State Library and Tasmanian Archives Blog

Recently Digitised Material

An old photo of a man sitting next to some relics.

This blog features some of the recently digitised items from the Tasmanian Archives and the State Library of Tasmania. Each year, we place items online to help promote and preserve our rare and special collections. These images and films are just a tiny sample of an amazing treasure trove of Tasmania’s heritage. From colonial artwork to convict records, from fragile glass plate negatives to rare films, from private letters to government records, our collections (including the Allport Library and Museum of Fine Arts and the W L Crowther Collection) tell literally millions of stories from Tasmania and around the world.

Read on to find out more about our new additions to our digital collections! To discover even more, you can also search our catalogue or visit us on Flickr and YouTube.

In this blog:

  • Glass Plate Negatives of Sea Captains, c1920 – Ref: NS6192
  • Stereoscopic Views of the ‘Franklin Relics,’ 1860 – Ref: NS1155
  • Mt Biscoff Tin Mine Photographs – Ref: NS6719
  • Gentleman Jim, 1942 – Reference: Ref: NS4264/1/5
  • Hobart High School Photos – Ref: AG162/1/6
  • Charles Street School Register 1902-08 – Ref: AB753/1/1
  • Return of Convicts Embarked for Port Arthur by the Ships Tamar, Isabella, Shamrock, and Lady Franklin (1834-1855). Ref: CON126/1/1
  • Return of Money Forfeited by Prisoners at Port Arthur (1864). Ref: CON132/1/1
  • Letter from the Colonial Secretary to the Commandant, Port Arthur (1834). Ref: CON86/1/2
  • Film: Timber Makes News, 1947 – Ref: AC672/1/219
  • Film: Les Skelly talking about Tiger Hill, 1986-9 – Ref: NS1391/1/1
  • Film: Burnie Mill, 1956 – Ref: AC672/1/1

Newly Digitised Images

Glass Plate Negatives of Sea Captains, c1920

These images come from the O’May Family Collection and are a diverse collection of portraits of people in the maritime industry. They are largely captains, masters or ship-builders but the collection also includes some other individuals and general images. The negatives were probably made by, or for, Harry O’May, either from photographs he had in his collection or had borrowed from other sources. O’May was also a prolific local author and maritime historian with his own considerable library. You can read his books (both those he wrote and some of those he owned himself) in the Hobart Library. Ref: NS6192


Stereoscopic Views of the ‘Franklin Relics,’ 1860

2 old photos of a man sitting next to some relics. both the same
NS1155/1/20: A portrait of Captain Leopold McClintock with a few of the Franklin relics

Brought home in the Fox by Captain Leopold McClintock in September 1859 (an expedition privately funded by Lady Jane Franklin), these items were photographed by Lieut. Cheyne. They are some of the so-called “relics” from the expedition of Sir John Franklin to find the Northwest Passage, which disappeared into the ice of Lancaster Sound in 1845. Ref: NS1155/1/20

If you’re interested to know more about the voyage of the Fox and the search for Franklin, you might be interested in a couple of resources. For a ripping read, check out the recent book by Russell Potter, Finding Franklin: The Untold Story of a 165-Year Search. And for an up-close and personal view of the McClintock expedition, have a look at this treasure, donated to the library by local historian Brian Rieusett: a dedicated copy of McClintock’s narrative, signed by Lady Franklin. We’re planning a blog on Brian’s generous donation of books from Lady Franklin’s library soon, so please keep an eye on this space.

