University of Wollongong

University of Wollongong

The University of New England

The University of New England

The University of Newcastle

The University of Newcastle

Introduction - about the project

In early 2002 the Australian Research Council provided funding to the Principal Investigators, Professors Jim Hagan and Andrew Wells of the University of Wollongong, to conduct a pilot project to investigate the feasibility of producing an Internet gateway to regional archives in New South Wales, along with a methodology to digitise documents and view those documents online.

The pilot project sought to develop a detailed, uniform and cross-referenced web-based electronic inventory of the regional archives of New South Wales using proven software. In addition, the pilot project was to test the digitisation of collections, and the linking of these digitised collections to the participating regional archives' online inventories. The archival records considered to fall within the scope of the project were the collected archives in the custody of the participating archives. University and other public records held were not considered, as these are the subject of a separate cataloguing project funded by State Records New South Wales.

To achieve the aims of the project the project team has developed:

  • a website that provides summary information on the archives in the custody of the participating archives;
  • an exemplar of linking inventories with digital copies of archives;
  • an approach to digitising records and accessing those images within the constraints existing at the participating archives.

Website with summary information

The website provides summary information about the collections in each of the four regional archives in New South Wales - University of New England, the University of Newcastle, Charles Sturt University and the University of Wollongong. The summaries are linked to:

  • where appropriate, the custodial archive's online inventory or catalogue;
  • information (where known) on the records' creators. Relationships between creators have also been incorporated with this data; and
  • other potentially useful resources. It should be noted that these links are not comprehensive. Those that have been included are indicative of what can be achieved to enhance the value of information produced from the technology being employed.

Using the Browse function

The "Browse" function is similar to a book index in that it guides the user to entities represented in the Regional Archives Collections either alphabetically by name or alphabetically by name under an entity type, like "Pastoral Stations". Example: Go to the Browse page and look for "People", select "D". Open the entry for "Dangar, Albert Augustus". This entry provides a short biography of Dangar. It also provides links to archival and published resources associated with him. You can also find this same entry by going to "D" on the browse bar across the upper part of the screen where all entities irrespective of type can be found alphabetically by name.

Entity Type Descriptions:

  • Community Group
  • Concept
  • Corporate Body
  • Cultural Artefact
  • Employer Body
  • Event
  • Family
  • Health Body
  • Language
  • Natural Phenomenon
  • Organisation
  • Pastoral Station
  • Person
  • Place
  • Political Party
  • Professional Assoc
  • Religious Body
  • Special Collection
  • Sporting Body
  • Trade Union
  • Welfare Body

About Archival and Heritage Sources and Published Sources

The "Archival and Heritage Sources" link takes the user to information on the location of the archives (in the case of Dangar, the University of New England and Regional Archives, Heritage Centre); there is also a link to the entry for the archive in the Online Directory of Archives in Australia (repository details). Summary information on the archival records held in the archive and the overall date range of the records is provided. A link to the regional archive's online catalogue is achieved through the "Reference" number, e.g. the University of New England reference number. Other links are provided to related entries e.g. Henry Dangar and the Dangar Family. These links could be to other collections in another regional repository. e.g. Dangar at the University of Newcastle Archives. An example of extensive related links can be found in the entry for Anglican Diocese of Newcastle. These links are to other parts of the Diocese and to people.

The University of New Engalnd have taken the information a step further by including Accession Lists to entities. These can be found as Digital Objects on the naviagtion bar. See William Tyrrell (1807 - 1879) as an example.

The "Published Resources" entry gives bibliographic details of the Dangar entry in the Australian Dictionary of Biography. When this entry is used it may capture histories, biographies or other relevant published resources in both conventional printed forms or in online formats. Where an entry is to an online resource there is a link to the relevant resource: see the entry for Gormly, James (1836-1922) as an example.

