State Library of South Australia

Transcribing Tales : a new one stop shop

Captain John Hart was a mariner, shipowner and whaler, merchant, flour miller, grazier, mining investor, Parliamentarian and Premier. The Library holds his diaries from 1865-72 in PRG 218 and a volunteer has transcribed his diary for 1865. This diary, with our growing array of transcripts, is now discoverable, readable, word searchable, and downloadable in one place in a Library guide on our website.

The pioneering Captain John Hart in 1880 B 6771
The pioneering Captain John Hart in 1880 B 6771

Several hundred interesting transcripts can be found on the Homepage > Library guides > Search > Transcripts, where they are grouped into broad research themes:

Shipboard diaries and maritime related

Shipboard diaries are a perennial favourite for family history researchers, and our earliest transcript is Arthur Hardy's voyage in 1838-39. He is a good observer. On 9 November he writes, 'In the evening saw a most beautiful meteor; it appeared like a ball of greenish fire 8 or 9 inches in diameter with a tail about 6 feet long of yellow and red sparks. It rose in the north and passed quite over to the south at about an angle of 70° shewing an intense light.'

Goldfields and other mining

Australian history students visiting the Library on education visits are always looking for primary sources that describe experiences on the goldfields.

Expeditions, Overland Telegraph Line and railways

The estimable Charles Todd's letters feature in this theme. But also take a look at George Deane's diaries, kept on Goyder's Northern Territory Survey Expedition of 1868-1870 and on MacLachlan's Roper River expedition of 1870. Long-time volunteer Barbara Deane Wall was thrilled to discover and transcribe the diaries, as she was named after George Deane through a family connection!

Life in the 19th century, mainly in South Australia

This theme includes the 1865 diary of Captain John Hart, pioneer seafarer, merchant and Parliamentarian. His spelling leaves a lot to be desired, but he has his finger on the pulse. 'Febraury 13th To the Mill early with Beauchamp-recommended that we should hold bran-hay likely to be scarce. Defence committee at 1.30-examining witnesses until 5.15. At 8.00 to a meeting at Albert Town-promised to obtain if possible a road to the station. Always think of my wedding day when reading the psalms for this day of the month'.

World War One

The Library is in the thick of Centenary of Anzac commemorations, and the 34 diaries and letters in this theme will be especially useful for family historians and researchers looking for names, and life on the battlefield.

Life in the 20th century, mainly in South Australia, including the Boer War, World War Two and Vietnam War

Interesting travel diaries include Frances Diana Christison's journey by Bond's Tourist Motor Coach from Adelaide to Darwin and return in 1928, and RA Cummings' diary as a member of the Murray Cods Olympic Team Paris in 1924.


Story by: Carolyn Spooner

Back to e-xtra 2014 - Spring stories

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