The White Australia Policy was about people--people whose lives were monitored and restricted because of the colour of their skin.

The Real Face of White Australia is a series of projects aimed at increasing awareness and use of a powerful set of historical documents created in the administration of the White Australia Policy in the first half of the twentieth century.

The project involves crowdsourced transcription data from identification documents – namely Certificates of Domicile and Certificates Exempting from the Dictation Test – created by the administration of the Immigration Restriction Act in the first half of the 20th century.

There is also this experimental browser that enables you to explore the records of the White Australia Policy through the faces of those people. These portraits were extracted from a range of government documents using a face detection script.

The Chinese Australian Family Historians of Victoria Inc., with support from the Chinese Museum, has helped transcribe entries in Victoria’s handwritten Certificate Exempting from Dictation Test (CEDT) registers held by the National Archives of Australia. 

You can get involved by adding to the online transcriptions here.

Learn more about the project including the motivation and background to it here

Banner image: endless scrolling wall of faces extracted from historical documents from

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