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


  • Works relating to Indigenous people have been a focus of recent acquisitions, a particular highlight being a large, previously unknown 19th century sketchbook by the Aboriginal artist Tommy McRae. Specially commissioned by R.M. Lucas for his brother, it had remained in the family until it was acquired at the Deutscher & Hackett auction in March.
  • A late 1980s work Alhakere Country believed to have been painted by Emily and Lily Kngwarre and other Utopia artists was donated to the Library by Don Holt, owner of Delmore Downs station, where these artists worked during that period.
  • A Negretti Zambra photograph on a cabinet card showing the remaining seven (of nine originally kidnapped) Queensland Aboriginal people in the Barnum and Bailey’s circus at the Crystal Palace, London (1884) was acquired at auction, along with twelve late 19th century portraits of Australian Aborigines by Charles Kerry. The photographs include descriptions of the region where most individuals came from and one photograph shows Torres Strait Islander men with ceremonial objects.
  • The lifetime archive of UK-based photographer Penny Tweedie was acquired from her estate. Tweedie’s importance in Australia is for her 1970s photographs chronicling Aboriginal people during the years she lived and worked here. As a leading photojournalist she also documented war and conflicts around the world, including Bangladesh, Vietnam, Uganda and East Timor. Her photographs were published in magazines like National Geographic and her three books on Aboriginal Australia are considered influential in changing perceptions of Aboriginal culture.
  • Photographs of contemporary Indigenous community life were also acquired from documentary photographers Darren Clark (Darwin), Matthew Abbott (Arnhem Land), Belinda Pratten (Goulburn Island), Helga Leunig (Lockhart River) and Joyce Evans (Yuendumu).
  • The Fairfax collection of 18,000 glass plate negatives was received from Fairfax Media and is being preserved, described and digitised with assistance from the National Cultural Heritage Fund. The collection, from the early days of press photography, documents the cultural, social and physical landscape during a period of significant change and growth in Australia, providing an important research resource for the period.
  • Susan Allen donated a sterling silver cup presented in 1916 to her ancestor, the bibliographer E.A. Petherick, by the Governor General, Sir Ronald Munro-Ferguson as a token of gratitude for gifts to the vice regal library and in recognition of his services to Australia. Dr Nonja Peters donated a Royal Delft plate commemorating the 400th anniversary of the Dutch ship Duyfken arriving in Australian waters (1606) and subsequent Australian-Dutch relations. The plate depicts the Duyfken against a map of Australia and south-east Asia, surrounded by an edge featuring an Aboriginal design.
  • An album of photographs of Tonga, Samoa and Fiji c.1895 includes several group portraits, views of waterfalls and bays and photographs of rituals, tattooing and staged images of combat. The album provides a rare view of these islands in the late nineteenth century and was probably compiled by someone passing through the area, such as a trader or missionary.


  • Two large and significant collections have arrived from England after extended negotiations. These are the lifetime archives of expatriates, the artist Sir Sidney Nolan and poet Peter Porter. Both had lived in the UK for many decades until their deaths (Nolan died in 1992 and Porter in 2010) but retained distinctly Australian outlooks, as well as active engagements in Australia. The collections were purchased from their widows.

  • Aboriginal elder Dr Lowitja O’Donoghue has donated her papers which include material related to her early life, various roles in public administration and the many honours she has received.

  • A 140 page manuscript Voyages autour du monde... purchased from Hordern House is an early 19th century compilation of notes from various sources about maritime exploration in Australia. Written in French and English by someone with a good knowledge of navigation, who seems more familiar with Flinders than Baudin. These articles document the anchorages and weather of Port Jackson, the New South Wales coast and the route towards Cape Horn. The manuscript also contains extensive notes on Timor, the China Sea and the Straits of Sunda; a reference to HMS Bounty, as well as personal observations about Cape Town.

