This report offers a review of recent significant acquisitions by the Library and of collecting activities. It does not describe the large volume of acquisitions of both Australian and overseas materials that are routinely acquired through deposit, purchase or donation.

Australian Publications


  • 2013 was a highly successful year for federal election collecting, with more ephemera collected than any previous federal election. Material was collected from 727 House of Representative candidates, 119 Senate candidates, and more than 50 lobby groups, as well as a smattering of unauthorized material circulated through letterboxes. The collection comprises 62 boxes, compared with 40 boxes for the 2010 federal election, and 41 boxes for the 2007 election. 104 coreflute posters have also been taken into the collection, as well as 29 t-shirts, eight metres of bunting, several hats, a life-sized cut-out of Bob Katter and a five-metre long billboard skin. Toys have included “Bony Abbott” and “Chewlia Gillard” dog toys and a political football. The Library’s collecting in this area provides a vital snapshot for researchers into Australia’s political culture, parties and debate, and particular effort is made to collect paper material which would otherwise be lost from the record.
  • A paper lace programme for a performance of Nellie Melba at Buckingham Palace on 28 June 1889, not long after her arrival in London in March 1886 and her big success in Romeo et Juliette at Covent Garden on what she later called “the great night of 15 June 1889.”
  • Lytlewode Press limited edition boxed set of Thirty-two bookplates by Andrew and Irena Sibley containing original bookplates. Andrew Sibley’s bookplates are handcoloured and signed by the artist. The late Irena Sibley plates carry a studio stamp. The main volume is bound in ostrich leather.
  • An 1885 Gibbs Shallard & Co colour lithographed Christmas card, with a sentimental poem and an illustration of a cockatoo swooping under the Southern Cross over a snow covered English village where a homesick Australian girl is dreaming of “golden sunshine” and the “merry cockatoo.” The verso features a black and white image of an Aboriginal child perched on an albatross delivering mail. We were able to date the card with the help of Trove digitised newspapers. The Goulburn Evening Penny Post for 7 November 1885 noted, “The brilliantly-plumaged cockatoo is given in full flight.” The Maitland Mercury & Hunter River General Advertiser for 3 November 1885 supplies the card’s order number, but is more critical: “In No. 401 the old world and the new are in a sense brought together. Poised in midair over an English village, where the earth is dumb with the Christmas snow, is an Australian white cockatoo. The design is good, but the execution might have been improved with advantage. It had been intended to suggest night, for the Southern Cross appears in the sky behind the bird, but the whole picture is too well lighted, and the bird does not exhibit the dazzling whiteness which is its characteristic, and of which so much should have been made by way of contrast. And there is a lack of softness in the work which is very notable.”
  • Copy no. 5 of Ockers (Katoomba, NSW: Wayzgoose Press, 1999), by the Melbourne performance poet π. O. [Pi O]. Conceived, designed and illustrated with linocuts by Mike Hudson and handset by Jadwiga Jarvis, this extraordinary over-the-top concertina folded production (over 11 metres in length) is the most highly regarded work of Wayzgoose Press, one of Australia’s most important private presses. The text (or score) was previously published in 1983 by Collective Effort Press, but this later rendition adds ‘comic strip’ pop art style graphics and bold typography in a wide range of mainly san serif types to orchestrate a full re-creation of the poet’s public performance pyrotechnics. A glossary of ockerisms provides a key for an international audience, while the work as a whole gives a definitive representation of the ocker culture of the 1970s and its appropriation by the advertising industry. Produced in an edition of 40 copies, with at least 16 now in institutional collections.
  • A silk programme for a Grand Concert held just slightly over 150 years ago on Tuesday, June 9th, 1863, at the recently re-opened Prince of Wales Theatre, Sydney, to benefit the Asylum for Destitute Children, Randwick. Impresario W. S. Lyster and his opera company artists volunteered their services for the evening, which was reviewed in the Sydney Morning Herald.
  • 45th Gurindji Freedom Day: 26-28 August 2011 a limited edition triptych of images originally reproduced as t-shirts and banners for the celebration of the anniversary of the ‘Walk Off’, an industrial dispute in which the Gurindji people walked off Wave Hill Station and started the modern land rights movement.

