Portrait of Banjo Paterson

With the help of all Australians, the National Library of Australia will soon commence work on the digitisation of the recently acquired papers of A.B. ‘Banjo’ Paterson—legendary Australian bush poet, famous as the author of The Man from Snowy River and Waltzing Matilda. 

‘While most of us know some lines from Paterson's poetry, these papers give us a much richer view of his life and times. Australians will be able to read an early version of Waltzing Matilda, a letter sent to Paterson by Henry Lawson when Lawson was in prison in 1905, and view an original pencil sketch of Paterson as war correspondent during the First World War by artist G.W. Lambert,’ Dr Marie-Louise Ayres Director-General of the National Library of Australia said. ‘This newly acquired material allows us to learn more about A.B. Paterson—the man behind ‘Banjo’ Paterson.’ 

Held by four generations of the Paterson family before its acquisition by the National Library in 2019, this collection represents the last remaining material not already held in a public institution. 

The collection contains an array of handwritten diaries, notebooks, drafts, correspondence and even an unpublished memoir.  

To help unlock the treasured voices of the past and ensure that all Australians now and into the future can explore and appreciate the life of ‘Banjo’ Paterson, the Library is running an appeal to raise money for the digitisation program. 

‘The Library’s digitisation program has been supported by the ongoing, generous contributions from donors across Australia and around the world,’ Director of Philanthropy Dr Conor McCarthy said. ‘This year, we are inviting members of the community to help us with the preservation of the papers of this much-loved Australian folklore hero.’ 

‘Philanthropy has played an important role over many years in helping us to share the treasures of our collection online. That previous giving has had an enormous impact this year, allowing our community to continue enjoying the Library's collections digitally—even while our physical building has been shut.' 

'Previous donations have helped us to digitise everything from advertising posters to the records of the women’s suffrage movement. This year, we are inviting supporters to help us to preserve and share this nationally important collection of ‘Banjo’ Paterson's papers,' Dr McCarthy said. 

The Library started digitising its collection material in the early 2000s and is a world-leader in digital capture, managing digitisation projects at scale and caring for the resulting digital objects into the future. All these digital objects are freely available online through Trove. 

‘The Library’s digitisation program enables the rich history of Australia and Australians to be preserved and accessed, by anyone, at any time,’ Dr Ayres explained. ‘More than ever, over the last few months of isolation, we have learnt just how important our digitisation program is for the community to gain access to our vast collections.’ 

To support the National Library in its preservation and digitisation of the papers of A.B. ‘Banjo’ Paterson, please visit our website: https://www.nla.gov.au/content/give-to-the-2020-appeal 


Cathie Oats: 02 6262 1695    
Media Liaison Manager: 0401 226 697    
National Library of Australia: media@nla.gov.au

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