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Showcasing photographs and records from our archival collection.

Crime | Exploration and Travel | Food & Clothing | Governors/Government | Military | Regional NSWShipping/Immigration | Sport | Sydney | Women in the records

New Galleries

The Carrington Albums - Illuminated Addresses

In January 2014 State Records NSW received 22 Presentation albums from the Centre for Buckinghamshire Studies in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, United Kingdom.

The Carrington Albums

The albums were given to Charles Robert Carington (1843-1928), during his tenure as Governor of New South Wales from 12 December 1885 to 3 November 1890.

This series of 13 albums contain illuminated addresses that were presented to Lord Carrington as Governor of New South Wales between 1885 and 1890. All the albums feature tooled leather binding, gilt edged pages, and cloth hinged leaves.

The Carrington Volumes were officially handed over to the NSW Government by a representative of the Carington Family, Janet Holmes à Court.

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Through the Lens: Central Railway Station

Central Railway StationThis gallery highlights the transformation of Central Railway Station from its opening in 1855 to 1921 when the clocktower was completed.
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Through the Lens: Darling Harbour

Darling Harbour galleryThrough the lens: snapshots of government architecture was created as part of History Week 2013. It consists of two digital galleries focusing on Central Railway Station and Darling Harbour in Sydney, New South Wales. This gallery highlights the transformation of Darling Harbour.
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Westward, Ho! A trip over the Blue Mountains

Westward, Ho! A trip over the Blue MountainsTake a tour of discovery over the Blue Mountains from the first European crossing in 1813 to the arrival of the railways in the 1860s.  More instalments arriving soon!
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Canberra - The Contest to become our Federal Capital

NRS 8293 [X687]To celebrate the centenary of the naming of Canberra in March 2013, we are highlighting a record series that sheds light on the efforts of a number of towns, villages and other areas in NSW that proudly presented their submissions to become the capital of the new Commonwealth.  View gallery »

50 Years at State Records

50 Years - view the Gallery

Showcasing the extraordinary richness and diversity of our holdings, from our 'founding documents' recording the convicts on the First Fleet to items from the time of the establishment of the Archives Authority in 1961. View the 50th Gallery »

List of the 50 Items

01. First Fleet Indent
02. A birth on the First Fleet
03. Freedom at a cost – the first pardon granted in 1788
04. Precautions against floods, 1817
05. 1817 Chart – Explorer John Oxley following the Lachlan and Macquarie Rivers
06. An Explorer’s Poem, 1817
07. Journey from Windsor to the north by a ‘gentleman’ convict
08. Request for a grant of land – from the castrator of government stock
09. The murder of an Aboriginal man by a runaway convict, 1820
10. A female escape artist
11. An original Ticket of Leave, 1818
12. Corporal punishment, 1833
13. Bushrangers at large, 1825
14. Reuben Uther, hat maker
15. Sir Thomas Mitchell encounters rural poverty, 1844-45
16. A Publican’s Licence
17. Blind man busking, 1823
18. ‘Professor’ Thomas Rea, ventriloquist
19. Report of the Myall Creek Massacre, 1838
20. A busybody passenger, 1842
21. Reuniting families in the Colony
22. A rough life on the goldfields
23. Designing the prison system
24. The Electric Telegraph
25. Shipboard life – emigration
26. Plans for Central Station, Sydney 1849
27. Punishment at School
28. Nursing advice from Florence Nightingale
29. A life of crime
30. A Royal National Park, 1879
31. Designing the Colony’s court houses
32. Reformatories for wayward boys
33. Refitting ships as reformatories
34. Care of the mentally ill
35. Explosion at Bulli Colliery, 1887
36. Influenza pandemic, 1919
37. Anti-torpedo device, 1888
38. A peanut and popcorn wagon, 1896
39. Adultery and divorce
40. Henry Lawson visits his old school, 1914
41. Government leaks, 1916-1919
42. Aborigines Welfare Board – exemption from regulations
43. Life on the land – a WW1 Returned Soldier
44. Civil unrest in the Great Depression
45. A missing aviator – Charles Kingsford Smith
46. Australian film censorship in the 1920s
47. Are you prepared for the blackout?
48. ‘Meat with care’ – a film
49. Tourism and sightseeing in the 1930s
50. Sydney Opera House

Some film footage from the archives can also be viewed online.