The Library acquired a few significant posters in the period:

  • A selection of 27 relatively recent circus posters from the 1970s to 2003 from well-known traditional circuses such as Ashtons, Burtons, Circus Royale, Silvers; unusual modern circuses, such as the Last Laugh Theatre Restaurant in Melbourne (which ran circus acts, including tightrope walking, above dining customers); the Albury-Wodonga based Flying Fruit Fly Circus (which features only human acts); a Bird Circus; and Circus Monoxide (which apparently combines circus with cabaret). A 1969 English poster from Robert Bros Circus was also acquired as it featured an Australian performer on an overseas tour, specifically a boxing kangaroo. Robert Bros specialized in training exotic circus animals and has been described as “one of the last great tenting outfits promoting performing animals on a grand scale in Britain.”
  • Two art deco posters: Gert Sellheim’s Sunshine and surf: Australia, c1936 and Percy Trompf’s Australia: million - peopled cities and a European environment!, c1935 added to the Library’s collection of Australian 1930s travel posters. The Trompf, which depicts a party overlooking Sydney Harbour, includes one of the earliest poster images of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Some interesting individual musical scores were acquired during this period including:

  • A copy of Dr Leichhardt’s march,  composed by his friend S.H. Marsh, published in 1846. This piece of piano music celebrates the return of the explorer Ludwig Leichhardt from his 1846 expedition and was composed by Stephen Hale Marsh (1805-1888), an accomplished musician and harpist and an important figure in the Australian music scene of this period. The cover has a fine lithograph of the expedition by W. Boosey.
  • A delightful 1938 manuscript score of ‘My wee koala bear’ - an original hand-written poem set to music by Marion Alsop-Greene. The front page has a beautiful watercolour of a koala and is labelled ‘Spring in the Australian bush’. It is believed that the score was originally given to the wife of Richard Tauber, the renowned Austrian tenor who was on tour in Melbourne at that time.

Online Publications

Overseas Publications

The Library has also continued to selectively acquire significant rare items and microfilm research material for the collection, both through purchase and donation. Titles acquired in this period include:

  • A copy of Peter Dance’s Letters on ornithology 1804-1815 between George Montagu and Robert Anstice which record the gradual progress to publication of Montagu’s work as new birds were acquired and provide an interesting insight into this early phase of British ornithological history. This book complements Montagu’s Supplement to the ornithological dictionary held in the Library’s Rare Book collection and also other ornithological titles held in the Gregory M. Mathews collection.
  • A limited edition (one of 450 copies) of Twelve wood-block prints of Kitagawa Utamaro illustrating the process of silk culture with an introductory essay by Jack Hillier, noted scholar of Japanese art, reproduced from originals in the collection of Edwin and Irma Grabhorn.
  • Virtudes de algumas plantas da ilha de Timor [Virtues of some plants of the island of Timor] by Father Alberto de São Tomás. This lovely book is a facsimile of a manuscript on the flora of East Timor by an 18th century priest, with hand painted depictions of plants accompanying the text.
  • Da Oceania a Lisboa: viagem by Francisco Cravasfos Valdez published in 1866 is the author’s account of a journey to Portugal via Timor, Java, Indochina, Malaya, Arabia and Egypt. The chapters on Timor contain some quite detailed information on the local inhabitants, recent history and colonial administration.
  • Four English translations of Japanese fairy tales from renowned Japanese children's author Sazanami Iwaya, who is sometimes known as the "Grimm of Japan". The four titles Goblin mountain, Momotaro: the story of peach-boy, Crab's revenge and Jewel spring were published in 1938 by Hokuseido Press, one of Japan's oldest publishers of English books. All copies are quite rare with intricate illustrations, rice paper covers speckled with silver which provide a fairy tale appearance, and bound oriental style with tied silk thread binding.



