Sport Collections

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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


‘Our life is a living Scrap-book. Clipped from the scroll of Time and pasted in by the hand of Fate, every day brings its contributions, and the leaves accumulate until the book is filled’.

- EW Gurley, Scrapbooks and how to make them, 1880

The history of scrapbooks

Humans have compiled individual records of their lives and the world around them for millennia. The naming of that practice as ‘scrapbooking‘ however, may derive from England in the early 19th century. At that time, scrapbooks primarily consisted of drawings, sketches and paintings along with illustrated printed material.

Later in the 19th century, the practice of cutting articles from newspapers and assembling them in scrapbooks became more commonplace. Cutting-based scrapbooks represent most of our scrapbook collection. 

More than simply a collection of articles, however, these compilations provide us with a window into the minds of their creators, and how they made sense of the world. As EW Gurley said of her own scrapbooks, ‘I have almost as much reluctance in showing some of my scrap-books as I would in permitting others to read my private diary.’.

Scrapbook collections

Scrapbook featuring various newspaper cuttings, photographs and advertising material

Scrapbook of the World Cup, England 1973 / Lorna Thomas

Scrapbooks are distinct from other print collections because, unlike books and periodicals which are mass-produced, they are personally curated, one-of-a-kind items. As a result they can be found in many places within the Library catalogue, and different access may apply to them. For more information, see our call numbers search tip at right.

Suggested search strategy
Browse our collection with the keyword search sport scrapbook
Print collections
  • As scrapbooks typically include newspaper clippings, many are housed with our published items. Collection highlight include the multi-volume Bert L Cox boxing scrapbooks (see right) and the Gregory family collection of cricket scrapbooks.
  • A smaller collection of scrapbooks is catalogued as pictures and housed with the rest of the Library’s image collections. Scrapbooks catalogued in this manner can be expected to contain some photographs, postcards or other pictorial material.
  • Many Australian sportspeople of past eras collected records of their sporting activities in scrapbooks. These may include news cuttings documenting their achievements, as well as mementoes such as photographs, scorecards, invitation cards and assorted other ephemera. 
  • The Library’s collection includes some treasures, including scrapbooks of boxer George Mendies, Rugby League administrator Harold Matthews, and Australian cricketer Lorna Thomas.
Accessing our scrapbooks
Scrapbooks housed within pictorial or manuscript collections can be requested via an Access to Special Collections Request form and viewed in the Special Collections area of the Mitchell Library Reading Room. They are subject to the same conditions of use as other Special Collections material. Scrapbooks in print collections can in most cases be requested online through the Library catalogue.


Fulfilling a similar role to scrapbooks is the Library’s newscutting collection, containing 353 boxes of clippings alphabetised by subject matter. Press clipping services were used by the Library for many years, and the collection includes a number of sports items. Box 293, for example, contains a folder on surfing, with articles dating between 1919 and 1978 from titles as diverse as the London Punch, Manly Daily and Grafton’s Daily Examiner

Although advances in digital technology have reduced the need for clipping news articles, this collection features time periods and newspapers not covered by online sources such as Trove or the Library’s eResources.

Newscuttings can be requested through the Library catalogue. The catalogue record also includes a complete list of subject headings.

Digital sporting scrapbooks on Trove

Trove users can keep the tradition of scrapbooking alive by creating their own lists. Lists can include any item available digitally on Trove, as well as catalogue records from library holdings across Australia. Below is a selection of ‘digital scrapbooks’ accessible via Trove:

•    Les Darcy (boxing)
•    Riverina Rugby League
•    VFL Grand Finals (Australian Rules football)
•    Chinese Soccer Team visits to Australia 1923 and 1927 (soccer)
•    Defection of Hungarian athletes during the 1956 Melbourne Olympics
•    Women’s lacrosse

Can’t find the list you are looking for? Get to researching and create one yourself!

Collection highlight: Bert L. Cox scrapbooks

Black and white photograph of boxer Wally Carr standing in boxing pose

Champion Australian boxer Wally Carr

Bert L Cox was a boxing enthusiast whose collection of 78 scrapbooks was donated to the Library by his wife. 

The scrapbooks are primarily comprised of newspaper clippings containing results and reports of boxing matches in Australia and worldwide, along with profiles on boxers and other boxing news. In addition, there are nine volumes of handwritten accounts of boxing matches fought at the Sydney Stadium between 1908 and 1972.

The collection also includes six volumes of postcard-style images of boxers throughout history, partially digitised and available to view through the Library’s digital collections viewer.

Search tip: Call numbers

Unsure what you are looking at? How an item is catalogued can provide some context into what you may find contained within.

Call numbers with no prefix, or a prefix of 1–3 letters

eg. Q796.805/2
    G 2017/4067

The printed collections of the Library are usually catalogued as either octavos (either no prefix; or N, H or G), quartos (Q/NQ/GQ/HQ) or folios (F/NF). 

Until 2013, our print collections were catalogued by Dewey number. We now catalogue books and serials with a running number by year, with a prefix of either ‘G’ (SRL collection) or ‘H’ (Mitchell collection). 

Call numbers with a ‘PX’ prefix

eg. PXB 432

The Library’s pictorial prints are catalogued with the prefix PX followed by the letters A–E, depending on the physical size of the images or albums catalogued.

Call numbers with a ‘MLMSS’ prefix

eg. MLMSS 7025

Manuscript items, such as personal papers or club records, are often catalogued with a call number prefix of MLMSS.

These are just a few examples across our diverse collection. Still unsure? Ask a Librarian.