Question: My parents migrated from Italy fifty years ago this year. They would like to collate information about their migration journey to share with the family. Do you have any suggestions?
Answer: In the first instance, you may like to obtain a copy of the official documentation of your parents’ journey from Italy to Australia. The National Archives of Australia is the central repository for Australian Commonwealth Government records, including immigration documents. The original passenger lists for your parents’ journey to Australia would include information such as their names, ages and other information about their migration circumstances.
The Castel Felice ventured to Australia as an immigrant ship on a total of 101 voyages between 1952 and 1970, carrying over 100,000 immigrants to Australia and New Zealand. She was commanded by an Italian crew and carried passengers from many different countries including Italy, Germany and Britain.
Photographer: Mayor Dennis. Source: State Library of Victoria.
Your parents may like to discuss and share stories about their physical journey to Australia. In particular, the book Australian Migrant Ships 1946 – 1977 by Peter Plowman contains information on a number of different immigrant ships including some voyage information and pictures. The website Journeys to Australia contains more general information about shipping routes, the distance travelled and conditions of travel in different migration periods.
You may be interested to consider your parents’ migration stories within the broader role that migrants have played in shaping Australian society since World War Two. A perfect starting place for information on Italian migration to Australia is the book The Australian People by James Jupp. A brief overview of Italian Immigration history is also accessible through the Museum Victoria website Origins: Immigrant Communities in Victoria.
Your parents may like to compare their own migration stories with those of other Italians who have migrated to Australia post World War Two. The Migration Heritage Centre of New South Wales, has developed an online exhibition website entitled Belongings, where migrants share their different stories and experiences of settling in Australia.
It may also be a good idea to contact the Australian Italian Historical Society, CO.AS.IT. The mission of the Society is to “collect, preserve and promote the history of Italian immigration to Australia”. They hold many records and stories of Italian immigration which may encourage your parents to share and recollect their experience more broadly with their family.