Review: City History Tour

Adelaide City Archives

On 13th February, 15 curious library types met in Topham Mall to tour the Adelaide City Archives. Jane Ratcliff and Rob Thornton kindly showed us through their facilities and talked about their work.

The Adelaide City Council was the first council in Australia. They have a mandate from State Records to manage their own records, whereas other councils send all their records to State Records for management. Their records include 6000 shelf metres of council records, building plans, IT backups of council systems and a historical civic collection which includes over 4000 objects and 500 paintings. They have an amazing collection of historical photographs which have been digitised. Some of the historical items are on display in the Town Hall. The objects are cared for by an in-house conservator.

Adelaide Town Hall and General Post Office, c. 1930
Adelaide Town Hall and General Post Office, c. 1930 – City Archives reference HP1366

They receive approximately 2000 visits a year, as well as online visitors. 40% of their enquiries are from architects and engineers who want to look at construction plans and documents.

The Archives have been in their Topham Mall site since 1986, and before that, they were in the Town Hall basement. The Topham Mall site was built for purpose so includes atmospheric regulation controls and  a gaseous fire prevention system. It was fascinating to walk through the compactus and see the range of material they held.

They are open for enquiries at their counter or by phone, 9am – 5pm Monday to Friday and their search room is open for research 10am – 4pm, Tuesday to Thursday.

Adelaide City Library

After the archive tour, the group trekked over to the Adelaide City Library to get an introduction to the Adelaide City Council History Hub from Jess Curtis, Digital Services Coordinator at the Library, and Cyprian Maynard, SALIN committee member and former volunteer with the History Hub.

The History Hub has dedicated computers for research, provides access to digitised collections, and runs information sessions and workshops, thanks to the help of a team of dedicated volunteers. The Library works with the Archives to use their collections to make displays. They also work with partners to run larger programs and events such as author talks and History Month activities.

There is an additional History Hub at the North Adelaide Library and Community Centre.