Local Studies

Explore the Illawarra, its people, history and environment through our Local Studies collection.

This collection is located on Level 1 of Wollongong Library. It includes a wide variety of materials, including a growing number of online resources. Read below for more details.

We have trained and experienced staff to help you with enquiries in-person, via phone on (02) 4227 7415 or by email.

Our Illawarra Images collection tells the story of our region through photographs dating back to the 1800s.

See our Illawarra Images page for more details, or jump straight into the catalogue and start searching by selecting 'Illawarra Images' in the drop-down next to the search field.

Illawarra Stories is a collection of interviews that capture the social and cultural history of our local region.

Visit the Illawarra Stories website to listen to interviews or learn how to add your story to this growing collection.

Watch the videos below for an overview of getting involved in Illawarra Stories, and transcribing stories with Amplify.

Our Local Studies books, reports, magazines and newsletters  cover a large range of historical and contemporary topics including:

  • History and development of local industries
  • Profiles of prominent people
  • History of the built and natural environment
  • History of education and schools
  • Local government history and development
  • Environmental studies
  • Tourism.

You can search for items on our catalogue, or talk to our Local Studies team if you need help finding an item.

We have newspapers from the Illawarra dating back to 1856, including:

  • Print and microfilm
  • Local article files
  • A subject index to local newspaper articles - search the catalogue and select 'Illawarra Index' in the drop-down next to the search field.

You can also search Trove to access digitised local newspapers (pre 1955).

The library holds more than 1,000 items of original material that document local history, including:

  • Company and community group records
  • Minute books and accounts of private organisations, Council and Parish churches
  • Family papers from Illawarra residents
  • Original research papers
  • Scrapbooks
  • Photo albums.

These items are held in the Local Studies Stack on level one of  Wollongong Library. Ask our staff for help to locate and access these materials.

Our collection of maps provides a fascinating insight into the development of the Illawarra. The Local Studies map collection includes:

  • Historical and subdivision maps from 1882.
  • Parish maps
  • Topographic maps.

Online aerial maps

Council's online maps let you compare aerial photos of Wollongong from 1938 to recent times.

You may also be interested in Council's interactive maps.

Electoral registers list residents who are entitled to vote.

The Local Studies collection includes records from 1866 (please note that these early records are incomplete) and complete sets from the late 1940s.

These registers include names, addresses and occupations.

Census records provide statistical summaries of the Illawarra district including age ranges, employment and unemployment rates, ethnicity, income and more.

The collection includes extracts of the Illawarra district since the NSW Census 1828. Recent census summaries from the Australia Bureau of Statistics can also be searched by postcode and suburb.

You can also find more recent statistics on the Illawarra through the Demographics page on Council's website.

In the early 1800s trade directories were similar to telephone books with lists arranged by trade name and surname. The Local history collection includes:

  • Sand's Sydney and suburban directory
  • Bailliere's NSW gazetteer and road guide from 1866
  • Central and Southern NSW trade and business directory from the 1950s.

The Local Studies collection includes local heritage reports from across the City of Wollongong. You can access a digital veresion of these reports on the NSW Government's website Digital Heritage NSW.

Contribute to our Local Studies collection

We welcome donations of historical and modern material that helps tell the story of the Illawarra. This includes any of the item types listed above.

Please note that we can only accept items that are relevant to our collection, and that have no restrictions on how they can be used.

If you'd like to donate photographs, we can scan them and return the originals to you.

Contact our Local Studies team to discuss a donation in person, by phone on (02) 4227 7415, or by email.