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All users should be aware that some topics or historical content may be culturally sensitive, offensive or distressing, and that some images may contain nudity or are of people not yet identified.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

Personal papers

Personal papers is a broad term used to describe documents collected by an individual over the course of their life and career. The Library’s manuscripts collection includes one of Australia’s most significant repositories of personal papers, taking in collections of authors, artists, political figures, and of course, sportspeople. 

The contents within collections of personal papers reflect the individuality of the personalities compiling them, and as such defy easy classification. Collections of personal papers held by the Library may include any or all of the following types of material:

  • diaries and scrapbooks
  • business and Administrative records
  • personal correspondence
  • research notes and literary manuscripts
  • pictures and objects.

Sports manuscripts: papers of individuals

Below is a list of personal papers held by the Library, listed by sport:








Horse racing

Motor sports



Rugby League

Rugby Union



Surf lifesaving



Collection highlight: The Annette Kellerman papers

Sepia photograph of Annette Kellerman sitting on a rock pool dressed as a mermaid

Annette Kellerman as a mermaid, ca.1915-1925

Born in Sydney in 1886, Annette Kellerman was a champion swimmer who later turned her talents to the stage and screen. She is a member of the Sport Australia and International Swimming Halls of Fame, as well as being honoured with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The Annette Kellerman Aquatic Centre, in Marrickville, NSW, is named in her honour. A filmed version of her life story, Million Dollar Mermaid, was released in 1952, starring Esther Williams as Kellerman.

The State Library of NSW acquired the papers of Annette Kellerman in 1996. It is a diverse collection capturing her dual identities as competitive swimmer and movie star. Highlights found among the collection’s 11 boxes include:

  • personal correspondence including letters from Walt Disney and Joan Hammond
  • an autograph album, with signatures including Mary Pickford, Grace Kelly and the 1905 Australian cricket team
  • her one-piece bathing suit
  • her personal collection of photo albums.

The Annette Kellerman Papers have not been digitised but are available to view in the Special Collections area of the Mitchell Library Reading Room. 

For access, complete an Access to Special Collections Request form. For further enquiries, Ask a Librarian.

The first Australian cricket team

Charles Lawrence – Aboriginal Eleven Cricketers Scoring Book, 26-27 December 1866 - 4-5 February 1868

In 1868, Charles Lawrence led a team of Aboriginal cricketers to England to play a series of exhibition matches. This team is celebrated as the first Australian international touring team in any sport. Learn more about this story on the State Library of NSW website.