Red Cross

One of the country's oldest and most prolific volunteer organisations is the Australian Red Cross Society

The First World War was a catalyst for many things, including one of Australia’s most enduring and influential voluntary organisations.

Nine days after Australia joined the war in Europe in 1914, Lady Helen Munro Ferguson, the wife of the Governor General, founded the Australian Red Cross Society as a branch of the British Red Cross. Over the next century, the organisation expanded with networks of state divisions and local branches run by women. The NSW Division led the way by forming the Junior Red Cross. 

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Red Cross nurses and troops outside Albury Town Hall, NSW

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.


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  • New acquisitions
Eleanor MacKinnon (left) and Lady Strickland (right) accompanied by two female members of the Junior Red Cross at Government House, Sydney.

A women's organisation

The Library has received a donation which honours the role of women in the Australian Red Cross, and their leadership in Australian society in the early 20th Century.


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Phyllis Jenkins and Lady Galleghan with Red Cross Voluntary Aid Detachment trophies, 1970s

A Company of Volunteers

Pillar of Australia - the Red Cross, New South Wales Division

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Red Cross poster with detail

Hula girls and teddy bears

In 2016, the State Library of New South Wales was given the honour and responsibility of becoming the custodian of Red Cross Australia NSW Division’s archive.


The collection commences in 1914, when the Australian Branch of the British Red Cross Society was formed in response to the outbreak of World War I, and continues until 2014 when the organisation celebrated its centenary. It comprises photographs, manuscripts, memorabilia, framed pictures, branch records, Red Cross publications and posters.

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Mytle Innes and M. Ruse take in the laundry at Rose Hall convalescent home in Darlinghurst, c. 19??

Voluntary Aids in the First World War

Red Cross women volunteered at military hospitals, convalescent homes and children's homes in Australia during the First World War.


  • New acquisitions
Ariah Park (near West Wyalong) Branch records, including minute books, catering ledgers and honour certificates, Box 5.

Red Cross calling!

From Billinudgel to Yalgogrin, and from Girilambone to Vincentia . . .

  • State Library of NSW
A concret plaque under a fig tree in Sydney's Domain which commemorates the Anzac Buffet from World War One.

Sydney's Anzac Buffet

Early in 1916, four entrepreneurial and influential women agitated to set up an ‘Anzac Buffet’ in Sydney's Domain. 


Related Content

HMS glory

Research guide to Red Cross and WWI collections

Photograph of leather bound journals and diaries

World War I collection

The Library began collecting the personal diaries and correspondence of men and women who served in the First World War soon after the Armistice was declared in November 1918.