State Library of NSW on Flickr

October 19, 2008 at 12:34 am 4 comments

Great to see the State Library of NSW is making available some of its archival images on Flickr. The collections satisfy two things for me – they construct a visual history of Australia and they provide some marvellous old photographic images. History and photography wrapped up together – can’t get better than this for me!

There are a number of collections you can quite easily get lost in – Australian Aviation Firsts; Australian Political Firsts; Australians in WWI; First Australian Antarctic Expedition (1911-1914); Sydney Harbour Bridge First Shots; First Australian commercial photographer; Australian Women’s Firsts – to name a few.

Have a look, you’ll find some truly stunning images. My interest was piqued by the More Australian Firsts  collection. There’s just something so dramatic and haunting about old film images. Here’s a few to whet your appetite:

Ushers and one nurse line up in the foyer, Capitol Theatre. Silver gelatin photoprint. 1928. Ah, the glamour days of theatre when people dressed up in finery. Now, we slouch in movie theatres dressed in jeans and T-shirts, sitting amongst popcorn debris and usually with some idiot answering a mobile phone call.

From the Sydney Harbour Bridge Firsts set. First cars & trains across Sydney Harbour Bridge. Glass photonegative. You can see the old “red rattler” trains Sydney used to have up until (I think) the 1970s or early 1980s.

From the Australian Women’s First set. This is a photo of Australia’s first Hollywood star of the silent era – Louise Carbasse who was also known as Louise Lovely. Silver gelatin photoprint c.1913. How incredibly gorgeous is this photo!

And finally, a photo that is simply breathtaking.

First Australasian Antarctic Expedition, 1911-1914. Silver gelatin photoprint.

I think modern digital photography sometimes pales when compared to the sweeping drama of images from the early era of photography. Just in case you don’t know, the National Library of Australia also has a pretty extensive photographic collection (more than 130,000 images). I often go there to get inspiration for my own photography. The NLA collection features rare historical maps and artwork as well. My personal favourite is the 1960s collection from photographer John Mulligan. I can’t show you any photos from the NLA collection as I’d need special permission – but go to their fabulous picture collection site and browse. Wish they’d put their stuff on Flickr.

Entry filed under: Australia, Flickr, History, Photography, Useful resources. Tags: , , .

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4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Ellen Forsyth  |  October 21, 2008 at 9:13 pm

    You might also like to look at the State Library of New South Wales collection via the pictures and manuscripts catalogue here

    Or you can discover the collections via this link which gives you browsing options.

  • 2. thinkingshift  |  October 22, 2008 at 12:24 am

    thx for that Ellen. Great to see all the fabulous images so freely available!

  • 3. Linda Groom  |  October 22, 2008 at 7:44 am

    Hi ThinkingShift

    I noticed at the end of your interesting post on the State Library of NSW’s load of some of their wonderful images to FlickR, that you wished the National Library would also put images on FlickR. The National Library has in fact, done a test load to FlickR of 164 images. One of the most popular has been ‘Jabiru & my son Brend’

    Since you are fond (as we are) of the photographer J.A. Mulligan you might like ‘Elephant performing at opening of Roxy Theatre’ or you might like to take a look at Nellie Melba’s bedroom

    You are welcome to copy any of the NLA images that are on FlickR into your blog.

    We hope to add more pictures to Flickr, but unfortunately we find ourselves in the position of having too many good ideas for being more visible in web communities and not enough resources to do all we would like.

    Linda Groom
    Curator of Pictures
    Nnational Library of Australia

  • 4. thinkingshift  |  October 23, 2008 at 5:11 am

    Hi Linda

    Thx for leaving your comment! what great news and thx for sharing this. I think we all know what the less resources situation means – lots of ideas with no time/resources to implement them! But great news you have made stuff available, which I will check out.


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