On this webpage view images associated with University of Sydney graduation ceremonies:
1850s 1860s 1870s 1880s 1890s early 1900s 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s 2010s
Click on images for enlargement.
In the 1850s
The first three annual graduation ceremonies (called Enconia or Commemoration of the inauguration of the University) were held in 1856, 1857 and 1858 in the Great Hall of Sydney College (now Sydney Grammar School), Hyde Park. The ceremonies would have looked similar to the image above of the 1852 Inauguration ceremony, image, Evening News, 27 September 1902, National Library of Australia.
William Charles Windeyer was one of the first graduates of the University (16 males) in 1856, image, University of Sydney Archives.
The Provost (Chancellor from 1860) presided at
Commemoration ceremonies and wore a robe and
cap similar to those worn by the Chancellor of Oxford
University. The image above is of Charles Nicholson
who was Provost then Chancellor 1854 - 1862,
portrait by Artist H W Phillips, oil on canvas,
purchased by Subscribers, University Art Collection,
reproduced with the permission of the University
of Sydney.The image also shows the Mace on
the left which was the symbol of Senate's authority.
The formal parts of the early Commemoration ceremonies for matriculation, conferring ad eundem gradum degrees, awarding prizes and honours, and conferring of degrees were in Latin. Above is the beginning of the Latin format for conferring degrees, from the 1856 Calendar. If you click on the image you can see the full wording.
Early testamurs were also in Latin, University of Sydney Archives.
From 1859, conferring of degrees ceremonies included a Commemoration of Benefactors ceremony. The combined ceremony was called Commemoration, and was held in the Great Hall in the Quadrangle, photo, William Blackwood: "Sydney University Hall - in commemoration of the grand festival at the opening of the Sydney University - 18 July 1859", Josef Lebovic Gallery.
In the 1860s
Edmund Barton, Australia's first Prime Minister, graduated Bachelor of Arts in 1868 with first class honours and the University Medal in classics, photo courtesy of the National Library of Australia, nla.ms-ms51-12-1257.
In the 1870s
The Commemoration ceremony in the Great Hall on 28 March 1874, image, the 'Illustrated Sydney News', May 1874, NLA Newspapers.
| The 1876 Commemoration ceremony was held in the Great Hall on 24 June.
At this typical ceremony, the conferral of degrees and prizes and the reading of
benefactors' names were followed by a lengthy address by the Chancellor
Sir Edward Deas-Thomson & then speeches by Professor Charles Badham
& the Governor, Sir Hercules Robinson. In this print of a wood engraving
you can see the audience at the back, and the official party on the dais
at the front, image mp002480, Illustrated Australian News,
7 August 1876, courtesy, State Library of Victoria.
The Chancellor Sir William Manning presented the address at the Commemoration ceremony held in the Great Hall on Saturday 26 July 1879, image from The Gazette, January 1952, University of Sydney Archives.
In the 1880s
The Commemoration ceremony held in the Great Hall in 1885 was the first to have women graduates (two). One was (Mary) Elizabeth Brown, photo G3_224_1349 taken in 1885, University of Sydney Archives.
The Commemoration ceremony held in the Great Hall on Saturday 14 May 1887, showing the Chancellor Sir William Manning congratulating women graduates on their success, image, Australian Town and Country Journal, 28 May1897, National Library of Australia. The annual Commemoration Day ceremony had become a notable academic and social event in Sydney, held in the Great Hall usually on Saturday afternoons.
In the 1890s
During the 1880s and 1890s, student behaviour at Commemoration ceremonies became increasingly unruly, especially during the long speeches. This sketch illustrates rowdy student behaviour at the 1895 Commemoration, photo, The Gazette, July 1973.
In 1897 the students organised a procession to the Town Hall where the Commemoration ceremony had been moved. Two years later a second procession of up to 500 students was held, pictured above, photo, The Sydney Mail, 29 April 1899, Google News Archive. Arriving at the University, a stampede was made for the Great Hall for Commemoration. The reading of benefactors' names was accompanied by the students' songs, & then students sang, whistled and trumpeted through the conferring of degrees.