Other Galleries


Robbery Under Arms - The Eveleigh Payroll Heist, 1914

Go to GalleryThe Eveleigh payroll robbery took place on the 10 June 1914. What makes this crime unique is not only the fact that it was committed in the middle of the day in a busy area but it has been reported to be the first robbery in Australia where a get away car was used. Creating this exhibition was like putting the pieces of a puzzle together. We hold Supreme Court deposition court papers, where the witness statements and words of the accused bring the records alive. Complimenting this series are the gaol photographs, so now the voices from the depositions have faces. View gallery »

Tilly Devine and the Razor Gang Wars, 1927-31
Tilly DevineThe suburbs of Darlinghurst, Woolloomooloo and Kings Cross in Sydney in the late 1920s and early 1930s was a world in turmoil with vicious ‘razor’ gangs battling for control of the criminal underworld. They were called razor gangs because of the cut throat razor (a straight shaving blade) that was the weapon of choice. The razor gangs at the heart of these wars were led by two very different women: Tilly Devine and Kate Leigh.
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Telegram from Deniliquin Police to the Inspector of Police, Sydney (Edmund Fosbery) dated 8 January informing him that the Kelly Gang believed to have crossed the Murrumbidgee and were heading with four bay and two pack horses towards the Lachlan. Comment: This is of interest as an official report of one of the many false sightings of the Kelly Gang while on the run. Bushranging was a feature of life in New South Wales from the early days of settlement to the late 19th Century. The State archives is rich in material documenting individual bushrangers and their gangs, and the efforts of the authorities to bring them to justice. This gallery contains selected documents featuring famous and not-so-famous outlaws from this colourful period of Colonial history - their exploits and depredations, capture and ultimate fate.
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Crime and Punishment
Some of the most popular and informative records in our collection are the gaol photographs. Photographing prisoners (for inclusion in the description books) commenced late in the nineteenth century and continued into the twentieth century. In addition to an image of each prisoner these records generally provide information on the person’s native place; year of birth; details of arrival in the colony; trade or occupation, religion, degree of education and a physical description. 
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Lemon Syrup - Attempted Murder and Conspiracy
Mug shot of George DeanThis 1895 murder case involved George Dean attempting to poison his wife. Found guilty, then granted a free pardon, his lawyer later admitted that he was, in fact, guilty. The saga of George Dean and Richard Meagher has continued to capture the public interest. On 26 February 1983 the ABC television broadcast a dramatisation of the events in Verdict: The Dean Case.
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Registry of Flash Men
Registry of Flash MenA journal providing a unique insight into the criminal underworld in Sydney during the 1840s. The volume was kept as an official surveillance record by William Augustus Miles who was Superintendent, then Commissioner, of Sydney Police in New South Wales from July 1840 to July 1848. 
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VIDEO: Criminal underworld of Sydney in the 1840s
Screenshot from the Registry of FlashmenFeaturing extracts from the Registry of Flash Men narrated by ‘William Augustus Miles’ (aka Fabian LoSchiavo)
This is a unique insight into the criminal underworld in Sydney during the 1840s. The volume was kept as an official surveillance record by William Augustus Miles who was Superintendent, then Commissioner, of Sydney Police in New South Wales from July 1840 to July 1848. Miles held the belief that much crime was caused by the contamination of innocent people, and that most of the crime in Sydney was the result of former convicts mixing with free immigrants. He believed that the criminal class required constant surveillance by the police.
View the video »

Exploration and Travel

Douglas Mawson: Blizzards and Bureaucracy
Douglas Mawson GalleryCelebrating the 100th Centenary of the Australasian Antarctic Expedition 1911-14: The expedition provided the world with more than a truly heroic tale of survival against the odds. It left the legacy of a vast collection of valuable scientific data and specimens in the areas of geology, cartology, biology, meteorology and geo magnetism. In 1920 Sir Douglas Mawson entered into an agreement with the New South Wales State Government to publish these records. The project was not completed until 1947 – 28 years after the initial agreement was signed and 33 years after Mawson’s return. This gallery shines a light on the somewhat heroic efforts of both Sir Douglas Mawson and the committee in charge of the printing of the voluminous scientific reports resulting from this groundbreaking expedition. View gallery »
Travel and Adventure Gallery
Travel and Adventure GalleryA series of albums containing brochures and advertising pamphlets issued and/or distributed by the NSW Government Tourist Bureau…documents the activity of Tourism in which the railways played a major role…[there are] guides to locations in New South Wales, information on rail tours, samples of invitations and Christmas cards issued by the Railway Commissioner, menus, commemorative programmes and miniature versions of advertising posters relating to the railways, tour schedules, brochures, maps, tickets, timetables, day trips, and school cruises for boys and girls. 
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Food and Clothing

The Art of Food - Food, Glorious Food!
Food, Glorious Food!Where would we be without it? The production and consumption of food has always played an important role in the history of New South Wales. This gallery shows a selection of State archives that highlight what we have been eating in the home and on show.
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The Threads of History in the State Archives
NRS 14511 Cap worn by women in the Leeton cannery, 1925 [17/633]Showcasing some of our archives made from threads and fabrics. Non-paper materials are not common in our collection and the wonderful details, colours and textures captured in these items are a beautiful sight to see. Highlights include Walter Burley Griffin Plan on silkscreen, judges bib and school sewing samples.

