Digitisation of Traditional Format Library Materials

Digitisation Project Brief - Frank Hurley diaries

Digitise the diaries of Frank Hurley (Series 1 of the Papers of Frank Hurley, MS 883) held by the National Library of Australia. This project supports an Australian Research Council (ARC) grant awarded to Professor Robert Dixon (University of Queensland, formerly University of Southern Queensland) for a published edition of Frank Hurley's diaries. It is envisaged that the digital images and transcripts by Dixon will both be made available from the Library's website. This project also complements the recently digitised collection of Frank Hurley negatives in the Pictures collection.

ARC funds will be used to employ someone to transcribe the diaries in the NLA collection.

Collection material of relevance to the project

Diaries 1-13, 15-28 in series 1 of MS 883. The diaries date from 1912 to 1961 and relate to expeditions in the Antarctic, New Guinea and Australia as well as his war experiences as an official photographer in World Wars I and II. All diaries and associated documents will be filmed with the exception of item 14, an account by Ross Macpherson Smith of his 1919 flight entitled 'My first aerial voyage from London to Australia'. Series 4 item 74 of MS 883 should also be digitised. This is diary 'C' on Papua New Guinea and follows item 8 (diary B).

All digitisation is to be done from the original diaries in full-colour.

Levels of use and user groups - current and anticipated

The Hurley papers have attracted moderate use. They have been used for exhibition on three occasions. Use of the Hurley diaries can be expected to increase when the material is more readily accessible in digital form. The collection has potential interest for a wide range of users, particularly those researching the Mawson and Shackleton Antarctic expeditions and World Wars I and II. The geographical coverage of the collection is broad and should appeal to international as well as Australian users.

Bibliographic coverage of the collection

The Hurley manuscript collection is catalogued and has an Encoded Archival Description (EAD) finding aid. The collection is item numbered and the finding aid should only need minor changes. It is possible that Professor Dixon may wish to enhance the descriptions. Some thought may need to be given on whether to renumber the diaries to exclude number 14 and include number 74.

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.

The diaries are in good condition. The spines are strong and intact. The inks and pencil markings are stable. Frequent access to this collection would weaken the spine and cause inks and pencil markings to fade. However at this stage the diaries are in good condition. The diaries include a variety of coloured inks (eg red, purple, black and green) with pencil corrections and are a combination of formats (ie handwritten, printed, typed). The inks and pencil markings are stable.

Only Diary 9 (My Diary from 7 July 21 to 27 August 1921) will need minor treatment. First page has tears along the edges. This should take a day to treat. Most of the diaries will not need treatment.

The APS5 (Preservation) with the Digitisation Project has surveyed the collection and prepared the following care and handling notes for the digitisers.

General rules:

Treatments: The spines and bindings are good stable condition. A conservator will carry out major treatments.

Scanning: Flat-bed scanners will be used to capture the diaries.

Cropping: Please crop to the edge of the image area leaving 1mm border (maximum 2mm).

Intellectual property or other rights

Copyright in the diaries is held by Hurley's daughters, and permission will need to be sought from them. The family will need to be made aware that in making the material available on the Internet, researchers and other users will be able to make copies. Diaries 7-8 may contain references to Torres Strait Islanders.

IT requirements

The Library's existing IT equipment and infrastructure will be used for digitisation.

The digital images will be available as part of the Library's digital collections and managed within the Digital Collections Manager (DCM).

Resource requirements

This collection is scheduled within the 2003-2004 financial year digitisation work plan for the Digitisation Project team. Joan Garvan will be the NLA-based transcription typist.


There are no cooperative projects that the digitisation of the Hurley diaries would support at present. There will be discussion of common issues with Elizabeth Ellis at the State Library of NSW, who also hold Hurley diaries of interest to Professor Dixon. The Mitchell Library will also be transcribing and digitising their diaries and every effort will be made to ensure that the same approach, particularly for transcription, navigation aids etc., is taken.

Marketing and promotion

No marketing or promotional events are proposed.


Digitisation of the Hurley diaries is scheduled for completion by the end of the 2003-2004 financial year. Work will commence in early July to resolve relating to the use of transcripts as navigational aids to the digitised diaries.

Contact officer: Graeme Powell, Manuscripts Librarian


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