In the early 1900s
At the Commemoration in the Great Hall on Saturday 19 April 1902 - Ada Evans, the first woman to graduate Bachelor of Laws - is shown shaking the hand of the Chancellor Sir Henry Normand MacLaurin, which was greeted with a prolonger cheer, photo, The Sydney Mail, 26 April 1920, Google News Archive.
A group photo of Arts graduates in 1908, photo G3_224_0398, University of Sydney Archives.
In 1912 a compromise between the University authorities and the undergraduates was reached. The Commemoration Day ceremony returned to the Great Hall and would now be held on a different day from the Students' Festival and Procession. This photo shows part of the students' procession on Saturday 25 May 1912 and the traffic congestion, photo, The Sydney Morning Herald, 27 May 1912, National Library of Australia.
In the 1920s
The program for the 1922 Commemoration ceremony and the Students' Festival the following day, University of Sydney Archives.
After the procession through the city streets on 19 May 1922, the students and their friends assembled in the Quadrangle where entertainment was provided including songs and choruses and mock trials, photo, The Sydney Mail, 24 May 1922, Google News Archive.
The ceremony for the conferring of degrees and commemoration of benefactors was held on Wednesday 27 May 1925. The Governor Sir Dudley de Chair, Lady de Chair and Chancellor Professor Mungo MacCallum are in the foreground, photo, The Sydney Mail, 3 June 1925, Google News Archive. This was the last time they were held as a joint ceremony, with the commemoration of benefactors ceremony then moving to a date later in the year.
A group of new graduates on 27 May 1925, photo, The Sydney Mail, 3 June 1925, Google News Archive.
The Esquire Bedell Lieutenant-Colonel Robert Massie DSO leading the official procession from the Great Hall on 29 April 1927 following the conferring of degrees ceremony, photo, Sydney Morning Herald, 2 May 1927, National Library of Australia.
A group of graduates after the ceremony on 30 April 1927, photo, Sydney Morning herald, 2 May 1927, National Library of Australia.
"Smile for the camera" -a Commemoration Day ceremony in the Great Hall in 1928, photo G3_224_0629, University of Sydney.
In the 1930s
Leading the academic procession into the Great Hall for the conferring of degrees ceremony on 3 May 1930, photo, The Sydney Mail, 7 May 1930, Google News Archive.
At the rear of the academic procession on 3 May 1930: the Governor-General, Lord Stonehaven (second from left), the Chancellor Sir William Cullen and the Esquire Bedell Lieutenant-Colonel Robert Massie DSO moving to the Great Hall, photo from 'The Sydney Morning Herald', 5 May 1930, National Library of Australia.
A 1930 conferring of degrees ceremony in the Great Hall, photo G3_224_1029, University of Sydney Archives.
The Governor (Sir Philip Game) paid his first official visit to the University on Saturday 2 May 1931 for the conferring of degrees ceremony. He is pictured inspecting the guard of honour provided by the University Regiment, photo, The Sydney Mail, 6 May 1931, Google News Archive.
During the conferring of degrees ceremony on 2 May 1931, photo, The Sydney Mail, 6 May 1931, Google News Archive.
The growing number of graduates meant an increase in conferring ceremonies. This image shows Senate members leaving the Great Hall after the second 1933 ceremony on Saturday 13 May 1933. From left: The Lord Mayor (Alderman Hagon), the Chancellor (Sir William Cullen), Chairman, Professorial Board (Sir John Peden), Acting Town Clerk (Mr F J Smith), Deputy Chancellor (Sir Mungo MacCallum), Acting Vice-Chancellor (Mr W A Selle) & Dr John Bradfield, photo, The Sydney Mail, 17 May 1933.
Leaving the Great Hall after the ceremony of conferring degrees on 13 May 1933, photo, Sydney Morning Herald, 15 May 1933, National Library of Australia.
