This report offers a review of recent significant acquisitions by the Library and of collecting activities. It does not describe the large volume of acquisitions of both Australian and overseas materials that are routinely acquired through deposit, purchase or donation.

Australian Publications

  • The earliest published Australian item acquired in the period was A cabinet of quadrupeds (1805), ‘consisting of highly-finished engravings by James Tookey from drawings by Julius Ibbetson; with historical and scientific descriptions by John Church’. Two Australian animals appear, the relatively newly described ‘flying opossum’ depicted with his or her Virginian cousin, and the ‘kanguru’ drawn from the group ‘now living in the Royal Gardens at Kew, where they breed, and appear quite naturalised’.
  • Another relatively early Australian fauna related acquisition is a playbill for a Worcester 1832 performance of Hyder Ali; or, The lions of Mysore, starring Henri Martin (1793-1882). Martin is generally considered the first lion tamer of the modern era and a major originator of the circus. The play featured a real lion, a llama, and two boa constrictors; in acts two and three the main character ‘scrapes acquaintance with a baboon, becomes familiar with a pelican, and forms an intimacy with a kangaroo’. The play opened in London in 1831, but this provincial playbill features Martin’s kangaroo more prominently. The British Museum holds a related German broadside, circa 1826, with an image derived from Stubbs, promoting Henri Martin feeding the kangaroos in his menagerie while on tour in Hannover, Germany.
  • A small group of three rare popular occult and science fiction titles by Australian authors from the late 19th and early 20th century was acquired, including the first US edition of The soul of Countess Adrian by Rosa Praed (New York: National Book Company, 1891), described as ‘a weird novel of supernatural possession’ or ‘psychic vampirism’ based on Praed’s experiences in London drawing room séance circles; A human bacillus: the story of a strange character (London: John Long, 1907), set in Australia and Portugal, with a biological science fiction plot device involving the injection of bacteria into a person (which one critic sees as implied homosexuality) and the only known copy of the US edition of The witch's cavern: a realistic and thrilling picture of London society (1890) by ‘One Who Knows’ (Henry Crocker Marriott Watson, who was born in the Melbourne suburb of Caulfield), described as a ‘science fiction novel in which a student of a scientifically advanced Australia of 2990 undertakes an expedition to barbaric England and, while there, finds himself transported back to a time when England was still a going concern’.
  • A bound volume of eighty wool auction catalogues issued for the London Wool Sale Rooms, Moorgate Street, London, from November 1858 to July 1859, is a reminder of the days when Australia ‘rode on the sheep’s back’. Most of the wool on offer is Australian (from Port Philip, Sydney, Adelaide, Swan River, Moreton Bay, Hobart, Pike's Creek, Victoria, and Van Diemen’s Land). Details of the wool’s origins, type of wool (in grease, part greasy, scoured, hogget, locks, combing, clothing, black, clippings, hand washed, full skins), the number of bales and the lot estimate, the importing ship's name, make this and two other similar volumes the Library already holds (for 1849 and 1860) an increasingly valuable resource for Australian economic history.
  • [Dame Quentin Bryce's term as Governor-General]: 2008-2014 is a slip cased set of five volumes produced as a farewell present for Dame Quentin Bryce AD CVO, providing a visual record of her term as Governor-General. The books were produced in a limited edition of three copies, the first as a personal copy for Dame Quentin Bryce; a copy for the National Archives and a copy for the National Library of Australia.
  • The centenary of the start of World War I has led to a flurry of related acquisitions of ephemera and programs. Highlights include a signed menu for a dinner of the 6th Light Horse in Cairo in 1916 after their return from Gallipoli. The bill of fare features the likes of Consommá Royal à la ‘Anzac’, Loup de Mer Mayonnaise à la ‘Gaba Tipe’, Pommes à la ‘Stolly Ridge’, Desert ‘Rest Gully’, and last but not least, ‘Café à la Turque. All's well with the fleet! is a collection of 12 rare cartoons on a naval theme by Harry J. Weston (1914). A program for what was in effect the first annual Anzac memorial parade in Melbourne on Sunday, 30 April 1916, and a number of interesting World War I Christmas cards were also acquired.
  • As always, the Library collected a copy of every new Australian publication. In the period this came to just over 13000 new titles. Highlights identified by the staff in this six-month period included Showcasing treasures: The Lu Rees Archives of Australian Children’s Literature by Patricia Milne and Belle Alderman; Bob Brown’s Optimism: a reflection of life in action; Stand & deliver: celebrating 50 years of the National Press Club by Steve Lewis, Ian Molly Meldrum’s The never, um, ever ending story: life, Countdown and everything in between, and A century of Canberra engineering by Keith Baker.
