During most of the 20th century Australia was one of the strictest censors in the western world. Most imported publications were closely inspected before being released, and Australia would frequently ban what was considered suitable reading in England, Europe and America.

The Commonwealth Customs Department, which had the authority to prohibit imports under the Customs Act 1901, kept a reference library of around 15,000 books, magazines and comics banned in Australia between the 1920s and the 1970s. Some of the titles are rare editions, and many are no longer in print.

This valuable collection, held by the National Archives of Australia, reflects the social attitudes and morals of the period and also provides a fascinating insight into how these have changed.

This blog accompanies our new café display on show at the National Archives in Canberra from late January 2013. Each month during 2013 we will highlight a different book featured in the display.