The collection held by the State Library of South Australia began in the late 1960s when the then State Librarian approached Sir Donald about transferring his collection of cricketing memorabilia to the State Library.
A series of scrapbooks relating to his cricketing career were created in conjunction with assembling the collection. The scrapbook project began in the late 1960s with the creation of a 52 scrapbooks documenting Sir Donald's career from 1925 to 1948. The project took several years and involved Peggy Mountford and Jill Gauvin working with Sir Donald. Preservation Services staff assisted by copying photographs, menus, newspaper cuttings and telegrams and mounting the material in albums. Leather spine bindings complemented the handsome appearance of the scrapbooks. The State Library's set is a photographic duplicate made up at the same time as the original collection of albums which is now held by the National Library, Canberra.
In later years Sir Donald gave the Library more of his very valuable collection of memorabilia and tape-recordings. There are some 142 items including various trophies, bats and balls used in some of his most memorable innings, oral recordings, clothing and other pieces relating to Sir Donald's career.
When the Mortlock Library of South Australiana was opened in February 1986 some of the memorabilia and the scrapbooks were on display inside the entrance to the main public chamber. The collection was moved to a permanent custom-designed exhibition site in The Institute building, and the exhibition was formally opened by the Prime Minister of Australia, the Honourable John Howard on 29 January 1998.
The Bradman Collection forms the archival private record group PRG 682, and a Guide to the Sir Donald Bradman collection held in the Mortlock Library of South Australiana was compiled by archivist Neil Thomas to list its contents.
In 2007 negotiations with the Libraries Board of South Australia, the Bradman family and the SA Government resulted in the Libraries Board agreeing to loan a selection of Bradman collection items to the Adelaide Oval.
Preserving the memory by ensuring all of the items which Bradman donated to the State Library, including fragile paper documents and records, tape recordings, clothing, porcelain and precious metals is of paramount importance to the State Library and its responsibility to Bradman, his family and the citizens of South Australia. All items were meticulously cleaned, conserved and protected before loan and installation in their new home at Adelaide Oval.
As custodian of the Bradman Collection, the State Library will continue to manage and protect the collection on behalf of the Libraries Board of South Australia and provide access to the digitised collection.
The State Library's Bradman archive remains the ultimate research source covering his illustrious career from 1925 to 1948. The Library will continue to provide a research service and access to information and images for the public.
Image: Lenticular wall, forming part of the Bradman Collection located at the top of the stairs on level 2 Spence Wing.