National Family History Month – Activities at Penrith Library

August is National Family History Month and Penrith Library has arranged a varied programme of activities during the month.

Tickets will be available from Penrith Library from 17th July. All events are free, but bookings are essential due to limited availability for some sessions.

To book a place at any of these activities, call into any branch of Penrith City Library or call (02) 4732 7891.

All activities are located within Penrith Library, 601 High Street, Penrith.

Workshop: Family history research with a local twist
August 2nd           Wednesday        10:00 – 12:00      PC Training Rm

Using the resources found in the Library, especially the treasures to be discovered in the Research Room, Information Librarian Lorraine Stacker will present a talk on getting started in family history using the internet and Ann-maree Bonner, Research Librarian, will detail some of the wonderful local records that can be used to flesh out your family tree.

Movie Morning: Dad and Dave: On Our Selection
August 18th         Friday                    10:00 – 12:00      Peter Goodfellow Theatrette

There will be a short talk by Lorraine Stacker, Information Librarian, to introduce this 1995 remake of the Chauvel Classic starring Leo McKern, Dame Joan Sutherland (in her only non-singing role), Geoffrey Rush and a host of well-known Australian actors. The movie will be accompanied by light refreshments.



Guest speaker:  ‘The History behind Who Do You Think You Are?’
August 22nd         Tuesday               10:00 – 12:00      Peter Goodfellow Theatrette

For the past eight years, Linda Emery has been a member of the research team for the SBS television genealogy program Who Do You Think You Are?, and is about to start work on Series 9. This will be a behind the scenes look at the research work involved in creating the programme. Light refreshments will be provided.


Workshop: Recording Oral Histories
August 24th         Thursday             10:00 – 12:00      Peter Goodfellow Theatrette

Ever thought about recording your family memories for posterity? Lorraine Stacker, Information Librarian, and Vanessa Stockford, Research Coordinator, will provide some practical tips on creating oral history recordings and preserving them for the future.

Guest Speaker: ‘Jane Austen: Her Life and Works’                                                    Jane Austen
August 29th          Tuesday                1pm – 3pm               Peter Goodfellow Theatrette

2017 marks the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s death at 41. Her six completed novels are well-loved classics and relevant even today. Susannah Fullerton OAM FRS(N), President of the Jane Austen Society of Australia, writer and Jane Austen fan, will talk about Jane, her family and her work. Light refreshments will be provided.


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Vale Sue Sewter, nurse, educator, local historian and Library volunteer


Audrey Dorothy ‘Sue’ Sewter was born on 11 January 1928 in Lancaster, England to Walter and Gladys (Cookson) Sewter. Following her schooling, Sue trained as a nurse at St Thomas’ Hospital in London and met fellow trainee Joy Edmonds. They became lifelong friends. In 1954 Sue and Joy travelled to New Zealand. After three years they returned to England. In an oral history interview with Penrith City Library, Sue recalled that she first visited Australia in 1956 and felt an affinity with the country. She returned to settle here in Penrith in 1959. She arrived on the SS Fairsea.

Sue arrived in Penrith to take up work as a nurse and nurse educator at Nepean District Hospital. Sue was head of Group School of Nursing at Nepean Hospital. In 1978, she was appointed by the Minister for Education as the first coordinator of the Western Metropolitan Regional Council for Nurse Education. She retired in 1984.

History and photography were always favourite past-times. When Sue arrived in Penrith she fortuitously and meticulously recorded and photographed the town. Sue joined the Nepean District Historical Society in the 1970s. She organized many walking tours around Penrith and Emu Plains for the Society and enthralled everyone with her dry wit and humour, and extensive knowledge of the local area.

Sue and Pam Sheppard started the archives at St. Stephens Church in 1989 and together they have published a series of booklets on the church’s history. Sue was also asked to help establish an archives at Nepean Hospital.

In 1994 Sue became a volunteer in Penrith Library’s Research Room. She lent the Library her photographic collection, from which the Library now holds its Sue Sewter Collection of 243 photographs. For a number of years, Sue undertook indexing of the Nepean Times and later assisted in cataloguing the Library’s extensive and historic photographic collection. Her last day as a volunteer was on 16 October 2009, when she signed with her familiar signature – A. Sewter.

In 2004 Sue presented an entertaining paper at the Library’s History Conference entitled ‘The Nepean Times: a brief look’. Sue’s contribution to our City was recognised in 2009 when she received a Penrith City Council Wall of Achievement Community Award.

