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In 1964, Lois McEvoy donated papers and photographs of the Sydney-based businessman and restauranteur Mei Quong Tart (1850-1903), whose famous tea rooms were situated in the Queen Victoria Building. These papers and photographs document the life of Quong Tart and his family from the 1880s onwards and feature, in particular, his philanthropic activities in late nineteenth century Sydney. They document the life of a successful businessman, poised mid-way between the colonial elite and the colonial working class during the time the Colonies were discussing the matter of Federation.

The papers include four scrapbooks filled with press clippings, menus, programmes and invitations, and an assortment of letters and telegrams. After Quong Tart’s death in 1903, his wife Margaret kept the memorabilia and used some of it in 1910 to write a brief biography of her husband’s life, The Life of Quong Tart or, How a Foreigner Succeeded in A British Community. The manuscript copy of this book is held by the Society.

Image: Shop front 137 King Street Sydney, Tea House c1889,

SAG Manuscript and Image Collection, Item 6/26.005

Source: Based on Hawkins, Ralph and Murray, Lisa, ‘Short guide to the Tart McEvoy Papers’, 2004

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