  • A small archive has been formed of material given by Forgotten Australians and Former Child Migrants who were interviewed for the Oral History project. The material from 35 donors includes family photographs and photographs of the homes they were placed in, unpublished memoirs, newspaper clippings and books they had owned as children.

  • The papers of film director, producer and writer Albie Thoms document his involvement in the 1960s counter-culture movements that evolved out of the Sydney ‘Push’ including the Yellow House, Sydney University Drama Society and various underground publications, as well as his more mainstream later work in film and television. 


  • The Blaeu wall map Archipelagus Orientalis, sive Asiaticus (Eastern or Asian archipelago) showing ‘Hollandia Nova, detecta 1644’ is the first large scale map of New Holland. Produced for limited release in 1659, and over 1.5 metres in width, this copy is one of four complete examples known to exist. Joan Blaeu, then chief cartographer of the Dutch East India Company (VOC) was also the maker of premium wall maps and atlases. His wall map was the first to include details of all known Dutch discoveries in Australian waters up to and including the two voyages of Abel Tasman and became the template for all subsequent maps of New Holland. Still attached to its original mounts, the map is in a very fragile condition. It will be stabilised for display in the Mapping Our World exhibition, which opens in November.

  • Another important Dutch map acquisition is from Blaeu’s chief rival among the Amsterdam mapmakers, Jan Jansson. Mar del Sur Hispanis Mare Pacificum (South sea and Spanish South Pacific) was first produced in 1650, but not updated to include Abel Tasman’s discoveries until this edition of 1680. Remarkably, given the lag of 36 years since Tasman completed his second voyage, this is the first published chart of the Pacific to show his discoveries in Australia. Further changes in this edition include noting the discoveries made by Maerten Gerritsz Vries in the Kuriles north of Japan. Beautifully decorated and hand-painted, the map includes Asian figures, and cherubs playing with navigational instruments.

  • An untitled navigation chart on vellum, drawn in the 1730s in the Amsterdam workshop of Isaak de Graaf, then chief cartographer of the Dutch East Company (VOC), was also acquired. The chart is one of few worldwide with remnant tracks of voyages across the Indian Ocean to the East Indies (Indonesia). The chart includes a voyage in an English hand, suggesting it was captured and re-used by an English East India Company navigator. Dutch Australian charting is shown of discoveries along Australia’s west coast.

  • Several important early Australian territorial maps were added to the collection. Route from Yass Plains by the Australian Alps and Gipps Land to Port Phillip, is a lithograph by the London publisher John Arrowsmith of the survey by Paul Strzelecki, in 1840; South Australia: a survey of the coast on the east side of St. Vincents Gulf, 1838, is an update of the 1836 map of this name, and appeared as a supplement to the 2nd report on colonisation of South Australia; and Robert Dixon’s A trigonometrical survey of the country at Moreton Bay, is a supplement printed by the House of Commons, 1841.

  • Two rare cartographical novelties were acquired. A papier mache globe of the world entitled Die Erde: La Terre: The Earth, is housed in its original circular box with a hand coloured engraving on the lid of a father instructing four children on use of the globe. Showing the routes of Captain Cook's 1773 second voyage, the globe also charts the expedition to locate a Northwest Passage by Irishman Robert McClure in 1850-1854, which traversed the route by sledge. Walker’s Geographical Pastime exhibiting a complete voyage around the world in two hemispheres, is a game extensively filled with the voyages of the great explorers (Cook, Vancouver, Gore, de la Perouse), and in particular those that travelled in the Pacific. Produced in 1816 for the English and colonial markets, the game includes an engraved map of the world on two sheets with original hand colouring. The accompanying booklet describes the exotic lands travelled, and includes a detailed entry for New South Wales.

Oral history and folklore

  • The Recollections of the Bush School collection, acquired from Tim Bowden, features 65 interviews conducted by the late Professor Hank Nelson between 1985-1988 with former teachers and pupils of one teacher schools across rural Australia. Included are interviews from school communities in remote areas such as Groote Eylandt (NT), Punmu School (WA) and Cape Barren (Tas); an interview with teacher Mary Noelker and two of the six pupils who were kidnapped in 1972 from the Faraday State School in Victoria; and interviews with Les Murray who attended Bulby Brush School (NSW) and Ted Egan who taught in remote NT schools.