In the 1940s
Some of the 21 graduates registering at the Chief Secretary's office for practice under the Dental Board of NSW in December 1940, photo, The Sydney Morning Herald, 21 December 1940, National Library of Australia.
Staff Sergeant John Clancy taking film of his wife Estelle when she received her BA in mid-1944, photo, The Australian Women's Weekly, 1 July 1944, National Library of Australlia.
The Governor, Lieutenant-General J Northcott, inspecting the University Regiment Guard of Honour at the Faculty of Arts graduation ceremony held in the Great Hall on Saturday 4 June 1949, photo, The Sunday Herald, 5 June 1949, National Library of Australia.
In the 1950s
Two-year-old Ron Wyber tries on his father's mortarboard after the conferring of degrees on 10 May 1950. His father, Mr R Wyber, graduated Bachelor of Mechanical and Electrical Engineering, photo, Sydney Morning Herald, 11 May 1950, National Library of Australia.
Four doctors nursing their children after receiving their medical degrees on 16 June 1953 - from left, Willoughby Flower, W Sommerhayes, J Allen and L Weinrauch, photo, The Sydney Morning Herald, 17 June 1953, National Library of Australia.
Two Bachelor of Science graduates Kerry Fitzgerald and Jean Robinson (with gloves) on 5 May 1954, photo, Sydney Morning Herald, 6 May 1954, National Library of Australia.
Sydney Teachers College graduation ceremony in the Great Hall in 1956, photo G3_224_2234, University of Sydney Archives.
Family congratulations after the conferring of degrees ceremony for Dr Lorraine O'Brien (also gloved) from her sister and her three young daughters, 1959, photo, The Australian Women's Weekly, 11 February 1959, National Library of Australia.
For many years, testamurs were rolled inside a blue tube embossed in gold with the University of Sydney coat of arms and name, photo, University Secretariat. This practice ended in the early 1980s.
In the 1960s
The Governor-General Lord Casey inspecting the University Regiment before the graduation ceremony on 19 April 1968 at which he received an honorary doctorate of science, photo G3_224_0450_1, University of Sydney Archives.
Sir Roden Cutler VC, Governor of NSW, had been invited to address a Faculty of Arts graduation ceremony on 1 May 1969. Protesting students confronted a Sydney University Regiment guard of honour for Sir Roden Cutler VC who was honorary colonel of the Regiment. There was a brawl between those students who supported and those who opposed the presence of the Regiment, photo G3_224_1013_8, University of Sydney Archives.
In the 1970s
An Arts graduate in 1971 - women graduates were still required to wear white or cream under their academic dress, photo, University Secretariat.
From left, Mrs George, Sir Hermann Black, Miss George, Professor Don George, Vice-Chancellor of University of Newcastle, after a conferring of degrees ceremony in 1978, photo G77_1_0510, Universityof Sydney Archives.
In the 1980s
Debbie Bullock, the 100,000th University of Sydney graduate, with Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir Bruce Williams, photo G3_224_1957, University of Sydney Archives.
Seven People's Republic of China graduates received their degrees in a special ceremony on 8 January 1981, photo G77_1_0514, University Archives. When they were chosen to study at the University in 1979, they became the first master’s students to come to Australia from China after the Cultural Revolution. Tertiary teachers of English, they were enrolled in a master’s program in English & Linguistics.
Henry Arnott Togatia, the first person from Papua New Guinea to graduate in Pharmacy, photo G77_2_0034, University of Sydney Archives.
Chancellor Sir Hermann Black presiding at a graduation ceremony in the 1980s, photo, University of Sydney Archives.
Chancellor Sir Hermann Black presiding at a graduation ceremony in the 1980s, photo, University of Sydney Archives.
A wet graduation day in the late 1980s, photos, University of Sydney Archives.
A group photo of the academic procession following a grduation ceremony in the late 1980s: Chancellor Sir Hermann Black, Deputy Chancellor Mrs Daphne Kok and Vice-Chancellor Professor John Manning Ward, members of Senate and academic staff, photo, University of Sydney Archives.
