Guide to the Santospirito Collection

Lena SantospiritoThe Santospirito Collection comprises the personal papers of Mrs Lena Santospirito (1895-1983). Mrs Santospirito was a leader of the Italian-Australian community in Melbourne and is best known for her charitable work as President of the Archbishop's Committee for Italian Relief in the early 1950s period of Italian mass immigration to Australia. The records in this Collection document her work with the Archbishop's Committee, as well as her involvement with other institutions and her personal and family affairs.

Introduction | Provenance | About the records | How to use | Archival terms | Series | Search


Lena Santospirito was born in Ballarat in 1895 of Italian migrants from the Aeolian Islands. She devoted her adult life to the welfare of the Italian community in Melbourne. From 1940 to 1960, she headed the Archbishop's Italian Relief Committee which, during the war, provided assistance to both Italian civil internees and Italian Prisoners of War interned in camps in Australia. After the war, the Committee provided assistance to newly arrived migrants. The material provides an insight into the difficulties faced by Italian migrants during this period. Included are: photographs; postcards; as well as official, business and personal correspondence. Access to this collection is subject to restrictions.

Access by appointment.

The Santospirito Collection comprises the personal papers of Mrs Lena Santospirito (1895-1983). Lena Santospirito devoted years of her life to charitable work for Italian migrants in Australia, particularly during the post-World War Two period when she was President of the Archbishop's Committee for Italian Relief.

Santospirito's records were deposited with the Italian Historical Society in 1992. In 2000, the Society, together with the University of Melbourne, received a grant from the Australian Research Council to fund the archival arrangement and description of the Santospirito Collection. This website is one outcome of this grant, which has enabled this highly significant collection of over 2500 documents to be preserved, described and made accessible to the public.

The Santospirito Collection provides valuable evidence of aspects of Italian-Australian community life in Melbourne, particularly during the early years of post-war mass immigration. These archival records contain the stories of remarkable people like Lena Santospirito and others who worked with the Archbishop's Committee. The contents of this collection also embody the traces of the hundreds of people who came into contact with the Archbishop's Committee during the processes of migration and settlement.

Some of the topics covered by records in the Santospirito Collection are:

The Lena Santospirito Guide to Records is a finding aid to the Santospirito Collection. It was developed using Austehc's Heritage Document Management System (HDMS) Software. The Guide provides detailed provenance data about Lena Santospirito and the Archbishop's Committee for Italian Relief, and contextual information about the fifty record series in the Santospirito Collection.

The Guide also contains a summary description of every document in the Santospirito Collection. This inventory data was created by Tony Santospirito, who worked for the Italian Historical Society on a voluntary basis. It is possible to use the Search facility to find information relating to particular keywords or surnames.


A small selection of items have been digitally imaged, including:

Project Partners

CO.AS.IT.      The University of Melbourne