Archives Outside

For people who love, use and manage archives

Archives Outside - For people who love, use and manage archives

State on a Plate

What we mean by New South Wales in the 21st century is something quite different from what it meant in 1788, 1825 or 1859.

Our Senior Archivist, Context and Documentation was fortunate to come across this wonderful ceramic plate showing maps of the Australian colonies or states with the caption ‘Australia 1980 Growth of a Nation.’



But why does what we mean by New South Wales even matter?


The Colony of New South Wales (Organisation 1) in 1788 covered the area between latitudes 10 degrees 37 minutes south [Cape York] to 43 degrees 39 minutes south [South Cape]. It even included the adjacent islands so both Van Diemen’s Land, Norfolk Island and New Zealand’s North Island and half of its South Island  were part of New South Wales. Hence the earliest records for the settlements on these islands are New South Wales records.


1825 (Tasmania)

Van Diemen’s Land became a separate colony in 1825 but prior to this had no superior court so prisoners often had to travel to New South Wales for their cases to be heard in the Criminal Court in Sydney (Agency 535) or the NSW Deputy Judge Advocate had to travel to Hobart or Launceston to hear cases there. Hence some of the earliest court records relating to those residing in Tasmania can be found in New South Wales records (eg. NRS 2708).


1851 (Victoria)

Similarly the Port Phillip District of New South Wales did not become the Colony of Victoria until 13 July 1851. So the earliest immigration records for Victoria from 1839 to 1851 are records of the Colony of New South Wales. Just look at the online Immigration index.


1859 (Queensland)

What about Queensland? Well it was the Moreton Bay District of New South Wales prior to 6 June 1859. Once again the earliest records belong to New South Wales. Think of the Commissioner of Crown Lands for the Darling Downs (Agency 3500) or the Moreton Bay Penal Establishment (Agency 2101).


Northern Territory

Even the area now known as the Northern Territory was part of New South Wales. Are there any New South Wales colonial records though? Emphatically yes! There was the Fort Wellington Settlement at Raffles Bay from 1826 which was abandoned in 1829 and another settlement at Port Essington (Agency 2887) from 1838 to 1849 when it too was abandoned. We hold records such as the Register of public labour performed daily at Fort Wellington (NRS 1092).


Western Australia

And don’t think New South Wales doesn’t have any records relating to Western Australia. After the Raffles Bay settlement was abandoned the folk there took off to King George’s Sound (Agency 2517)  to start again in December 1829. It remained a penal settlement until it became part of the Colony of Western Australia.


Australian Capital Territory

One late change to the borders of the State of New South Wales (Organisation 2) took place in 1911. That was when the Commonwealth of Australia took possession of the area now known as the Australian Capital Territory. Thus New South Wales has records relating to the selection of the site of Canberra (see our Guide to New South Wales State Archives relating to Responsible Government) and we have records relating to places which were part of the State prior to the transfer. Examples may be found in the School files (NRS 3829) listed in our online Schools index.


Understanding our changing borders can help us to understand what we can find in the archives of the State we now know as New South Wales!


Verso of Plate


Event: A morning tea with the Carrington Albums [Armidale]


Three stunning hand-painted leather-bound volumes from a collection more than a century old will be on public display in Armidale on Wednesday 5 November.

NSW State Records Director Geoff Hinchcliffe will visit the University of New England Heritage Centre — a State Records Regional Archive Centre — armed with three albums from the precious 22-volume Carrington collection, including one album featuring pages from  Tenterfield.
B“These fragile cloth-hinged albums, which only recently came into the public domain, were originally presented as a farewell gift to
Lord Carrington, Governor of New South Wales from 1885 to 1890,” Mr Hinchcliffe said.Elephant Crest

“Lord Carrington was a much respected Governor in the 1880s and the finely detailed illuminated borders, hand painted
illustrations and well-wishing messages from residents, towns and associations across the state included in the albums indicate the high regard in which he was held.