  • A number of collaborative projects are continuing. Former Australian ambassadors to China interviewed for the Beyond the Cables project with the Australia-China Council included David Sadleir (1988-1991) and Michael Lightowler (1991-1996). Bali survivor Jason McCarthy and Leigh Hughes, carer of his Bali survivor father Peter, were interviewed for Resilient communities, with the U.S. Embassy, which focuses on Australian community responses to terrorism. Former parliamentarians Michael Baume, Chris Puplick and Jo Vallentine were interviewed in collaboration with the Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House. Josephine Briggs and Tom Roper, activists for Indigenous rights, were interviewed for a collaborative project with state and territory libraries leading up to the 50th anniversary of the 1967 referendum.

  • Among the notable Australians interviewed are businesswoman Janet Holmes à Court, entrepreneur Bob Ansett, engineer John Grill, public health academic Dr Milton Lewis, lawyer Professor Peter Bailey, aeronautical engineer Brian O’Keeffe, interior designer Babette Hayes, writer Rodney Hall, actor Simon Burke and cultural leader Carrillo Gantner, who was interviewed for the Australian Philanthropists project.

  • Additions to social history collections included five interviews for the Rusted on project with active rank and file members of political parties. Six interviews were recorded for a project on Vietnamese war veterans who now live in Australia and another six recorded with participants in the first large scale post-war delegation to China, organised by the Australia China Friendship Society in 1971, the China Maytime Festival Tour. Five interviews were added to the project on the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.

  • The Folklore collection was augmented by the recording a concert and interview with Frank Ifield conducted by Rob Willis. As part of her research into the music of fiddler Joe Yates, National Library Folk Fellow Cath Ovenden interviewed his nephew Bill Yates.

  • Sixty eight interviews were added to Australian generations, a four year Australian Research Council funded project with Monash and La Trobe Universities, and ABC Radio National. The project is investigating international dynamics and the impact of social, technology and environmental changes on the attitudes of Australians born in different generation. The project will result in 300 interviews being added to the collection, as well as a major publication and series of radio programs.

Australian Publications

  • As with previous reports, Australian printed acquisitions were largely focussed on filling collection gaps, with a diverse range of items acquired including:

