City archives

City archives

The City's memory

The City of Sydney Archives is the City's corporate memory with more than 15,000 shelf-metres of archival records created by the City, including photographs and maps. 

The Archives contain records of everything the City has done in the normal course of business since 1842. If the City did it, we’ll probably have a record of it. If your family lived in the City local area and had dealings with the Council, we may have the records.

The Archives contain council records, reports, correspondence, building records, plans, maps and images that document the City’s cultural and political history. By delving into these records, you’ll discover a wealth of information about the City’s villages, civic milestones and major events.

How to use the archives

Search the catalogues and identify the records you wish to access, and then email a request with Archives to view the original records at our reading room at Town Hall House. In some cases, we have digitised the original records, and you can view them online.

More material is added to this collection every year.

For information about how to visit Archives or how to make research enquires, see Using the Archives.

Please remember: To visit the City of Sydney Archives in person, you’ll need to arrange an appointment. The records are stored offsite and the archivists need notice to retrieve your documents of interest.

Image: Elevated view looking south-west from a building at the corner of George Street, Park Street and Druitt Street. Date unknown. Archive Pix, SRC21031. 

Archives Investigator

Archives Investigator is our main catalogue. It will help you locate archival information created by the City of Sydney, including all the areas absorbed into the City over time (such as Alexandria, Darlington, Erskineville, Newtown, Redfern, Waterloo, Paddington and Glebe). 

Find catalogue items relating to council business, such as the minutes of a 1903 committee meeting where members voted on the use of a building as a skating rink, and whether to lease a park to a circus. You may want to research staff that served in WWI, or delve into honour rolls, eisteddfod prizes, surveys, clippings, rate books and much more. Once you’ve used the catalogues to identify the items of interest, follow up with our Archives to gain access to them. Most of the City’s records up to 1979 are included. More recent information may be accessed by arrangement with the Archives team.

Sydney Reference Collection

A collection of books and reports about all aspects of the history of Sydney. It also includes monographs and serials relating to the archive profession, reports and conservation management plans. The Sydney Reference Collection is catalogued in the City Library’s online catalogue. Items may not be borrowed and must be read, by appointment, in the Archives research room at Town Hall House.

Sydney’s Councillors and Aldermen

A biographical guide to the men and women who have represented Sydney’s locals at Council since it was formed in 1842. They include people from a variety of professional and mercantile backgrounds, including magistrates, union officials, retailers and the occasional publican. Names can be accessed via an A-Z listing.  

Last updated: Friday, 11 July 2014