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Now&Then 49 - April 2011

In this Issue read the latest online news; Wi-Fi now available in the reading rooms; How 'The Author of the Hibernian Father' was revealed; the 50th Anniversary Gallery update - Can you help us fill in the blanks? and Spotlight on Dalgety a local history case study.

Online News

The latest additions to online indexes and resources on our website include:

1. Archives in Brief on Justices of the Peace

List of Magistrates in NSW (Volume front cover image)

This latest Archives in Brief provides a brief overview of the major sources we hold that relate to Justices of the Peace in New South Wales. The early Justices of the Peace were drawn from the colony’s landowners, civil and military officers. The position conferred increased power and status along with great responsibilities.

2. Index to Publicans' licences 1830-61 - copy service now available

The fee will be $1.50 per entry + $15.00 Admin Fee + Postage. You can order several entries on the one order.
There are c. 20,000 entries to search so you might be able to fill in some of those annoying gaps in your ancestors' lives.

3. New webpage featuring Women's History Month March 2011 - Women in the Business of Food

Working in the tomato cannery at Cowra

We have created a webpage attached to our Resources For Historians – Women in the records page highlighting some of the main events for this year’s Women’s History Month (WHM).

4. Additions to Immigrants from many lands webpage

We have recently published a selection of seminar papers from the event held on 31 May 2010 co-hosted by State Records and the Royal Australian Historical Society exploring Russian migration and settlement.

5. New Subject Guide - Vice Admiralty Court of NSW, 1787-1911

Originally published as Guide 22, this inventory was prepared by Mrs. Christine M. Shergold, B.A., Dip.Lib., Dip.Archiv.Admin.

One of the earliest courts established in New South Wales, the Vice Admiralty Court, throughout its long history, remained an Imperial Court whereby directives, instructions, imperial bills and acts changing its structure or procedures as well as rules, regulations and tables of fees were received via dispatches from the Secretary of State.

New Additions to the Digital Gallery

6. Sydney Opera House – The Yellow Book

This 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.

View The Yellow Book

7. Purging Pestilence – Plague!

This gallery has been updated and now includes more pictures relating to the bubonic plague which 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.

View the Plague Gallery
Screenhot of the Purging Pestilence - Plague! Gallery

8. New additions to the 50 Years @ State Records Gallery

The fourth set in the online exhibition, covering 1880-1920, is now available. 

In showcasing documents from this period, we are particularly highlighting one of the great strengths of the collection – the vast array of records documenting the lives of ordinary people, especially their trials and tribulations. Thus we have a wayward lad ‘straightened out’ after a spell on the Nautical School Ship ‘Sobraon’; ‘voices from the asylum’ (letters from psychiatric patients); and a sad tale of adultery and divorce in Erskineville.

View the Gallery
Screenshot showing the fourth set of documents, 1880-1920

To lighten the mood, we feature a bizarre proposal for an anti-torpedo device (complete with wooden model); an application to operate a peanut and popcorn wagon; and some testy correspondence about the leaking of confidential government information. Disasters and other momentous events are highlighted through glimpses of the tragic Bulli Colliery explosion of 1887 and the great influenza pandemic of 1918-19; and we have an example of ‘famous people in the archives’, with a little-known poem by Henry Lawson in his own hand.

Grab a 50th Anniversary bookmark or postcard

Now available in the reading rooms. However, in case you miss out on a (physical) bookmark or postcard we have included the PDF versions here for you to print out your favourite(s). 

Wi-Fi now in the reading rooms

Wi-Fi is now available in both State Records’ reading rooms. We hope that you can make use of this new service!
Before you can start browsing you will be presented a screen to agree to 'Acceptable Use Conditions'.

Wifi conditions of use

New pricing structure for digital copying of original items

Copy ServiceWe will be introducing a flat fee of $25.00 for scans from original (uncopied State archives) from 1 April. Clients are, of course, welcome to use their own digital cameras in the reading rooms.

Digital copy order service until 27 April

Orders for digital copies of:

  • original volumes,
  • large format (over A3) maps and
  • high resolution digital copies

taken between Friday 25 February and Wednesday 27 April 2011 will not be completed until the end of May 2011.

You are welcome to bring a digital camera to our Western Sydney Reading Room to photograph the item.

For any further enquiries about this matter please contact our Reprographics Officer,

We apologise for any inconvenience.

