Mitchell Library 8

The State Library of NSW’s Mitchell Library holds a wealth of historical material including many rare and interesting documents and objects relevant to Chinese Australian history. While the mischances of cataloguing does not always make it easy to find, here is a Mitchell Library 8 that gives a taste not only of the depth of the collection but also the variety that is Chinese Australian history.

  • Case for the defence – an Amoy Shepherd’s plea
  • Missionary positions: Torn poster of a Chinese God
  • Piracy in Sydney Harbour: The Ethereal & Mary Nicholson gold seizures
  • The news in Chinese: Sydney and Melbourne’s Newspapers
  • Taking the air: The Garrison Church strollers
  • A Gold Medal Official
  • What Happened to Riley
  • Sacred Songs
Case for the defence: Found among the papers of Justice Wise this mixture of text and images provided by a man charged with murder can also lay claim to being perhaps the first example of Chinese Australian literature.
Missionary positions: Torn from a Sydney shop by a Christian missionary determined to stamp out the old gods.
Seeking justice: On their way home from the goldfields with the earnings of themselves and their friends all is lost. Will a parliamentary inquiry see justice done?
The news in Chinese: From the late 19th and throughout most of the first half of the 20th century Sydney and Melbourne were awash with Chinese news, or at least the news in Chinese.
A Sydney scene: Locked in the bowels of the State Library is this water colour of typical Sydneysiders enjoying a stroll near The Garrison Church, Argyle Place. [Apologies for the poor image as no professional photograph has ever been made of this picture. SLNSW ML 49]
A gold medal: Presented to a retiring Gold Commissioner by a grateful Chinese community. Though somewhat misinterpreted by the Librarian community.
Chinese Australian literature: If the plea of innocence was the first instance of Chinese Australian literature this remarkable short story with its own plea for Chinese people is perhaps the first instance of Chinese Australian literature in English.
Praising heaven: Efforts to convert people to Christianity have a long history and the Rev J. Young Wai was active since the gold rush. This collection of songs translated into Chinese represents perhaps a less direct method than tearing down posters.

While not complete, a good place to start discovering what else is in the State Library of NSW is: Chinese Australians: a guide to holdings in the Mitchell Library / compiled and edited by Paul Jones & Terri McCormack. 994.00495/2