  • A significant addition to the papers of Christopher Koch, who died in September 2013. Koch was an acclaimed writer (twice winner of the Miles Franklin Award) who published eight novels, a collection of essays, and a travel book. A small collection of Koch’s papers related to his novel The Year of Living Dangerously was acquired in 1981. That material is substantially enhanced by these additional papers, which include extensive notebooks, correspondence, research material and galley proofs related to the planning and writing of his novels, as well as travel sketches and diaries and correspondence with his brother, journalist Philip Koch.
  • A small collection of papers related to actor Errol Flynn, sold by a UK dealer acting on behalf of a family member, includes 37 letters written by Flynn to his family (mostly to his father Theodore) between 1935 and 1959. They describe his personal and professional life and express views on a range of topics. The collection also includes 57 family photographs (including unpublished images from Flynn’s childhood), studio publicity photographs, as well as letters and documents related to Flynn’s death and contested estate.
  • An illustrated manuscript journal records an emigrant’s voyage from London to Hobart Town in 1834. Tailor Joseph Pettingell was born in Hertfordshire in 1799 and died at Camperdown, NSW, in 1859. He embarked for Hobart in March 1834 with his wife Marianne and six children. The Library acquired a typescript copy of this journal in 1962.  The original journal is significant because Pettingell was an accomplished amateur artist and the journal describes in some detail the journey of a family, including the birth of a son and death of a daughter during the voyage. Pettingell’s illustrations depict conditions aboard the Thomas Laurie, fish and birds encountered, coastal scenery, images of other boats and ships, and a drawing of a Van Diemen’s Land farm.
  • Papers of William Hughan related to HMAS Sydney. Hughan was a crew member for two years and was posted elsewhere just before Sydney was sunk in 1941. The collection is contained in Hughan’s wooden sea-chest, and includes a number of drawings by Hughan showing activity on board, as well as depicting battle engagements. It also includes a number of photographs of the crew, as well as correspondence and ephemera.
  • The John Ireland family archive, comprising photographic material and papers documenting the 19th century emigration of an English (Bonham Carter) and Irish (Ireland) family to New Zealand, and then to Melbourne. John Ireland (1930-2011) was a secondary school principal who brought together the collection which had accumulated and passed down through four generations. The families are documented in a range of photographic formats which form the most important part of the archive: ambrotypes, tintypes, stereographic images, cycloramas, cartes de visite and postcards. The collection includes papers relating to R.D. Ireland, a prominent barrister, politician and Attorney-General in mid- 19th century Melbourne, as well as an interesting Victorian-era will, deeds, diary, address book and ‘literary learnings’ journal.


  • Two cartoon maps of Europe, depicting wartime postures of combatants at the start of the First World War and the Russo-Turkish War (1877). The World War I map is the work of Karl Lehmann–Dumont from Dresden and caricatures each of the European participants from a German perspective. This example, probably from late 1914, is one of a number of satirical maps created by both sides during the Great War and complements the Library’s extensive archive of World War I maps and posters.
  • The rare world atlas, Il globo atlante di carte geografiche, published in Genoa in 1858. The volume comprising 50 hand-coloured plates, includes maps of Oceania, New France, Tahiti, New Zealand, Polynesia, New Caledonia and New Guinea. Included in this atlas, is a very rare edition of the map illustrating Captain James Vetch's scheme for dividing Australia, proposed in 1838.
  • Die Weltkarte des Pierre Desceliers von 1553, a 1924 limited edition facsimile of 90 copies of the ‘lost Dieppe map’ created by Pierre Desceliers, and destroyed by fire during the First World War. Desceliers was a French Renaissance cartographer and an eminent member of the Dieppe school of cartography. The map on 12 sheets includes two sheets covering ‘Jave la Grande,’ showing apparent knowledge of the Australian coastline before the Dutch.
  • A collection of nineteenth century French maps of Asia and the Pacific, including: the islands of Melanesia and ‘distribution of races’ in Oceania; a ten sheet map series for Indochina published by the Service géographique de l'Indochine, 1908-1944; and city maps of Dalat, Angkor Wat, Haiphong, Phnom Penh, Hanoi etc. A 1921 government map of Nauru (Pleasant Island) was also acquired.
  • Schetskaart van het eiland Flores en omliggende eilanden, produced by the Dutch Topografische Inrichting in the 1920s. This large topographic map on two sheets of Flores Island and surrounding Indonesian islands near Timor-Leste, shows administrative boundaries, roads, ports, and populated places in the immediate pre-WWII era. The Library copy has handwritten annotations and corrections in Dutch, and place names underlined and marked in pencil, possibly by a Dutch colonial officer.
  • A collection of approximately 100 maps produced between 1881-1913, by the Victorian Railway Department. The railway plans are for various lines throughout Victoria, and also show  blocks of land, landholders, townships and parishes.
  • A coat-hanger map of Australia (including Tasmania), of the type popularly used as a car aerial, was donated by Tony Wheeler, co-founder of Lonely Planet. Mr Wheeler donated the map during his visit to participate in a Mapping our World exhibition event.

