History

18th Century and before

19th Century

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 Bowman flag

Our first coat of arms? The first recorded use of the kangaroo and emu supporting a shield is found on the Bowman Flag of 1806.

Architecture: nineteenth-century Sydney

Convict architect Francis Greenway was convinced of the importance of architecture to the development of early Sydney.

Governor Arthur's Proclamation to the Aborigines

The Proclamation Board (1828-1830) is a four-strip pictogram aimed to communicate that those who committed violent crimes, be they Aboriginal  Australian or colonist, would be punished.

Looking east: Darling Point and beyond

Sydney Harbour's natural beauty has always enticed residents to settle on its foreshores.

The cruise of 'The Freak'

A missionary voyage through the Bass Strait, Tasmania.

150 years ago: the Free Public Library

In 2019, we celebrate the 150th anniversary of a vital public institution.

20th Century

Henry Lawson: poet of the people

A writer wrote of the hearts of men, and he followed their tracks afar;

For his was a spirit that forced his pen to write of the things that are.

Alec Chisholm: bush naturalist and benign nationalist

Alec Chisholm (1890–1977) was once famous in Australia. Although that’s no longer so, he’s a man worth remembering.

Bodyline cricket series, 1932-33

The controversial cricket series where England introduced an aggressive bowling style.

 

Andre Breton: early Surrealist publications

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

Mother Country

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

Red Cross under the Southern Cross

The Australian Red Cross NSW Division archive spans over 100 years of humanitarian aid.

Antarctica: modern adventures

Like many other nations, Australia was looking to the future after the turmoil of the Second World War. Several countries saw Antarctica as a potential source of territory, fishing and mineral resources.