Newtown Oral Histories

Below are a selection of excerpts from oral history interviews with residents of the Newtown area recorded in 1994 & 1995 for the South Sydney Oral History Project. The interviews were conducted by Dr Sue Rosen of Heritage Assessment and History (HAAH). 

See also Sue Rosen’s book We Never Had a Hotbed of Crime, life in twentieth-century South Sydney, a social history based on extensive interviews with seventy South Sydney residents for the South Sydney Oral History Project. Signed copies are available for purchase from Sue Rosen, you can also purchase copies from Archives, or loan a copy from the City of Sydney Libraries.

City Oral Historian Margo Beasley has edited the sound files, click on the links to listen to the audio or read the transcripts

Les Cross talking about church social activities


Zena Sachs on the end of WW1


Keith Mulhearn about maypole and other dancing


Frank Altoft taking about dances, cinemas and theatres.


Brendan Doyle‘s poem Newtown Boy


Loretto Thurgood talking about the shops on King Street.


Jean Hendy talking about her uncle’s garden


Two excerpts of Grace Schwebel‘s recollections of early 20th century Newtown (Jewish celebrations & infectious diseases)

Jewish celebrations:


Children dying of infecious diseases:



The Sydney Oral Histories site, curated by the City of Sydney’s History Unit, captures and shares the experiences of people from all walks of life within the City of Sydney. Listen to excerpts or full interviews, and read full transcrips of Sue Rosen’s interviews with Newtown area residents  Kate Dunbar and Henry Brown, you can also hear more from Frank Altoft and Loretto Thurgood.