150 years of Visitors

visitor books covers

Transcribing the Nicholson Museum Visitor Books

From its opening the University of Sydney's Museum of Antiquities, now the Nicholson Museum, invited visitors to record their names and addresses in a visitor's book. Resting on a table at the entrance to the museum, the first three volumes were a register of all those who entered the museum. The fourth and final volume, begun in 1966 after the Nicholson Museum had undergone a significant re-organisation, was a casual visitor book for those who wanted to write a note or comment, rather than the official record of visitors.

Within these books are the names of academics and scholars who helped shape our knowledge of history, school children who grew up to be leading journalists, artists and politicians, the Sydney elite and local characters of colonial and early Federation history as well as the students and staff of the first 150 years of the University of Sydney.

We are asking you to help us transcribe each page of the Nicholson Museum Visitor Books via our DigiVol expedition. In doing so you will help reveal the characters and stories of all those who have been inspired by and contributed to the rich social history of the Nicholson Museum.

Volume 1 has unfortunately not survived from history. Volume 2 is dated from 6 Nov 1869 to 28 Jul 1906, Volume 3 from 1 Aug 1906 to 26 Oct 1952 and Volume 4 from 1966 until 28 March 2001. These three volumes are currently on display in the exhibition Alpha and Omega at the Nicholson Museum.

About DigiVol

DigiVol is an online crowdsourcing platform created by the Australian Museum in collaboration with the Atlas of Living Australia to allow members of the public to digitally volunteer and contribute knowledge to museum collections around the world, and to make museum data accessible. Today over 2000 volunteers are contributing to nearly 1200 expeditions across 36 national and international collections.

The Nicholson Museum Visitor Books expedition is the first Sydney University Museums project launched via DigiVol.

How can you help?

Anyone can become a DigiVol volunteer and assist with the Nicholson Museum Visitor Books expedition. All you need is a computer, internet access and an email address.

To become a volunteer you must register on Digivol via volunteer.ala.org.au. Once registered you can find the Nicholson Museum expedition by clicking this link or using the search feature on the DigiVol homepage (or browse through the other great projects currently active). Then simply click 'Get Started' to join in the fun. A tutorial is available on this first page of each expedition to guide you through the tasks. You can also join discussion forums and share your knowledge and questions with us and other volunteers.

A full guide to registering to be a volunteer with DigiVol can be found: volunteer.ala.org.au/about/index#/registering

If you have any questions or want to know more about online volunteering get in touch via nicholson.museum@sydney.edu.au