Sue Sewter & Pat Curry - Wall of Achievement Dinner Sue with fellow Library volunteer Pat Curry at the presentation evening
at Penrith City Council


Sadly, Sue passed away on 4 June 2017. Being such an organized person, Sue had planned her funeral, the church service and hymns and the eulogy! At her Thanksgiving Service at her beloved St Stephens Anglican Church in Penrith, held on 10 June, Sue’s friends, colleagues and past students paid their last respects to a great lady. Marie Hurley read her eulogy, but added a whole lot more!



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Family History Saturday: “Sourcing and Sorting It”

A big thank you to all of those who participated on the day. We received some lovely feedback on the speakers, the tours and the Library staff. Thank you to Nepean FHS for being there on the day and to State Records (Martyn and Dominique) for giving us their time. Thanks also to Ted Chapman for showing us the techniques of bookbinding, and Mavis Reynolds for coming along and giving an extra tale or two on our beautiful wall hangings.


Family History Saturday: “Sourcing and Sorting It”

Saturday 25 March – a free event.
In conjunction with the Nepean Family History Society, State Archives and our local bookbinder Ted Chapman, Penrith Library will host a day to help people research and preserve their family history.The Research Room will be open all day from 9am to allow staff to help people with their research of the local area

  • Penrith Library staff will also present talks:
    • 10am – PC Training Room – Beginning family history with Lorraine Stacker, Information Librarian, Penrith City Library
    • 11am – PC Training Room – Finding gems in council records with Ann-maree Bonner, Librarian, Penrith City Library
  • State Archives will present talks on the preservation of historical documents, and on the government records they hold and how to access them:
    • 1pm – PC Training Room – Preserving the Past for the Future – basic conservation techniques with Dominique Moussou, conservator, NSW State Archives
    • 2pm – PC Training Room – Finding ancestors on the State Archives website with Martyn Killion, Manager, Public Access, State Archives and Records Authority of New South Wales
  • Escorted audio tours of the five Library and Council Creative Enterprise embroideries – between 12pm – 1pm –  – Library staff will escort small groups of 5 with accompanying hand-held audio devices to view each artwork. Please collect a token for the tour from the Research Room desk. A Not just stitches booklet will be given free to each participant.
  • Nepean Family History Society will have volunteers available all day to provide guidance and advice on all matters family history. They will also have their publications for sale on the day. 
  • Ted Chapman will be repeating his workshop on bookbinding techniques.
  • Tickets will be available from 1 March 2017 as there are limited spaces for the talks. 
  • Tea and coffee facilities, and biscuits will be available all day to refresh researchers.

For more information, please contact Lorraine Stacker on 0247327886 or email ; or Vanessa Stockford on 0247328040 or email

Posted in Events, family history, Nepean Family History Society, Penrith

1917 Our Fallen

Penrith Library staff are in the process of compiling a biography of each of the local men who fell in 1917. Their names appear on local memorials across our City.

Please check out our updated biographies on these men as we progressively add them to the Memories of War Roll of Honor.

Mertoun Mills

Mertoun Mills – died 12 June 1917

The Library staff are looking for any information (especially a photograph) to add to the story of these men. Please contact Lorraine Stacker on:

The following men have been identified for 1917:

Harry Adams
Reginald Cheesman
John Collum
Leslie Purdon
Albert Gardiner
George Giddy
Victor Stuckey
Reginald McLean
Frederick Eaton
Samuel Luke
Frederick Earp
Walter Skelton
Irwin Bunyan
Cecil Peck
Robert McGuinness
Charles Clissold
Luke Hughes
Rupert Bannister
George Denny
Alfred Stevenson
Mertoun Mills
Alexander Mitchell
Owen Baker
Henry Willis
Bede Connell
John Kerry
Cecil Mallard
William Perry
Thomas Williams
Francis Haylen
William Andrews
George Love
Cyril Blaxland
Ernest Harper
Edward (Edwin) Bunyan
Richard Baker
John Simpson
Richard Voller (Richard Baker)
Cecil Buckley
Richard Forrest
William Stinson
Albert Steele
David Gregor
Arthur Gerring
Posted in People, World War 1 | Tagged

2017 History Calendar is out now!


On sale for just $10 at Penrith Library

Penrith Library’s 2017 history calendar acknowledges the many local school anniversaries that will be celebrated in 2017. In particular, Penrith Public School in High Street, which opened 100 years ago on its new site.

