History and heritage

View a timeline of Australian Red Cross and learn about our heritage collection.
Red Cross Voluntary Aid Detachment in the 1940 Anzac Day march, Newcastle, NSW.

A timeline of our history

Our heritage of service since 1914.

Heritage film collection

Red Cross films from our archive, now online.

The Heritage Collection

The Australian Red Cross Heritage Collection, comprising both archives and memorabilia, is held across all Red Cross state and territory offices.

The collection includes annual reports, board and other committee minutes for all states and territories, Minutes and other records from Red Cross branches, units and clubs (some dating back to 1914), Red Cross uniforms, badges, posters, quilts, flags, photographs and thousands of other documents and items.

The archival collection was used extensively for research and sourcing photographs for the Centenary history book The Power of Humanity: 100 Years of Australian Red Cross 1914-2014 by Melanie Oppenheimer.

It is also used regularly by researchers studying a wide range of subjects and topics covered by Red Cross as a result of its activities and programs.

Our heritage collection continues to be cared for by an archivist and dedicated teams of volunteers around the country, some of whom are long-standing Red Cross members and volunteers. Their role includes:

  • Assist with any enquiries about information and items held in our Heritage Collection and archives held by the wider International Red Cross Red Crescent Movement.
  • Provide access to the Heritage Collection for researchers.
  • Arrange the loan of items from our Heritage Collection, primarily for display purposes.
  • Receive new items of items of significance into the Heritage Collection.
  • Undertake conservation and other projects to care for our Heritage Collection.
  • Support the donation of archival material to the selected repository.

For more information about the Red Cross Heritage Collection please email us.

Meet three Red Cross women who served in times of conflict, from WWII to the Vietnam War and, more recently, Afghanistan.
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Centenary Gift to the Nation: 1914–2014

In 2014 we marked the Centenary of Australian Red Cross by donating our archive and heritage collection from the national office and Victorian division to the University of Melbourne Archives, a gift to the nation to be preserved and shared with future generations.

In June 2015 the transfer of annual reports and official records marked the start of a five-year process to handover one hundred years of photographs, records and treasured objects. At approximately 400 shelf metres, it will be the largest single donation the University of Melbourne Archives has ever received.

In June 2015 the first transfer of more than 970 archive boxes was made.

Over 18 months a team of staff and volunteers spent more than 3,000 hours preparing for the first transfer. The second transfer took place in 2016 and a third is scheduled for the first half of 2017. In the meantime, items of a medical nature will be transferred to the University's Medical History Museum.

It's been a huge job managing the archives of one of Australia's largest and oldest charities. We thank our dedicated teams of staff and volunteer archivists in each state and territory, who have faithfully cared for our historical records and memorabilia with limited space and resources.

In other states and territories, transfers are being made to public repositories.

Read more about accessing material in the University of Melbourne Archives »

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