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Voyages of Discovery

Europeans had been searching for rich new lands in the Southern Hemisphere long before Captain James Cook arrived on the east coast of Australia in 1770. Explore the State Library's incredible maps, journals, drawings and books to understand how the pieces of our continent were gradually put together.

Love letters

In the current era of instant digital communication, letters between long-distance lovers have a particular poignancy.

Through Darwin's eyes

Australia played an important role in Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution.

A distant paradise for Dickens

Charles Dickens saw Australia as a utopia for the working class — and his wayward sons.

The book that Joseph Banks burned

An eccentric French nobleman, a letter about Cook’s Endeavour voyage and an enduring bibliographic mystery come together in the Library’s Banks collection. 

The 1954 Royal Tour of Queen Elizabeth II

When this 27 year old sailed into Sydney harbour on 3 February 1954, she practically stopped the nation. 

Pan-Pacific Modernist

Stylish and talented architect-designer Douglas Snelling introduced modern American living styles to aspirational Sydneysiders after the Second World War.

Mother Country

A century ago most Australians were swept up in the second conscription plebiscite of December 1917.

Splendid Species

The Library is delighted to announce the complete digitisation of its renowned "pattern" set of 681 folio-sized plates for  'The Birds of Australia' by John Gould. 

Origins of the State Library of New South Wales

Between 1826 and 1869 the Australian Subscription Library was reshaped into a Free Public Library.

The Cruise of 'The Freak'

The 1872 record of Rev. Brownrigg's travels through the islands of the Furneaux Group.

Reconstructing the Holtermann

What do you do when one of the world’s largest wet-plate glass negatives, weighing over 30 kilos, smashes into hundreds of pieces?

Andre Breton early Surrealist publications

Between 1919 and 1930  Andre Breton published experimental texts that defined the Surrealist movement.

The Randolph Hughes Collection

French literature and Pre-Raphaelite works 1800-1950

Decoration and Glass magazine

Decoration and Glass, a magazine for home builders, architects and decorators has been digitised in colour as part of the Library’s Digital Excellence Program. 

Australian Photo Review

 The longevity of the Australian Photo-Review marks it as the most significant in terms of insights into the development of photography in Australia 1894 through to the last issue which appeared in December 1956. It is now available online.