Dictionary of Sydney goes live

25 February 2010

The ultimate guide to Sydney's rich and diverse history has been launched online, as part of a landmark history initiative led by the University of Sydney and the City of Sydney.

Initiated by former City Historian and first Chair of the Board of Trustees, Shirley Fitzgerald, six years ago, the new Dictionary of Sydney provides locals, visitors and academics around the world with access to detailed information about the harbour city and its history, in a digital format.

With input from more than 200 authors, the Dictionary is an ever-expanding resource, with hundreds of entries, over 1,000 multimedia items and thousands of fact snippets so far.

Provost of the University of Sydney and Chief Investigator on the project Stephen Garton, says the website opens a whole new dimension to history.

"The Dictionary of Sydney will offer all Sydneysiders and visitors a window into both the past and the present. The result of an extraordinary collaborative effort, it combines authoritative entries presented in a highly innovative digital environment."

The Lord Mayor Clover Moore, MP says the project brings together hundreds of historians, academics, technologists and cultural institutions to create an exciting new way of telling Sydney's history.

"We're thrilled to be involved in something with such great potential to show Sydney's depth and breadth, its communities and villages, and its interconnection with the rest of the world," said Ms Moore.

Take a look at:

  • Rare film of the removal of the Sydney GPO Clock Tower in 1942;
  • Amateur footage of the last tram to run on Anzac Parade in 1961;
  • Amateur footage of construction of Sydney's first skyscraper the AMP building at Circular Quay in 1961.

Or find out:

  • Which NSW justice minister ended his days imprisoned for murder in Broadmoor Criminal Lunatic Asylum, England?
  • What is the Aboriginal name for Millers Point?
  • How many people died in Sydney's worst shipwreck, the wreck of the Dunbar in 1857?

The Dictionary will eventually contain tens of thousands of entries - from prehistory and Aboriginal custodianship to colonial days and modern Sydney life.

Chair of the Board of Trustees and City Historian Lisa Murray is excited by the Dictionary's potential.

"This is the first online city history of its type in the world. With content being added all the time, the Dictionary of Sydney will be a valuable resource for education, tourism and cultural entertainment. This is just the beginning."

Website users are invited to make suggestions, provide images, film and stories through the Contact and Contribute links. The feedback goes into the editorial process, and can influence the future development of the Dictionary.

The Dictionary of Sydney also has plans to develop applications for mobile phone and print on demand and to adapt to other technologies as they develop.

The project received a grant from the Australian Research Council in 2005, worth almost $1 million over five years, which has enabled the initial research and development. It has been a collaboration between City of Sydney, University of Sydney, UTS, State Records of NSW and the State Library of NSW.

The Dictionary of Sydney can be found here.

Media inquiries: Sarah Stock, 91140748, 0419 278 715 or