Julie Helen Solomon being congratulated by the Chancellor Sir Hermann Black on her graduation with an MA with first class honours and the University Medal on 4 March 1989, photo G77_1_2023, University of Sydney Archives.
In the 1990s
From left: Judith Stowe, Professor Susan Dorsch and Hugh Stowe. Judith and Hugh are mother and son and both received their Law degrees at a graduation ceremony on 19 May 1990, photo G77_1_2160, University of Sydney Archives.
Chancellor Sir James Rowland (centre front) in March 1990 with the first holders of the Diploma in Aboriginal Assistants Education pictured after their graduation with Lady Black (centre back), and Professor John Cleverley (back right), Pro Dean of the (then) Faculty of Education, photo, University Archives.
A Special War Veterans graduation ceremony was held in the Great Hall at 11.00am on 4 May 1993 for those who had graduated in absentia because of membership of the armed service in World War II, & the Korean & Vietnam Wars. On the left is Robert Marsden Hope, Chancellor of Wollongong University, who was awarded an honorary LLD as well as the first class LLB he obtained in 1944. On the right is Colin Bull who graduated with a BSc which he completed in 1941, photo, University of Sydney.
1994 Bachelor of Education (Human Movement Education) graduate, Ms Sarah Bellenger, with her parents, Associate Professor Christopher Bellenger of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, and Ms Jan Bellenger, photo G77_1_0718, University of Sydney Archives.
Stella Reddy, a first year AEAP student from the Koori Centre, singing at the Koori Centre graduation in 1994, [photo G77_1_0698, University of Sydney Archives.
In the early 2000s
The Chancellor Justice Kim Santow with a graduate at the presentation ceremony for University of Sydney graduates held in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on 2 September 2005, photo, International Office. This was the first time that any university in the world had been granted the honour of staging such a ceremony in the Great Hall of the People.
Arts graduates in 2006, photo, The 2006-7 Report on Achievement and Philanthropy, University of Sydney.
The Pro-Chancellor Mr John McCarthy QC confers the degree of Doctor of Visual Arts (honoris causa) upon Brenda Louise Croft at the Sydney College of the Arts graduation ceremony held in the Great Hall at 11.30am on 8 April 2009, photo, copyright Memento Photography.
In the 2010s
Her Excellency Ms Quentin Bryce AC, Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia and recipient of the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws, gave the occasional address at the Faculty of Law graduation ceremony held in the Great Hall at 11.30am on 21 May 2010, photo, copyright Memento Photography.
On Tuesday 22 March 2011, an Alumni Recognition Ceremony was held in the Great Hall when the University of Sydney welcomed as alumni students from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music who graduated prior to 1990, photo, University of Sydney.
A 2011 graduation ceremony, photo, copyright Liz Cartwright.
The academic procession leaves the Great Hall at the conclusion of a ceremony held in 2011, photo, copyright Liz Cartwright.
Refreshments following a Sydney Medical School graduation in May 2011, photo, Radius July 2011.
The Chancellor Her Excellency Professor Marie Bashir AC CVO at the University's graduation ceremony held in the Grand Hyatt Hotel, Beijing, on 22 October 2011, photo, courtesy of the International Office. The Chancellor presented the degrees and the Vice-Chancellor Dr Michael Spence delivered his address in Chinese, drawing applause from the students, their parents and relatives.
The program cover for a graduation ceremony held in May 2012, one of some 64 graduation ceremonies held that year.
At a Sydney Medical School graduation in May 2012, photo, Radius July 2012.
Sydney Medical School graduates in May 2012, photo, Radius July 2012.
From left, sisters Isobel, Merrilyn and Rebecca James in May 2012, part of the growing number of women Engineering students and graduates, photo, University of Sydney.
Esquire Bedell Bohdan Bilinsky with the University's Mace, symbol of Senate's authority, which is carried by the Esquire Bedell at graduation ceremonies, photo, copyright Liz Cartwright.
Lis Bergmann 2013