Also, we again this year commemorate the sacrifice of our local men and women from the First World War and we list those men who made the Supreme Sacrifice.

In June 1867 (150 years ago) we experienced the greatest flood in recorded history, and, at the same time the new Nepean Road and Rail bridge was opened – trains and road traffic on the same bridge! – the bridge is now named Victoria bridge after the first 2 bridges which had been washed away in 1857 (160 years ago) and 1860. And now in 2017 a new bridge is emerging across the Nepean River.

For more details on the history behind these events, please refer to the Council’s publication: Penrith: the makings of a city (2014), by Lorraine Stacker. Copies are available for sale in the Library for $50, and lending copies are available for loan.

Also, our Library’s Research Room holds a treasure trove of information on our City’s history. The Room is attended by a research librarian every day who are available to help with any local and family history inquiries.

Posted in Penrith, People, World War 1

Spring Frost Corner, Emu Heights

On Monday 24 October 2016 the Mayor of Penrith, Councillor John Thain officially unveiled Spring Frost Corner on Wedmore Road, Emu Heights. At the instigation of the Innes family, Emu Green Reserve was recognised as the place where Elioth Gruner painted Spring Frost in 1919. Many members of the Innes family, Gruner’s family and people with an interest in our local history gathered to witness the unveiling.


A representative from the Art Gallery of NSW spoke about it’s much loved and viewed artwork. A framed copy of the artwork is housed in Penrith Library’s Research Room.

Gruner and his friend rented a small hut on the Innes property, located west of Wedmore Road, on the escarpment. He captured James (Jim) Innes with his cattle early in the morning as the sun rose in the winter of 1919. Most of this large painting was done in-situ with Gruner probably making the final touches in his studio back in Sydney.

For more information see:

Posted in Emu Plains, People, Uncategorized

‘Cowpastures and beyond’ State Family History Conference

The State Family History Conference this years will be held at the Camden Civic Centre on 9-11 September 2016.

On Friday the conference area is open to the public. Everyone is welcome to come along between 10 and 4, converse with experts from regional areas across the state and interstate. Many family history societies will have trade tables for you to view their publications and to discuss family history.

Penrith Library will be there with a trade table and Information Librarian Lorraine stacker will be the first speaker of the day, talking about Getting started with your family history research.

Love to see you there.


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National Family History Month – August 2016

National Family History Month is on in August. It is an initiative of AFFHO (Australasian Federation of Family History Organisations).

Family history and genealogy is one of the most popular past-times around the world. There are over 250,000 Australians who are members of family history related organisations, including our local Nepean Family History Society at Emu Plains  which has over 250 members. So, an organised NFHM full of events, has a broad appeal across Australia. Libraries, archives and family history societies participate in the month of events. To check out what events are on visit:

At Penrith City Library:

Research Services are running three events this year as part of National Family History Month:

  • Friday 12 August 10am
    Movie morning in the Peter Goodfellow Theatrette

capture of caddie flyer

This Australian classic was released in 1976, 40 years ago, and so to celebrate its release we are screening the movie as a community event. It was one of the first Australian films to present a wholly female narrative. In addition, Caddie was a local Penrith woman, Catherine Beatrice Edmonds. She immortalised life in the depression years in her book Caddie: a Sydney Barmaid.

Two talks prior to the screening:
– Information Librarian Lorraine Stacker will look at some facts on the movie. As well as outlining Catherine Edmonds’s life. She is buried in Penrith General Cemetery.

–  Historical researcher, Vicki Wilson will talk on her past life as a wigmaker. She worked on the film Caddie making a number of wigs including those of Helen Morse who played Caddie.

  • Tuesday 16 August 10am              TROVE workshop, PC Training Room
  • Thursday 25 August 10am            Family History workshop – basics for people starting, PC Training Room

Tickets are free for all events, but are limited in the case of the workshops, due to space considerations.

All tickets are available at Penrith desk only.