A hidden benefit of the "Published Resources" database is that the Armidale and District Historical Society. Journal and Proceedings has been included from Volume 1 (1961) up to Volume 44 (2001). This data can be searched using the "Bibliography" search on the Search Page. The University of New England Archives provided this data from the publication Armidale and District Historical Society. Journal and Proceedings. Guide to Contents Volume 1 to 44, Compilers Bruce Cady and Graham Wilson, published by the Society in 2001.

Exemplar linking inventories with digital copies of archives

Currently the four regional archives use different approaches to publishing information on their respective collections to the web. In each case the level of adherence to accepted archival principles varies, as does the depth of information provided.

In an ideal world each archive would use a recognised archival database system and have the capacity to publish detailed information on each collection from that database to the web. If this were the case a uniform approach to the digitisation of documents and then the accessing of digital documents could be achieved.

The Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre (Austehc) which forms part of the project team has developed such an approach using their free archival management tool, the Heritage Documentation Management System or HDMS. Austehc have developed a digital document viewer that is linked to the HDMS to provide a delivery mechanism for digital documents that are in collections documented in the HDMS.

An example of this can be seen at the following web address (URL):

Detailed information on the Brown family and their archives is presented. By going to the Series entries a list of archive series is provided. This includes information on the different series and their respective data ranges. To the right of each series entry there is a link, Image. This takes you to the digitised images of documents that comprise each series. For example: to Series 5 Photographs, item 5-1 Brown Family - Photographs, "Envelope inscribed 'Brown Family', containing: 42 photographs of Gilbert, Marie and Ian Brown and members of their families, some labelled."

The viewer allows you to view a thumbnail of each document and to move through each of these sequentially. If a larger view of an image is required check the "enlarge" button. It is also possible to select images by use of the drop-down menu. This assumes that the image number is known or that the user wants to jump through the image collection to sample a range of images.

Accessing images within the constraints existing at the participating archives

Currently the participating regional archives have different approaches to publishing information about their collections on the web. The only satisfactory way of dealing with this is for each of the regional archives to place a marker on each entry in their catalogue for each set of digitised documents. There would then be a link from that marker to a viewer (as above) for viewing the digitised documents.

There are 14 examples that demonstrate how this has been achieved in this project: University of Wollongong Archives:

University of Newcastle Archives:

  • The Dalton Family Collection. This collection can also be viewed in the current format used by the University of Newcastle Archives on their website;

University of New England and Regional Archives, Heritage Centre


The participating Universities manage the intellectual property rights for their images on this site. Researchers wanting further information and/or copies of images should contact the respective University archive.

Obtaining Copies of images

Each of the Universities paricipating in this project manage the reproduction and charging for copies of images. Researchers wishing to obtain copies of images of records should contact the respective Univesity archive for advice on that university's fees and charges, ordering procedures and copyright policy.


The project team is to be congratulated for their work in drawing together the resources required to bring this project to completion.

The project team comprised: Bruce Smith (Project Manager), Sophie Patrick, Jim Crowley, Ailie Smith. The Austehc team, or more correctly, staff of the Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre, University of Melbourne, Gavan McCarthy (Director), Joanne Evans, Helen Morgan, Ailie Smith and Alan van den Bosch provided support for the Online Heritage Resource Manager (OHRM) and developed the imaging processing and viewing software. The Austehc team also assisted the project team in many other ways.

Map credit (the map used on the home page and throughout the website as a logo):
Map of New South Wales as occupied by The Native Tribes. Prepared by Dr John Fraser. Published in An Australian language as spoken by the Awabakal, the people of Awaba or Lake Macquarie (near Newcastle, New South Wales) being an account of their language, traditions and customs by L.E. Threlkeld; re-arranged, condensed and edited with an appendix by John Fraser. Sydney: Charles Potter, Govt. Printer, 1892.
Courtesy of the Archives Rare Books and Special Collections, Auchmuty Library, University of Newcastle.

The project partners wish to acknowledge the financial support of the Australian Research Council.

Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre Australian Research Council