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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 page 4 columns B, C, page 5 column A Editorial 'The land we live in'

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

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

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

5 August 1843 page 7 cols A, B Letter to editor 'Our exports and imports' O P Q

12 August 1843 page 7 cols B, C Letter to editor 'The labour question' - "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 Sydney: Grolier Society of Australia Pty Ltd, 1983 4th edition pages 264-271 - Economic History

Kwan, Elizabeth Living in South Australia: a social history Netley, S Aust : South Australian Government Printer, 1987 in 2 volumes, includes bibliographies, maps, and index. Volume 1 From before 1836 to 1914; Volume 2 After 1914

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 2nd edition revised Adel: Hussey & Gillingham, 1979 Facsimile - first published Adel: Hussey & Gillingham, 1911 pages 137-156 - Political and financial reverses; pages 185-194 - Consolidation and extension

Bull, John Wrathall Early experiences of colonial life in South Australia Adel: Printed at the Advertiser, 1878 pages 243-261 - Capt Grey's government

Depression on South Australia, 1840s, 1890s and 1930s. Adelaide: State Library of South Australia, 1995

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

Sanders, Jane The settlement of George Sanders and his family at Echunga Creek 1839-40 From the manuscript journal of Jane Sanders Edited by C S Sanders. Adel: Pioneers Association of SA, 1955 page 18

South Australia in depressed economic times (1840-1930): a select guide. Adelaide: State Library of South Australia, 1992

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 Adel: Public Library of South Australia, 1962 Facsimile edition - first published London: Murray, 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