New Darlinghurst photo description book microfilms

Reels 5133- 5134 Darlinghurst Goal Photo Description Books, 1871-1875 [11/17378 - 17379, 11/2205] are now available in the reading rooms. These are copies of recently discovered early records for Darlinghurst Gaol, that were previously noted as ‘unidentified’. They include the earliest records of this type, dating from the introduction of photography in prisons in August 1871. There is a fair degree of overlap and duplication with the records indexed previously, but this batch does include some new names, especially for the period August 1871 to February 1872, and November 1872 to October 1873.

New and re-released publications available for you to purchase

The 7 generation chart which has been out of stock for a while is now available for you to purchase in the reading room and online.
Price = $3.70    By mail = $6.70 (includes postage & handling)

First Fleet posterWe also have a new First Fleet poster for you to purchase. "This chart comprises the eleven ships of The First Fleet and lists the names of those who sailed from Portsmouth, England in each of those ships on 13 May 1787. The chart also includes those who left on board and did not reach Sydney Cove as well as those children who were born during the voyage."
Price = $12.00    By mail = $15.00 (includes postage & handling)

Can you fill in the blanks?

50th Anniversary online Gallery - A wayward lad 'straightened out'

Celebrating 50 Years

Entrance books for the Nautical School ships Vernon and Sobraon provide a remarkable insight into the lives of the wayward and neglected youths taken into the Industrial School system of the late 19th Century.

One of the items in our 50 Anniversary Gallery features an example from the Entrance book from the Sobraon - James William Smith who by the age of 16 was ‘picked-up’ by the police and reported by the bench to be living with prostitutes and associating with bad characters. His mother (whereabouts unknown) was reported to be ‘of loose character’ and his father deceased.

In the appearance column of the Entrance Book for the Sobraon he is described as….
“Skin & clothes dirty & ragged. No marks or scars Boy seems an intelligent hard working chap (is unfortunate in having bad parent. Should turn out well with proper treatment.” [8/1747 p. 51] Reel 2888

And it seems that James did turn out well. After the Sobraon, James was apprenticed out in 1898 to Mark Coulston, a farmer living near Parkes. His employer seems happy with him and indicates that James might go to Sydney to see his parents. Unlike some of the ‘tales from the Archives’, this one may have had a happier ending.

Can you help us fill in the blanks?

We would love to hear from anyone that may have James William Smith as an ancestor or otherwise may have come across him in their research; particularly to find out what happened to him after 1898 – marriage/family, later employment, death, etc. 

We have some additional information from his birth certificate that could trigger your memory:

James William Smith, born 18 December 1881, Harrington Place, Sydney. Parents James Smith (Labourer, aged 31, born Jersey) and Mary (nee O’Connor, aged 30, born Co. Kilkenny Ireland).

If you can help us fill in some of the blanks contact us at

Flickr update

Our Flickr photostream grows weekly and we enjoy reading your comments. Check out the ‘chocolate’ conversation here

The latest additions include:

Tree planting at the Crescent Parklets, 1931

Zig Zag Railway

Derailment on the Zig Zag railway

Wynyard Railway Refreshment Room, 1936

Road to Wombeyan Caves

Swimming lessons, 1893 [Sobraon]

A decorated George Street, 1901

Lane Cove Road, Wahroonga c.1908

Federation celebrations, Sydney
If you don't have a Flickr account you can still browse these photos, many of which are also available on Photo Investigator  


State Records launches new Website on open data

Screenshot of

Our new website - - aims to identify datasets relating to the NSW State Archives collection and publish them in accessible ways.
Data published by this project could spark new interfaces to the collection, create new possibilities for federated searching, or allow creative re-purposing such as in visualisations or in applications such as The History Wall.

As a first step, State Records NSW is publishing data from its online catalogue, Archives Investigator. This data is in a raw form and can be downloaded from the Datasets page

Future steps might involve the use of standardised formats (e.g. EAC-CPF) or the development of an API to the catalogue. We will also investigate the use of linked data principles (e.g. a persistent URI addressing scheme) and microformats (such as the inclusion of RDFa data into the existing catalogue pages).

If you have ideas or suggestions about future directions for this project please participate by joining the discussions on this site.

Archives outside Blog update

Finding Women in the Archives

Archives OutsideAs part of the celebrations for International Women's Day Suzanne Upton, Public Access Archivist, put together some handy tips for tracking down women in the archival record. 

"For so many years women worked in the home and had very little contact with government agencies beyond death and taxes. It is only once women leave the home to run their own businesses, own property, join professions and are able divorce their husbands that we start to catch glimpses of how they lived." Read more 

Celebrating the Harbour Bridge

On the 19th of March 1932 the Sydney Harbour Bridge was officially opened. To mark the 79th Anniversary of this occasion our Digitisation Officer Tara Major has put together a photographic montage celebrating the bridge and the workers who built it.

