Digitisation of Traditional Format Library Materials

David Elliott theatrical postcard collection

Project Brief | Cataloguing guidelines


To provide access through the Library’s catalogue to the 1,083 postcards in the David Elliott theatrical postcard collection.


  • Catalogue postcards individually based on the cards themselves and at times on captions
  • Digitise postcards
  • Link images to catalogue records
  • Load images to Pictures Catalogue and Picture Australia

Description of the material to be digitised

A collection of promotional postcards compiled over a period of years by David Elliott and bearing photographs of theatrical identities of the late 19th and early 20th centuries (mainly between 1890 and 1920). The postcards cover a wide range of performers and genres within the performing arts including opera, vaudeville, drama, Gilbert and Sullivan operettas, melodramas, popular plays of the era, comedy, a midget circus and a brass band. There are a few photographs of stage performances, and a few of music scores. The collection also provides a history of costume, style of dress, hairstyles, etc. of the period.

Many of the postcards were published in Australia by companies such as Talma & Co., Sydney and Melbourne, and Falk, Sydney. About 25 of the postcards are signed by the performer they represent. Approximately 175 of the postcards represent artists who were either born in Australia or did one or more tours of Australia. Australian born performers include Oscar Asche, Cynthia Brooke, Amy Castles, Geoffrey Chard, Ada Crossley, Percy Grainger, Ethel Haydon, Essie (Elizabeth) Jennings, Annette Kellerman, La Milo (Pansy Montague), Edith Latimer, Dame Nellie Melba, Carrie Moore, W. (William) Percy, Nellie Stewart, Maggie Stirling and Florence Young. Some personalities are represented by multiple postcards ; these include Nellie Melba, May Beattie, Carrie Moore, Minnie Tittell Brune, Lily Brayton, Grace Palotta and Nellie Stewart.

Preservation, care and handling guidelines

DISCLAIMER: The National Library of Australia disclaims liability for the use of the information provided in this page. The guidelines have been produced to aid Library staff in the digitisation of collection material. The National Library of Australia accepts no responsibility for the loss occasioned as a direct or indirect result of the use of the information in these guidelines.

This collection consists of 1,023 theatre postcards. All postcards have been rehoused into archival sleeves and acid free folders.

The postcards were either produced photomechanically or as a black and white gelatin print with handcolouring. This collection is in good condition and most of the conservation treatment was minor, ie. tear repairs, residue backing removal, stain removal and readhering beads and sequins.

General rules:

Treatments: Generally this collection is in good condition. If major treatments are necessary they are to be carried out by a conservator. To facilitate the scanning process, Digitisation Project staff may do some minor treatments. Drycleaning may be done by Digitisation Project staff.

Scanning: The AGFA Duoscan T2000 XL scanners will be used for this collection.


NLA staff Other
Pictorial Collection Researchers interested in history of theatre and the arts
Digitisation Team Researchers interested in social history
Digitisation Steering Committee Institutions with related collections, subject interest
Preservation Services Public
Public Programs  
Special Materials Cataloguing  

Program of work

Item Date completed or time period
Preservation assessment April 2001
Decide on level of cataloguing June 2001
Create cataloguing template and guidelines June 2001
General condition survey July 2001
Deliver material to Digitisation July 2001
Care and handling guidelines July 2001
Cataloguing guidelines session with Digitisation staff 7 August 2001
Create Pictorial Manager batches 8 August-end September 2001
Create and review catalogue records August-September 2001
Scan postcards to create digital images August-September 2001
Quality check images August-September 2001
Carry out preservation treatment on postcards requiring it August-September 2001
Rehouse postcards in new albums August-September 2001
Deliver material back to Pictorial 9 October 2001
Strip metadata from images and put in spreadsheets August-September 2001
Rename images and move to Pictorial’s Archive folder August-September 2001
Check metadata spreadsheets August-October 2001
Change batch status on Pictorial Manager September-October 2001
Create derivatives & rename for Pictorial Manager October 2001
Do global correction of 500 and 773 fields in all catalogue records December 2001
Load images to Pictures Catalogue October 2001


Project owner/Driver David Toll and Margy Burn
Project manager Angela Brown
Key information sources Pictorial Manager, Preservation Services, Digitisation Team, IT, Imaging Services
Constraints Error in cataloguing guidelines necessitates global changes to all catalogue records after cataloguing completed.


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