Oceania was founded in 1930 by A. Radcliffe-Brown, Professor of Anthropology, University of Sydney. A. P. Elkin, soon to become Professor, took over as Editor in 1932. Its original interest was in the social and cultural anthropology of Australia and the islands of the Pacific Ocean, primarily Melanesia. In 1963 Elkin and N. W. G. Macintosh, Professor of Anatomy, launched Archaeology and Physical Anthropology in Oceania to accommodate increasing research in those fields. Later Elkin also founded the short-lived journal Human Biology in Oceania. Elkin died in 1979, having edited Oceania for 50 years. He was succeeded by Professor Peter Lawrence as Editor of Oceania and by Dr Peter White as Editor of APAO. The latter's name was changed to Archaeology in Oceania in 1981. Both journals have been published by Wiley-Blackwell since 2013. Elkin also founded two monograph series, Oceania Monographs and Oceania Linguistic Monographs; these are no longer available, but some will be reprinted as e-books by Sydney University Press in 2014.
Oceania Publications is a department within the Faculty of Arts, University of Sydney and is owned by the University. It is controlled by the Oceania Board which includes the Dean of Arts and several members of Faculty. The Board oversees finances and appoints editors on three year terms. The day-to-day running of the department is by the Managing Editor, currently Dr Peter White. The University supplies accommodation and accounting facilities but Oceania Publications is otherwise wholly self-supporting.
The University of Sydney is the sole owner of Oceania Publications and owns the copyright to all papers published in Oceania and Archaeology in Oceania unless otherwise noted.