View the video on Flickr

Community Heritage Grant Applications Open

Are you part of a Community Archive and in need of funding? The Community Heritage Grant Applications for 2011 are now open.

"The Community Heritage Grants (CHG) program provides grants of up to $15,000 to community organisations such as libraries, archives, museums, genealogical and historical societies, multicultural and Indigenous groups." Learn more  

Sisters Of Charity Congregational Archives Launch new Blog

This month we were very happy to welcome the Sisters of Charity Congregational Archives to the blogisphere. The Archives Manager, Denise Corrigan, wrote for Archives Outside about her inspiration for developing the blog. Read more

Moments in time...

This fortnightly series is proving to be just as popular - and as much fun - as last year

So far we have posted:

If you would like to keep up to date with what’s happening on the blog you can subscribe via email  or RSS

How 'The author of the Hibernian Father' was revealed 

We have recently added SR Reel 2909 (ML Reel MAV/FM3/236) to our reading rooms. This is a copy of Mitchell Library MSS 5311; an archival estray which means it is a government archive which has ‘strayed’ from government hands. It comprises two letters and a copy of a manuscript play. The play, The Jew of Dresden, was submitted to the NSW Colonial Secretary by its Irish-born playwright Edward Geoghegan in 1846.

The manuscript of ‘The Jew of Dresden, or, A Husband’s Vengeance, A Tragedy in Three Acts. By The Author of The Hibernian Father, Currency Lass, Royal Masquer &c. &c. &c.’ is accompanied by two letters from Edward Geoghegan to Edward Deas Thomson, Colonial Secretary, dated 16 September 1846 and 2 September 1852.

Edward Geoghegan had arrived in Sydney on 25 January 1840 on the convict ship Middlesex. He had been tried at the Dublin City Sessions and was a medical student. His crime was obtaining two reams of paper by means of a false order. While still a convict he wrote several plays which were performed at the Royal Victoria Theatre in Sydney. One of these, the tragedy of The Hibernian Father, was a huge success first being performed on 6 May 1844 with five further performances that year and revivals in 1846, 1858, 1860 and 1871.

Unfortunately for Geoghegan the licensing conditions of the theatre prohibited the employment of convicts. Though he had at least seven of his plays performed between 1843 and 1845 at the Royal Victoria none of them acknowledged him as the author. He became known simply as ‘The Author of The Hibernian Father’.

Geoghegan’s letter dated 16 September 1846 was the first he had written since his sentence had expired. He wrote of his desire ‘to emerge from obscurity and acquire for myself a name and reputation in the field of Colonial literature’ with his literary pursuits ‘the only solace of my bondage’. In it he claimed to have written a number of original and adapted plays including The Hibernian Father, Currency Lass, Last Days of Pompeii, Christmas Carol [adapted from Dickens], Royal Masquer, Captain Kyd and Lafitte the Pirate ‘besides several poetical addresses – the remuneration I have received for all of which has been under ₤6 !!!’

For the next century no one was really sure who ‘The Author of The Hibernian Father’ was. Then in 1966 Dr Helen Oppenheim, a theatre historian at the University of New South Wales, came across Geoghegan’s 1846 letter. Oppenheim was able to reveal that Edward Geoghegan was indeed ‘The Author of The Hibernian Father’. (See her article ‘The Author of The Hibernian Father: An Early Colonial Playwright’, Australian Literary Studies Vol. 2 No. 4, pp.278-88). In the course of her detailed research she also discovered many of the other plays submitted to the Colonial Secretary.

We hold manuscripts for most of Geoghegan’s plays on SR Reels 29 and 2558. Now we also hold The Jew of Dresden on SR Reel 2909.

More information on the plays submitted to the Colonial Secretary

Spotlight on Dalgety - A local history case study

View the Gallery
Dalgety - a local history study

Many of the visitors to the reading rooms at State Records are undertaking some form of local history research, such as the anniversary of a school or the beginnings of a town.  Local History is such a broad term that can cover so many aspects of a suburb or town and as such, the number of records that may be relevant can be spread over a number of government agencies.

This month sees a new addition to the Digital Galleries – a Local History Case Study on Dalgety.  This new gallery showcases the different types of records that may be located in the State archives for local history research.  To complement the records there are tips and tactics about how to undertake this research.  There is also a worked example of the process of finding correspondence in the Lands Department records.   Another section on the Gallery page includes records relating to Dalgety as a possible site for the Federal Capitol.  To complement the records about the early period of the town there are a number of records relating to local personalities, such as Amos Crisp Senior, Richard and Mary Barnes and Jerome Quill.

