Chasing Phantoms in the Archives: The Australia House Photographic Collection

  • Joanna Sassoon


The author’s discovery that an Australian government agency’s large historical photograph collection no longer exists intrigues her. She pursues an investigation into when, how, and why these records disappeared, and the most likely cause of their disappearance is traced. The article suggests that sensitivity to visual literacy in the agency’s current records management policies would ensure that further destruction of large photograph collections will not recur.


L’auteure fait un jour la découverte qu’une importante collection de photographies historiques d’Australie a disparue, ce qui l’intrigue. Elle mène alors une enquête sur le pourquoi, le quand et le comment de cette disparition et sur ses causes les plus probables. Cet article suggère qu’une plus grande sensibilité à la culture visuelle dans la politique de gestion des documents de l’agence permettrait qu’unepareille destruction de collections photographiques soit évitée à l’avenir.

Author Biography

Joanna Sassoon
Joanna Sassoon is an adjunct research fellow at the Research Institute for Cultural Heritage at Curtin University, Western Australia. She is currently completing her Ph.D. in history, entitled "An Archaeology of Memory – A Cultural Biography of the Photographs of E.L. Mitchell." Prior to returning to study, she managed the photograph collections for the State Library in Perth. Her publications include "E.L. Mitchell and the Imaginary Broome," in History of Photography 23, no. 2, and "Photographic Meaning in the Age of Digital Reproduction," in Library Automation Systems Information Exchange, 29, no. 4.
How to Cite
Sassoon, Joanna. 2000. “Chasing Phantoms in the Archives: The Australia House Photographic Collection”. Archivaria 50 (January), 117-24.
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