    • A collection of over 3,000 children’s books written by Australian authors or about Australia, which were collected by Dr Kerry White and supported her work in compiling an extensive bibliography of Australian children's books and as a book reviewer was acquired under the Cultural Gifts Program.
    • J.A. Vinaty’s Éloge de La Pérouse (1823), a beautifully presented copy of a rare eulogy, published just three years before the wrecks of the Astrolabe and Boussole were found by Peter Dillon. Vinaty composed it for the Academie des Jeux-Floraux of Toulouse and was awarded their l’Eglantine d’Or. In it, Vinaty celebrates La Pérouse honouring Cook by erecting a memorial for Charles Clerke (Cook’s lieutenant, who assumed command after Cook’s death, but who himself died a short time later from tuberculosis) at Clerke’s tomb in Kamchatka.
    • A first edition of Jacques Arago’s Comme on Dine Partout (1842). Arago was the official artist on Freycinet's circumnavigation on the Uranie and collaborated on the official publication as well as his own account, which he also rewrote as his famous lipogram, Voyage autour du monde sans la Lettre A (1853), which as the title suggests traverses the world without ever using the letter ‘A.’ In fact, as Arago later admitted, he slipped up, and used it once in the form of the word ‘serait’ (would be). In Comme on Dine Partout (Dining Around), Arago embarks on an ethnographic culinary voyage around the world, based on his circumnavigation with Freycinet, with chapters on the Sandwich Islands, New South Wales, China, Brazil, Patagonia, and South Africa, culminating in a chapter on cannibalism.
    • A variant 1837 prospectus, from the South Australian Company, ”to experienced farmers possessing small capital;” and an immigration broadside, printed in London for the Queensland Agent-General, promoting Village settlements in Queensland as a “New Departure in Australian Land Legislation” for agricultural purposes. In the 1880s the Queensland government embarked on scheme of developing village settlements (to overcome what the poster refers to as the “great drawback” of isolation, which must have deterred potential British migrants), based on the concept of the settlers living together in a village with “all its attendant advantages (railway and road communication with markets, schools, etc., etc.)” while farming a block of nearby agricultural land. This poster offers 40, 80, and 160 acres and a town lot for £5, £10 and £20, payable £1, £2, or £4 yearly for five years. A specimen plan depicts Wullumbilla (west of Roma), with block prices. Twenty-nine village settlements were surveyed in Queensland but most did not succeed.
    • Two early typescript editions of literary works: Toda-San: A Three Act Play, a first edition of the Hal Porter’s circa 1965 play, which was later republished by Faber as The Professor; and A. D. Hope’s satirical Dunciad Minimus: An Heroick Poem (1950), later re-written and published as Dunciad Minor.
    • Fisher Lass by Björnstjerne Björnson, an 1896 first edition of the (unsigned) translation from the Norwegian by Henry Handel Richardson. Richardson also translated J. P. Jacobsen’s Niels Lyhne from the Danish (a work generally considered to be of greater interest by Richardson scholars), but was most likely far more fluent in German than these Scandinavian languages, and relied heavily on German translations. She revealed her authorship of the translation of the Fisher Lass in a combative response to a reviewer in a letter to the editor of the Athenaeum (6 March 1897), who criticised many of her word choices.
    • Foreign language translations acquired included Nybyggarne på Van Diemens Land : en berättelse från det Australiska nybyggarlifvet, and an1861 Swedish translation of Charles Roycroft’s Bushranger of Van Diemen's Land (1846).
    • A Western Australian Police manual for the Visual Identification of the Human Being, published in the early 1950s illustrated with mug shots of particular criminal types. A. J. Baird, the author of this manual, was an expert in chiroscopy (the scientific examination of the palm of the hand), and seems to have been strongly influenced by Alphonse Bertillon in developing this extraordinarily detailed classification system for virtually every possible human feature.
    • Sketches of human manners : delineated in stories intended to illustrate the characters, religion, and singular customs, of the inhabitants of different parts of the world by Priscilla Wakefield (London : Printed and sold by Harvey and Darton, 1807). The rare original edition containing Wakefield’s story, ‘The convict,’ pp. 207-226, one of the earliest published stories with an Australian setting. The book proved popular: the Library already held three other later editions.
    • Cordial Welcome to Capetown for all ANZACS for all ANZACS, a folded sheet about services and advice on how Australian and New Zealand World War I troops should behave during stopovers in South Africa.
  • Our collection of Australian artists’ books was enriched with new editions:
    • Two artist’s books produced by Angela Gardner at her Light-trap Press: The Night Ladder, with linocuts by Lisa Pullen, and Twelve Labours with etchings by Gwenn Tasker; Glyphmetric, consisting of poetry by Anne Kirker with linocuts by G.W. Bot; and a number of books by Peter Lyssiotis: Inside Outside (imagined images and voices in an empty historic house, the Villa Alba Museum in Kew, Melbourne), Letter to Lorca: A View from My Darkroom (a reading of Federico García Lorca through the prism of the artist’s migrant background), More More More (about junk mail) and a collaboration with Anne-Maree Hunter, A Modern Forest, a screen-printed exploration of maps and the city through text superimposed on a street directory; Views from the Mountain, with haiku-style poetry by Peter Lyssiotis and Hokusai-inspired lithographs and hand-written lettering by Ilse van Gardern; two books produced with Urszula Dawkins: What She Wants (tales of queer desire and a series of abstracted cityscapes in a beautifully sensuous precious object, produced in the style of the early 20th century French livre d'artiste), accompanied by an ‘out-take’ in a related booklet, Clutch; and three small titles produced with Theo Strasser, Fire, Dog Eat Dog, and Eyewitness: Corporate Plan 2008-2009.

