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Transcripts: Life in the 19th century

Use this research guide to delve into transcripts of handwritten documents on a variety of topics. More transcripts are linked to relevant records in our catalogue.

Life in the 19th century, mainly in South Australia

Reference number



D 2685

Rosina Ferguson

Letters written to relatives in England while on the Buffalo and in Adelaide, referring to Governor Hindmarsh and to early South Australian settlement 1836-50

D 3227/5

Arthur W Gliddon

Testimonial presented to AW Gliddon 1862

D 3238

Matthew Henry Crosby

Letter to a relative in England, including a description of Adelaide and discussion of commodity prices 1850

D 3787

Charles Holmes

Diary of an overland journey from Angaston via the Murray and Lodden Rivers to the Victorian gold fields, together with another diary of a visit to the south-eastern districts of   South Australia in the interests of the Primitive Methodist Church 1852-70

D 3973

Jean Elizabeth Murray

Notebook describing the early history of Coromandel Valley in the 1840s

D 4120/2

George Stuart Lindsay

Diary describing a survey expedition to the Barkly Tableland, Northern Territory, and on the Coolgardie goldfields 1893

D 4639

Charles Darwin

Undated letter from England in which he discusses a possible German translation of Origin of species undated

D 4708/1

John Pitcher

Letter to Josiah Pitcher, Launceston thanking him for gifts of vines, and says the 'Rabbits....are doing well' 1838

D 4708/2

Samuel & Co Stocks

Letter re wool, wheat and copper shipments 1846

D 4708/3-4

Rev Thomas Quinton Stow

Letter to Rev Mr Wales, London 1847

D 4840

William A Norman

Research paper on the history of Mitcham 1951

D 5037

John Crawford Woods

Reminiscences and five diaries kept by the first Unitarian Minister in Adelaide 1824-1906, and a diary by his wife 1907

D 5363

Belt Family

11 letters 1833-96

D 6390

Thomas Flett and Samuel Stuckey

Letters to Mrs Margaret Flett (widow of William Flett), principally from her son Thomas and her son-in-law Samuel Stuckey, relating mainly to the running of Samuel Stuckey's pastoral properties in the north of South Australia. Thomas Flett was managing Beltana pastoral Crown lease, and Samuel Stuckey was managing Umberatana in the northern Flinders Ranges, 1864-86

D 6518

Rev Thomas Quinton Stow

Letter reporting on his church work and the growth of his congregation 1839

D 6785

James Gilbert McDougall

Diary of an amateur naturalist with detailed observations on the flora and fauna around Edithburgh and Yorke Peninsula 1886-87

D 7041

Archibald Little

Letters written by a farmer at Dairy Creek, Hack's Station and Mt Barker describing economic and agricultural  conditions and problems with raising crops 1840-42

D 7062

Bishop Francis Murphy

Letter from the first Catholic Bishop of Adelaide describing the Aboriginal people and their customs 1844

D 7076

George Fossett

Letter from Oak Gully describing his life on a sheep station near Dry Creek 1848.

D 7245

John Finlay Duff

Letter to his uncle, Captain John Finlay, inviting him to speculate in land at Port Lincoln 1839

D 7265

Charles Henry Johnston

Diary kept during the building of the Overland Telegraph Line 1872 and station life 1873

D 7310

John Fogg Taylor

80 page letter from Tundemunga near Adelaide with graphic details describing early life in Adelaide, Aboriginal people and corroborees, flora and fauna, and local events such as Government House burning down 1840

D 7322

Rev Thomas Quinton Stow

Letter reporting on the Congregational Church and details of members 1840

D 7366

Alfred Hardy

Letters written by Alfred Hardy, surveyor, in Adelaide to his family in England 1842-46. One letter concerns his interest in F. Sinnett and the Beckwith family, the S.A. Railway Bill, and the construction of Hardy's house, Hartley Bank, at Glen Osmond 1850

D 7341

John Halliday

Reminiscences dated 1908 of his reason for emigrating in 1849; his work during his early days in SA; his time at the Victorian goldfields and the formation of the first gold escort ; his career as a market gardener on Mount Lofty and success at agricultural shows; and his return visit to England circa 1902

D 7347

William Hancox

Letter describing his voyage out in 1839, his impressions of the colony of South Australia, living conditions and commodity prices, wages paid for work, and his own employment prospects.  1840

D 7355

Thomas Elder

Journal written as a 12 year old living in Kirkaldy in Fife, Scotland, recording his summer holiday activities 1830

D 7380

Charles Davies

Diary of a voyage to Adelaide, settlement and sheep farming in the Gawler Ranges, and a trip to Mattwarrangalla 1863

D 7384

Sarah Jane Niall

Reminiscences of life in Van Diemen's  Land and South Australia, with notes on the Nihill family (variant spellings of name) 1900

