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All users should be aware that some topics or historical content may be culturally sensitive, offensive or distressing, and that some images may contain nudity or are of people not yet identified.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

For Australians, playing or watching sport gives life one of its principal meanings.’

Donald Horne, The Lucky Country (1964)

When writing about the place of sport in Australian society, Donald Horne’s words were not meant as praise. For millions of Australians however, sporting pursuits take on an outsized significance in shaping identity, sparking conversation, and even determining emotional states. While this relationship to sport is not unique to Australians, or shared by all Australians, no serious study of Australian culture can fail to reckon with the cultural impact of sport.

As one of the country’s leading cultural institutions, the State Library of NSW bears witness to the place of sport in our society. Sport is prominent across all formats collected by the Library. This includes books, newspapers and magazines, images, sound recordings, manuscripts, objects and more.

In this research guide, you will learn about our sporting collections and how to access them. You will also find suggestions on where to find information on sport — whether here at the Library, online or at other cultural institutions across the country.

About this guide

This guide is one of many offered by the Library. Our research guides cover a range of topics and have been put together as a starting point for your research here. In this guide you will see collection highlights, search tips, relevant links, collection lists and more.

Due to the huge scope of our collection and the number of sports represented within it, this guide has been arranged according to the different formats of research material. These include:

Print collections

  • These are published works such as books and periodicals (newspapers, journals and magazines). The category also includes scrapbooks, which predominantly contain printed material such as newspaper clippings.

Souvenirs, objects & ephemera

  • A broad category encompassing ephemeral printed material such as match programs, collectible cards and posters, as well as physical objects. 

Pictures & sound

  • This includes any visual item such as photographs, artworks and film, along with our audio collection of oral histories, radio broadcasts and music.


  • This refers to original material held by the Library as part of our Special Collections. Manuscripts may include personal papers such as diaries and correspondence, as well as organisational and business records.

Online resources

  • A significant portion of our collection has been digitised and made available online. This guide will demonstrate how to search, view and download digitised material. 
  • Beyond our physical collection, the Library also provides access to an extensive array of online databases and other resources. Also included in this guide are links to some of the most useful websites to continue your research beyond the Library.


Female cricketer lying on ground as another cricketer stands at the stumps

Ku-ring-gai women cricketers, 15 September 1934

If you have any questions about our sporting collections or any other aspect of your research, the State Library of NSW is here to help.

Contact the Ask a Librarian service via phone, webchat, or through our online request form to get in touch with one of our skilled librarians.

Ask a Librarian 

Search Tips

Get the most out of your search experience by learning the tricks and techniques librarians use when searching catalogues and online databases.

This includes using search filters, how to best structure advanced searching, and clues to look for in catalogue records. 

Look for these tip boxes over the course of this research guide for some of our best ideas on search strategy.