Archives Outside

For people who love, use and manage archives

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

Digitisation decisions – State Records needs you!


Vote and have your say

Update: Poll now Closed. Thanks for Your Participation.

Here at State Records NSW we are looking at developing a digitisation strategy to cover the next 10 years. The aim is to select material to digitise and make available through our website (much like Sentenced beyond the Seas). One of the core selection criteria for this process is Access and this is where we need your help. We need you to tell us what you want!

If you’d like to participate please select up to 10 items you would like to see digitised from the survey below and click the “done” button to submit.

While we are aware that the survey will allow you to select more than 10 items only the first 10 items selected will be counted.

The survey will run until 1 October 2014 and we’ll publish the results once it’s done. Thanks for your assistance!

(NB For those of you wondering why some of your favourite series are missing they may be covered by one of the two other criteria we are using for selection; Preservation & Iconic e.g. Convict Indents are Iconic and are covered by that criteria. Please  ask in the comments if you would like to clarify if something is covered.)

Link love in the GLAM sector [June]

Here are some of the online sites we’ve been exploring this month.

Digitisation’s Most Wanted

What are the most commonly accessed digitised items from heritage organisations? Even asking the question leads to further understanding about the current digitisation landscape……….

……These results, from very different institutions, invite discussions on shallow versus deep engagement with digital collections. Some examples of commonly accessed material are what we would think of as part of the Canon of Digitised Content: Shakespeare, Newton, Medieval Manuscripts. Some examples of commonly accessed material here can be taken as little more than clickbait – LOL! History! – or free reference material – its a free Malaysian Dictionary! Bonus! – but is getting people through the virtual door to digitised collections in this way, and through these items, such a bad thing? Come for the Dog with the pipe in its mouth! stay for the genealogy, then the discussions on palaeographic method!

Check out the answers and resulting discussion!


Crowdsourcing Grows Up: 7 Indicators it’s here to stay

It’s been almost ten years since James Surowiecki published The Wisdom of Crowds, which launched the notion that there was wisdom, and indeed robust solutions to be harvested from “crowds” that far exceeded comparable individual efforts.

According to Surowiecki, these key criteria separate wise crowds from irrational ones:

Diversity of opinion
Each person should have private information even if it’s just an eccentric interpretation of the known facts.
People’s opinions aren’t determined by the opinions of those around them.
People are able to specialize and draw on local knowledge.
Some mechanism exists for turning private judgments into a collective decision.

In parallel, aggregation platforms – often called Idea Management software were coming into being and in the decade since have matured, grown up, and become standard operating procedure for businesses solving problems of all kinds via crowdsourcing.

Read more


The Differences between Digital History and Digital Humanities

Scholars exploring digital media and technology have gained much from emphasizing what they have in common, particularly in a context when such explorations enjoyed at best tenuous recognition within disciplinary settings. However, in recent years the consistent presence of digital sessions at the annual conferences of the AHA and OAH, as well as of smaller organizations such as the Southern Historical Association, the Urban History Association and the International Congress on Medieval Studies, testify to a growing recognition that digital media and technology are part of scholarly practice. But that recognition does not mean that most historians have explored what can be done with digital tools, are equipped to do so, or are even convinced that those tools have anything to offer their own research and teaching.
Read more about the debate

Off with their Heads?: Matchbooks in Archives

I have a special spot in my heart for oddball items in the archives.  When a colleague approaches me with a question such as: “Nora, we have artists’ matchbooks! Should we remove them? Will they spontaneously ignite? Will someone try to light them and set fire to the archives accidentally, or worse, on purpose?!,” I delight in putting my creative problem-solving mind to work.  Also, I get to learn new words, such as phillumeny (the hobby of collecting matchbox labels, printed matchbox outers, matchboxes, matchbook covers, matchbooks, and other forms of match packaging).

Learn more at The Bigger Picture blog

Results #WW1archives June 10 2014

What a great day we had on June 10, 2014, celebrating International Archives Day with the Twitter event #WW1archives!
Lots of archives, liraries, museums, other heritage organisations and tweeps participated, tweeting about the First World War in their archives or private collections.

Find out how it went



What we’ve been digitising in the #Archives

There are several digitisation projects happening here at State Records – some have been recently completed, others are long-term and will continue well into next year.

Recently completed

1954 Royal Tour

The Royal tour of Australia by Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip, Duke of Edinburgh began in Sydney on 3 February 1954 and finished two months later in Fremantle, Western Australia on 1 April 1954.

This album shows images from the Sydney part of the tour, dated 3-18 February 1954, showing the Royal couple and decorations and illuminations of public buildings and parks.

Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh are greeted upon arrival at Farm Cove, Sydney for the Royal Visit, 1954 Sydney Streets decorated for the Royal Visit, 1954

Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh at the opening of NSW Parliament - Royal Visit, 1954 Sydney Harbour Bridge illuminated for the Royal Visit, 1954

Gloucester Police Station

Images are available in Archives Investigator.

showing for each day the type of duty in which each policeman, and where relevant his horse, was engaged. The special occurrences column records such details as visits from senior police officers; transfers of staff; stores received; reports of crimes committed; warrants and summonses issued.
description from Archives Investigator

Diary of duty and occurrences at the Gloucester Police Station during the week ending the 10th day of July 1880

Long term projects

School photos

The History Unit of the Department of School Education collected these photographs when preparing school histories, research for public relations, or giving presentations. The collection consists mainly of photographic prints showing school buildings, pupils, teachers, or educational activities. Most include an identifying caption and date.

There are c.900 photos available in Photo Investigator and many more to come. The photos are arranged in alphabetical order by school and we are currently up to “C”.

Note that only material out of copyright will be available online.

Chakola Public School - Education Gazette - rough plan of school area at Public School Chakola showing plantation of trees and shrubs, 1 Feb 1922. Digital ID 15051_a047_002775  Adaminaby Public School c.1905. Digital ID 15051_a047_000019

Alma Public School - opening of new playground for infants department. Digital ID 15051_a047_000142 Balmain Trade School - engineering workshop. Digital ID 15051_a047_000625
We’ll have another digitisation update soon.

What do you want from us?

Here at Archives Outside we’ve been coming up with some creative ideas about posts we’d like to bring you in 2014. However, it’s not really about us, it’s about you. We’d love to hear from you and know about the type of posts you’d like to see on the blog. Here is a quick survey. Please let us know what you want!

[polldaddy poll=7801517]

Scenic photos and ghosts in the archives – radio interview with State Records

Our Creative Producer, Susan Charlton, was interviewed recently on the ABC 702 Morning Show with Linda Mottram. She spoke about a series of photos in our collection that you’d be familiar with – NRS 12932, Original prints used in NSW trains, c.1935-c.1969

Susan has put the photos together for a slideshow-travelogue called Archive of Mesmersing Views which is being presented at the Penrith Regional Gallery, 2pm this Saturday 8 February.

Archive of Mesmerising Views

Linda Mottram blogged about these scenic photos and there is also a link to the interview in the post. Susan has a great voice for radio, don’t take our word for it, it’s mentioned in the interview!

Create an app EOI for the Scott Sisters collection and enter to win $15,000! #apps4nsw

Embedded image permalink

The Competition

apps4nsw is a program of events to encourage the use of NSW Government data to create innovative web and mobile applications.  It is currently running an online EOI (Expression of Interest Competition) in which entrants are asked to develop a concept for an app to meet one of two challenges. One of the challenges is posed by the Australian Museum and involves developing an EOI for an app to make the world of scientific illustration, in this case the Scott Sisters collection, accessible to a wide audience.

The Scott Sisters collection

Original watercolour by Helena Scott (AMS193/3) - Bent-wing swift moth - Reproduced with the kind permission of the Australian Museum Archives

The Scott sisters collection is a collection of illustrations, diaries, manuscripts, published books, social histories and botanical and insect specimens from the 1840s to 1890s linked to current data on Australian moths, butterflies and plants. The Australian Museum curated an exhibition of the Scott Sisters work in 2011.

Turn back the pages as you uncover the captivating story of these two extraordinary women whose love of nature and tremendous skill in rendering its beauty enabled them to distinguish themselves amid the male-dominated world of 19th century science.

The highlight of the exhibition is the 60 watercoloured paintings created between 1846 and 1851 for their father A.W Scott’s landmark publication Australian Lepidoptera and their Transformations.

Further information about the collection and the Scott family can be found on the Australian Museum website.

Submissions close: 2 December 2013

Ready, Set, Go!



Hey, all you cricket tragics, do you know your cricket history?

If you like sport and history you might like this news article from The West Australian highlighting an early sketch of a cricket game, dated 1834. Interestingly, the sketch is from a surveyor’s field book – held in the West Australian State Records Office – and includes other drawings of early colonial life.

It was discovered during a digitisation project and is possibly the earliest Australian sketch of the game. It just goes to show there are many hidden treasures in the archives.

One of the figures appears to be dressed in a sailor’s clothing and has just bowled a cricket ball….

At the other end of the pitch, a batsman awaits, bat raised, in what could be the earliest known depiction of a game of cricket in Australia…

The drawing, in a WA surveyor’s field book dated 1834, has come to light during work by the State Records Office to digitise colonial surveyors’ field books held in the State archives.

Check it out, underarm bowling!

Thanks to Archives Live for the original post.

Digital Imagery as a Tool for Historical Research

HRCP3851 Watering the horses

William Oates from the University of New England Heritage Centre, a frequent contributor to Archives Outside, recently gave a talk on using digital images as a tool for historical research. It is a wide ranging talk using some great images as examples. Bill also gives Archives Outside a shoutout (thanks Bill!) and references some of the crowdsourcing posts from the blog.

 Access the talk

To Access the talk click on the link below. Scroll through the list of talks and select the talk titled, William Oates – Digital Imagery as Tools for Historical Research.

William Oates-Digital Imagery as Tools for Historical Research

 Archives Outside resources mentioned in the talk


Get your skates on and check out our new favourite blog

The team at CSU Regional Archives, Wagga Wagga have put together a blog On Record @ CSU Regional Archives featuring posts based on items in their collection. Here is a sample of their work.


Roller skating has proven to be a favourite pastime for the people of Wagga Wagga, with a number of skating rinks existing in the town over the years.

This keenness for skating is supported by the fact that during the winter months of 1888 there was enough interest to necessitate the existence of two competing skating rinks. The first to open on May 7, 1888 was the Wagga Roller Skating Rink located in the Freemason’s Hall, and was followed by the Victoria Skating Rink on June 1, 1888 which saw the Albion Flour Mill on the corner of Kincaid and Trail Street transformed into a first class skating floor.

Read more