Bubonic plague in old Sydney :: A State Library of NSW photo collection

0 Posted by - 10 June 2013 - Feature stories

From time to time, we’ll be spotlighting amazing photo collections. Today, we look at the photos taken by John Degotardi Jr., photographer for the Department of Public Works, of the plague in The Rocks, Sydney, 1900.

When bubonic plague struck Sydney in 1900, George McCredie was appointed by the Government to take charge of all quarantine activities in the Sydney area, beginning work on March 23, 1900.

The infected areas, and buildings selected for demolition because of the health risks they supposedly raised, were recorded by photography. Most of the buildings demolished were considered slum buildings.

View the entire State Library of NSW collection online – click here.

Other useful links:
Purging Pestilence – Plague! State Records NSW – click here
The mechanical eye in Australia : photography 1841-1900 / Alan Davies & Peter Stanbury – click here
ONE hundred [100 years of the Mitchell Library] – click here
Bubonic Plague comes to Sydney in 1900. University of Sydney – click here


  • avatar
    Belinda Mabbott 10 June 2013 - 10:53 pm Reply

    How horrific for the families back then, but then again how lucky for the descendants to have these photos with the information of where the houses were. :)

    • avatar
      Cassie Mercer 10 June 2013 - 11:01 pm Reply

      Some are sad photos but they are such a valuable resource!

  • avatar
    Frances from A Rebel Hand 11 June 2013 - 6:40 pm Reply

    You’re so right, Cassie. But I’m shuddering as some of my family were living there at the time…

  • avatar
    Lynette Komidar 19 March 2014 - 7:18 pm Reply

    My grandmother Julia Simes died in 36 Goulburn in 1892 from Consumption, she was 29

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