Sound collections in Sydney – Fact sheet 149

The Australian Government uses many forms of media to document its activities including paper files, digital files, maps and plans, as well as audiovisual material. The National Archives Sydney Office is the custodian of a large amount of sound material, such as gramophone records, audio tapes and cassettes, most of which have been produced by government agencies based in New South Wales. Some material created by agencies in other states is also held.

Scope of the collection

The collection includes a considerable quantity of material produced by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) and it predecessor the Australian Broadcasting Commission in support of its activities in providing innovative and comprehensive broadcasting services. In addition the sound collections include material produced by a range of Commonwealth agencies involved in national defence, media and advertising, commissions of inquiry (including Royal Commissions), national celebrations and commemorative events, copyright registration and censorship.

Sound material may also be found in the personal records collections held by the National Archives. These include the personal records of past prime ministers, governors-general, ministers and judges.

The tables below provides examples of the range of sound collections held in Sydney, and indicates the agencies responsible for their creation.

Access to records

In general records of the Australian Government are available for public access once they enter the open access period.

With permission from the relevant agency, records not in the open access period that have been previously published or publicly broadcast, including publicly broadcast audio material, may be made available for public access.

Examples of record series containing sound material

Australian Broadcasting Commission, Head Office, 1932–83 (CA 251) and Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Head Office, 1983– (CA 3589)

Australian Government Advertising Service, New South Wales (CA 1667)

 Title or description of recordDate rangeSeries number
SeriesAudio visual records (films, videocassettes, sound recordings and cassettes) relating to advertising campaigns1960–77SP1574/3
SeriesRadio tapes1969–82C832

Department of Defence [III], Central Office (CA 46)

Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, Central Office (CA 1297)

 Title or description of recordDate rangeSeries number
SeriesLong-playing gramophone records relating to the Royal Commission on Espionage1952–55A6281

Australian Bicentennial Authority, National Office (CA 3997)

 Title or description of recordDate rangeSeries number
SeriesGeneral audio cassette tapes1980–88C2897

Edward Gough Whitlam (CP 99)

Further information

See also the research guide Sound Recordings in the National Archives, by Helen Cross and Margaret Chambers (2001).

Please note: the National Archives does not provide copies for sale of ABC, SBS or ScreenAustralia items. To purchase copies, these organisations should be contacted directly. Copies of ABC, SBS and ScreenAustralia items can be made available for viewing in the National Archives Sydney reading room.

Copyright National Archives of Australia 2019