What do a teddy bear, a dress pattern and a feeding cup have in common?

They are all part of the Red Cross NSW Division Archive.


ANZAC Buffet tin cup

The Red Cross NSW Division ran an Anzac Buffet in Sydney's Domain from 1916-1919. 

The State Library of NSW is honoured to be the recipient and custodian of the Red Cross NSW Archive. This invaluable collection of records documents the creation, growth and evolution of one of the state’s premier community organisations.

The Red Cross was established within 9 days of Australia entering World War 1. It inspired and organised thousands of volunteers (mostly women and girls) around the state to knit, sew, bake, pack and transport comfort parcels to the troops serving in Europe and the Middle East. It ran eleven convalescent homes in NSW for soldiers who returned with severe war injuries after both world wars. Red Cross volunteers helped post-war migrants settle in Australia and escorted evacuees from Darwin, in the aftermath of Cyclone Tracy, to hospitals in Sydney.

Today Red Cross volunteers serve the community in a range of ways including assisting at their life-saving blood bank, knitting trauma teddies and running Good Start breakfast clubs for children in low socio-economic parts of the state.

The Red Cross is such an integral part of the fabric of our community that its achievements can be easily overlooked. By donating its archive to the State Library, the Red Cross NSW Division has ensured its records will be available for existing and future researchers. Over the next two years, the State Library will work with Red Cross Archive volunteers to systematically catalogue, digitise and transfer the collection to the Library and make it available online.

V.A.D. procession Red Cross Day 28th April 1918 / Photo taken by Jas Spence, Turramurra from top of Library Building,
View collection item detail

Knitted Trauma Teddy

The idea of giving handmade teddy bears to victims of traumatic events was started by a police officer in Campbelltown, NSW.

The archive includes:

Approximately 7432 photographs 
86 framed images
30 boxes of objects and memorabilia (eg. Collection tins, badges, teddy bears)
341 boxes of branch records
22 boxes of committee minutes
49 boxes of papers relating to Voluntary Aid Detachments of posters
30 boxes of Red Cross publications
3 boxes of publicity posters

Further reading:

The Power of Humanity: 100 years of the Australian Red Cross 1914-2014, by Melanie Oppenheimer.

100 years of Red Cross donated to NSW State Library, Media Release, 12 August 2016.

A women’s organisation, State Library of NSW, Blog post, 16 February 2018.

'A Company of Volunteers': The Red Cross, New South Wales Division, State Library of NSW, Blog post, 5 December 2018.

Red Cross under the Southern Cross, Professor Melanie Oppenheimer, This article first appeared in SL magazine Summer 2016–17.

Hula girls and teddy bears: Red Cross posters tell many stories, State Library of NSW, Blog post, 19 December 2017. 

Voluntary Aids in the First World War, State Library of NSW, Blog post, 27 October 2017.

Red Cross calling!, State Library of NSW, Blog post, 28 September 2017.

Sydney’s Anzac Buffet, State Library of NSW, Blog post, 4 March 2016.