“The volumes also give valuable insight into the optimistic and patriotic sentiment of the time in the lead up to Federation, with many of the gilt-edged pages proudly depicting flora and fauna distinctive to a region, local agricultural scenes or streetscapes of burgeoning rural towns.”

In 2014 the descendants of Lord Carrington donated the volumes to the people of NSW and they were presented to State Records NSW by then Governor Marie Bashir.

Date:  Wednesday 5 November 2014

Time: 10.00am

Location: University of New England Heritage CentreCnr Dangar and Kentucky Streets

RSVP: By Friday 31  October 2014 (morning tea provided)

Contact details: Ph:(02) 6773 6555 email:

Carrington Volume 4


Local Treasures: The Rodoni Glass Negatives


Troops posing for a comical photograph after fall of German Papua, 1914 (Digitised from a Thomas James Rodoni Glass negative by Chris Fussell)

Gionni Di Gravio, Archivist of the University of Newcastle discusses plans for the recently donated glass negatives of the late Thomas James Rodoni that documented Australia’s first military conflict of the First World War, the fall of German New Guinea. The Collection also contains images from the lead up to the Great War, including what appears to be recruitment drives across Sydney and Newcastle. There are also images believed to be taken at places around Lithgow and Newcastle.

Learn more and view the stunning images at the University of Newcastle Cultural Collections blog.

University of Wollongong reflects on the Great War

UOW Reflects On The Great War Exhibition

On Monday I attended the opening of the UOW Reflects on the Great War exhibition. The exhibition exists both online and in physical form form at the University of Wollongong Library and incorporates a public program of presentations. It runs from 25 August to 3 October 2014.

Stories from during the First World War will be shared via a series of presentations by local experts as part of an exhibition in recognition of the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the war in 1914.

Hosted at the Panizzi Room, UOW Reflects On The Great War, draws on collections from the University library archives, the Illawarra Museum and other local collections.

Associate Professor John McQuilton, a co-curator of the exhibition, said the exhibition is intended for those who may have little knowledge of the war beyond Anzac and Gallipoli.

“The exhibition tells the story of the regional community during the Great War through artefacts, manuscripts, photographs and other materials. It shows the controversies and divisions evident during the war, and the cost of the war,” he said.

“It is often forgotten that communities were faced with the fact that this war brought with it the death of the young on a scale hitherto unknown,” he added.

Learn more

This is highly recommended! Don’t miss out!

Can you date this photograph? [WWI]

A slightly different Can you date? with an ANZAC theme.

These photos have been identified as ‘Army movement from Campbelltown 1914-1918 War’. They are part of a very diverse series of photographs, NRS 17420 State Rail Authority Archives Photographic Reference Print Collection.

We’d like to try and narrow down the date of these WWI photographs and if possible glean some more information about the uniforms being worn.

What are peoples thoughts? Can you date these photographs?

Larger versions on Flickr








We have many other undated photographs in Photo Investigator and on our Flickr account. If you know the dates or any other interesting facts about these images please let us know.

What are your Easter memories – church, show bags and chocolate eggs? [Easter Encampments]

In the late Nineteenth century Easter also meant military training at the ‘Easter Encampment’. Volunteers in the NSW military forces came together for mass training utilising the public holidays. Encampments were held from 1873 to 1900, although not every year. Camps for the infantry were held at Hamm Common near Richmond (1873), near Campbelltown (1874, 1891), Victoria Barracks at Paddington (1879, 1888, 1895, 1897), Windsor (1883, 1884), Middle Head and South Head (1885), the Royal National Park (1886, 1887, 1889, 1890), and Rookwood (1898, 1899). In 1900 a number of smaller camps in and around Sydney ended with a parade at Centennial Park. While the 1884 camp was attended by 1500 men, the 1898 camp hosted 5000 men.

Sergeants of the 2nd Regiment of the Voluntary Infantry. Easter Encampment

State Records NSW has a number of images of volunteers training and we believe these images are all from the one encampment at Windsor, in either 1883 (22-28 March) or 1884 (11-16 April). One of these images has definitely been identified as the encampment in 1884 by Bob Meade. Thank you, Bob. However other images have been identified as troops training for the 1885 Sudan contingent. We know that these images are taken after February 1883 when the new helmet plate was issued. This helmet plate featured the colony’s badge on a red background. The badge is still at the centre of the state’s coat of arms.