D 7404

William Jnr Giles and Thomas Hudson Beare

Press copies of business letters from partners in the cutter Mary Ann, mostly written from Kingscote, Kangaroo Island 1838

D 7418

Thomas William Craddock

Letter from Tarlee, South Australia, describing his voyage out on the Forfarshire and working conditions in South Australia around Tarlee 1874

D 7419

William Henry Arscott

Letter mentioning the job he has found, and the friendly society 'Rackohole' 1874

D 7656

James Alexander McLean

Reminiscences of the early days of the colony of South Australia by a member of the Mounted Police Force and Sherriff's Officer of the Supreme Court, Adelaide ca 1840

D 7711

Rev Thomas Quinton Stow

Letter describing conditions in the  colony of South Australia including climate, water, stock, trade and money, religion, and comparison with other colonies 1842

D 7723

HL Thornber

Reminiscences of his father, Charles Rowland Thornber, his arrival in South Australia in 1839, early experiences as a member of the gold escort under Tolmer and Alford, and married life in Wallaroo and Moonta 1922

D 7739

Catherine Hussey

Letters proposing to establish a charity school for 'unprotected children who wander the streets' of 1843 and relating to Irish immigration to South Australia 1852

D 7742

Sir Richard Graves MacDonnell

Extracts from a lecture on the colony of  South Australia, describing early exploration, the problem of water and how it compares to Ireland and elsewhere 1863

D 7753

H Barclay

Letter from Strathallan describing methods of making smoke signals by Aboriginal people 1894

D 7757

South Australian School Society

First report setting out their education plans, the appointment of Mr J.B. Shepherdson as head teacher, and details of the society 1838

D 7899

Henry Nixon

Letter to George Napier, following the death of William Light 1839

D 7922   

Emanuel Solomon

167 pages of letters by entrepreneur businessman Emanuel Solomon who arrived in South Australia in 1838, invested in land and buildings, and with his brother in Sydney operated the ship Dorset trading between Adelaide and Sydney. In 1840 he erected the Queen's Theatre, the first building of any substantial size in Adelaide. He was a prominent member of Adelaide's Hebrew Congregation.

D 7945

Thomas Davidson

Letters written to Ethel May Malcolm, mainly from Broken Hill where Davidson was manager of  D.J. Fowler & Coy Ltd 1899-1901

D 8001

Hermann Koeppen

Romantic letters (translated from Old High German) written by young German immigrant Koeppen who arrives in Adelaide in 1851 and falls in love with Johanna Maria Caroline Ohlmeyer. In order to satisfy her family that he can support her, he travels to the Victorian goldfields, and after modest success, returns to Adelaide and they marry 1851-65

D 8306

William Peter Reynolds

Letters which include a mention of the execution of Michael Magee, who was convicted of shooting Sherriff Smart 1837-38

D 8206

Richard Day

Research paper by Max Slee of 2005 on Richard and Mary Ann Day who arrived in 1838. He built huts and grew crops on the River Torrens and Walkerville; worked as a teamster at the Burra Mines; purchased land around Prospect Village, Cheltenham, Regency Park, Reeves Plains, Gawler River; Two Wells and Kangaroo Flat; built Croydon Villa; in 1880 his property at Tam O'Shanter Belt (also known as Salt Water Springs) was acquired for Islington Sewage Farm, which in 1975 became part of Regency Park including Sunnybrae Farm. He died in 1900.

D 8334

John Reynolds Ewens

Private journal kept by Police Trooper Ewens, at Guichen Bay (Robe), Gawler Town, Port Elliot and Port Lincoln, covering shipping movements, shark fishing and whale catching, trips to local areas, incidents of police interest and social activities and events 1853-62

D 8431   

Henry Adams

Diary taking in the Goolwa, Hindmarsh Island, Middleton and Currency Creek areas, with references to work at the mill, fishing, hunting, kangaroo-dogging, chapel and cricket. Cricket is a particular interest with mentions of the Goolwa Cricket Club and its rivals at Port Elliot 1859-62

D 8489

James Allen

Letters from Brownhill Creek mentioning prices of commodities, business, climate, description of metropolitan and countryside areas, his horses, daily routines 1841 and 1843

D 8683

Adaliza Ann Gower

Diary on the Hooghly 1846 and first impressions of South Australia showing the pastimes, entertainments and invitations offered to a well to do young woman newly arrived in the Colony 1847

D 8693

Charles Woss

Letter includes mention of the Aboriginal Buandik people in the Rivoli Bay area 1848   

D 8696

 Rev Thomas Quinton Stow

Letter about the Congregational church and the opening of a new school room 1845

D 8706

MA Lintner

Letter about Parkside Lunatic Asylum 1884 and an anonymous inmate’s diary 1880s

BRG 42/11/5

South Australian Company

Deed of Settlement and Royal Charter of Incorporation between George Fife Angas, Thomas Smith and Henry Kingscote, directors of the South Australian Company, and 300 shareholders  London 27 June 1836 

