This blog is designed to display some of the more interesting and unusual items held by the University of Adelaide Archives.

Many of these highlight links between world-renowned people, places and events and the University of Adelaide. However, we not only want to include records relating to the great figures and achievements associated with the University, but also material that is quirky, humorous, or illustrative of aspects of the social or cultural history of the institution over time.

Each post contains information on the location of the record within the collection and some discussion of its context and meaning. We would be delighted if you have additional information, corrections or reflections on what is presented – this can be added to the comments section below each post or emailed to Suggestions on what types of records might be included are also welcome.

The University of Adelaide Archives collection dates back to the 1870s and includes records related to the University’s governance, teaching programs, staff, students, clubs and societies. Its website includes many reference aids, as well as a Guide to Records that contains a full listing of archival holdings.  There is  also a link to the Series 169 Digital Archive where digitised records from one of the oldest series in the Archives including correspondence relating to the establishment of the University of Adelaide and its early years of operation can be viewed.

Posted in Community engagement, Featured

The University of Adelaide campus of 2015 is in many respects a different one – physically, culturally, and administratively – to that of the mid-1970s during which time the University celebrated the centenary of its 1874 foundation.

Presented here are two aerial shots of the University taken in the lead-up to the 1974 celebrations, and the 1974 Centenary Visitors’ Guide which provides details of the campus layout along with a section on some of the events which took place during the year.

Archives Series 1151 – The University from the air looking south, circa 1973 (click to enlarge)

Further aerial photographs can be found in the Archives’ Adelaide Research and Scholarship collections. (A search by the term ‘aerial’ from the University Archives’ AR&S front page will retrieve a substantial number of such images, dating back to the 1930s.)

Archives Series 1151 – The University from the air looking northwest, circa 1973 (click to enlarge)

For an engaging overview of the physical development of the campus over its lifespan see Rob Linn’s The Spirit of Knowledge.

Archives Series 941 – The University of Adelaide Centenary Booklet (cover)

Archives Series 941 – The University of Adelaide Centenary Booklet – “Finding Your Way” & “List of buildings” (click to enlarge)













UAA Series 941 Item 1 - The University of Adelaide Centenary Booklet - What's on

Archives Series 941 – The University of Adelaide Centenary Booklet – “Location of Departments” & “What is On” (click to enlarge)

If you can identify 5 changes to the built environment of the University over the the four decades since the mid-1970s we’ll be happy to send you a copy of W.G.K. Duncan and R.A. Leonard’s Centenary history of the University.

Posted in Buildings / grounds | Tagged , ,
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Marking the centenary of the Gallipoli landings, this year’s Anzac Day commemorations were of particular significance.

Preserved in the University Archives are a series of letters that provide evidence of the involvement of a considerable number of University students, staff and graduates in the ill-fated campaign.

UAA Series 73 - Davenport, A.V.

The letters were sent to the University in response to a request from the Registrar to immediate families or next of kin for ‘information….as to where he is, whether he has been wounded, and what rank he holds, also any further particulars of interest that will be of interest’, ahead of the December 1916 end of year commemoration ceremony.

The University received several hundred responses containing varying amounts of detail. Some were sparse, giving the most basic details of the soldier’s current location and rank; others provided extended outlines of the experiences of the family member.

UAA Series 73 - Sinclair, J.M.

Many mention Gallipoli which, as disastrous as it was in military terms, had clearly entered the public consciousness as an event of national significance.

It is perhaps not surprising that Gallipoli is emphasised in many of the letters as it was in South Australia that Australia’s first memorial related to the campaign was unveiled in September 1915. A month later South Australia’s Eight Hour Day was renamed “Anzac Day”, ahead of the officially named 25th of April Anzac Day the following year.

Reproduced here are a selection of the letters received by the University in which Gallipoli is mentioned. Some are revealing not only of the immediate impact of the  Dardanelles campaign on those involved, but also give a sense of the mindset of the era and nascent attitudes towards an event that would over time evolve to become central to the national mythology.

UAA Series 73 - Jeffries, L.W.

All are interesting and not a few heartbreaking with mothers, fathers, siblings or wives informing the University that their loved one had been killed or severely wounded. Others are equally poignant as we know that particular soldiers who, having come through Gallipoli relatively unscathed and who were reported alive and well as of late 1916, were later to die on the battlefields of the Western Front in the second half of the War.

