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All users should be aware that some topics or historical content may be culturally sensitive, offensive or distressing, and that some images may contain nudity or are of people not yet identified.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

Oral history

Oral history is the recording of people’s unique life experiences in an interview format.

Oral history complements the more traditional forms of history making such as written histories and biographies and preserves for future generations a sound portrait of who we are in the present and what we remember about the past. It also preserves voices and accents representative of different time periods and social backgrounds. 

In the words of oral historian Paul Thompson, oral history is 


…a history built around people. It thrusts life into history itself and it widens its scope. It allows heroes not just from the leaders, but from the unknown majority of the people … It brings history into, and out of, the community.

Paul Thompson, the Voice of the Past Oral History, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1978, p18.


The development of digital technologies over the last decade offers new opportunities to discover, understand and interact with the past in the words of those who lived it.

What's New?