The following links to State and Territory Library resources may also contain Torres Strait Islander material of interest:



[Five views of Thursday Island, including] Thursday Island from the wharf, Victoria Parade, [view of harbour], native dance, Torres Island, pearling lugger, [ca. 1917 -1920]
Thursday Island pearl shellers
 [Pearl shell sorter, Thursday Island, Queensland]
Moa Island [woman sitting on mat making lace]
Native feast, Torres Straits, [ca. 1917-1920]

Members of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are advised that this research guide contains names and images of deceased people

Pearling Boats , Thursday Island 1918

Old TI

‘Old TI’ is a phrase used by Torres Strait Islanders to describe a time on Thursday Island between 1890 to 1980. This period saw many outsiders (notably from Samoa, Niue, Rotuma, Lifou, Malaysia, the Philippines, Japan, China, Jamaica and Spain) make the Torres Strait their home. Old TI is remembered for colonisation and the introduction of Christianity, the pearling industry and the evacuation of Thursday Island during the Second World War. This diversity has had a strong influence on the unique Torres Strait Islander people, their community and cultural identity. Many of the descendants of these settlers still reside in the Torres Strait region as well as mainland Australia. The Influence of cultures in this time period has contributed to the regions unique contemporary Torres Strait Islander cultural identity.

How to use this guide

To help identify relevant material this guide is sorted into the five major island clusters in the Torres Straits Region. It highlights collection items already on the National Library of Australia's catalogue.

Each entry in this research guide is linked directly to its respective catalogue record, where the items can be requested. Once requested, items can be viewed in the Special Collections Reading Room.

What if I can't visit the Library?

If you are unable to visit the Library you can order a copy of manuscript material through our Copies Direct service and it will be sent to you in the post or via email. The information contained in this guide will assist you to complete the Copies Direct order form. Some manuscripts do have restrictions on copying, National Library staff will alert you if there is an issue with your order.

Additional items?

Have you uncovered unpublished Torres Strait Islander material in the Library which is not listed in this guide?

If so, we'd love to hear from you so we can add your valuable knowledge to these pages.

You can contact us via our Ask a Librarian Service or visit us in person in our Special Collections Reading Room.



[Man wearing head dress], Darnley Island [Erub], Torres Straits [picture] / Frank Hurley 1921


Special Collections Reading Room

Special collection materials can be accessed through our Special Collections Reading Room located on the first floor of the National Library

Not sure where to start?