UAA Series 73 - Neild, A.R.

More information, including a listing of letters received by surname, can be found in the in the University of Adelaide Archives Guide (Series 73 – Military Service Records of University Staff, Graduates and Students).

Other accounts of the impact of the First World War on the University can be found in a recent edition of the Alumni publication Lumen, and on the University’s website.

A series of excellent biographies of University’s football and cricket team members who died in the War are also being made available, and a video of the Sports Association’s Anzac Day commemorations of the latter is available for viewing.

Finally, the University’s Research Tuesdays forum titled “Gallipoli Revisited” can be found in full here.

If you have any comments or queries feel free to contribute to the comments section below, or email

Shortly I will be posting the University’s Roll of Honour (those killed during the War) and the Roll of Service as published in the University calendars of the 1920s and 1930s. All of those mentioned in the letters here are included with some, sadly, among the over 70 names on the Roll of Honour.

UAA Series 73 - Wilton, R.G. a

UAA Series 73 - Wilton, R.G. b

UAA Series 73 - Wells, J.C. a

UAA Series 73 - Wells, J.C. b

UAA Series 73 - Wall, F. L. a

UAA Series 73 - Wall, F. L. b

UAA Series 73 - Stewart, C.G.

UAA Series 73 - Pitcher, C.F.

UAA Series 73 - Phillips, W.J.E.

UAA Series 73 - Pearce, J.E.

UAA Series 73 - Nott, H.C.

UAA Series 73 - Le Messurier, F.N.

UAA Series 73 - Medyln, E.L.

UAA Series 73 - McCann, W.F.J.

UAA Series 73 - Kneebone, J. LeM. a

UAA Series 73 - Kneebone, J. LeM. b

UAA Series 73 - Kayser, J.A.W. a

UAA Series 73 - Kayser, J.A.W. b

UAA Series 73 - Jeffries, L.W. a

UAA Series 73 - Jeffries, L.W. b

UAA Series 73 - Jacob, D.C

UAA Series 73 - Hylton, J.R.

UAA Series 73 - Gordon, D.P.

UAA Series 73 - Goode, K.B. & R.B. a

UAA Series 73 - Goode, K.B. & R.B. b

UAA Series 73 - Goldsmith, F.

UAA Series 73 - Gaskell, F.

UAA Series 73 - Dowling, D.A. a

UAA Series 73 - Dowling, D.A. b

UAA Series 73 - Davies, G.F. & J.N.

UAA Series 73 - Davenport, A.V.

UAA Series 73 - Davenport A.V. a

UAA Series 73 - Davenport A.V. b

UAA Series 73 - Cosh, T.M.

UAA Series 73 - Campbell G.C. a

UAA Series 73 - Campbell G.C. b

UAA Series 73 - Blackett, J.A.

UAA Series 73 - Blackett, J.W.

UAA Series 73 - (Bennett), N. R.

Posted in Ceremonies / celebrations, Community engagement, Staff / governance, Student life / activism, Students / graduates | Tagged , , ,
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We come across the occasional gem in the University Archives. One such find is this brief 1963 correspondence between members of the Adelaide University Agnostics Society and the great philosopher and activist Bertrand Russell.
The members of the Agnostics Society had apparently become aware of an article published in the student paper On Dit by an […]

Posted in Student life / activism | Tagged ,

 Thank you to everyone who took the trouble to write in with information on the University Archives’ collection of 1988 ‘mystery’ photographs. We received a terrific response and a significant amount of information on the people and situations captured by photographer Peter Thurmer. Of the 23 images displayed, we now have information on 15 images […]

Posted in Community engagement, Schools / disciplines, Staff / governance, Student life / activism, Students / graduates, Teaching / assessment
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In September the University hosted a Silver Jubilee Reception in recognition of the outstanding service to the University over 25 years by a number of staff. In addition to some opening remarks from the Vice Chancellor and Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Professors Warren Bebbington and Pascale Quester, representatives of the University’s various faculties and administrative areas paid […]

Posted in Ceremonies / celebrations, Staff / governance, Students / graduates, Teaching / assessment