Mt Biscoff Tin Mine Photographs

An old black and white photo of 3 men inside a mine. One is holding a sledgehammer.
Mt Biscoff Tin Mine – two miners and supervisor within mine, c1880. Ref: NS6719/1/4

Set of six photographs depicting the operations of the Mine in the 1880s. These photographs are related to items deposited related to investigations by The Zinc Corporation Limited company into the viability of the Mt Bischoff Mine. This small cache of papers were in the possession of a former employee of Hellyer mine Que River and Aberfoyle Ltd. Ref: NS6719


Gentleman Jim, 1942

Cinema poster from the Dick Perry Collection starring Errol Flynn and Alexis Smith. Richard Alfred (Dick) Perry, 1905-1983, proprietor of Perry’s Pictures, toured Tasmanian country towns from the 1920s to the 1970s, initially with silent movies, and with sound from 1930. Reference: NS4264/1/5


Education Photos and Records

If you’re interested in the history of education (or of your particular school), please have a look at our special guide to records on Schools and Education. You might also like to have a look at our special feature on 150 Years of Public Education in Tasmania.

Hobart High School Photos

An old photo of a high school class.2 rows of boys stand behind 1 row of girls sitting, the teach sits in the front row in the middle.
Photograph – class and teacher (unidentified) c1940. Ref: AG162/1/6

Collection of 23 class photographs dating from the 1930s to 1960, from the Hobart High School Collections (TA1208). Hobart High School was established in 1913 to provide secondary education to the children of poorer families. Until then, only private schools had offered secondary education. The school was initially located at Trinity Hill in North Hobart and was moved to the Letitia Street site in 1917. In 1965 it became known as the Hobart High Matriculation College before being succeeded by the Hobart Matriculation College (years 11 & 12) and Taroona High School (years 7 to 10) in the following year. Reference: AG162/1/1-23


Charles Street School Register 1902-08

1 page from an old admissions register. THe title reads "admission register. Charlie Sch Slate School, No 15". underneath is a list of terms and conditions.
Reference: AB753/1/1

During 1882-84 a new school was built in Launceston on Charles Street to replace the existing one on Elizabeth Street. From the AB753 series of Admission Registers (Primary). Ref: AB753/1/1


Convict Records

Tasmania’s convict records are part of the UNESCO Memory of the World International Register along with the convicts records for New South Wales and Western Australia. The register is the equivalent for documents of the World Heritage List for built and natural sites.

For more information about convict records (including a list of those already digitised) have a look at our Guide to Convict Records online. You can also search for convicts by name in the Tasmanian Names Index from any page on the Libraries Tasmania website (just select “Names Index” from the drop-down menu next to the search bar).

An old document listing convicts that embarked for port arthur
Return of Convicts Embarked for Port Arthur by the Ships Tamar, Isabella, Shamrock, and Lady Franklin (1834-1855). Reference: CON126/1/1
A list of Prisoners names with an amount of money next to their names.
Return of Money Forfeited by Prisoners at Port Arthur (1864). Reference: CON132/1/1
An old letter. It is addressed to the colonial secretary to the commandant, Port Arthur.
Letter from the Colonial Secretary to the Commandant, Port Arthur (1834). Reference: CON86/1/2



Timber Makes News (1947) – Features footage of the timber industry and the use of timber in newsprint. Includes operations at Boyer Mill, rare details of tall timber felling and tree gantry, logging train, Bushy Park, Tarraleah and newsprint production. Shot by Tasman Higgins (?) Made by Alexander Cann, United Documentary Films. Reference: AC672/1/219
Les Skelly talking about Tiger Hill (1986-9) – This is an excerpt from NS1391/1/1 (oral history relating to the Tasmanian Central Highlands). Featuring the McAulay family, Brown family, Rhodes Goodluck, Les Skelly, A Hazelwood, V Monks, Ted Knight, schools and bush carpenters.
Burnie Mill (1956) – Describes the whole process of logging, pulping, reforestation, making fine writing and greaseproof wrapping papers, Burnie board and other pulp products. Produced by Cine Services – APPM. Reference: AC672/1/1

A note about permissions

We love it when people use our resources. If you’d like to use our images or films in your book, manuscript, documentary, blog, or social media, please do make sure that you ask permission first. You can find out how to do this on our Writers and Publishers page (which has a link to the permission form).

Please feel free to ring us for advice or help. You can find our telephone numbers and chat service on our Help Desk.


  • Cara is a Digital Services Officer for Government Archives and Preservation.

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