Threads in the archives

Threads and fabrics and non-paper materials are not common in the State Archives Collection. The wonderful details, colours and textures captured in these items are a beautiful sight to see. Threads are woven; they link and connect just as these 'threaded' archives link and connect us to history.

Urban design

Watercolour paintings on silkscreen

An artist's impression of Griffith and Leeton (along with plans, not shown here) was originally commissioned by the Department of Water Resources - Lands Administration Branch - Water Conservation and Irrigation Commission in 1913.

These plans were designed by architect Walter Burley Griffin, famous for his design of the Australian capital, Canberra. The drawings were prepared by his brother-in-law, Roy Alstan Lippincott and Walter's wife Marion Mahony Griffin prepared coloured sketches on silk for both towns.

The key landscape effect was to be achieved by the main irrigation channel, which Griffin saw as: 'a sweeping curve round the central portion of the city and by two enlargements of the waterway'. The plan envisaged Griffith as a significant railway focal point... The railway station was to be a prominent feature at the centre of the town and the yards were to be designed to achieve a minimum of switching and re-handling.

From the Walter Burley Griffin Society website.

From the catalogue of The Great Collection Exhibition, 2008. More information on the towns of Griffith and Leeton can be found on the Walter Burley Griffin Society website.

Sepia toned photo of seated woman in profile.

Marion Mahony Griffin: architect, environmentalist, visionary

Marion Mahony Griffin was a woman ahead of her time. Over five decades she promoted progressive ideas that are as relevant today, 150 years after her birth, as in her own time

A view of old Parliament House from the driveway

Canberra – the federal capital contest

This record series from the State Archives Collection sheds light on the proud efforts a number of towns, villages and other areas took to present their submissions to become the capital of the new Commonwealth

Sewing samples

These 1939 sewing samples were found in School Administrative Files [NRS-3829], and were created by students at Auburn North Girls School. The samples show several styles of needlework such as: decorative stitchery, cut-work, feather stitching and whipping-lace. Needlework was an important component to the school curriculum. This subject was practical, not to mention providing many students with hours of entertainment before the days of television and X-box!

You may remember making some of these samples (some of our staff do). 

The samples were found in the school file for Auburn North, 1939 [5/14733.1]

Page from Crooybar school file

Schools & related records 1876-1979

30,000+ entries include administrative files & records such as admission registers, punishment books & inspection books

Head wear

You can see how fashion has changed over the years with this cap worn by women working in the Leeton cannery, 1925. It found in a Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area file, NRS-14511, [17/633]

Judge’s clothing, 1879

This judge’s bib, or cravat was left behind by Mr Justice Dowling at the end of the day's hearings on 11 February 1879, at the Windsor Quarter Sessions.

It is listed in the State Archives Collection at NRS-13709, [SZ 977].

Red ribbon rosette

This red ribbon rosette was worn by train driver, Albert Arnold, who drove the first train over the Harbour Bridge after opening, 19 March 1932.

A crowd watches a man speak from a podium that is decorated with the union jack to
On This Day

13 May 1932 - Premier Jack Lang dismissed

On this day 13 May 1932 the NSW Premier, Jack Lang, was dismissed from office by NSW Governor Sir Philip Game

On This Day

19 Jan 1932 - first train across Sydney Harbour Bridge

On 19 January 1932 the first train crossed the Sydney Harbour Bridge

Image of a partly constructed bridge with workers standing on steel girders high above the harbour.

Bridging Sydney

The story of Sydney's Harbour Bridge unfolds like an epic tale. The proposals, planning materials, maps, photographs, artworks and contemporary written sources offer a wealth of information and fascinating insights into the history of Sydney

Goodwill message on silk

Message Goodwill from China

This beautiful item is from the Republic of China to the State of New South Wales for the 150th Anniversary of the Commonwealth of Australia, 1938.

It was found in Premier's Department special bundles: Australia's one hundred and fiftieth Anniversary NRS-12061 [7/1522].

Here is the literal translation:

1st Line - The Continent of Australia is beautiful
2nd Line - The climate is amiable
3rd Line - Australian people are charming, friendly and courageous.
4th Line - Her natural resources are abundant.
5th Line - For the past 150 years, her history is a record of achievement.
6th Line - The present condition of the Commonwealth is of marvellous prosperity.
7th Line - Sino-Australian relations are growing closer.
8th Line - May this cordial relationship be widespreading and everlasting.

Illustration of goldfields with figures dressed in Chinese-style clothing working.

Chinese on the goldfields

By the early 1850s, news of a gold rush in Australia sparked an influx in Chinese migration to Australia.

Gouache painting of the waterfront at Guangzhou, China. The hongs or factories shown in this view are those rebuilt after the fire of 1841. This view is dated by the Protestant (Anglican) church erected in 1847.

Celestial City: Sydney’s Chinese Story

As Sydney celebrated its centenary in 1888, several boats carrying Chinese immigrants sailed through Sydney Heads into a crisis that would shape the nation. ‘Celestials’, as Chinese people were known at the time, had been arriving in Sydney under organised immigration schemes since the 1840s

This is a black and white photograph of an empty street with shopfronts and covered awnings.

King Nam Jang: A Sydney Dynasty

Boarding house, kitchen, general store and ships’ providore – King Nam Jang was a family run business that catered to the transient and permanent Sydney Chinese community for nearly 60 years

Fire Brigade fabrics

This is a fabric sample for Fire Brigades Uniform. It was attached to a letter sent to the Board of Fire Commissioners in 1937 from Federal Woolen Mills Ltd in Geelong as part of a quotation for the supply of material NRS-476 [20/14738-39].

Hotel Plans

These hotel plans were designed on drafting linen which was commonly used during the 19th and 20th Century for technical drawings.

The plans are from NRS-9590, Plans of Licensed Premises: Hotel Plans, 1884-1959.

Hotel Plans

A sample of plans from NRS-9590 Plans of Licensed Premises: Hotel Plans

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