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Pacific Islands Studies: Patrol Reports


For Papua New Guinea, reports from government patrols represent a major source of primary information on the pre-independence (before 1976) era. Patrol officers and other officials wrote detailed documents reporting on all aspects of the work carried out by the patrols. Therefore, patrol reports give first hand accounts on many topics, from first contact with remote Highland villages, to census counts, tax collection, health care, administration of justice, plantations, missionaries, anthropological descriptions, tribal warfare, languages, etc.

Extensive microform sets of these reports and accompanying materials, such as correspondence and station (or patrol post) reports, have been digitized by the UC San Diego Library with the permission of the National Archives of Papua New Guinea and are available online at

A portion of the reports are not available digitally, and are housed in and administered through the Special Collections & Archives (SC&A). Information on hours, photoduplication policy and pricing, etc. may be obtained from the SC&A website.

Additionally, a guide to the microfilm published by Peter Nagle in 2002 is available through the National Archives of Australia (ISBN 0642 344876), as well as Papua New Guinea patrol reports fact sheet 48


Patrol Reports: large sets held at UC San Diego

Files of Correspondence, Journals and Patrol Reports from Outstations of British New Guinea and Papua, 1890-1941 (CRS G91) (MSS 52) --58 microfilm reels. 839 files, containing over 5,000 documents. Originals of these documents are held by the Australian Archives in Canberra. Includes only documents from British New Guinea (later named Papua)--roughly the southern half of present-day Papua New Guinea. Modern province names of this area include Central, Gulf, Milne Bay, Northern, Western, and most of Southern Highlands.

Papua and New Guinea Patrol Reports, 1922-1955 (CRS A7034) (MSS 53).  7 microfilm reels. 199 patrol reports, of which 105 were written between 1950 and 1955. Originals held by the Australian Archives in Canberra. Remainder are dated from 1922 to 1942. All modern-day provinces of PNG, except Manus and New Ireland, are represented in this set with at least one report.

Papua New Guinea Patrol Reports, 1912-1976. (MSS 215).  Microfiche copies of patrol reports, copied from the original reports held in the Papua New Guinea National Archives.  The bulk of these reports were written after World War 2.

Trobriand Islands (Papua New Guinea.  Losuia District Administration.  Archives [including patrol reports]. (PMB 1165)

Other Patrol Reports held at UC San Diego

Other Resources

Annual Reports for the Territory of Papua

National Archives of Australia. Papua New Guinea Records 1883–1942: Microfilm Collections Research Guide.

Maidment, Ewan. PAMBU. Historical context of Australian archival interests in Papua New Guinea. Paper for PHA, December 2008?

Lutton, Nancy. Patrol Reports: Location and Preservation. Una Voce. June 2002. No. 2 pg. 12-13.

Lutton, Nancy. Papua New Guinea Patrol Reports: originals, microfilms, and indexes. Pacific Manuscripts Bureau Newsletter. Series 5, No. 14. June 2002.

Nancy Lutton and Hilary Rowell, 'Return to Port Moresby - the survival copying and restitution of rescued records', in Archives and Manuscripts, vol. 23 no. 2, Nov 1995, pp. 290-305. 

The Australian War Memorial houses PNG patrol reports produced during World War II by the Australian New Guinea Administrative Unit in series AWM54 and AWM254.