At Nepean Family History Society:
  • Free access to the Library’s Resources including Ancestry & Findmypast
  • Talk family history with NFHS members
  • have a chat over a cup of tea
  • Saturday 6 August 1.30pm: Donna Lund will be presenting a talk on publishing your family history followed by Lorraine Stacker who will be discussing her personal experiences with DNA testing
  • Wednesdays: 10.30 -11.30 3 August – What’s available at Nepean Family History Society Library
  • 10 August: Writing Workshop with Lorraine Stacker on getting THAT story written. Bring the details along about your family member, and we will workshop the writing process together
  • 17 August: Writing Workshop with Lorraine Stacker
  • 24 August: Writing Workshop with Lorraine Stacker
  • 31 August: Lorraine Stacker who will be discussing her personal experiences with DNA testing
Enquiries:Judy McLeod – 0247331631 email:
Old School House, Great Western Highway,
Emu Plains (parking off Lawson Street)
Tues, Wed & Thurs 10am to 2pm;
Thurs 7pm
to 9pm; Sat 2pm to 5pm


Posted in Events

Max Dupain – and those photos

ziegler book
Well, the State Library of NSW have splashed Penrith all over the place with photographs of Penrith in the 1940s by Max Dupain. These photographs can be viewed in the booklet Penrith, the town and its surrounding district, held in Penrith Library’s Research Room (open 2-5 each day). Max Dupain’s photographic collection is a wonderful addition to the State Library, but, the State Library need to get their facts right about the booklet. Ziegler approached the Council about publishing a touristy booklet, and it was not related to the Council’s forthcoming amalgamation in 1949. Council paid for the publication as well. For more info on the ‘real’ story read the book – Penrith: the makings of a City (2014) by Lorraine Stacker, a book also funded by Penrith City Council!
From Penrith: the Makings of a City, and Treasures of Penrith’s past (2015).
In 1947 editor and publisher Oswald Ziegler approached Penrith Council with a
proposal to produce a pictorial booklet on Penrith. In order to show his credentials
Ziegler presented the Council with three of his latest publications as a donation
to the Library – This is Australia; Newcastle, 150 Years and By your Deeds. He had
been working on a similar booklet for Goulburn (1946) and successfully encouraged
Penrith Council to publish 5,000 booklets entitled Penrith, the Town and its Surrounding District, in Picture and Story in 1948
Many businesses and industries were showcased, from St Marys to Emu Plains,Wallacia to Castlereagh, indicating a district’s identity with Penrith as the centre.This publication, marketed to the overseas and Australian tourist, was the first promotional booklet for the town and was one of the first by Ziegler.
His photographer was the well-renowned Max Dupain, whose photographs form a core collection of images of postwar Penrith. Although Dupain was none too pleased with Ziegler’s approach to the cutting and collaging of photographs by Ziegler’s graphic artist Gert Sellheim, the booklet showcased the district as it had never been seen before. The prize winning Sellheim, interned for three months because of his German citizenship in 1943, designed the famous flying kangaroo symbol for Qantas in 1947. Eve Keane, author of a number of historical works in the 1950s, wrote the text.
Lorraine Stacker
Information Librarian
Penrith City Library
Posted in Penrith

Re-discovering the treasures of Penrith City Library

23 – 29 May 2016

2016 Hist Conf 44

As part of the National Trust Heritage Festival 2016, Research Services has organised a BIG week in the Research Room at Penrith City Library.

These events are designed to promote the local and family history services at the Library, its special collections and the new Spydus Library catalogue.

  • The Research Room will be open from 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday, Saturday 9am to 5pm; Sunday 10am to 5pm.
  • Staff will be available to provide assistance with research
  • Talks and practical workshops by guest speakers and Library staff
    • Tuesday 24 May  10 am  – Vanessa Stockford, Librarian, Penrith City Library – Using Trove and the Library’s new catalogue for local and family history research
    • Wednesday 25 May 10 am – Ann-maree Bonner, Librarian, Penrith City Library- Using local history resources for local and family history research
    • Wednesday 25 May 4pm – Ted Chapman from Chapman Bookbinding – Bookbinding and conservation repairs (recommended to bring in your books and archives for assessment)
    • Thursday 26 May 10am – Vicki Wilson from the Document Detective – World War One soldiers’ wills and probates at State Records NSW
    • Friday 27 May 10am – Lorraine Stacker, Librarian, Penrith City Library – Family history research at Penrith City Library, followed by a presentation by Nepean Family History Society.
    • Saturday 28 May 2pm – Alison Spencer, Library Technician, Penrith City Library – History of postcards gleaned from the Library’s Joyce Cole Collection
  • All events are free, but limited
  • Tickets available from Library service desk from 12 May 2016. For more details phone 47327891, or 47328040 or email




Posted in Uncategorized