  • Contemporary ephemera items added to the collection include novelty $7 notes protesting the proposed Medicare co-payment (probably the first time this denomination has been added to the Library’s diverse collection of political ‘funny’ money); an order of service for the State funeral of the Hon. Gough Whitlam AC QC on 5 November 2014 and a range of 2014 Brisbane G20 Summit ephemera, including menus that utilised images from the Library’s collection.
  • The Library continues to accept donations of Australian serials which are missing from our collection: often specialised or niche publications produced by enthusiasts who were unaware of their need to deposit. In this period, serials acquired included the Australian saucer record: the official organ of the Australian Flying Saucer Research Society (1955 to 1963); Reflections, the journal of the Cliff Richard Movement of Australia (1990-1994); and Amiga workbench: for the Commodore Amiga user (1986-1988).
  • Two significant large donations were received in the period. Five boxes comprising first issues of retrospective Australian serials and newsletters, collected by the late Ken Peters were donated by Dr Stuart Braga; and the Library received nearly 6500 items from the Commonwealth Department of Environment Library upon its closure. Due to resourcing constraints, the Library only accepted Australian publications not available in any other Australian library from the Department of Environment. The collection includes material previously held in the National Heritage collection, primarily government commissioned studies and reports. Without resources available to process this collection, it will remain securely stored but unavailable for the present.
  • SPK Dokument 1 & 2 are two zines issued in London in 1981 and 1982 by the influential Australian industrial music group SPK, which formed in Sydney in 1978, inspired by German radical Marxist group Sozialistisches Patientenkollektiv, which encouraged psychiatric patients to ‘turn illness into a weapon’ against capitalist society. The main creative force behind the group was Graeme Revell, who went on to become a major composer of film scores.
  • The Library continues to add to its collection of artists’ books and fine press items. Three recent works were added to the Library’s holding of books by Lyn Ashby, a bookmaker who works with text and image in an intellectually rigorous manner: The ten thousand things (2011), 37PEACES: the puzzle of an epiphany (2012), and Decodex (2013). The night green suite is a portfolio of prints and text about commercial fishing by the Tasmanian printmaker Denise Campbell. INRI (2005) and Certe cose non si dicono [Certain things are not said] (2010) are graphic works by Angela Cavalieri, a linocut printmaker who explores the art of writing in visual form. Little aches and pains is a book of wood etchings and text by David Frazer in collaboration with Australian singer-songwriter Paul Kelly.
  • Additional artists’ books include Australian photojournalist Stephen Dupont’s Typhoon, which records the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan in an accordion fold format. John Hind’s This ferral Australis tackles feral animal, human and climate disruptions to Terra Australis since European settlement. Two intricately handcrafted books from Kyoko Imazu, a Melbourne printmaker are Rats’ game, a miniature accordion-fold flutter book, and Cat festival, a tunnel book inspired by a story in Haruki Murakami's 1Q84, in which the protagonist is trapped in a town occupied by cats. An archive of Australian colour by visiting American artist Sandy Webster is an artist’s book containing an archive of 76 loosely secured paper leaves individually coloured with pigments made from a wide variety of Australian soils.
  • The increased interest in posters offered for both donation and sale has continued, with notable acquisitions including: Australian fruit is here by A.H. Sands; a call to South Queensland surfing resorts by M. Anderson; Hant’s relaxed view of Three months comfort: Australia and back (£140 first class) on an Orient Line cruise ship, circa 1934; James Northfield’s beautiful Japonaiserie  advertisement for Swallow & Ariell Ltd biscuits & cakes; the same artist’s promotion of the scenic views of Lorne (featuring a view of the beach, with an awe-inspiring waterfall inset in the letter O); two Percy Trompf Victorian Railways posters: Days of freedom: go down to the seaside by train, with a seagull hovering over a beach scene, and the only known original version of Take a day at the seaside: go down by train!, which features significantly less-bronzed figures wearing bathing suits than are depicted in the 1990s re-issue; F. G. Longstaff’s circa 1940 promotion of the delightful views from New South Wales railway carriages (only slightly impeded by cigarette smoke); a World War II recruitment poster for the Australian Women's Army Service by Ian McCowan; and Frank McNamara’s poster for Australia by northwest via Honolulu: so near by Qantas, Australia's overseas airline showing a 1960s couple relaxing on a balcony overlooking Bondi Beach.