BRG 42/147

South Australian Company

Petition to William Giles, Manager, asking for a continuance of the Company's paper currency of notes of small value, signed by fifty of Adelaide's leading traders 1852

PRG 50

Governor George Gawler

Selected papers including Julia Gawler diary kept during Charles Sturt’s expedition to Mount Bryan 1839

PRG 101/1

Arthur Hardy

Two diaries: volume 1 covers his voyage in the Platina, his pastoral and agricultural operations at section 335 on the Torrens (Paradise); volume 2 is a record of trips to Port Lincoln and a trip to England on the Medway, his activities there and his return trip to South Australia on the Mary Ann 1838-45

PRG 101/2

Arthur Hardy and family

100 long and detailed letters between family members, mainly in London and Arthur’s residence Birksgate in Urrbrae, South Australia, discussing crops and gardens, local matters and people 1838-1906

PRG 160

Bishop Augustus Short

Diary of Bishop Short covering his family's voyage from England to Adelaide on the Derwent and his work in establishing the Anglican Bishopric in South Australia 1847-48

PRG 171

George Henry Pitt

Entertaining historical writings on ‘buildings of old Adelaide’ and ‘women in the early days’ written by an archivist in the 20th century

PRG 180

Henry Hammond Tilbrook

Reminiscences, camping out expeditions and memoranda mainly in the far north and Flinders Ranges and down to the Glenelg River in South Australia and also to New Zealand, by the editor of the Northern Argus newspaper in Clare, HH Tilbrook, between 1864 and 1905

PRG 218

Captain John Hart

Diary of a pioneer seafarer, merchant and Parliamentarian 1865

PRG 239/18

Sir John Morphett

Letter from Sir John to his son John Cummins Morphett about his early work for South Australia and the people with whom he worked 1888

PRG 257/1/2

Samuel Mills

Letter describing his experiences in South Australia including rents, prices and cost of food 1842

PRG 294/1

William Webster Hoare

Diary as surgeon’s assistant and amateur naturalist on Surveyor-General George Goyder’s Northern Territory Survey Expedition 1868-69

PRG 389/3-5

John Howard Clark and John T Bagot

Three short letters 1854-69

PRG 389/7

Matthew Symonds Clark

Diary kept by ornithologist, aviculturist and naturalist Clark, with a list of birds seen during the year, principally in the Burnside district 1863

PRG 389/9

Caroline Emily Clark

Recollections of social reformer Emily Clark who founded the 'boarding-out' system c. 1828-1905

PRG 558/2/4

Mary Jacob

Diary written while living in Stanley Street, Lower North Adelaide 1866-67

PRG 630/2

Sir Charles Todd

Family letters, mainly by his wife Alice, written during Todd's absence on construction of the Overland Telegraph in 1872 and and a letter by Todd to his family in England describing his voyage to South Australia in the Irene 1855

PRG 630/6

Sir Charles Todd

Diary of a tour on the Continent and in England and of a voyage out to Australia 1885-86

PRG 966/4

Ann Horrocks nee Jacob

Diary of her day to day life at the Jacob's settlement at Moorooroo at Jacob's Creek in the Barossa Valley with numerous notable visitors such as the Governor and names like Bagot, Gilbert, Hawker and Morphett, and recording the death of John Horrocks 1839-48

PRG 1153/1

John Harman Eamer

Letter from Australia to his mother describing voyage aboard the Andromache and settling in Adelaide 1850

PRG 1399/85

Wilson Family

Papers relating to Edmund M, Theodore AG and George A Wilson 1853-1935, 1960, 1971

PRG 1723

Gregory Seale Walters

53 letters to his wife Johanna in England, when he was sent to Australia to establish smelting works at the Burra Mines. The letters begin on his voyage to Australia and arrival at Port Adelaide and Holdfast Bay in 1848. The letters include many illustrations, including animals and insects, transport and scenery. He sets up his accommodation in North Adelaide and details life in Adelaide and trips to the Burra Mines between 1848 and 1850.

SRG 4/103

Rev John Gibbon Wright

Methodist minister's diary with details of his activities in the metropolitan area such as Kensington, Mitcham, Norwood and Athelstone, and in country areas such as Strathalbyn, Kadina, Moonta, Wallaroo, Gawler, Clare and Kooringa 1856 to 1901 and letters from Burra Burra to the Briston circuit, 1856 to 1898.

SRG 94/W60

Mrs Meredith

Letters, reports, lists of Aboriginal people, mainly Narungga, living on the Point Pearce mission, Aboriginal names and words, rules for the Yorke Peninsula Mission and newspaper cuttings 1866-92

SRG 716/3

South Australian Club

Indenture establishing the club 5 September 1838