The Blaeu Map

Blaeu Map detail

Dutch cartographer Joan Blaeu was a leader in the production of huge and impressive wall maps, and the top commercial mapmaker of the Dutch Golden Age. The Archipelagus Orientalis (Eastern Archipelago) was acquired by the Library in 2013, and is one of only four examples to survive intact. There are no other Blaeu wall maps in any Australian library, and this particular example has the added value of being the template for all maps of New Holland, or Australia, until Cook.

Henry Lawson's fobwatch

Henry Lawson's watch

Henry Lawson (1867–1922) was one of Australia’s most influential poets and short story writers of the late nineteenth century. Angus and Robertson published a number of collections of his works, including While the Billy Boils (1896) and In the Days When the World Was Wide and Other Verses (1896). Lawson purchased this watch in 1896 as a memento, using a payment from Angus and Robertson for the publication of his first book.

1892 Chinese-English Phrasebook

open phrasebook showing handwritten script of Chinese phrases with English translations

Predating other Chinese-English language phrasebooks by several decades, The Self-educator illuminates the lives of early Chinese immigrants to Australia. Written by Sun Johnson (孫俊臣), editor of the first Chinese-language newspaper in Sydney, The Chinese Australian Herald, it translated a variety of useful phrases for everything from buying groceries to writing cheques. It is also testament to the indelible mark left by those new arrivals on Australia's culture.

Centenary of Armistice display

widow's penny

A special display of rare objects marks 100 years since the end of the First World War. This includes a congratulatory cablegram to Sir John Monash on his victory at the Battle of Hamel, a homemade banner, a draft copy of the Treaty of Versailles belonging to Australian Prime Minister Sir Joseph Cook, and a commemorative ‘Dead Man’s Penny’ given to relatives of those killed during the war.

William Yang’s Mardi Gras

Noted photographer William Yang captures the atmosphere of the early gay and lesbian Mardi Gras in this extraordinary 1981 photograph, taken only three years after the first ever Mardi Gras was held as a march for gay rights. The event has since gone from strength to strength and is now a major festival, bringing hundreds of thousands of visitors to Sydney every year.

1967 referendum

Referendum flyer 1967-Right wrongs write YES for Aborigines

Federal Council for the Advancement of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders, Right wrongs write YES for Aborigines! On May 27, c. 1967, flyer. On 27 May 1967, a federal referendum was held to consider two questions, the second of which related to the proposed repeal of two references in the constitution that denied Indigenous Australians full citizenship rights. Bolstered by a strong ‘yes’ campaign, driven in part by printed flyers such as this, the motion was passed by 90.77%.

Miniature books

Miniature books collection

The Library’s collection of miniature books has been enhanced by retired librarian Gerrit Stafford’s donation of around 300 titles. A selection of these demonstrates the history and diversity of ‘minis’, ranging from an 18th–century almanacs, works in foreign languages, children’s books and those with bespoke cases. A miniature set of Beatrix Potter children’s tales and a 1901 Holy Bible chained to a tiny wooden lectern are among the highlights.

Female novelists

Portrait of Henry Handel Richardson

2017 marks a century since the publication of The Fortunes of Richard Mahony: Australia Felix by Henry Handel Richardson (1870–1946), also known as Ethel Florence Lindesay Richardson. A first edition of the book published in 1917 by Heinemann, London, is on display in the gallery, alongside this portrait of the author by Rupert Bunny. In 1930 the book was combined with The Way Home (1925) and Ultima Thule (1929) to form the acclaimed Australian trilogy The Fortunes of Richard Mahony.

Bligh's notebook

William Bligh's notebook

This notebook documents the extraordinary journey undertaken by William Bligh and his crew after the Mutiny on the Bounty. During the voyage a deep antagonism grew between Bligh and first mate Fletcher Christian which eventually came to a head on 29 April 1789 when the commander and 18 loyal crew members were forced into the ship’s seven metre launch. Bligh and his crew travelled 6,000 kilometres over 47 days across the open ocean to Timor.

Tindale’s Map

Tindale's Map

Norman Tindale was an anthropologist, ethnologist and entomologist who worked at the South Australian Museum. Throughout the 1920s and 30s he went on expeditions all around Australia documenting genealogical information from Aboriginal communities. In 1940 he produced the first map that divided the Australian continent into over 250 language and Nation groups. His findings, updated in 1974, played a major role in dispelling the principle of Terra Nullius.

List of young offenders

handwritten remarks about behaviour of young convicts on board the Bellerophon

A recent acquisition, this document lists a group of young male convicts discharged from the prison hulk Bellerophon in 1824. The hulk's Commander, Samuel Owen, lists the name, age, offence, place of conviction, and occupation of each offender, also remarking on their conduct under his supervision and noting gaolers' reports on past behaviour. The youngest among them—Charles Lewis, William Bumbie, John Foster, Robert Grout, James Walker and Edward Burton—were only 16 years old. Their crimes ranged from bacon theft to fraud.

Fanny Durack's Olympic medal

Gold medal on white background

The 1912 Summer Olympics in Stockholm, Sweden was the first Olympics to feature women's swimming. Fanny Durack and her close friend and competitor Mina Wylie were initially refused permission to compete, but were eventually allowed so long as they paid their own way. Durack went on to win the final of the 100-metre freestyle, setting a new world record and becoming the first Australian woman to win an Olympic gold medal for swimming.