Home API Australian National Archives “Memory of a Nation” API

Australian National Archives “Memory of a Nation” API


The National Archive’s Memory of a Nation dataset includes a digitised version of items that were put on display in the Archives’ permanent Memory of a Nation exhibition. The records include an original musical score of Waltzing Matilda, a petition for Aboriginal land rights from the Larrakia people of Darwin, and Charles Kingsford Smith’s 1921 application for a pilot’s licence. The record includes 529 records which translates to around 1968 images.

Of all the datasets we’ve ported over to a workable API, the raw data made available via the National Archives was a near-unworkable mess. If appears the data was a JSON file that was parsed by line or regular expression and them imported without consideration into a spreadsheet. The page URL references all linked to 404 pages and none of the images provided a full URL. Almost every field contained erroneous and poorly formatted data.

This article details rudimentary API usage for those current and former clients that hold an API key. Not unlike similar articles we’ve shared in the last couple of weeks, this API was designed to integrated into our social and marketing platform as ‘social fuel’. That said, we’ve made a small WordPress plugin available for clients that’ll give their website an archive of all content… although this particular collection doesn’t have an enormous appeal.

The Result

Because of the limited data, we don’t support searching records. The below example shows the first page of paginated (and truncated) results. Request: http://api.beliefmedia.com/nla/memories/memories.json?apikey=xxxxxxx&pg=1&number=20.

Requesting data for a specific record yields far more information. For example, http://api.beliefmedia.com/nla/memories/memories.json?apikey=xxxxxxxxx&id=224 returns the following:

You may download the entire low-quality image collection (or at least that part of the collection we were able to resolve) from our client area (630MB, zip file). Alternatively, images are hosted locally with us in the following format: {barcode}/{preg_replace("/[^ \w]+/", '', $series)}-{id).jpg as detailed in the resulting array above. The ID is assigned by us.

Sample PHP Functions

If you’re unfamiliar with making JSON API requests, the following basic functions may assist.

Browsing Results

Retrieving a Single Result


  • The NAA.gov.au images may be referenced as follows: https://recordsearch.naa.gov.au/SearchNRetrieve/NaaMedia/ShowImage.aspx?B={barcode}&{page_number}=60&T={image_size}. There’s likely another format that we’ve yet to find that’ll return a higher quality image. Image references in the NAA CSV file are invalid.
  • A link to the relevant page on the NAA website should normally be provided. While many links are broken, the SODA search format often works: http://soda.naa.gov.au/record/{barcode}/{page-number}.
  • The CC3 licence seems to apply only to the data – not the photographs. A copyright of sorts may still apply.

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