Archives Outside

For people who love, use and manage archives

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

Can you date this photograph? [Farm Cove, Sydney HArbour]

With all the navy fleet goings on in Sydney Harbour over the past week, a ship themed can you date.

This is a view from the western side of Farm Cove looking north-east toward Fort Denison in Sydney Harbour.

Can you date this photograph?

Larger version 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.


Can you…name this road?

NRS 20024 is a series of albums from the Department of Main Roads.

The series titled “Photographs of metropolitan, country roads ferries etc., and miscellaneous operations, New South Wales” consists of photographs showing the construction and maintenance of roads in New South Wales between 1926 and 1946.

While most of the photographs have been well titled and dated. There are a few that have no information about the location photographed.

Are there any landmarks in these photos that could help us …. name this road?

Larger version on Flickr


Larger version on Flickr


Larger version on Flickr


Powerhouse Museum – Apply now: 2014 Regional Services Program (Applications close 27 September 2013)

struck by an idea


Applications for Mentorships and Internships from Powerhouse Museum

In less than two weeks applications will close for Expressions of Interest for the 2014 Regional Services program. If you would like assistance with a project, get collection advice from our experts, have a Powerhouse Museum presenter at a workshop, or undertake an internship placement or mentorship with staff of the Museum, please lodge an application by 27 September 2013. For further information see the guidelines and applications forms .

Can you date this….fire engine?

When trying to date photographs, a handy tool is to identify any vehicles that may be present in the image.

Here’s a unique vehicle that was part of the military vehicles display at State Records Open Day last Friday.

Can you date this fire engine?

Open day 30 August 2013

Thanks to the Museum of Fire for coming to our Open day and displaying part of their collection on the day!


“Gone but not forgotten”

20013_a035_06_17265000055 cropped bottles

Empty beer bottles on Norfolk Island, 1 December 1942, presumably emptied by DMR employees

During World War II the NSW Department of Main Roads built defence works for the Commonwealth government in the Northern Territory and Queensland and for the United States Army on Norfolk Island. It compiled photographs taken by its employees in albums, neatly labelling them.


Construction operations, Northern territory, 1940-1941.

I made use of these albums when putting together the World War II section of the Australia and War digital gallery. But I could only include a small number of these fascinating photographs. Now the albums have been digitised and are available through Photo Investigator. They record the construction methods and equipment, the working conditions and the effects of heavy rains on the work, as well as including picturesque touristy shots. They are well worth a look even if you are not into old cars and trucks.

20014_a037_06_17263000039 cropped

Plant bogged after rain, possibly Belyando River area, 1942-1943 (cropped image)


Music in the Archives!

While a few might think of the State archives including scripts of plays even fewer would think any music would be held in them. A rare find indeed is some music included in a manuscript play from the 1850s.

Rookwood music 319

The play in which the music was found is Rookwood, or, The Adventures of Dick Turpin and Tom King (NRS 980, [SZ57]). The manuscript play was submitted to the Colonial Secretary on 21 September 1850 by Gustavus Frederick Arabin, a colonial actor who had performed in places such as Hobart, Launceston and Sydney. The play was performed at the Royal Victoria Theatre in Sydney on 13 February 1851 as Rookwood, or, The Adventures of Dick Turpin and Death of Tom King.

Rookwood title 317

The music was found by Senior Archivist Janette Pelosi during her research for a conference on popular entertainments. Janette has researched the plays held by State Records and even a few  of the actors and actresses who played in them.

Another researcher with interests in colonial music is Graeme Skinner, musicologist, historian, and writer. Graeme’s Austral Harmony website includes a biographical register of many of the colonial performers as well as a chronological checklist of colonial compositions. Like many of us Graeme is a Trove aficionado.

Rookwood dramatis personae 318

When Janette found the music she asked Graeme whether it was a colonial piece. The answer is on his website . For those of us who can’t read music the tune is Greensleeves – think of ice cream van music!

Additional information

For more about the manuscript plays see