Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

South Australian History: Economic depressions: 1840s, 1890s and 1930s

This guide covers a range of topics relating to the history of South Australia, including the South Australian Company, researching Aboriginal history in South Australia, mines and mining, and the South Australian experience of religion and education


The National Library of Australia Trove website provides word searchable access to digitised Australian newspapers from 1803 to 1954.

The State Library also has a number of indexes to newspapers. These can help find the particular issue of a newspaper which reports an event. See the Newspaper Collection guide for more details.

For newspaper titles not available on Trove check the State Library catalogue. Some suggested newspaper articles are listed below.

The Observer

22 July 1843, p.4 cols. B, C, p.5 col. A. 'The land we live in.' Editorial.

29 July 1843, p.4 col. B, C. 'The labour market.' Editorial.

5 August 1843, p.4 col. C, p.5 col. A. 'The labour question.' Editorial.

5 August 1843, p.7 col. C, p.8 col. A. 'The labour market.’ Letter to the editor - J Stewart Browne

5 August 1843, p.8 cols. A, B. 'Our exports and imports.' Letter to the editor - O P Q

12 August 1843, p.7 cols. B, C. 'The labour question.' Letter to the editor - "Agrarius"

South Australiana

Vol 11, no 2, September 1972, pages 433-80 'The crisis of 1841 : its causes and consequences' by G H Pitt

Electronic resources

The State Library provides access to electronic resources at the library which can be used to search for journal articles. The library also provides Home access to eResources which allows you to access full-text journal articles online from home. You need to be a South Australian resident to use the service.

Major economic depressions

Australia has experienced three major economic depressions. These occurred during the 1840s, the 1890s and the great depression of the 1930s. This page lists resources about the depression of the 1840s. For resources on the other economic depressions use the drop-down arrow on the tab above.

Resources on the 1840s depressions in South Australia

Books and pamphlets

Australian Encyclopaedia, 1983 (4th edition) pages 264-271 - Economic History

Kwan, Elizabeth Living in South Australia: a social history, 1987 in 2 volumes.

Speakers Corner No 5, 1980 pages 1-4 'Unemployment: the waste of human resources in South Australia' by Betty Fisher

Blacket, John History of South Australia: a romantic and successful experiment in colonization, 1979 (2nd edition) pages 137-156 - Political and financial reverses; pages 185-194 - Consolidation and extension.

Bull, John Wrathall Early experiences of colonial life in South Australia, 1878 pages 243-261 - Capt Grey's government

Pike, Douglas Paradise of dissent: South Australia 1829-1857, 1967 (2nd edition) pages 184-195 - State's financial difficulty

Wilkinson, George Blakiston The working man's handbook to South Australia: with advice to the farmer and detailed information for the several classes of labourers and artisans, 1849 pages 11-14 - Commercial distress, bankruptcy

Archival material

May family 1756-1927 Papers of the May and Coleman families Typescript of Margaret May's letters 1843-1845, pages 18-24, 32-34 PRG 131