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Image of a watercolour painting of Moreton Bay Settlement New South Wales in 1835
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Colonial Secretary's letters received relating to Moreton Bay and Queensland

Colonial Secretary's Correspondence is the communication between the New South Wales government and the newly established Queensland colony. It outlines the establishment of the colony of Queensland from its inception to separation. Learn about what information is available and how to access the information.

"The correspondence of the Colonial Secretary is one of the most valuable sources of information on all aspects of the history of the Colony and the State of New South Wales. Chiefly responsible for this was the Colonial Secretary's pre-eminence in public life and the fortunate occurrence of the survival of the greater part of his papers."

Museums of History NSW State Archives Collection - Colonial Secretary's Correspondence Guide

Introduction to the records

During the late 1960s and early 1970s, State Library of Queensland negotiated with the Archives Authority of New South Wales to microfilm correspondence relating to the Moreton Bay settlement and the area which after December 1859 became known as the Colony of Queensland. The material is of particular interest to researchers of the years of penal settlement followed by the period after 1842 when the district was opened to free settlers. In many cases annotations on the back of letters indicate the decision and the course of action taken. On occasions, earlier or later documentation between the settlement and headquarters to do with the same subject was batched and filmed together.

Letters were sent by well-known personalities such as Commandants Miller, Logan, Clunie, Fyans, Cotton, Gravatt and Gorman to Governors Brisbane, Darling, Bourke, Gipps and Denison. Also reports appear created by Surveyor Generals Oxley and Mitchell, Master Attendant John Nicholson, Doctors Cowper, Murray, Robertson, Ballow and Cannan, the Reverends John Vincent, Johannes Handt and John Gregor plus other eminent pioneers. Contrasting with official circulars and despatches can be found convict petitions, applications by early settlers and listings of land sales.

Information provided by Dr. Jennifer Harrison.

Discover the collection

State Library has digitised the correspondence from the microfilm collection and is progressively identifying and making individual letters available online. For the latest content see our Collection Guide to the correspondence. Over twenty years dedicated volunteeers have created an index to the correspondence, which can be used to search and support access to the microfilm and digitised content. The digitised collection also includes transcripts generated by handwritten text recognition (HTR) software. There are some limitations to software transcription of handwritten text, especially florid 19th century scripts, and volunteers are correcting the online to improve discoverability.

Research Guide - Colonial Secretary Correspondence
Research guide
Find out about the difference access points for the correspondence and how to use the index.
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Collection Guide - Colonial Secretary Correspondence
Collection guide
Access the digitised correspondence through the collection guide.
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Microfilm reel and index for the Colonial Secretary Correspondence
Indexes to microfilm reels
Use the indexes to locate the relevant documents on microfilm and online.
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Get involved

Person using a laptop
Help transcribe the collection
State Library is inviting volunteers to improve the accuracy of the transcripts using the FromThePage platform for the Colonial Secretary’s Correspondence project. All help will make the correspondence easier to use for all!