Queensland history

Queensland's history is vibrant and diverse reaching back more than 40,000 years when Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islanders first inhabited the landscape. Queensland memory is filled with stories that tell of discovery and development from Queensland's stunning coastline to the rugged outback; of connections from communities in the south to the pristine islands of the Torres Strait; and of journeys overland and across seas.

State Library of Queensland, mainly through the John Oxley Library, has a vital role in preserving and sharing Queensland's history by collecting contemporary and retrospective content that chronicles events, people, places and ideas that continue to shape Queensland.

State Library encourages the development of new knowledge about Queensland's history through the John Oxley Library blog, the Queensland Memory Awards, special research initiatives, and in its support for local collections and the distributed collection of Queensland memory.

Contemporary Queensland

Collecting our present for our future

Queensland is a vast state, enjoying diversity in its culture, places and experiences. This is just as true of contemporary Queensland as it was in the past.

The John Oxley Library, is not only committed to collecting Queensland's history and heritage, but also to collecting evidence of Queensland's contemporary life and culture.

Collecting aspects of contemporary life allows us to preserve the present for the future, so that we can look back at the people, events, experiences, feelings and values of today.

What aspects do we collect of Contemporary Queensland?

The John Oxley Library seeks to reflect and react to contemporary Queensland by gathering materials that represent the society and culture of our time.

It might focus on: current events that impact widely; the every day contemporary life of individuals, families, organisations or businesses; or current popular culture in its various forms.

An example of this can be found in the various digital photograph collections that captured the 2011 Queensland floods.

How is Contemporary Queensland material captured?

The John Oxley Library is particularly focused on capturing and collecting the present through different and new and emerging technologies. Examples include:

  • Websites through the PANDORA intiative
  • eserials, such as newsletters, magazines and journals
  • ebooks, reports and other one-off publications
  • born-digital images
  • digital video footage
  • oral histories and digital stories.

Archives and manuscripts

The John Oxley Library holds an extensive collection of archives and manuscripts that document the social, cultural, economic and political development of Queensland. The collection consists of unpublished material including personal papers, dairies, correspondence, original maps, plans, business and organisational records.

Search John Oxley Library's collections of archives and manuscripts through One Search.

Local content

State Library houses hundreds of thousands of items in its collections from local communities and regions throughout Queensland in a variety of formats including oral histories, manuscripts maps, books, artworks, objects, and photographs. Significant resources about local communities can be found in the John Oxley Library heritage collections.

Investigate Local Content

John Oxley Library caters to a wide range of users, from the academic to the casual browser who may be looking for information about their local community, their regions and Queensland. The collections are used by local and family historians, research scholars, business and industry, university and school students, historical societies, general readers, government departments and the media.

We have an extensive and ongoing digitisation program that focuses on Queensland places, ensuring access to local community history online via many platforms many of which are located in the library's catalogue One Search.

Queensland Memory enewsletter

Subscribe to the Queensland memory bi-monthly enewsletter to keep up to date with heritage collections and activities across Queensland, including World War I centenary commemorations.

Library membership

Become an SLQ member now to access our services, collections and facilities.

Library Shop online

Discover an eclectic range of books, gifts, reproduction prints and more at the Library Shop.