State Crest

Examples of the helmet plate can be found at the Australian War Memorial. (e.g OR’s white cloth covered helmet: New South Wales 1st Infantry Regiment ; Helmet plate : Sergeant S Holmes, 4 Regiment New South Wales Volunteer Infantry )

Colour Sergeant Milton

Work: Colour Sergeant Milton

 Weekending at Windsor

The Windsor camps were held at an area variously referred to in newspapers as Gosper’s Paddock, Windsor Farm and Fitzgerald’s Farm. In 1883 the area was described as a quarter a mile from the railway on the east of the town of Windsor, in a valley bounded on the north by the railway line, on the east by South Creek with its willow trees, and on the west by a common. The 1884 camp was held in approximately the same area but ‘its position is changed with advantage. It is on the crest of an elevation dipping at about 300 yards from the railway …'(SMH 11 Apr 1884, p6).

Photographs are known to have been taken of both Windsor encampments. In June 1883 it was reported that Mr Edward Day had been presented with an album of photographs of the 1883 camp, prepared under the direction of Major Richards, the Government Printer. Day was given the album for allowing his land to be used for training.  We know that Joseph Bischoff, the Public Works photographer, took images of the 1884 camp.

The newspapers of the time describe in detail the activities captured in these images – drill, parades, family day, and war games or mock battles. On Easter Sunday in 1883 four trainloads of visitors (estimated at 4,000 people) arrived and settled down to picnics while watching the mock fight. The 1884 camp attracted several thousand visitors on Saturday and Monday and featured mock attacks on Saturday and Monday in practice for a final battle on Tuesday. I wonder if the 30 rounds per man given to each soldier in 1884 for the mock battles means they were using live ammunition. Picnicking Victorian style, watching live bullets being fired!!!

Believed to be NSW volunteers Easter Encampment at Windsor April 1884 - spectators watching soldiers

Can you help us confirm that these images are at Windsor in 1884? Perhaps the lay of the land, the buildings in the distance, the type of rifles or artillery guns speaks to you? Any information welcomed!



Listen to State Records staff talk about travel and transport archives in our collection

On the State Records website we have uploaded several podcasts and accompanying slideshows presented by staff at Open Day back in August. As you know, the theme of the day was travel and transport and these presentations cover a broad selection under this category: from convict transport to railroads, cars and road construction.

Toot, toot!

Toot, toot!

What can you listen to?

1. The train that Thought it Could: Blue Mountains Railways

Looking at the development and expansion of the railway line through the Blue Mountains and how arrival of the Great Western Line saw a period of rapid growth for the towns along the railway.

Presenter: Suzanne Upton, Archivist, Public Access

2. Sentenced Beyond the Seas: Convicts transported to NSW, 1788-1801

State Records’ Sentenced beyond the Seas project revealed tales of convict fraud, the origins of Australia’s love of beer, executions and more. Join Janette to hear the tales of our earliest convicts from 1788 to 1801.

Presenter: Janette Pelosi, Senior Archivist

3. I’ve Been Workin’ on the Railroad: Family history gems in transport records

Highlighting some of the government transport employee records we hold such as railway personal history cards and registers of Tram employees. We also look at some Maritime Services Board records concerning qualifications and licensing.

Presenter: Gail Davis,Senior Archivist, Research, State Records NSW

4. Here Come the Cars!

Stories from the early history of Automobiles in NSW told through the eyes of prominent and seedy characters of NSW History. A showcasing of hidden automotive treasures of State Records NSW.

Presenter: John Cann, Archivist, Public Access

Still to come

Carrying the Load: Transport in NSW during WWII

Despite the popular view that Australia was unprepared for war, material in the State archives proves NSW had been involved in national planning for many years before the ‘surprise’ attacks of 1942.

Presenter: Jennifer Sloggett, Archivist, Archives Control