bureau, at the PARBICA 17 Conference held in Pacific Harbour, Fiji from 4-7 September, 2017. The paper was titled ‘PAMBU: 50 years of Engaging with the Pacific Islands’ and was co-authored with former Executive Officer Kylie Moloney. The paper looked at the history of PAMBU - its origins, its purpose, its collections and some of the achievements of the various Executive Officers. It then looked to the overlapping priorities of the near future – engaging with the challenges and opportunities of digital technology, engaging with member libraries and of course, continuing our engagement with the Pacific. A big thank you to Kylie for her work on this paper even after moving on to a new role at the National Library of Australia. Vinaka vaka levu, Kylie.

USP PMB Workshop (Aug 2016) (6MB)

This presentation was delivered by Kylie Moloney, the Executive Officer of the Pacific Manuscripts Bureau, at the USP ANU workshop for Pacific history lecturers, Pacific librarians and archivists and Pacific studies lecturers. This workshop was held to celebrate the University of the South PAcific joining the Pacific Manuscripts Bureau. All USP students can now search and find digital content on the Pacific Manuscripts Bureau online catalogue. The presentation describes the work of the Bureau, the types of archival documents USP students can find in the PMB online database as well as other Pacific Resource collections throughout the world.

Wherever you may be… improving access to Pacific Island archives. (May 2016) (6 MB)

This presentation was delivered by Kylie Moloney, the Executive Officer of the Pacific Manuscripts Bureau, at the Pacific History Association Conference in Guam, 19-21 May 2016. The panel title was "Revitalising Pacific library and archive collections". Abstract of the paper: What actually happens behind the scenes to make Pacific Island archives accessible?  The Pacific Manuscripts Bureau has recently “gone digital”.  Historical Pacific Island archive and photographic collections that were copied nearly 40 years ago by the Bureau on microfilm can now be made accessible online.  Making these significant collections available online is challenging and time-consuming.  The Bureau’s Pacific Island archive collections are a gold mine for Pacific Islanders and researchers, however the delivery and accessibility of these collections needs to be re-thought.  This paper will discuss some of the challenges and successes the Bureau has had in making these historical Pacific Island archive collections more accessible and user friendly for researchers.  Does advancing technology necessarily broaden audiences or does it simply make archives more accessible for some? Partnerships with those with digital access in the islands remains vital to expanding access to the Bureau’s digital collections.

The Path Pambu is taking (Sep 2015)) (5 MB)

This presentation was delivered by Kylie Moloney, the Executive Officer of the Pacific Manuscripts Bureau, at the PARBICA 16 Conference held in Auckland from the 7 - 9 September 2015. It includes a brief history of the Bureau and the steps that were taken to move the Bureau from microfilm to digital copying and distribution. It also includes information describing the Bureau's digitisation equipment, software, standards and workflows. The Pacific Manuscripts Bureau uses ICA-AtoM as the online catalogue to describe and make digitised archival content available to PMB member libraries. The Bureau's microfilm collection is slowly being digitised and individual titles are being uploaded to the ICA-AtoM catalogue as resourcing permits. The presentation also includes images of fieldwork undertaken throughout 2015 in the Cook Islands, the Solomon Islands and Samoa. These images show how the Bureau undertakes copying projects in the islands today.

Volunteering with heritage collections in the Solomon Islands - 11 March 2014

A lunch time talk presented by the Asia Pacific Special Interest Group of Librarians at the National Library of Australia. Over the past few years, several Australian volunteers have worked in the Solomon Islands to strengthen and preserve significant archival collections in a variety of organisations.  Three recently returned volunteers, and one who is currently working in the Solomon Islands, spoke about their experiences of working with these collections in collaboration with local staff.  The presentations covered some of the highlights and challenges of working with special collections in the Pacific Islands. Links to the speakers' powerpoints are below:
- Carmel McInerny (Solomon Islands Broadcasting Company) - Powerpoint (3.9MB) and speech notes (24KB).
- Sue Feary (Solomon Islands YWCA) - Powerpoint (6.2MB)
- Catherine Green (Solomon Islands National Archives 2012) - Powerpoint (7.6MB)
- Kari James (Solomon Islands National Archives 2013/2014) - Powerpoint (2.1MB)

H.E. Maude, The Documentary Basis for Pacific Studies: a report on progress and desiderata, unpublished, 1967.  (PDF, 4.8Mb)
Harry Maude’s report attempted to systematically classify Pacific archives and manuscripts.  Maude’s report was the basis for the formation of the Pacific Manuscripts Bureau in 1968 and set its agenda for many years. A broader assessment of the range and forms of Pacific archives is guiding the current operations of the Bureau.

Source Materials Related to Research in the Pacific Area, National Library of Australia, 1971. (PDF, 12.5Mb)

R.Langdon, Pacific Manuscripts Bureau, pros and cons of its continuance after 15 April 1986, unpublished, 1986. (PDF, 251KB)

E.Maidment, PAMBU: 40 years of archival collaboration in the Pacific Islands. Unpublished paper for PARBICA, ARANZ, ASA Conference, Brisbane, 12-17 October 2009. (PDF, 468KB)
Ewan Maidment's paper was written to celebrate and review 40 years of archival collaboration in the Pacific Islands by the the Pacific Manuscripts Bureau. It was presented at the PARBICA, ARANZ, ASA Conference in Brisbane in October 2009.

Shineberg Database of Indentured Labourers in New Caledonia

Search the Dorothy Shineberg database of indentured labourers in New Caledonia.

Papers from the Libraries, Archives and Museum session, Pacific History Association Conference, 2008

A selection of papers from the Libraries and Archives Museum session at the Pacific History Association Conference held at the University of South Pacific, Suva, Fiji on 12 December 2008.

Pacific Health Programs Exhibition Catalogue (PDF, 13.9Mb)

A catalogue of objects from the Pacific Health Programs Exhibition held from 27 Jan to 6 Jul 2009 at the Menzies Building, Australian National University.

Charles Brown Diary Some delegates from the Libraries, Archives and Museum session of the Pacific History Association Conference, visiting the Fiji National Archives, 2008.

Updated:  20 October 2019/Responsible Officer:  Dean, ANU College of Asia & the Pacific /Page Contact: