NSW State Archives eNewsletter - ISSUE 120 September 2022

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are advised that the following newsletter may contain names and images of people who have passed away.

Index to Colonial Secretary Letters Received, 1826-1896

We are thrilled and delighted to provide online access to the Colonial Secretary: Index to Letters Received, 1826-96 (the Joan Reese Index).

This select index was compiled by Joan Reese, Linda Bowman and Aileen Trinder. It was first published on microfiche as the NSW Colonial Secretary's In Letters Index, 1826-1896, based on Joan Reese's Convicts and Others Index, 1826-1894.

The index covers the Colonial Secretary; NRS 905, Main series of letters received, 1826-1896. The Colonial Secretary was the pre-eminent figure in public life during much of the 19th Century. The papers of this office are among the most valuable sources of information on all aspects of the history of the Colony and the State of NSW. The index includes papers on matters as varied as:
  • Convicts
  • Immigration
  • Admission and discharges of children into and out of orphan schools and the industrial and training schools
  • Warrants for admission to and notification of death/discharge from asylums
  • Memorials or petitions from inhabitants of towns and villages including their signatures
  • Applications for burials in the Devonshire Street and Camperdown cemeteries
  • Government employees
  • Lists of Aboriginal people in particular areas and lists of blankets distributed to Aboriginal people
  • Maps, plans, sketches and tracings
  • Apprehension of bushrangers and runaways
  • Reports, printed circulars and By-Laws for various localities
  • Military, Military Forces and Regiments
You can search the index via our Online Indexes and Collection Search using name, locality and place as a search term. We are offering a copy order service for this index. See our guide for more information about the index, how it was compiled and tips for searching.

The index is an extraordinary achievement and has been a labour of love for Joan Reese, Linda Bowman and Aileen Trinder. To all three, Joan, Linda and Aileen, our great thanks and appreciation for all the work that has been done on this remarkable finding aid to a valuable part of the State Archives Collection.

Museums of History NSW

NSW Parliament has recently passed a Bill that has paved the way for the creation of a new cultural institution focused on the history of the state.

The Museums of History NSW Bill 2022 creates a new Museums of History NSW Act 2022, amends the State Records Act 1998, and establishes Museums of History NSW (MHNSW), the first cultural institution in the state with history as its core mandate.

Read more about MHNSW.


Sydney Rare Book Week


Sydney Rare Book Week is being held  from 24-28 October with an exciting free program of events celebrating special collections and literature, at a number of cultural institutions and businesses across Sydney.

There are exhibition tours, workshops, talks and more (including our own talk on stationery binding).

Registration for each talk is essential.

Sydney Rare Book Week talk


Stationery bindings—books intended to be written in—are often characterised by a tendency towards durability and function over beauty. Encompassing ledgers, account books and notebooks, these ‘work horse’ volumes were almost completely bound by hand and reinforced to withstand heavy use; this utility often came at the expense of the tooling, detail and grandeur of other binding types.

This talk, however, offers a different perspective by presenting intricately bound examples and ornamental lacing patterns found in the our collection.

Join Conservator Dominique Moussou and Archivist Bonnie Wildie for this talk on the work of the Government Printing Office, view collection highlights showcasing these intricate bindings, and participate in a hands-on session exploring vellum lacing patterns.

This is an event for Sydney Rare Book Week

Stationery binding: Intricate examples from the NSW State Archives Collection
Wednesday 26 October 2022

Western Sydney Records Centre
161 O'Connell Street



Conditional Purchase Records webinar - now online

Conditional purchase was a process of obtaining a Crown Grant of land in NSW before it was surveyed.

Watch as we discuss how to navigate this tricky area of research.


Sydney Open - tickets available


For the weekend of 5-6 November, unlock the doors of historically significant, architecturally inspiring, contemporary and secret spaces usually off-limits to the general public across the CBD and Greater Sydney.  

Tickets for Sydney Open are now available.

Buy your tickets now!

Image: © James Horan for Sydney Living Museums.


New website coming

Stay tuned - something exciting is on its way!
Keep a look a look out for the new Museums of History NSW (MHNSW) website. Just like MHNSW, the new website will bring together the vast collection held by the NSW State Archives and the 12 museums and associated collections cared for by Sydney Living Museums.

We'll have more to show and tell you in the coming months.

Upcoming mini-webinar

While we don't hold records of patients in private hospitals in our collection, there are records you can use to find out more about the hospitals themselves.

This webinar will examine the records that inform us about the operation of private hospitals in the 19th and early 20th centuries.  

Private hospital records mini-webinar
Friday 14 October 2022

Register for more of our webinars!


First Nations Speaker Series

Hear fascinating discussions from contemporary authors, artists, curators, designers, and part of the First Nations Speaker Series, presented by Sydney Living Museums (SLM) in collaboration with GML Heritage and the Research Centre for Deep History at the Australian National University.

The upcoming talk features historian and curator, Dr Leah Lui-Chivizhe a Torres Strait Islander with enduring family connections to the eastern and western Torres Strait.

Bookings essential.

Stories from the archives


The French have been integral to the Australian story since European colonisation. Escaped convicts from New Caledonia, wool buyers from Lille, Roubaix and Tourcoing, gold-diggers, artisans, teachers and café owners, they were not always the crème de la crème.

Winner of the NSW Premiers' History Awards, Australian History PrizeFrench Connection provides a fascinating insight into how the culture of Frenchness influenced a new nation anxious to prove itself to the world. What did Australian colonists see when they looked to France? How much did the French presence in the Pacific loom over such ideas? And what did the French in Australia themselves make of it all?

Alexis Bergantz uncovers the little known and often surprising history of the French in nineteenth-century Australia and their role in creating a more connected and cosmopolitan nation.


Our address:
Museums of History NSW
Western Sydney Records Centre
161 O'Connell Street
Kingswood, NSW 2747

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