Posted on 28 Aug 2019

Archives house some of the world’s most valuable collections of historical information and many welcome visits from people interested in uncovering their rich stores of fascinating materials.

Across the CBD and North Adelaide there are a wide range of archival collections containing all manner of materials from records and documents, to objects and art. Some, like the City of Adelaide’s own City Archives, are treasure troves of records and information relating to the heritage of the city itself. Others, like those held by the Botanic Gardens of South Australia or several city-based schools like Pulteney Grammar, are more specialised.

This October (21–25), over 500 archivists, recordkeepers, manuscript librarians, data and information managers from all corners of the globe, will gather at Adelaide Oval to attend Designing the Archive - an international conference jam-packed with expert speakers exploring a host of topics relating to this fascinating industry.

With plenty of local archive managers among those attending, it’s the perfect time to find out from one of them just what treasures you and I might uncover if we pay a visit to an Adelaide archive.


Jane angel in front of wall of bob hawke pictures
photo-icon Skye Murtagh

Jane Angel, Manager, Academic Library Services, University of South Australia at the Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Library.

“Archives are not static facilities, but are alive with rich content and the potential for Eureka moments!”
Jane Angel, Manager, Academic Library Services, University of South Australia

Bob hawke childhood photo and young bobbys message
photo-icon Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Library

Photo of Bob Hawke as a young boy and calendar from 1938.

The University of South Australia (UniSA) is responsible for a very broad and rich number of archives that contribute to the political, social and public health history of the state.

Since November 2018, Jane Angel has worked with UniSA's archives in her role as Manager, Academic Library Services for the University of South Australia Library.

A librarian with many years’ experience, Jane previously worked with archives at The Institution of Structural Engineers in London and at Adelaide’s Courts Administration Authority Library Service which holds an extensive collection of historical items pertaining to the history of the courts in South Australia and its judicial officers.

UniSA's archives are based at their City West, City East and Mawson Lakes campuses – as well as inside the Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Library on North Terrace.

The Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Library houses one of Jane’s favourite archival items - this fabulous childhood photo of Bob Hawke.

We chatted with Jane to discover more about this gem and the archives in her care.

"Mostly, the UniSA archives focus on prominent South Australians; a selection includes Rosemary Crowley, Alexander Downer, Chris Hurford, Colin Thiele, Sir Eric Neal and Lowitja O’Donoghue. We also have archives which represent the growth of teaching and research disciplines in the state, such as the History of Primary Education in South Australia and the Social Work Historical Collection. Our most prominent archive is the Bob Hawke Collection, housed in the Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Library, a purpose-built facility at 55 North Terrace, Adelaide."

"Our archives have been established over decades and many continue to grow depending on the subject and/or donor of the archive. For example, this year donations have been received for the Colin Thiele, Social Work Historical Collection and Sir Eric Neal archives. This means there is often new content to be discovered, underpinning the idea that archives are not static facilities, but are alive with rich content and the potential for Eureka moments!

"Most recently, we took possession of a very large delivery of papers and artefacts from Bob Hawke’s Sydney office which was closed due to his recent passing. Items received include photographs, artworks, speeches, correspondence, and family memorabilia including his father Clem’s bibles and sermons. This builds on the significant archive which was established in 1997 with a Memorandum of Understanding and with it, the first instalment of papers and artefacts, realia and audio visual material from Bob’s time either side of public office."

"Our archives are important because they honour and commemorate significant South Australian men and women as well as celebrating South Australian contributions to a range of endeavours including literature, architecture, art, education, social and political history and health. The archives not only provide a wealth of resources for researchers, students and academics but have intrinsic cultural value, enriching our knowledge and understanding of the times, past and present."

"There are so many items in our archives that educate and delight, so it is very difficult to pinpoint just one item. I am, however, particularly fond of the material from Bob Hawke’s childhood, especially a homemade calendar he presented to his parents in 1938 when he was nine years old. The calendar features hand drawn trees and a kookaburra and is inscribed with the message ‘To Mother and Father from Bobby’. It was particularly poignant to look at following his death on May 16, 2019."

"I think archives speak to individuals differently because of the experience people have had and the perspectives they bring and what resonates is a matter of personal interest or study.

"By way of example, if someone really loves the classic Australian tale, Storm Boy, he or she would be able to visit our Magill campus to see the many different pelicans that Colin Thiele collected and was gifted; if a researcher is interested in the growth of early childhood education, he or she might want to delve through the de Lissa Collection, named after South Australian educational pioneer, Lillian de Lissa. And if members of the Community are interested in great moments from Australian history, they might like to see the famous America’s Cup Jacket (replica) that Bob Hawke wore in 1983, as well as campaign memorabilia and posters."

Bob hawke campaign memorabilia

For more information about the range and contents of archival collections held by the University of South Australia, visit their website - where you will also find visiting hours information. Appointments are only required for visits to the Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Library and these can be requested via email: [email protected]

For a comprehensive listing of all archives across South Australia – including opening times and access information, visit The Directory of Archives in Australia website.

Article by

Skye Murtagh

Skye Murtagh

Skye is Adelaide Living's main driving force. She is passionate about sharing stories from all walks of life. When she's not busy weaving beautiful words together, she's singing a line or two from her favourite song.


Join the conversation