State Library’s magnificent six together for first time!

Friday 5 October 2018

First Fleet journals, personal accounts of World War One, Dorothea Mackellar’s hand‐written poem about her beloved ‘sunburnt country’ … the State Library of NSW’s most internationally recognised collections will go on public display together for the first time from this Saturday 6 October.

According to State Librarian Dr John Vallance: “The Library has not one but six amazing collections that have been recognised by UNESCO as unique and irreplaceable ‘memories of the world’.

UNESCO Six is the first exhibition to open in the State Library’s beautiful new galleries, a major highlight of the recently transformed Mitchell Building.

The Library’s six UNESCO Memory of the World collections are:

First Fleet journals: the Library holds 10 of the 15 First Fleet journals known to exist in the world, written by men of different rank. They provide fascinating insights into shipboard life, the convicts, officers and crew, ports of call, discipline, injuries and deaths and daily life in the colony.

Dorothea Mackellar’s poetry notebook ‘Verses 1907‐1908’: ‘Core of My Heart’ (‘My Country’) ca 1907, Dorothea Mackellar. The only known manuscript version of Mackeller’s iconic poem ‘Core of My Heart’ (‘My Country’) ca 1907, written in its original form, was recorded in this notebook.

World War One diaries: 236 personal diary collections of Australian soldiers were acquired by the Library in 1918, as part of the ‘European war collecting project’ established by the Principal Librarian at the time, William Ifould. Since then, the Library has continued to collect WWI material.

Internment papers from 1914–1919: This collection illustrates one of the lesser-known aspects of the home front during WWI. It contains the diaries, personal papers, drawings and glass photo negatives of some of the 7,000 mainly German and Austro‐Hungarian ‘enemy aliens’ interned in camps in Australia.


Holtermann photographic collection: this collection contains 3,500 glass plate negatives which capture the goldrush towns (including Hill End and Gulgong) and its people in NSW and Victoria – as well as stunning promotional shots of Sydney and Melbourne – from 1870 to 1875. Few photographic collections such as this have survived anywhere in the world.

Giant Glass Plate Negatives of Sydney Harbour: the Holtermann Collection includes three giant views of Sydney Harbour – the largest measuring over 1.3 metres wide, They were captured from a purpose‐built tower in 1875 for an ambitious publicity campaign, funded by Bernhardt Otto Holtermann (of Holtermann nugget fame) to sell the wonders of the Australia to the world.

Download full media release (176 KB PDF)