• Archival Collection

Records held by Burnside Archives

To access these records

Please contact the Uniting Burnside Museum:

Postal Address: PO Box 7137 Silverwater, NSW 2128

Phone: 1800 864 846

Email: ask@uniting.org

Website: https://www.uniting.org/services/family-services/facility/uniting-burnside-museum-north-parramatta

Records Location

These records are held by Burnside Archives (2000? - current).


The Burnside Archive includes records dating back to the establishment of the Burnside children’s homes in 1911. Records include client files, admission records, and hospital admission registers. The information listed below is indicative of the type of information contained in these records, however this may vary depending on who created the record, the Home it relates to, and when it was created.

Access Conditions

Burnside is committed to an open file policy with as few restrictions as possible, and past or present clients may access their files. If the client is deceased, their next of kin may access the file. Past clients may access their records free of charge, however a small fee may apply in the case of records requested numerous times. Family members of those formerly in care are charged a nominal fee to copy a file.

  • Files are generally available only to the person whose name appears on the front of the file.
  • If the client is deceased, the file will be shown to the next of kin. You will need to supply their death certificate and evidence of next-of-kin relationship.
  • For adopted persons who are past or present clients, the provisions of the Adoption Act 2000 apply.
  • For current out-of-home care clients, access to files is supervised by the appropriate unit coordinator or foster care caseworker.
  • For past clients, access to files is through the Aftercare Coordinator.
  • You must provide proof of identity (e.g. birth certificate, driver’s licence).
  • As a file may be stored off-site, you will need to allow for some delay in gaining access.
  • How you will have access will be determined by the Aftercare Coordinator.


The Burnside collection includes:

Client files (1911 – )
The amount and type of information contained on these files varies depending on the circumstances of the individual case and the time period in which the client was in care. Files mostly contain identifying information, such as name and date of birth of the child, names and addresses of parents or guardians, names, ages and location of siblings, as well as information about the reason for the child’s placement. Files may also, but not necessarily, contain school reports, medical reports, photographs, letters from family members, court reports (if relevant) and case notes including placement history. In the past, many of the children in Burnside’s care were placed there voluntarily. However, in the last ten years clients have been primarily State wards.

Files up to 1990 have been microfilmed. The original microfilm is held at the Government Records Repository, and a copy is kept at Burnside with the Aftercare Secretary. Files that have not been microfilmed are stored at their respective regional centre for two years after the client’s discharge. After these two years, the files are sent to Burnside’s North Parramatta office where they are boxed and transferred to the Government Records Repository for storage.

Quantity: 150 microfilm reels and 198 boxes of files

Admission and discharge registers (1945 – 1977)
These record chronologically the admission or discharge of a child. Apart from noting the child’s name, they seem to serve as a checklist, ensuring that a child’s particulars had been noted in other administrative files, as well as noting the Home to which the child had been allocated.

Reference Number: BRG1/20 – BRG1/25
Quantity: 6 volumes.

Admission committee records (1911 – 1962)
Each application for admission was reviewed by the Admission Committee whose recommendation was forwarded to the Board. Each application was summarised, noting a child’s name, age and siblings, the applicant’s name, whether any maintenance was promised, the religious denomination and the circumstances surrounding the request for admission.

Reference Number: BRG1/10 – BRG1/12; BRG1/40; BRG 1/45
Quantity: 5 volumes.

Admission Register (1930 – 1947)
The entries in the register are under the name of each Home and note the child’s name, date of birth, date of admission and whether the child left the Home or was transferred to another Home. The register is in two sections: the first compiled about October 1941 notes admissions up to January/February 1942; and the second, admissions thereafter. A typescript alphabetical index is inserted in the register.

Reference Number: BRG1/14
Quantity: 1 volume

Margaret Haris Hospital Admission Registers (1962 – 1982)
The Registers in this Series cover the admissions and discharges from the Margaret Harris Hospital from January 1962 through to June 1982. The records give the child’s name, and in most cases the name of the attending doctor as well as a diagnosis. It is possible to determine the length of stay from the admission and discharge dates. The Registers consist of three foolscap books with forty entries per page and a total of 369 pages. The Margaret Harris Hospital was situated within the grounds of the Burnside Homes from 1917 until 1938, when it was moved and refurbished.

Reference Number: BRG1/153 – BRG1/154

Statstical register of children in long-term care (1974 – 1977)
This record was compiled at the time of discharge and notes: the child’s name; age at admission; date of admission; length of stay; whether parents are alive; and whether child is “illegitimate”.

Reference Number: BRG1/27
Quantity: 1 volume.

Statstical register of children in short-term care (1972 – 1977)
This record was compiled at the time of discharge and notes: the child’s name; age at admission; date of admission; length of stay; whether parents are alive; and whether child is “illegitimate”.

Reference Number: BRG1/26
Quantity: 1 volume

Other relevant records

The collection also contains other records that may be of interest to Care Leavers, including:

  • Historical photographs (1911-1986). Indexed in original format. Quantity: c.600.
  • Annual Reports (1911-2011). Quantity: c.300 records.
  • Items and Memorabilia (1911-1986). Original items used on-site at Burnside, includes items on display at Burnside Museum. Quantity: 350 items.
  • Oral histories from previous residents at Burnside (1911-). Some are transcribed on paper. Unindexed. Quantity: three large boxes.
  • Newspaper clippings (1911-). Unindexed. Quantity: three small boxes.
  • Child Migration (Scottish, Irish and Cambodian), original paper records (1921-mid-1980s). Unindexed. Quantity: two boxes.
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