Two Australian journal titles acquired on microfilm worthy of mention:

  • Firstly, Letters relating to Moreton Bay and Queensland, 1822-1860 - a set of all correspondence relating to the Moreton Bay settlement and the area which after December 1859 became known as the Colony of Queensland. Correspondence commenced in 1822 and continued until late 1859. The material is of particular interest to researchers of the years of penal settlement followed by the period after 1842 when the district was opened to free settlers.
  • The Library completed the ordering and processing of newspaper microfilm to provide full coverage for 79 recently repatriated Australian regional newspaper titles. Titles acquired included the Townsville bulletin, Port Macquarie news, Courier (Ballarat, Vic.) and Kalgoorlie miner.


  • The Library acquired important music collections from two well-known Australian conductors. The headline item was the collection of world-renowned conductor and pianist Richard Bonynge AC CBE, which comprises some 65 boxes of material. The collection is chiefly conductor scores for performances in Europe and Australia annotated by Maestro Bonynge, and also contains posters, magazines, theatre programs, ephemera and manuscripts, which will be housed with the relevant special collections. Most of these conductor scores were prepared for Dame Joan Sutherland OM AC DBE and the collection also included a large scrapbook covering Dame Joan’s early career, compiled by her sister. This collection is a significant addition to preserving Australia’s important music heritage, and joins Maestro Bonynge’s already substantial collections at the Library.
  • The Library also acquired a collection of scores from the American-born conductor, Frank Dobbs, who has had a distinguished career conducting symphony, opera, ballet, music theatre, and chamber ensembles both in Australia and overseas. The collection includes many premieres of new works, annotated by Mr Dobbs.
  • A number of World War 1 and Boer War music scores, many of which are not held elsewhere were acquired. These included: Australia’s battle hymn (1914); The trenches far away (ca. 1914-1918); Australia, pride of the empire (1914); Australia’s prayer and thanks giving (1914), described as ‘Australia’s national hymn’; and The empire’s own (1900).
  • Other sheet music acquired in the period included:a rare sacred cantata by Australian composer and lyricist, G.F. and W.B. Chinner, Solomon’s lost song; or, The garden of the book (1895), which is not held by any other library; Hiscock’s federal minstrels’ songster (1883) comprising 41 songs, including a humorous ditty about the perils of taking a Sydney girl out to dinner; Welcome march by Alfred Rawlings (under the pseudonym of Edward St Quentin) published to coincide with the visit of the Duke and Duchess of York and Cornwall (later King George V and Queen Mary) to Australia in 1901; All parts for the full orchestral version of The boomerang (1916) by Scottish-born Australian composer Alex F. Lithgow; The football song (1926) written and composed by T.B. Williams, which comes with the instruction to ‘Omit Melbourne, sing your own club name’. This work appears not to be held by any other library; and The claimant’s woes written by Frank W. Green; music arranged by Alfred Lee. London: C. Sheard, Musical Bouquet Office, [1874?]. The cover illustrations for this include a drawing of Arthur Orton, the man accused and later found guilty of pretending to be the missing Roger Tichborne, heir to the Tichborne baronetcy in England.