  • Ephemera acquisitions have been diverse and highlights since January include:
    • A beautiful colour printed paper label for Southern Cross Choice Solid Packed Sliced Apples, issued by Southern Cross Supplies, Camperdown [Sydney], c1930, featuring Kingsford Smith’s eponymous Vickers Vimy aircraft. Southern Cross Supplies was founded in 1930 and is still in business.
    • A small French advertising card with a cartouche portrait and depiction of Robert O’Hara Burke dying in the deserts of Australia, printed circa 1925, with biographical information on the verso. Part of a series depicting celebrated explorers, issued by Deschiens, Paris, manufacturers of a medicinal tonic for anemia, weakness, debility, convalescence, etc.
    • An advertising trade card for Arbuckle’s Ariosa Coffee (New York) of a “Whallabee” [sic] from their series of “the most interesting specimens of the animal kingdom,” copyrighted 1890.
    • A souvenir invitation and menu for a 14th July 1920 dinner at the Adelaide Town Hall for the Prince of Wales, featuring engravings by Victor Cobb.
    • A playbill from the Theatre Royal, Edinburgh, in either late September or October 1818, for a performance of the “Great Historical Ballet of Action in Three Acts,” of The Death of Captain Cook, performed by a cast including American Indian warriors playing the Hawaiians who killed Cook.
    • Two pieces of rabbit control ephemera, published a hundred years apart: a rabbit control calendar wheel from 2013 and a trade catalogue for IXL Fortescue’s Great Automatic Patent Pollard Distributor, circa 1905. George E. Fortescue &. Sons, Arncliffe, Sydney (formerly of Tallangatta, Victoria), manufactured Automatic Rabbit Poisoning Machines, mounted on a light horse-drawn cart, which dispensed a phosphate-based poison.
    • A flyer produced in opposition to the Communist Party Dissolution Act, 1951, by John Cleverley, then aged about 20 and incensed by Menzies’ attempt to suppress the free exchange of ideas. It is unusual for us to acquire a piece of political ephemera direct from its creator over sixty years after it was produced (Cleverley, now retired, was formerly Professor of Education at the University of Sydney).
    • Sample set of Box-Wrap sticker decals, marketed with the slogan “It's your box, it's your choice.” The stickers counter the recently introduced cigarette plain packaging legislation by obscuring the legally mandated graphic health warning images.
  • Highlights for the poster collection included:
    • Two major poster collections: 64 peace and anti-nuclear posters collected by a Canberra-based peace activist during the 1980s; and a large collection of 282 Sydney gig posters accumulated by a Sydney secondhand music dealer during the early 2000s.
    • John Bull’s advice, see the Klondyke Nugget! — a poster for a performance of S.F. Cody’s Wild West melodrama at the Clarence Theatre, Pontypridd, Wales, opening on Monday, 19 December [1898]. The chromolithographed poster shows John Bull, symbol of England, surrounded by a group of people of various nationalities, including an Australian bushman, with a kangaroo leaning on his shoulder. This poster presents a newly emerging national stereotype (arguably a precursor to Crocodile Dundee), alongside others on one of the first occasions that Australians as a group came to international attention.
    • A large circa 1930s Bullen Brother’s circus poster featuring a clown dressed in red and white in a welcoming pose in front of the big top; a World War II propaganda poster “War on waste. Save your scrap for the Big Scrap,” showing the contribution of recycling in the state of Victoria to the Battle of Britain) and Get the best out of your pot: Amgoorie, a small poster, probably from the 1940s, advertising Amgoorie tea, from the Adelaide firm of D & J Fowler.
  • Several large donations of music and some interesting individual pieces were acquired during this period.
    • EMI donated a large consignment of music albums that enhances the Library’s representation of popular music and music trends in Australia in the late 20th century. The collection, which covers the period from the 1960s to 2000s includes music by popular Australian artists including Rolf Harris and Slim Dusty. There are a number of compilations including Triple Js Hottest One Hundred. Educational practice books are well-represented with many by Australian composer Dulcie Holland.
    • In May, almost 3,000 unpublished scores and parts were transferred from the Australian Music Centre’s collection as part of a long-standing agreement for the Library to act as an archive for the AMC.  A number of prominent Australian composers are represented in the collection including Alfred Hill, Mirrie Hill, Mirriam Hyde, Dulcie Holland, Elena Kats-Chernin and Felix Werder.  The collection, which ranges from the 1960s to 1980s, also includes works by composers not represented by the AMC from the 1980s.  It contains original manuscripts in the composers hand, and facsimiles.  Much of the collection was part of AMC’s lending library and so the condition of material varies.  The collection represents a unique historic record of composition and performance in Australia in this time period.
    • The Symphony Australia Editing Project is the latest component of the Symphony Australia collection of scores and parts to be donated to the Library. The collection was closed in 2001 due to Symphony Australia keeping only digital copies from that date. It comprises 96 master copies of original and draft versions of Australian works commissioned by Symphony Australia between 1997 and 2001.  The condition of the material is good as the master copies were not used in performance
    • A 1940 music album, Tatura Marsch und Lieder Album: 4 Marsche, 8 Lieder (Klaviersatz), produced by German internees in Tatura (near Shepparton). The instigator of the album was Gerhard Neumann (1908-1980), who came to Australia to teach German at the University of Sydney in 1938, married the Australian painter Peggy McIntyre, and became a prominent educator in Europe after his release in February 1946.
    • Librettos for 1887 Sydney performances of t The Forty Thieves and Little Jack Sheppard, with albumen print portraits mounted on the cover of the music hall “masher” (male impersonator) and burlesque pioneer Fanny Robina (1862-1927). Fanny’s parents were the music hall duo of George Newman (1826-1871) and Jennie Mortimer (1837-1874), known as the Australian nightingale, who began their career together in the 1850s on the Australian goldfields, later touring England, where Fanny was born and began performing with her parents before her third birthday. Fanny spent two years in Australia (perhaps encouraged by the example of her parents) before returning to England for the remainder of her career. 