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Governors and Government

Lachlan Macquarie: visionary and builder
Lachlan Macquarie, c.1819Lachlan Macquarie became Governor of New South Wales on 1st January 1810. This gallery celebrates Macquarie by featuring iconic documents (together with transcriptions with some interpretation) from the wealth of Macquarie related material in our collection. View gallery »
Founding Documents website
Founding DocumentsThis website tells the story of Australia through the documents which give our national, state and territory governments the right to govern.
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NSW Bushmen's Contingent for South Africa
Bushmens ContingentOften known as 'mounted rifles', 'bushmen' or 'imperial bushmen' these images show the NSW Contingent. This series comprises photographs of the New South Wales Bushmen's Contingent departing for active service in the Cape Colony during the Boer War. There are photographs of the bushmen in the saddle on inspection parades, an officer on horseback, and a Bushman on horseback, plus scenes of camp life.
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War and Australia
A selection of resources highlighting New South Wales' involvement in a number of military conflicts during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. This gallery will be updated progressively throughout the next few years leading up to the Gallipoli commemorations in 2015. We aim to highlight a selection of New South Wales State archives that reflect our involvement in a number of military conflicts including Sudan, Boer War, World War I, World War II
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Regional NSW

Dalgety - a local history study
Many people visit State Records researching a village or town, usually for a significant anniversary. It can often be daunting and hard work to go through the large number of archives that might mention the town. We hope that this will give you some tips and tactics for your local history project. Suzanne Upton, an archivist working in Public Access at State Records set out to research the town of Dalgety to demonstrate the types of records you might find when undertaking local history research. She has provided a step by step account of the approach that she took in her research.
View the gallery »

Shipping and Immigration

The Dunbar - Australia's Titanic
Watercolour of the DunbarOn the night of Thursday 20 August 1857, the clipper Dunbar approached the heads of Sydney Harbour after a voyage of 81 days. The wreck of the Dunbar lives on as one of the worst maritime disasters in Australia's history. This gallery includes the story of the shipwreck in 1857 and a list of the passengers and crew aboard.
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The Great White Fleet 1908
Great White FleetThursday 20 August 1908 witnessed the arrival of the United States of America fleet at Port Jackson, Sydney. This was part of a round the world cruise by the fleet which had originally set out on 16 December 1907. The sixteen warships were painted white to denote peace. They would be known as The Great White Fleet.
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Lebanese Migration and settlement in NSW
Abraham Bookallil and wife c.1890By the 1880s sizeable numbers of Lebanese or 'Syrians' as they were then known, were settling in Australia. At the 1901 census there were 739 'Syrians' living in NSW, many living in or near Redfern.
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Matron's Diary
Matron's Diary - front of volumeMatron Susan Austen was chaperone to 98 single females on the 'Fitzjames' which arrived in Sydney on 1 April 1857. Her diary records the dramas which unfolded during the voyage, the sea-sickness suffered during stormy weather, the tantrums and shortcomings of many of the young women, and the despair felt by the Matron at their behaviour.
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Celebrating our sporting heritage
Swimming lessonsLatest addition - champion swimmer Bernard Bede (Barney) Kieran
From the appointment of the trustees of the Domain Cricket Ground in 1851 to the 2000 Olympics, government has played an active part in the promotion and regulation of sport in New South Wales. This gallery is arranged by themes: National Fitness CouncilNational Parks and WildlifeSchool DaysSporting HeroesSydney Cricket and Sports Ground and Work and Play

Sydney Opera House

Sydney Opera House Galleries
One of the highlights of the State archives collection for the 20th Century is a highly significant set of documents relating to the iconic Sydney Opera House. They include the 1955 booklet setting out the conditions for the architectural competition, the original set of competition drawings submitted by Jørn Utzon, as well as a number of later, more detailed sketches, drawings and plans.

These ‘founding documents’ for the Opera House are now available for the first time in digitised form.

