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Archival Collections: Archival Collections

This State Library of South Australia guide to archival collections includes information on archival formats, making donations, accessing archival material and online access to selected transcripts.


Archival items are unpublished papers and records of individuals, businesses, and community organisations (such as churches, sporting clubs and special interest groups) which are considered worthy of preservation for the future. The Library collects archival material which is predominantly South Australian in content, or is by or about South Australians and has research value.

The State Library's archival collections began in 1920, when a South Australian Archives was established: the first State archives in Australia. The collection contains material dating back to the early colonial period of the 1830s, in some cases predating white settlement in South Australia.

The archival collection also includes over 75,000 digitised images which are viewable on the Library Catalogue.

Donate to the State Library of SA

There are many ways you can donate to the State Library:

Read more about how you can support us.

Donation restrictions

The Library has a responsibility to its donors. Archival material accepted for donation remains in the collection and may be subject to donor restrictions where these are unavoidable. In particular circumstances, it is possible that some items may be placed in a more appropriate institution. Donors have advised accordingly and approval obtained before items are transferred.

Contact for Archival Donations

Archival Field Officer
Phone: (08) 8207 7260
Fax: (08) 8207 7307
‚ÄčEmailArchival Collection Development

Accessing archival material

Record types

Archival records are arranged in five categories:

  • business record groups (BRG),
  • private record groups (PRG),
  • society record groups (SRG),
  • single items such as diaries or letters (D), and
  • maps (C).

Finding items

To find archival items, simply search the Library Catalogue for the name of individuals, societies, companies, titles, projects, or related keywords. Most records contain a brief summary with details about each item listed in associated Series Lists. Series Lists not on the catalogue are held at the Information Desk.

Staff at the Information Desk can provide further information or advice about using the Library Catalogue and archival materials. Specialist archival staff are also available for consultation.

Retrieving items

Archival material can be requested from storage from the Information Desk or by telephone. Material (or facsimile copies, if the original is fragile or valuable) will be sent to the Somerville Reading Room for patron use. Copies of items may be made by staff provided any copyright or donor conditions are met; please see the Donor/Copyright Permission Checklist for requirements.


  • Business record groups: John Martin's BRG 121; Holden's BRG 213; the South Australian Company BRG 42.
  • Society record groups: the Campaign for Peace in Vietnam (SA) SRG 124; the South Australian Red Cross Information Bureau SRG 76; Holy Trinity Anglican Church SRG 94/A2; Blackwood Football Club SRG 567.
  • Private record groups: Colonel William Light PRG 1; Catherine Helen Spence PRG 88; Lillian Daphne De Lissa, founder of the S.A. Kindergarten Union PRG 253.

Archives Department, 1984

Brian Baldwin (Deputy Archivist) and Dr John Tregenza inspect paintings of Captain D.M. Hahn and his ship the Zebra on their arrival at the Archives, 1984.

View more information about this image here. No known copyright restrictions - conditions of use.

Archives Department, 1919

Archives Department, Adelaide, taken 7 April 1919 during process of conversion from an ordnance store.

B 277. View more information about this image here. No known copyright restrictions - conditions of use

Archival formats

Although predominantly paper-based, archival material includes any form of record keeping such as:

  • photographs
  • films
  • video recordings
  • sound recordings
  • oral history
  • maps
  • architectural plans
  • posters
  • parchment
  • artworks,
  • computer disks, and
  • realia (artefacts such as dolls or medals).

Born digital formats will be considered if the content matches the criteria of our Collection Development Policy. We are currently putting strategies in place to ensure information is secure and available for the long term, and that the content and context of the record is maintained so that records can be searched effectively.

Official government records are not held in the State Library, but are held by State Records of South Australia.