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Archives In Brief 19 - Teachers

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Provides a brief overview of the major sources held by State Records that relate to teacher employment in the Government sector between 1788 and 1979.

Online index to teachers records


  • Index to Teachers Rolls, 1869-1908

    1788-1848 | 1848-66 | 1866-80 | 1880+ | Further reading


    In the early years of the colony, government involvement in education was primarily concerned with the provision of funding for church schools. The establishment of the Clergy and Schools Lands Corporation in 1826 reinforced this link between government and church. Salaries of schoolmasters were drawn from the proceeds of land controlled by this corporation.

    Index to Colonial Secretary's Papers, 1788-1825

    The online index is also available in hardcopy in the reading room. The names of individual teachers are located under the heading School Teachers. Any surviving correspondence is then listed separately under surname. It may also include details of appointments and salary.

    Colonial Secretary

    NRS 1286, Returns of the Colony, 1828-57
    Fiche 446-613
    The returns under the heading Education cover both Sydney and country schools. They include the names of teachers for each school and their annual salaries.

    Clergy and School Lands Corporation

    NRS 773, Letters received from clergymen, catechists and schoolmasters, 1825-33
    This series includes letters from schoolmasters on a wide variety of subjects and may also be useful in building a picture of working conditions at this time.


    Between 1848-66, education was under the joint control of the Board of National Education and the Denominational School Board. The Board of National Education was responsible for appointing teachers, teacher training and classification. Key records include:

    For additional records of the Board of National Education researchers should consult the Archives Investigator, and the interim guide to the records of the Board, available in the reading room.

    Board of National Education

    NRS 613, Miscellaneous letters received, 1848-66
    Reels 4001-4038
    This series includes correspondence concerning the provision of teachers, nominations of teaching staff, complaints against teachers and details of appointments and resignations.

    NRS 622, Applications to the Board of National Education for various situations, 1848-52
    These applications give information on marital status, age, place of birth, religion, whether previously trained as a teacher, period of residence in the colony and place of employment. There is an index in the front of the volume.

    NRS 623, Applications for and reports on candidates for positions as teachers and pupil teachers, 1856-66
    Reels 2380-2384

    NRS 616, Reports on teachers and pupil-teachers, 1864-66
    Reel 2385


    The Council of Education was established under An Act to make better provision for Public Education, 1866 (30 Victoria, Act No. 22) The Council was  responsible for the administration of government schools in New South Wales. Teacher training was conducted at the Model School, Fort Street and a grading system for the certification of teachers was introduced.

    Council of Education

    As well as the records listed below, researchers should consult Archives Investigator and the interim guide to the records of the Council of Education, available in the reading room.

    NRS 2621, Miscellaneous letters received, 1867-75
    Reels 1784-1796, 1798, 1802-1803, 1844-1850
    This correspondence is arranged alphabetically by name of school. It may include applications for positions as teachers and letters received from teachers concerning illness, complaints or resignations.

    NRS 2639, Copies of letters sent, 1868-80
    These are arranged chronologically and include letters and memoranda sent to teachers.

    NRS 2624, Results of teacher examinations, 1867-78
    This register gives the name of the school to which the teacher was appointed, results for individual subjects and comments on skill in teaching.

    NRS 2626, Pupil-teacher applications and reclassification reports, 1867-76
    Reel 1802
    Each application contains information about the candidate's educational history, details of previous and present employment and signature.

    NRS 2631, Applications for employment, 1867-72, 1874-75
    Reel 1803
    This series includes applications for teaching positions and normally show present position held, details of exams passed, previous teaching appointments and experience.

    NRS 4073, Teachers' rolls, 1869-1908
    Reels 1991-1998
    These rolls provide a service record for each teacher and include date of birth, examination results, appointments, promotions and date of resignation. See the Index to teachers' rolls 1869-1908. The online index was compiled using NRS 4072 Index to Teachers Rolls, Reel 1990.


    The Public Instruction Act, 1880 (43 Vic. No. 23, 1880) repealed the Public Schools Act of 1866, dissolved the Council of Education and transferred its responsibilities to the Minister for Public Instruction. The new Act also provided for a new system of teacher training.

    In 1957 the Public Instruction (Amendment) Act (Act No. 45, 1957) altered all existing references to the Department for Public Instruction to the Department of Education. The name of the Department was changed to the Department of School Education on 15 December 1989 and on 3 December 1997 the Department of School Education was abolished. Its branches were amalgamated with those of the former Department of Education and Training Coordination to form the Department of Education and Training. The Department is now known as the Department of Education and Communities.

    Department of Education

    See also the Index to teachers rolls, 1869-1908, NRS 4072 and the Teachers' rolls, 1869-1908, NRS 4073 listed above.

    As well as the records listed below, researchers should also consult the Archives Investigator, under the heading Education — Teacher Personnel Division.

    NRS 3830, Subject files, 1875-1948
    The subject files include information on individual teachers concerning promotions, resignations and retirements. See Short Guide 6 which provides a full subject listing.

    NRS 3829, Schools files, c.1876-1979
    These files are arranged by name of school. They contain information concerning teacher appointments, leave, examinations and occasionally details of complaints about teachers by parents and inspectors. The files after c. 1950 do not contain detailed information about teachers.
    The schools are listed in the online index.

    NRS 4074, Results of teachers' examinations, 1901-09
    Names of applicants and their marks in each subject are listed by examination centre.

    NRS 4076, Listing of male teachers born 1 Jul 1906-30 Jun 1921
    This alphabetical list gives the teacher's marital status, district, date of birth, school and hometown.

    NRS 4077, Salary Registers, 1908-22
    These registers are arranged alphabetically by school.

    NRS 15320, Teacher career cards, 1908+
    The cards detail the various appointments occupied by each teacher in his/her career in NSW government schools or the Department of Education.

    NRS 15319, Teacher leave cards, 1908+
    Leave taken is presented in tabular form, showing the period of leave and whether this has been recreation, sick, extended, short, special, without pay or military leave. There is a remarks column used to indicate the reason for the leave.

    NRS 4078, Records of teachers and officers in the A.I.F. during World War I, 1914-40

    NRS 15051, Photographic collection, 1963-91
    The History Unit of the Department of School Education collected these photographs. Most show school buildings, pupils, teachers, or educational activities, with nearly all including an identifying caption and date. The Department of Education holds a digitised copy of these records for reference purposes.

    Teachers Examination and Classification Committee and the Board of Examiners for Teachers

    NRS 472 and 19350, Minutes of the Teachers Examination and Classification Committee and the Board of Examiners for Teachers, 1912-40
    The minutes include decisions made by the Committee concerning Regulations drafted under both the Public Service Act, 1902, (Act No.31, 1902), and the Public Instruction Act, 1880 (43 Vic. No.23), concerning teacher classification and examination.

    Further reading

    State Records' published finding aids (now out of print):

  • The Administration of Education under Two Boards, 1848-66 (available in hardcopy in the reading room), and
  • Council of Education, 1866-1880 (available in hardcopy in the reading room).
  • See also

  • Government schools of New South Wales, 1848-1998: 150 Years, Open Training and Education (OTEN) — Distance Education, New South Wales Department of Education and Training, Sydney, 1998.
  • Other records may be identified in Archives Investigator and the interim guides to the Board of National Education, Denominational School Board and the Council of Education, which are available in the reading room.


    Researchers should consult the Register of Access Directions to confirm the public availability of records. State Records' staff can advise you on the availability of records if they are not listed on the register.

    © State of New South Wales through the State Records Authority, 2003.
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