Sydney Opera House - the Gold Book

Sydney Opera House - the Gold BookThe printed booklet, commonly known as the “Gold Book”, was issued to accompany the “Ceremony to Commemorate the Commencement of the Sydney Opera House” on 2 March 1959. The booklet comprises a foreword by the Premier, comments on the Opera House, notes on the competition, the site, the design, and plans. View Gallery »

Sydney Opera House - the Brown Book
Sydney Opera House Gallery - the Brown BookCommonly known as the “Brown Book”, this is the 1955 booklet for the conditions and programme for the International Competition for a National Opera House at Bennelong Point, Sydney. The booklet includes: conditions of competition, B&W photos of the site, site and building requirements, schedule of dates and more.
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Competition drawings by Jørn Utzon
Competition drawings by Jørn UtzonThese are the original competition drawings for which the assessors of the Committee awarded Jørn Utzon first prize of £5,000 on 29 January 1957. He was commissioned by the Government of New South Wales to do final drawings for the Opera House, and to supervise its construction.
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Sydney Opera House - the Red Book
Sydney Opera House Gallery - the Red Book1958 - presented by Jørn Utzon to the Premier and the Opera House Committee in order to The Red Book, 1958 "give … a project which realizes in practical form the vision of the competition". It comprises: plans, sections, elevations, photographs of models of the Opera House; and reports by other consultants.
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Sydney Opera House - the Yellow Book
Sydney Opera House Gallery - the Yellow BookThis 1962 report (commonly known as the Yellow Book) comprises plans submitted by Jørn Utzon and consultants. The plans include, in addition to plans of the minor and major halls, geometrical construction showing the shells of the major hall, details of precast lid, tiling on shells and development of shells.
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Highlighting the Sydney Harbour Bridge

On 19 March 1932 the Sydney Harbour Bridge was officially opened. We have created a video montage showing the construction. The photos are from our collection - series NRS 12685 - and the whole set, 1923-1933, is available on Photo Investigator.

View the montage
Montage image of photos of the Sydney Harbour Bridge

Hotel Plans
These plansGo to Gallery are mostly architect’s plans of proposed hotels, and major and minor alterations and additions to existing hotels submitted for approval to NSW Licensing Courts in the Sydney Metropolitan District (plans had to be submitted along with a liquor license application). The plans usually detail: name of hotel, locality, name of applicant or owner, name of architect, date and scale of plan, type of plan ie., floor plan, section and elevations, site plan, or details of proposed additions or alterations, and date of approval if given. [NRS 9590]
Garden Palace Fire
Garden Palace
The Garden Palace, in the Royal Botanic Gardens, was built in just eight months for the Sydney International Exhibition which opened on 17 September 1879.
Afterwards it was used as an auditorium, a gallery, and the basement was used to house official records (such as the 1881 Census). These were all lost in the fire that broke out on 22 September 1882.
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Darling Harbour Resumption Plans Go to the online exhibition
A set of maps of the Darling Harbour and Port Jackson resumptions that were created in response to the Darling Harbour Wharves Resumption Act 1900 “for the purpose of carrying out a system of public wharves and approaches…at Darling Harbour, and the waters at Port Jackson adjacent…”. The last map in the sequence is a map of The Rocks resumptions. [NRS 19348]
Purging Pestilence - the Bubonic Plague
The Bubonic Go to the online exhibitionPlague hit Sydney in January 1900. Spreading from the waterfront, the rats carried the plague throughout the city. Within eight months 303 cases were reported and 103 people were dead.
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VIDEO: Faces from the Past
Watch the videoSydney's back lanes and alleyways. Featuring a selection of photos from our collection showing city dwellers going about their daily business. It is accompanied by Fabian LoSchiavo’s moving narration of the famous Henry Lawson’s poem Faces in the Street.
View the video »
VIDEO: Celebrating the Sydney Harbour Bridge
Watch the videoOn the 19th of March 1932 the Sydney Harbour Bridge was officially opened.
This is a video montage showing the construction of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
View the video »
VIDEO: Summertime Coogee Beach - a 'moving' photo
Summertime - a moving photoA simple yet effective spin on presenting one photograph. This ‘film’ was dedicated to all our friends on Flickr and at Archives Outside for their enthusiastic support and participation.
View the video »

Women in the records

Gallery of NSW Women
Mary Reibey portrait (small)The aim of this Gallery is to highlight the many varied lives that women have lived in New South Wales. Some women will be familiar to many of you, some led infamous lives and others are completely unknown.
Highlights included Louisa Lawson, Mary Reibey and Eugenia Falleni. 
View gallery »

We also have a Flickr account showing other interesting images and records and you can comment on and tag items in our photostream. Many of these images are also accessible in Photo Investigator - our searchable database of photographs dating back to the late 19th Century.