Oral History

  • The Thalidomide in Australia project documents a period in medical history for which the legal, medical and social ramifications are still evident. As many survivors face chronic health problems and with life expectancy severely compromised there is a strong imperative to record their stories. Seven interviews have been recorded, including with survivors Lance Fletcher, Mark Chorlton, Trish Jackson, Suanne Kennedy and Laura Thompson; carer/advocate Lesley Thompson and medical researcher Dr Janet McCredie.
  • A project documenting the history of information and communications technology has recorded five interviews with computer scientists, academics and industry stalwarts who pioneered developments in Australia since the 1950s. They include Professor Arthur Sale, Max Burnet, Associate Professor Peter Thorne, Gordon Rose and Murray Allen.
    A number of collaborative projects are continuing. Interviews with former parliamentarians Tom McVeigh, Don Cameron, Kay Patterson, David Brownhill and newly elected independent MP for Indi, Cathy McGowan, were recorded for the project undertaken with the Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House. Interviews with paralympians Brendan Flynn and Jane Buckley were recorded for the project with the Australian Centre for Paralympic Studies.
  • Interviews were added to projects supported through Australian Research Council grants. Trailblazing women and the law added interviews with Jocelynne Scutt, Patricia Conroy, Hannah McGlade, Patti Chong, Judy Eckert, Jenni Hill and Erika Feller. The first 15 interviews were recorded for the recently commenced Australian lesbian and gay life stories project. The Australian Generations project continues to grow, with over 200 interviews now completed, exploring attitudes and experiences across four generations.
  • Interviews with eminent Australians include neurosurgeon Professor John de Burgh Norman; pilot Deborah Lawrie; landscape architect Professor Richard Clough; environmentalist and Indigenous rights activist Phillip Toyne;, photographic collector Joyce Evans; ethnomusicologist Professor Gordon Spearritt; sociologist Claudio Veliz; engineer inventor John Dickenson; arts journalist Helen Musa; sports journalist Roger Wills; actors Angela Punch McGregor and Amanda Muggleton and directors Ray Omodai and Ross McGregor. An interview featuring Thea Hayes, the wife of the manager of Wave Hill station 1970-1977, provides insight into station life during a period of significant change both in the pastoral industry and Gurindji society.
  • Two new social history projects commenced. Ten interviews have been conducted for the Irish National Association Centenary project. The Centenary of Canberra project features individuals who have lived in and contributed to Canberra over many years. To date six interviews have been completed, including winemaker Ken Helm.
    The Rob Willis Folklore Collection was augmented by the acquisition of 18 recordings including with Professor of Folklore at Curtin University, Dr Graham Seal, and the Director of the National Folk Festival, Pam Merrigan. The performance at the National Library by the 2013 National Folk Fellow Cathy Ovenden, featuring the fiddle music of Joe Yates, was also recorded for the folklore collection.