Pictures Collections

A guide to finding and using the Pictures collection at the State Library of New South Wales.

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All users should be aware that some topics or historical content may be culturally sensitive, offensive or distressing, and that some images may contain nudity or are of people not yet identified.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

Finding items in the collection

How to find items in our pictures collections

Detailed guides to pictures collections

Detailed guides and lists to many of our pictures collections are either linked to their online catalogue records or are available for browsing on the shelves in the Special Collections area of the Mitchell Library reading room.

Viewing pictures in the collection

In some cases, you will need to visit the Library to view picture collections. If a microfilm or paper copy of the picture exists, this will be issued rather than the original.

Digitised pictures

Some pictures and pictures collections have been digitised, or partly digitised, and are available to view online. You can search our online catalogue for pictures by selecting Pictures from the drop down next to the search box. Pictures that have been digitised will have catalogue records with thumbnail images and the words “ONLINE AND FOR USE IN THE LIBRARY”. Simply click on the thumbnail image, the catalogue record or the “ONLINE AND FOR USE IN THE LIBRARY” button to access the digitised content. 

Restricted pictures 

Some items are subject to restricted access. Check the electronic catalogue record carefully to see if there are restrictions. You may need to obtain written permission before you can use the collection.  

Contact us if you are unsure about the restrictions and need guidance.

Pictures requiring appointments

You may need to make an appointment to view a particular item, for example, the item may be awaiting cataloguing, or it may require advanced notice for retrieval. 

This information should appear at the bottom of the catalogue record. Supervised viewings of pictures collections may be booked Monday to Friday.

Once again, contact us if you are unsure.

Before you visit

  • Check that the picture is available for you to view (is it restricted, does it require an appointment?)
  • Check the opening hours for Special Collections.


Try our new Digital Collections catalogue


Enter your keywords in the Digital Collections catalogue
to find images and other digitised content of interest in
our collections. 

Click on an image to lead you to more details in the catalogue. 

From here you can also browse collection hierarchies and subject headings. 

Ships Pictures

Looking for pictures of ships? The collection in Mitchell Library features many artworks of ships that have sailed in and around Australia throughout different eras, to present day. You can explore our diverse Ships Pictures both in the Library and online.

Two whales teeth scrimshaw

Two whale's teeth scrimshaw, ca. 1800s

Newly digitised