Online Publications

  • To provide on-going access to Australian documentary material in digital form the Library collects significant Australian websites and other online documents and makes them available for use through the PANDORA archive.
    •  of Canberra - Twenty-three sites relating to the Centenary of Canberra were archived as a collection. The sites include news coverage, community groups and official sites. 
    • Politifact Australia - Originating in the United State Politifact recently began operating in Australia. Permission for the Library to archive the website was gained quickly and the first gather was made within two weeks of the site’s launch.
    • Ministerial collection - Pandora has over 100 federal ministerial websites, some dating back to the earliest days of Pandora. In this period six new ministerial sites were added to the archive.

Overseas Publications

  • In accordance with the aims of the Library’s strategic direction to “progressively move our overseas collecting from print to digital form to better meet the needs of our users” the Library commenced routinely acquiring ebooks for current titles in scope of our Collection Development Policy published in the United States where available. It is expected that approximately 40% of titles acquired on the US blanket order for current publications will now be in ebook format.

  • The Pacific remains a focus of overseas collection development activities and recent acquisitions include: a set of children’s folktales written by PNG author Andrew Solien and illustrated by renowned PNG painter Peter Leo Ella; three bilingual children’s books in Samoan and English published in New Zealand as samples of how Samoan festivals are taught to children; Tapa: etoffe d'ecorce d'Oceanie =Bark cloth of Oceania, a handy reference work showing different types of tapa cloth used across the Pacific and Diary: from March 25th 1875 to August 12th 1878 written by Harry Hughes with a handwritten section by Sidney West.

  • 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: