Unreserved: Reserve Bank of Australia Archives


About the Archives

The Reserve Bank of Australia has a unique and rich archives. In addition to records about the nation's central bank, our archives contain records about Australia's economic, financial and social history over nearly 200 years. The records have been identified by the National Archives of Australia as being of continuing value to the nation.

Our records pre-date the Reserve Bank as it is known today. This is because the Reserve Bank descended from the original Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) which had a central banking function and had absorbed other banks with a colonial history. When the central banking and commercial functions were separated, the original Commonwealth Bank was renamed the Reserve Bank of Australia and the commercial arm formed a new bank that we know today as the CBA. (In discussion of the archives, ‘Bank’ is used to refer to this continuous central bank entity.)

The archives include records about the specific responsibilities and activities of the Bank. They are also a primary source of information regarding Australia's broader economic, financial and social history, and provide a context for the operations and decisions made by the Bank. Given the timespan of the records housed in the archives, they capture many significant events in the life of the nation from those in Australia's colonial past, the Depressions of the 1890s and 1930s and two World Wars, through to more contemporary episodes.

Access to Archival Records

The Reserve Bank complies with the provisions of the Archives Act 1983 and provides public access to our records 20 years from the date of their creation (known as the ‘open access’ period). However, in most instances, the Bank goes further to make records available to the public 15 years from their creation date, with this early release at the Bank's discretion. To facilitate access to the archival records, we have an online platform Unreserved. Unreserved enables users to independently search and download digital versions of key archival records, learn about the nature and scope of the Bank's entire archival collection, access metadata about archival records that are yet to be digitised, and lodge requests for information or assistance from our archivists.

In addition to Unreserved, you can also:

  • Email the Archivist with your research enquiry. The RBA does not hold personal bank statements. Individuals should contact their own bank to request these.
  • Visit the Reserve Bank's Research Room to view and research original records. For more details about arranging a visit, see the Guide for Researchers145KB.

When submitting a research enquiry or request to visit the Research Room, you should ensure that you provide a detailed written enquiry first regarding the nature of the information required. The Archivists will assess whether there is appropriate material to meet the request and will contact you to discuss your enquiry further. Please note that due to the fragility of some records, they may not be able to be viewed in their original formats, or digitised.

The records in the Reserve Bank Archives are retained permanently by the Bank in their original formats. A program to digitise those records that are in the ‘open access’ period is well advanced and as records are digitised, they will be added to Unreserved, together with Research and Series Guides, to assist with context and further research. Where records are not yet digitised, key metadata about all archival series is available on Unreserved.

Contact Us

The Bank's Archivists can be contacted on:

Phone +61 2 9551 8111
Toll Free 1800 300 288[*]
Telephone Typewriter

Voice Calls: 133 677

Speak & Listen: 1300 555 727

For hearing or speech impaired, use .

Opening Hours The Archives is closed until further notice due to the refurbishment of the Reserve Bank building.

[*] Freecall – not available to Sydney callers. Excludes calls from mobile phones which are charged at the applicable rate.


Subscribe to receive email updates when new content is published in Unreserved.

If you are already a subscriber, you can manage your subscription at any time.

Before completing this form, please read our Personal Information Collection Notice.

Your details