150 Years of Tasmanian Railways

To celebrate 150 years of Tasmanian Railways, Libraries Tasmania is showcasing favourite photographs and plans that document the history of our state’s railways.

From staggering feats of engineering and the enabling of complex mining operations, to employment for men and women and family social outings, railways have played an important role in the economic and social history of Tasmania for 150 years. 

The story of the Tasmanian Railways is one of great successes, but also of hardships, economic failures, and disasters. It is a colourful and dynamic history.

The 150 Years of Tasmanian Railways photography exhibition is now open in libraries around Tasmania and online. Get in touch with your local library to find out more.

Click to access the full digital exhibition

For those who want to delve into those intricate technical drawings, expansive line plans and registers of rolling stock, we have also released a new and expansive Tasmanian Railway Guide to our railway records. Learn how to research Tasmanian rail records with Librarian, Ali Marchant, by watching her video below.

For more archives and heritage resources, head to the Libraries Tasmania website.

To read more about the history of Tasmanian Railways, and for more exciting articles, sign up to the Tasmanian Archives and Heritage blog.

National Family History Month

August is National Family History Month (NFHM), and Libraries Tasmania is once again holding its series of popular expert talks that will inspire and assist you to connect the dots of your family history.

The Libraries Tasmania NFHM expert talk series, at the Allport Library and Museum of Fine Arts

Download your copy of the National Family History Month expert talks program (PDF). Can’t make it to an Allport talk? Keep an eye on our SoundCloud channel for the recordings.

Attend one of these family history events at a local library

Please note: Bookings, via Eventbrite or phone, are essential for all our NFHM events, as numbers are limited. 

Coming soon: 91 Stories exhibition

Earlier this year, Libraries Tasmania did a call-out for the community’s favourite items in our cultural collections.

We wanted you to help us curate our major 91 Stories* exhibition.

We had countless fantastic responses from people all over Tasmania. The final 91 submissions have now been collated to form the exhibition, which opens in early August in the Allport Library and Museum of Fine Arts and online at a dedicated Flickr gallery (set to become a permanent feature in our collections).

This community led exhibition has been designed to showcase well-loved favourites and uncover some of the untold stories hiding in the collections housed in the Allport, the Tasmanian Archives and the State Library of Tasmania.

We can’t wait to show you what Tasmania loves!

*Named in recognition of our heritage-listed 91 Murray Street building in Hobart.


What a night!

The Stories After Dark event that lit up the Libraries Tasmania 91 Murray Street building in Hobart was a sight to behold, with the experience enjoyed by thousands of people, young and old.

Held on Saturday 19 June, the inside and outside of our heritage-listed building was – for the very first time – activated through a digital canvas, with audio and visual technology showcasing the archival treasures that lie within our cultural collections.

Curated as a new way for the community to explore the State Library of Tasmania, the Tasmanian Archives and the Allport Library and Museum of Fine Arts, locals and visitors alike loved the chance to get up close with convicts and prisoners, the Tasmanian railways, Gould’s fishes, botanical blooms, costumed dancers from days gone by… and much, much more!

The exhibited images (and photographs from the night) can be viewed at the Stories After Dark Flickr gallery

Images: photos from the inaugural Libraries Tasmania Stories After Dark event.

We all have a story to tell… Tasmania’s stories, your stories

Stories aren’t just words on a page. They can be represented by artefacts, records, and photographs. They can be oral accounts that are stored as recordings.

At Libraries Tasmania we are the custodians of millions of fragments of Tasmania’s history – locally told memories just waiting for discovery. Each of these items brings its own unique account of the ordinary and extraordinary people who have lived Tasmania’s stories.

Your favourite stories from our collections

Our community is the curator of the 91 Stories exhibition. This digital and physical exhibition will bring together local objects, images, artefacts and artworks – all from within our cultural collections and chosen by you.

Uncover your own hidden stories in our archives and collections

Did you know that we have a searchable Names Index? The Tasmanian Names Index holds information recorded about people in Tasmania, including immigration, births, deaths, marriage and divorce, over specific periods of time. The knowledge held in these records could help you reassemble the stories of your own Tasmanian ancestors.

Learn to write your story

Our libraries hold activities to help budding storytellers write their own tales. For example, Devonport Library currently holds a fortnightly Young Writers session, for ages 7+ to help young writers strengthen their creative writing skills. Check with your local library to see if they hold similar events.

Local stories at the Allport Library and Museum of Fine Arts

As part of the Professional Historians Associations (Tas.) Lecture Series, Dean Greeno will discuss the threat of climate change on traditional Tasmanian Aboriginal shell necklace making practices.

Join us for this special event: Effects of climate change on traditional Aboriginal shell necklace making practice, on 3 June 2021, 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM. Register via Eventbrite.

Tasmanian stories, fact and fiction

Whether it be a retelling of an old story, or an account of a new one, our local libraries hold many Tasmanian stories that are available for our community to borrow as physical or digital books.

Some of our recent favourites include:

Showcasing a year of Covid-19 memories

Libraries Tasmania has launched an online gallery to showcase Tasmania’s experience of the COVID-19 pandemic.

One year ago, in collaboration with the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, we began inviting Tasmanians to contribute writing, photographs, video and objects telling their ‘COVID-19 Story’.

Tasmanians from Strahan to Ravenswood, and Smithton to Kingston responded with wide-ranging submissions, such as photographs of closed businesses, personal accounts of isolation, fear and boredom, poems, and stories of projects aimed at bringing happiness to the community.

A range of submissions is now available to view online via Libraries Tasmania’s online gallery. Some gems include:

  • Lesliee Whittet of Devonport sharing the joy of seeing his granddaughter race out of the airport after arriving from lockdown-restricted Victoria (NS6935).
  • Six-year-old Freddy Farrington of Margate recounting taking his COVID-19 test (NS6971).
  • Hobart based artist Michelle Dracoulis’s photographic explorations of toilet paper hoarding (NS6972).
  • Launceston teacher Jayne Hill and illustrator Courtney Greatbatch’s beautiful booklet ‘But why cant I go to school?’, created to help kinder and pre students understand and cope with the pandemic (NS6953).
  • The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation Tasmanian branches’ videos, photographs and media releases from 2020 (NS6980, NS6981).
  • Images from Westbury pharmacist Kelli Houlahan of the measures taken instore to provide services while protecting clients and staff.

Project coordinator, Libraries Tasmania archivist Jen Jerome, has welcomed the community’s enthusiastic response.

“Thanks to the generosity and creativity of our community, this collection will provide an invaluable record of the journey taken by Tasmanians through 2020 and the ongoing pandemic.”

Jen encourages people to continue to contribute, saying “each submission is like a piece of a puzzle – the more stories, images and items we receive, the more coherent the story will be.”

More information about the COVID-19 Stories Project can be found on the websites of Libraries Tasmania and TMAG: www.libraries.tas.gov.au and www.tmag.tas.gov.au, or by contacting the project team at COVID19stories@education.tas.gov.au.

Submissions will be accepted until the end of 2021.