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South Australian History: 1890s

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

Books and pamphlets

Anderson, R J Solid town: the history of Port Augusta 'Port Augusta' :R J Anderson, 1988 pages 138-146 Chapter 17 'Life in the 1890s'

Australia. Labour and Industrial Branch. Report No 2 1912 'Trade unionism, unemployment, wages, prices and cost of living in Australia 1891 to 1912'

Jones Alan Lyrup Village: a century of association 1894-1994 Lyrup: Lyrup Village Centenary Committee, 1994 Includes copy of the relevant government legislation.

Mack, David The village settlements on the River Murray in South Australia, 1894 - 1909: a chronicle of communal life and hardship Somerton, S Aust: D B Mack, 1994

Miscellaneous newspaper cuttings relating to New Australia, 1893-1897

Moss, Jim Sound of trumpets: history of the Labour movement in South Australia Cowandilla: Wakefield Press, 1985 pages 159-182 Ch 13 - 'Reform or Utopia', pages 411-413 - bibliography

Svensen, Stuart The sinews of war: hard cash and the 1890s maritime strike Kensington, N.S.W. : New South Wales University Press, 1995

Journal and newspaper articles

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.

Selected articles from journals held in the library collection are listed below.


Journal of the Historical Society of South Australia No 19, 1991, pages 26-41 ''The Pull-down Brigade': the conservative campaign against the Village Settlements in 1895' by Julie-Ann Ellis

Labour History No 61, November 1991, pages 70-87 'Gender, household and community politics: the 1890 Maritime strike in Australia and New Zealand' by Bruce Scates

Official year book of the Commonwealth of Australia No 7, 1914 Canberra: Australian Bureau of Statistics, 1915 pages 994-997 - Fluctuations in employment and unemployment 1891-1912. (Also online).

Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society Of Australasia South Australian Branch Vol 60, December 1959, pages 87-106 'Village settlements of the River Murray' by H J Finnis

South Australiana Vol 4, no 2, September 1965, pages 57-93 'Life at Murtho Settlement 1894-97' by E Gilmour


The National Library of Australia Trove website 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

10 February 1894, pages 14-15 'The poor and the unemployed'

10 February 1894, p 31 col D 'Distribution of food- Old Exhibition grounds'

10 February 1894, p 31 col D 'The unemployed Rates given for stone cracking'

17 February 1894, p 14 cols B, C 'Feeding the hungry 62 families Old Exhibition grounds'

24 February 1894, p 14 cols D, E 'The unemployed March through the streets of Adelaide'

24 February 1894, p 14 cols A-C, map 'The village settlements Departures to Lyrup'

24 February 1894, p 16 cols A-C 'Assisting the unemployed Sir John Downer's scheme'

27 October 1894, p 24 cols C-F Editorial 'The unemployed problem' Q E D

15 December 1894, p 25 cols D, E, p 26 col A 'The unemployed problem Select Committee report'

Port Augusta Dispatch

9 February 1894, p 2 cols D, E 'A trip around Port Augusta Workingmens' Blocks Names included

16 February 1894, p 4 cols A, B 'The agricultural outlook good crops - poor returns'

6 April 1894, p 2 cols B, C Editorial 'Work for the unemployed'

16 March 1894, p 2 col B Editorial 'Westward Ho desire to escape from the existing depression'


27 October 1890, supplement p 1 'To the men on strike! The situation reviewed Fellow workers!'


30 March 1894, p 7 Letter to editor 'The unemployed'

Village settlements film

The village settlements scheme was created in response to the economic depression that hit Australia after a series of major strikes in the early 1890s and the bank crash of 1893. The State Library's YouTube channel holds selected segment of a film called Murray River Quest. This segment, made by Arbor Productions in 1985, focuses on the village settlements that were set up along the Murray River.

Watch Murray River Quest

Village settlements websites

Archival items

Coneybeer, Frederick William. Papers of F W Coneybeer M P 1873-1950 PRG 22 Series 19 and Series 26 -Volume 1

Tulloch, Capt John. Reminiscences of Captain John Tulloch relating mainly to experiences as a merchant seaman 1890-1979 pages 10-11 very brief D6368(L)