Oral History and Sound Collections

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander visitors are kindly advised that this website includes images, sounds and names of people who have passed.

All users should be aware that some topics or historical content may be culturally sensitive, offensive or distressing, and that some images may contain nudity or are of people not yet identified. Certain words, terms or descriptions may reflect the author's/creator's attitude or that of the period in which they were written, but are now considered inappropriate in today's context.

Key to library resources

Access anywhere with a library card In the Library (or anywhere with a Library card for NSW residents)
Available to access in the library Only in the Library
Publicly available online Publicly available

Getting started

Use this guide to research, discover and learn more about our Oral History and Sound collections.

This guide introduces you to our Oral History and Sound collections. Oral History and Sound comprises recorded oral histories, radio interviews, talks, podcasts, performances and seminars. Oral History and Sound is a growing collection that forms part of the State Library's commitment to collect material that documents life in New South Wales.

From recordings undertaken in the 1950s through to contemporary times, the voices and memories of the people of New South Wales have been preserved.

You can access most of our Oral History and Sound collections as digital files on request, while a growing number of born-digital interviews are now available to access online here

Whether you are an academic, a student, an author, a family historian or local historian, a professional researcher or artist or simply interested in a particular topic, this guide will help you to get started using the Oral History and Sound collections.

Digitising Our Collection

As part of our Digital Excellence Program, the Library has digitised over 13,000 hours of analogue and reel to reel taped interviews and sound artefacts, enhancing peoples access to these collections and ensuring their preservation for the future. As we collect more born digital oral history and sound collections these are being added to our online catalogue. You can access our growing collection of born digital oral histories here


How are the Collections used?

Oral History and Sound collections are used for many different purposes, such as

  • In corporate and institutional histories
  • As inspiration and to provide context in creative work such as plays, film and television and radio documentary
  • With people who have been underrepresented in written sources such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, women, migrants from non-English speaking backgrounds and GLBTIQ communities.
  • In museums and galleries as part of wider exhibitions
  • To map the development and history of local communities.