Online Publications

  • The Library’s accessible collection of government websites was significantly expanded in the period. The Australian Government Web Archive (AGWA) now provides access to Commonwealth government websites and uploaded documents from 2005 through to 2014. Over 12 million files, or around two terabytes of data, were added from new harvests in the period. In addition to these harvests, a further 62 million files or seven terabytes of Commonwealth Government web content collected through bulk harvesting of the whole .au web domain between 2005 and 2014 was able to be added to the AGWA in October 2014.
  • Highlight additions to the selective Pandora Archive include: a collection of 28 websites documenting the November 2014 G20 Summit in Brisbane and related meetings and events, and a collection of 28 websites relating to Papua New Guinea on business, culture, history, health and social issues. Individual websites of note that were collected included the website of the popular television programme At the movies with Margaret & David which ceased after 28 years of broadcasting.
  • In addition to collecting Australian websites and selectively archiving some Asia/Pacific websites the Library purchases access to a range of high quality, historically significant online resources and continued to expand this with subscriptions to the following collections. They are available for remote access to registered users and also for document delivery:
  • Tiananmen Square and U.S. China relations, 1989-1993. Digitised primary source documents relating to the demonstrations and their aftermath including public mail, memoranda, reports, cables, meeting notes and news clippings from the US White House Office of Records Management files. This collection documents the response of the White House to deteriorating United States-Chinese relations and the worldwide response.
  • Punch magazine historical archive 1841-1992. This archive also correlates the previously anonymous articles and those written under pseudonyms with the private ledgers of contributors kept by the Punch editors, in many cases revealing for the first time the true identity of the authors.

Overseas Publications

  • A fascinating album of photographs of British logging operations in Northern Thailand during the late 19th century using elephants was a highlight. The photographs were taken by one of the British company managers and have remained in the family (stored in a tea chest in the attic) until now.
  • Also purchased in the period was a 19th century Batak bark divination calendarproduced by the Batak people of north central Sumatra. The calendar was used by a diviner/spiritual leader to identify auspicious days. The cover is made of animal bone with carved decorations and the bark pages are in an accordion style.
  • Three original hand-painted watercolour North Korean propaganda posters were acquired. Unusually, these portray pastoral rather than military scenes, including a smiling farmer harvesting sunflowers and ‘studying for the motherland’.
  • The Japan photo travel album from 1958 was compiled by Elvira and Eric Kollowratek, a wealthy couple who travelled extensively through the world from the 1920s through the 1960s. This album includes nearly 100 original photos, and almost 100 postcards plus an array of other ephemera that vividly records travels through Japan at the height of Eisenhower America. The photo images show sites around Tokyo and Kyoto and also offer wonderful views of the luxurious travel of the wealthy class at the time, with first class airline menus, International Date Line Certificates, western-style Hotel accommodation built in Japan after World War II, restaurant menus, matchbook covers, pictorial maps, and printed colour brochures.
  • A woodblock set of seven pieces carved by Torazo Matsuda in Kyoto in the 1980s. The Library received this from Mrs Keiko Amenomori-Schmeisser, the wife of prominent Australian print maker Jörg Schmeisser, who passed away in 2012.
  • Contemporary works acquired include a copy of Encyclopedia of batik designs - the first study of batik designs made from tjaps (Indonesian printing blocks); as well as Power and gold : jewelry from Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines : from the collection of the Barbier-Mueller Museum, Geneva. This catalogue from an exhibition at Geneva’s Barbier-Mueller Museum features the seldom-exhibited ritual hereditary jewelry of the peoples of the outer islands of Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines.


