This site is about the Margaret Lawrie [Torres Strait] collection held at the State Library of Queensland identified as Margaret Lawrie Collection of Torres Strait Islander Material TR1791 in the catalogue. Surnames of people mentioned in this collection are searchable on the State Library One Search Catalogue.

Wantima Getting Started site will demonstrate the steps required to begin your family history.  The Family history online access and Information Guide [below] will assist.


The Margaret Lawrie Collection of Torres Strait Islander Material TR1791 was officially donated to the State Library of Queensland (SLQ) – Queensland Memory section – in 1996.

This collection is of historical value to the Torres Strait Islander people who contributed their history and stories to Margaret for preservation for future generations and was added to the UNESCO Memory of the World Australian Register in 2008.

The Margaret Lawrie collection consists of material recorded and collected by Margaret Lawrie on the Torres Strait Islander people’s culture between 1964 and 1973. A collection comprising of research material such as children’s games, genealogies, maps, music, photographs, plants, sketches, stories and vocabularies of the Torres Strait.

Material must be viewed in the John Oxley Library located on the fourth level of the State Library of Queensland. To view or order this original material, please view the finding aid via the following site

To  understand the collection there is a Place Name guide.

Genealogies Collection

The Margaret Lawrie holds an estimated at three hundred and twenty-eight (328) genealogical sheets from Dauan, Saibai, Badu, Mabuiag, Mer and Erub and Keriri Islands.  Some of the family mentioned are the Morrison, Anau, Lui, Nona, Tamwoy, Akiba, Sambo, Mosby, Bowie and more.

The State Library has digitised the genealogical charts, which can only be viewed after accession conditions are followed and via the State Library One Search Catalogue.

Access Conditions

Although anyone can search the Margaret Lawrie Collection index records, there are restrictions on those allowed access to the digitised genealogical charts because much of the information is private or sensitive.

  • Copies of genealogies and photographs are provided only to individuals or families who are researching their own family history.
  • No copies of the material are to be reproduced in any form or published without prior written consent from appropriate families, communities and State Library of Queensland.
  • Any use of the information other than for private and study use is the sole responsibility of the person making the request.

There are different Access Conditions for Land Councils.

Photographic Collection

Some of the photographic albums have been digitised and booklets of these images within these albums are available in the John Oxley Library reading room on the reference shelves.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander photographic access must be in accordance with State Library’s Protocols for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Collections, therefore photographs are not available online unless cultural clearance has been given.

We are proud to announce that Dauan/ Cornwallis Islander have allowed the placement of thirty-seven (37) Margaret Lawrie photographs to be placed onto our One Search catalogue.

Artworks and Stories

A majority of the artworks within this collection can be viewed online via the One Search Catalogue by including the search term “Margaret Lawrie” in the search menu and “Image” in the Refine your search: first drop down menu.

The Torres Strait Islander stories were published in Myths and legends of Torres Strait and Tales from Torres Strait  These are available online at the State Library of Queensland website.

Onsite access

The Margaret Lawrie is available to view in the John Oxley Library reading room on Level 4 of the State Library.  It is a good idea to get a membership card before you visit the library as this will allow you to order the material prior to your arrival, as well as giving access to many other services, such as printing and copying.

You can register for a membership card at and your card will be sent to you by post. If you are onsite you can apply for a card on Levels 1, 2 and 3.

To assist with searching a Margaret Lawrie – Place Name Guide has been created and can be provided on demand.

Need help? Ask Us.

State Library of Queensland staff can also assist you if you have an enquiry about the Margaret Lawrie Collection.

Complete the online Margaret Lawrie enquiry form (we will endeavour to provide an answer within 10 working days)

Information Guides