Dalgety is the last surviving town on the banks of the Snowy River in New South Wales.  The historic township, although small, has a lot of features that immediately strike any visitors: there is the Buckleys Crossing Bridge completed in 1888; the Imperial Hall, the Buckleys Crossing Hotel and the showgrounds are all on one intersection; and the Our Lady Star of the Sea Church perched on the hill overlooking the town.  On the Gallery page photos of some of the local sites are alongside the records and maps of the town. 


In Living Memory logoThe In Living Memory NSW tour has now come to a close, however the original version is still on display at State Records Gallery in The Rocks. Exhibition Talks & Tours are available for small groups of 5-20 people, weekdays between 10 am and 4 pm.

There will also be a display of photo albums from the exhibition at the NSW Teachers Federation Aboriginal Members Conference on Saturday 21 May 2001 at NSW Teachers Federation House, 37 Reservoir Street, Surry Hills.

In Living Memory exhibition
State Records Gallery
Sydney Records Centre
2 Globe Street (off George Street)
The Rocks
9am - 5pm, Mon - Fri
10 am - 4pm, Sat
Closed public holidays

Enquiries & Exhibition Tour bookings (02) 8247 8609

How you can stay up-to-date with State Records news

On our website

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FacebookWe post updates, events and much more here


YouTubeWe have also added some in-house videos such as “The Criminal Underworld of Sydney in the 1840s” and “Family History at State Records NSW”

Upcoming talks and tours

Presentation as part of a Positive Aging Program

Resources online in the reading rooms of State Records. Presenter: Lindsay Allen
5 April 10.30am-12.30pm
Singleton Public Library
8-10 Queen Street, Singleton
Contact: Sharon Muir
Phone: 6578 7513

Probates and Deceased Estates

Lindsay Allen will present how to find a Will and what the difference is between a Will and a deceased estate file.
5 April 7.30pm-8.30pm
Newcastle Family History Society – Mechanics Institute, Elder Street Lambton
Contact: Ray Keast-Jones
Phone: 4955 8384 or 0408 558 384

Convicts and Colonists – An overview of the ‘boat people 1788-1922’

This talk presented by Christine Yeats will explore the records relating to the arrival of convicts, free settlers and others and their occupation of the Colony.
19 April 10.00am-4.00pm
Springwood Baptist Church Hall, cnr Macquarie Road and Homedale Street
Contact: Jan Koperberg

Looking for convict records

Gail Davis will be presenting on ‘Looking for convict records at the State archives: Searching for convicts in your family history’. This is a Heritage Festival event to be held at Albion Park Library.
15 April 11.00am-1.00pm
Albion Park Library
Contact: Janelle Cundy
Phone: 42 216273

Land records – Making the best use of the NSW State archives

Wendy Gallagher will present an overview of the rich resources in the NSW State archives relating to land occupation and ownership.
30 April 1.30pm-3.30pm
Undercroft, Camden Civic Centre, Oxley Street Camden
Contact: Ray Herbert
Phone: 9606 6075 or 0417 223 263

Information Awareness Month – Mawson and Antarctic Exploration

To mark the 100th anniversary of Mawson's 1911 Australian Antarctic Expedition, State Records and the Royal Australian Historical Society will host an all-day seminar on the history of Antarctic exploration. Speakers from the Australian Antarctic Division, National Archives of Australia, Australian National Maritime Museum and independent historians. Fee $18.00 includes lunch.
12 May 2.00pm-7.00pm
History House, 133 Macquarie Street Sydney
Phone: 9247 8001

Digitised records of the LPMA

Dr Terry Kass and Dr Lesley Muir will present a CPD session on the recently digitised records of the Land and Property Management Authority, including SIX and PIXEL resources that are available at State Records' reading rooms. This event is organised by the Professional Historians Association (PHA) NSW. The cost is $10.00 for PHA NSW members and $15.00 for non-members.
20 May 10.30am-12.30pm
City Reading Room
Contact: PHA NSW Secretary
Phone: 9252 9437

Plundering the secrets buried deep in State Records

Christine Yeats will explore some of the detours that may take you around those brick walls in your family history research.
21 May 9.00am-4.00pm
Panthers, Port Macquarie
Contact: Brian Panisset

Education records including pupils and teachers

Christine Yeats will explore some of the untapped sources in the NSW State archives relating to schools, pupils and teachers.
28 May 10.30am-12.30pm
Richmond Villa, 120 Kent Street Sydney
Contact: Society of Australian Genealogists
Phone: 9247 3953

For further information check the online events program or ring Lindsay Allen on (02) 9673 1788.