Diagnosability is central to taxonomy as are type specimens which define taxa. New advances in technologies and the discovery of new informative traits must be matched with previous taxonomic decisions based on name-bearing type specimens. Consequently, the challenge of sequencing highly degraded DNA from historical types becomes an inevitability to resolve the very many taxonomic issues arising from, by modern standards, poor historical species descriptions leading to difficulties to assign names to genetic clusters identified from fresh material. Here we apply high-throughput parallel sequencing and sequence baiting to reconstruct the mitogenomes from 18 type specimens of Australasian side-necked turtles (Chelidae). We resolve a number of important issues that have confused the taxonomy of this family, and analyse the mitogenomes of the types and those of fresh material to improve our understanding of the phylogenetic relationships of this morphologically conservative group. Together with previously published nuclear genomic data, our study provides evidence for multiple old mitochondrial introgressions.