Our Manuscript Collection

Our manuscript collection (see online manuscript index), known as Primary Records, was set up in 1963 to house donated material. At present there are more than 55,000 files, with additions weekly. The files hold family papers, pedigrees, photographs, certificates, unpublished research notes, other documents and memorabilia from Australia and overseas.

But perhaps the major value of the collection is that it enables researchers to avoid reinventing the wheel - to be able to capitalise on research notes that have been deposited by members and others.

Access to the collection is available via an interim online manuscript index.

Check the index for family names and individuals, but also ships, organisations, towns and buildings.

If you locate something of interest in our indexes, the next step is to view the file, which is housed at Richmond Villa and can be pre-ordered for viewing on Thursdays and Saturdays between 10am and 4pm. At present we are unable to provide an online copying request service.

Donations to Primary Records

The Society actively encourages donations of material to this collection.  A copy of the donation form is available for download here. If you are sending or delivering material to us please use our main mailing address of 120 Kent Street for delivery

Highlights of the collection

Photographs - There are over ten thousand photographs, from rare daguerreotypes taken in the 1840s to modern laser prints. The Houison collection of plates and lantern slides is a major resource and has recently been described in one of our publications.

ABGR - The research files and photographs relating to the musters and other publications of the Australian Biographical and Genealogical Record, together with data submitted by individual descendants.

St Joseph's Building Society - This Society became a major landlord (as mortgagee in possession) in the Depression of the late 1890s. These files relate to the tenants, property maintenance and the tradesmen employed in that work, as well as their suppliers. Most of the material dates between 1880 - 1940. For greater detail click here.

Monumental masons' ledgers - The ledgers of both Andrews and Larcombe, containing lists of people who ordered headstones, together with some photographs of the finished graves.

The Dennes collection - Gordon Dennes, the editor of the Wingham Chronicle, collected biographical information on settlers on the Manning River area of New South Wales. .

The Perkins Papers - John Arthur Perkins' collection of typescript papers illustrating the social history of the electorate of Eden-Monaro and the towns of Tumut and Adelong from 1823 to 1948.  Click here to access more information.

The Valerie Ross collection - The research notes and correspondence that Valerie Ross amassed while she was researching her books on the Everingham family.

Sewerage plans & Dove's plans of Sydney - The sewerage plans date from 1856 and 1867 and show building allotments and houses and include owners' names. Percy Dove surveyed the City of Sydney in 1880 in great detail. His plans show houses and outbuildings and are colour coded for easy reference. Used together with Sands Directories they can build up a good picture for most allotments in Sydney.

Beale papers - The diaries, correspondence and other related material relating to Sydney's Beale family, which was involved in piano manufacture and running music shops.

Quong Tart papers - Papers relating to this 19th century Sydney merchant of Scottish and Chinese descent, who was active in Chinese and public life.

Camperdown Cemetery - Plans of Camperdown Cemetery in 53 sheets, hand coloured, showing sections, lots and names. The cemetery is one of the historic landmarks of Sydney's history.