Archives and history

Archives and history

Archives and history resources

Visit our online catalogue to search for historic photos, maps and documents.

Online catalogue

Learn about our collections

Sydney is a vibrant city and it has an ancient heartbeat. Discover the rich, vivid history of Sydney from early Aboriginal life through to the modern global city.

As the oldest municipal council in NSW, the City of Sydney has governed, designed and created the city urban environment. Our archives, civic history and collections chart our contributions to public life.

The City archives collection

The City archives holds items from as early as 1842 when the Municipal Council of Sydney was established.

We’re responsible for managing, preserving and providing access to more than 1 million items including:

  • documents
  • photographs
  • maps
  • plans
  • data.

The collection consists of:

  • City of Sydney corporate archives
  • items collected from the community relating to the City of Sydney local area
  • published reference material.

The City’s archives collection management policy, now being developed, will provide more information about our collection.

How to use the archival collection

Search the catalogue.

Not sure where to start? – Let us know what you are looking for and complete a form at request City records.

If a copy is not available? – Request copies.

Visiting – Archives are stored offsite so it is essential to make an appointment (see contacts below) to come in and view items at Town Hall House, Level 21, 456 Kent Street, Sydney.


City of Sydney Archives
02 9265 9618

GPO Box 1591
Sydney 2001

The civic collection

The civic collection comprises items of movable cultural heritage that document the civic identity of the City of Sydney as it is expressed through historical, contemporary and emerging traditions and creative practices.

The collection includes:

  • historical and contemporary civic portraits, historical and contemporary works of art in traditional and diverse media including artworks by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
  • furniture and furnishings that reflect the working requirements of a functioning council and interpret key phases of the historical development of the City’s buildings, particularly Sydney Town Hall
  • historical items and memorabilia associated with the civic history and responsibilities of the City, including official gifts, plaques, memorials and insignia.

The curatorial management of the collection is directed towards acquiring, preserving and interpreting the following categories of items:

  • artworks in 2 and 3 dimensions and digital media thart reflect the cultural diversity of the community of the City of Sydney
  • furnishings that have significance to City of Sydney properties, including Sydney Town Hall
  • historical items relating specifically to the City of Sydney in its civic administrative and ceremonial role.

The civic collection is guided by the City’s civic collection curatorial policy and guidelines.

How to view and access the civic collection

To make an appointment to view objects for research purposes, or read the civic collection curatorial policy and Guidelines, contact us.


Curator, Civic Collection
02 9265 9074

City of Sydney
GPO Box 1591
Sydney 2001

Last updated: Wednesday, 11 March 2020