Oral histories

Oral histories

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Sydney people talk about their history, their neighbourhoods, their beliefs, their work, their businesses, their relationship with the natural world, and their myriad experiences of daily life in this city.

Sydney Oral Histories

Telling stories

Sydney Oral Histories showcases some of the City of Sydney's many oral history interviews. Our History Unit's expanding oral history collection reflects diverse aspects of the lived experience of Sydney's history. Each interview is presented in full and as an excerpt, in both sound file and full transcription forms, to allow for fully accessible browsing and research.

While some interviews are quite old and the sound quality is imperfect the philosophy behind the Sydney Oral Histories website is that the usefulness of an interview will be decided by you, with the site organised around 6 dedicated collection themes. See what piques your interest!

Recent interviews

  • Agnes Phillips – 21 July 2015

    Agnes Phillips was born in Scotland in 1916 and lived in Millers Point from 1920 after her parents migrated to Sydney. In her interview she …

  • Tony Prescott – 21 July 2015

    Tony Prescott was born in 1947 and is an historian specialising in heritage work. In his interview he recalls his childhood interest in heritage, his …

  • John Ross – 21 July 2015

    John Ross was born in Newcastle NSW in 1935 and came to live in the Walsh Bay/Millers Point area as a small child after his …

  • Patricia Phillips – 21 July 2015

    Patricia Phillips came to The Rocks [adjacent to Millers Point] in 1970 after working in nursing, publishing, and other fields in Melbourne. In her interview …

  • Eileen and Bill Pearson – 21 July 2015

    Eileen Pearson was born in 1913 and moved to Millers Point, where her husband’s family lived, when she married at 21. She was joined in …

Sydney Oral histories also hosts occasional video presentations based on interviews from the collection.

Our city

Diverse neighbourhoods characterise the City of Sydney, each with their own personalities. Locals recollect the different places in Sydney in which they have lived, their significance, meaning and tranformations.


The City is host to dozens of organisations that represent various religious and secular creeds, convictions and philosophies. These interviews focus on the history of these organisations and their relationships with local communities, illustrating the cultural, religious and philosophical diversity that underpins the urban history of Sydney.

Shared terrain

Urban ecology, the relationship between the natural and built environments is explored in these interviews that look at native fauna, vegetation, weather patterns and environmental management within the local area.

Art and culture

People from the performing arts, cinema and visual arts discuss Sydney's rich cultural history.


All aspects of housing, residential space and homelessness in Sydney is covered in this collection, which looks both at the forces that govern housing availability and the myriad personal experiences of what private residential space means in an urban environment.

Open all hours

The histories of work, commerce and industry have been critical to the development of Sydney since its beginnings. The extraordinary range and diversity ofspecific jobs, industrial and craft-based manufacturing and small business within the City is presented in this group of interviews.

Hear the voices of Sydney people past and present

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are advised that this video may contain images or voices of people who have died.

Last updated: Wednesday, 30 October 2013