  • The Nottingham town gaol ledger 1836-1845 details the crimes and sentences of 104 male and nine female convicts tried at the assizes and later sentenced to transportation to Australia. Purchased from the Sydney antiquarian dealer Hordern House, the volume is attributed to Governor David Musson Jackson.
  • An illuminated manuscript received from the Anglican Diocese of Canberra and Goulburn, the original Letters Patent granted by Queen Victoria in 1863 creating the Anglican Diocese and the city of Goulburn. This was the last such instance in the British Empire, once legal cases established that the monarch had no ecclesiastical jurisdiction in self-governing colonies.
  • The manuscript journal of Captain the Hon. Foley Charles Prendergast Vereker, RN was purchased at auction. The journal records the survey voyage of HMS Myrmidon in the 1880s. It contains 77 watercolours, two pencil sketches, 52 photographs and other related ephemera, and is particularly significant for its depiction and description of survey work along Australia’s north-west coast.
  • Descendants of the bibliographer Sir John Ferguson, the creator of one of the important foundation collections of the National Library, donated family papers relating to the lives and careers of Ferguson, his father, the Reverend John Ferguson and their extended families.
  • A substantial collection of papers of Michael Boddy and Janet Dawson-Boddy, encompassing Michael Boddy’s career as a writer for theatre, film, radio and television and Boddy and Dawson’s status as pioneers of the ‘tree change’ and ‘slow food’ movements. The collection also includes trade catalogues from the 1970s-1980s concerning gardening and sustainability and many fine examples of Janet Dawson’s artwork, particularly where she collaborated with Boddy, as set designer for theatrical productions, and illustrator of his writing.
  • Records of Mitchell/Giurgola & Thorp Architects relating to the New Parliament House art and craft program, received via art consultant and former MGT partner Pamille Berg AO. These business records document the process of commissioning artworks for Parliament House by many significant Australian artists.
  • Other twentieth century acquisitions include the diary of John (Jack) Trevallon Mathewson, an Australian missionary who recorded his thirteen month journey through China, Tibet and India in 1927; 13 letters from Vanessa Martin, written by her grandmother Ida Rentoul Outhwaite, the children’s book author and illustrator; an extensive collection of character speeches by speechmaker and comedian, Campbell McComas AM; papers of the musicologist and critic Professor Roger Covell AM and sociologist Professor Peter Beilharz.


  • The Battle of Bantam, 1601, is an important piece of Dutch East India Company history.  An early illustrated ‘news-map’ the work was created to advertise the Dutch Republic’s victory over the larger Portuguese fleet off the port of Bantam, Java. The copperplate engraving comprises border text, a narrative picture of the battle and a map of the East Indies. Only three other examples are known to exist, none in Australia. Of particular significance is the depiction of the Duyfken, the first European craft to chart Australian waters in 1606.
  • During examination of atlases suitable for digitisation, a 1645 English Civil War manuscript map was found in an eighteenth century county atlas. Drawn in ink and pencil, the loose map tracks the marches of Sir Thomas Fairfax's army from Taunton to Marston, and from there to Leicester, during the second siege of Oxford. The map has since been separately catalogued for the rare maps collection, and digitised.
  • A rare piece of First World War memorabilia was acquired at the auction of the Stuart Braga Collection of military history. The Anzac panorama is an unusual map of the Gallipoli peninsula, sketched from memory by Major Leslie Fraser Standish Hore. Showing the dispositions of Australian forces on 7 August 1915 - the day of the attack on The Nek by the 8th and 10th Light Horse Regiments, the topographic drawing is done from a high point looking north to the objective of Maidos, never reached. Special attention is given to the attack on Lone Pine. The small ridge now known as The Nek is identified with this matter-of-fact comment: 'Where 8th & 10th L.H. cut up'. The map is from a very small print run produced in Tasmania in May 1916, and is the only known surviving copy.
  • Rare maps of Manchuria, purchased to support the Asian Collections, printed during the period of Japanese Manchukuo prior to the Second World War. The 160 detailed maps at 1:100 000 scale were commissioned for military and administrative uses as a pro-Japanese government was installed. Noted on the maps (in Japanese) ‘The maps are to be sold only within Japan’. Produced and distributed from 1933-1939, the series features the Japanese place names assigned to much of Manchuria.
  • Another rare war map series documents German East Africa. Published by the British War Office in 1916, the 34 maps cover the region that later became Tanganyika and Ruanda-Urundi (now Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi) and show details of cities and towns, roads, railways, vegetation and water features. German East Africa was a colony in the Great Lakes region, the seat of battles and guerilla actions between German and British forces 1914 –1917. The series is not held by any other Australian library.
  • A small collection of manuscript charts drawn by the trawler operator Captain Charles R. Stuart from 1923 shows fishing grounds in north and south-eastern New South Wales. Stuart was active in establishing an off-shore fishing industry in NSW and brought in a world record flathead catch in 1921, when more than 35 tons of fish were caught in 14 hours off Green Cape. From the late 1930s Stuart won a number of government contracts to install the first shark nets on Sydney beaches.
  • A fragile cartographic toy for children, a tiny globe (45mm in diameter) produced in Nuremberg c. 1830 shows 'N South Wales' marked on the coast of New Holland, as well as the Navigation, Friendly and Sandwich Islands. In its original card box with marbled paper sides are a terrestrial globe and folding paper concertina of vignettes of 28 hand-coloured figures showing the races of the world. The ethnicities include 'Friendchaps Islander' (Tongan), 'Marguesas Islander' (Marquesan) 'Van Diemenslander' (Tasmanian). Each example of Carl Bauer's miniature globe has a different configuration of figures, with Pacific Islanders and inhabitants of Australia uncommon.

Oral History


  • Two photographic collections documenting : an archive of photographs by Kimbal Baker recording a trip from the Gulf of Carpentaria to the Fly River in 1992, including images of the BHP Ok Tedi mine, and a collection of slides of Gemo Island, in 1955.  Gemo Island, near Port Moresby, was used to treat leprosy and tuberculosis patients. The slides were acquired with the papers of Lenna Verne Blythe, a nurse who lived on the island for over 20 years. 
  • The photographic archive of Australian journalist Wilfred Burchett was purchased from his son. Considered to be a Communist sympathiser, Burchett photographed the Korean and Vietnam wars, often from the Communist side of the trenches, and these images form a significant part of the archive. Burchett's ‘Laissez Passez Tenant Lieu de Passeport - Republique du Vietnam’ was also acquired.  After his Australian passport was lost in 1955, successive Australian governments until 1972 refused to issue another. Burchett used the ‘laissez-passez’ for travel until he was issued with a Cuban passport.
  • A collection of 48 photographs of the Northern Territory, taken soon after the Commonwealth took control in 1911. The collection includes images of the Government Residency in Darwin, the Administrator and his family, social activities and the demonstration farms established at Batchelor and Daly River in 1912, including photographs taken when a party of Federal politicians visited.
  • A group of 108 Charles Kerry and Henry King portraits of Indigenous people dating to 1885 were purchased. Also acquired were 1980s photographs of Aboriginal stockmen in Northern Australia by Jim Rolon, photographs of life in the Wujal Wujal community in north Queensland by Darren Clark and three photographs from Central Land Council activist Maurie Japarta Ryan, depicting Gough Whitlam, Frank Hardy, and Indigenous elders at the 25th anniversary of the Gurindji walk off from Wave Hill Station in 1991 and a photo of Ryan’s mother Mary Ryan and grandmother, Blanche Nangi, the wife of Vincent Lingiari, to complement his Oral History interview.
  • John Olsen AO, OBE donated five watercolours during Dr Michelle Potter’s visit to record an oral history interview. The watercolours complement the Library’s holdings of Olsen’s illustrated manuscripts of his Sydney Opera House mural, Salute to Five Bells, and numerous photographic portraits of the artist.
  • A collection of embroideries and sketches made by women prisoners of war in the Changi and Sime Road camps. The collection was assembled by internee Joan Hanson (later Hartley) who at the time of the fall of Singapore in February 1942 was a 15 year old convent school student. The larger embroidery, about the size of a tablecloth, features the embroidered signatures of prisoners from both the men’s and the women’s camps.
  • A portrait in oils of Freeman Cobb, one of the founders of Cobb and Co. Cobb arrived in Australia from America in 1853 with two wagons which were used to establish the coach company serving the Victorian goldfields. He left Australia three years later, having sold the company. Prior to this acquisition, no portrait of Freeman Cobb was held in the Library’s collection.
  • Twelve watercolour paintings of flowers by Marrianne Collinson Campbell (c1880) increase the Library’s holdings of work by this artist. After moving with her husband to his inherited property, Duntroon, near Canberra in 1857, she redesigned the gardens, which were planted with many exotic and rare trees and flowers, as well as native plants.