The Museum's Library and Archives holds a range of material including publications and archival collections of personal papers, diaries, family histories, records of businesses, organizations, clubs and societies, local government records, school admission registers, maps, art collections, plans, newspaper collections, directory holdings, and ephemera.
Most items relate to the Nelson-Tasman region, but some relate to the early Marlborough and the West Coast regions. The collection's strength is in the period 1841-1920.
The Library and Archives materials were historically collected by The Literary and Scientific Institution of Nelson (founded in May 1841), Dr F A Bett, and The Nelson Historical Society's Records Committee members, James Jenkins, Lewis Baigent, Leonard Field and others, who actively collected archives and publications.
The core collections are the Bett Collection, F G Gibbs Collection, and Field Collection of both publications and archives, and the Marsden Collection of publications.
Researchers such as family historians, local historians, tertiary and secondary school students and professional researchers, use the museum's library and archives collections.
About 7000 published items are held in the library collection.The library collection includes:
The main focus is on the history of the Nelson / Tasman region. There are also texts on a range of other subjects including New Zealand history, Maori history, birds, botany, machinery, exploration, biography, photography and clothing to name a few.
The Marsden Book Collection contains publications on early New Zealand history, natural history and the discovery and exploration of Australia and the Pacific. The Marsden Book Collection contains some rare later 18th century volumes, but mainly consists of 19th and early 20th century publications.
A range of published resources are available for family history including electoral rolls, directories, family announcements and shipping intelligence from the local newspapers, church and school jubilee histories, Nelson Provincial Government publications and family histories.
The published map collection contains topographic, geological and cadastral maps. The majority are cadastral maps, produced by the Department of Lands and Survey, showing the numbered sections within each survey district. Maps date from 1842 onwards.
The collection consists of 6000 archival records or groups of records. Dr F A Bett's Collection of early Nelson documents initially formed the nucleus of the archives and manuscripts collection.
The plan collection is comprised of architectural, technical and engineering plans. The collection contains architectural plans for churches, schools, hotels, houses and cottages, commercial and public buildings around the Nelson-Tasman region. Architects represented include John Scott, William Houlker, Stead Ellis, A H Leaper, and Alexander Bowman. The architectural plan collection dates from 1859. Technical and engineering plans include plans for roads and bridges in the Tasman District, mining, harbours, tramway and electrical power scheme plans.
The manuscript map collection mainly contains later 19th century hand drawn maps. These include some survey maps, cadastral plans of sections and land blocks, and mining maps.
The collection includes interviews with local residents and researchers on a range of topics including ceramics and pottery, Nelson-Glenhope Railway, local businesses and industries, mining, historical identities and family histories. Some notable collections are of The Nelson Historical Society lectures and oral histories, The Nelson Golden Bay collection, detailing life in Golden Bay during the depression and The Coffey collection focusing on women's lives in the Nelson / Tasman region.
Many of the artists represented in the collection lived and worked in the Nelson region. Subjects include botanical illustrations, views of Nelson City dating from the 1850s, landscapes of the Nelson-Tasman region, and portraits. The Museum also holds the Marsden Paintings Collection of mainly mid Victorian landscape oil paintings. Download brochure (PDF) for more information.
Copyright and photocopying restrictions do apply to some items in the Library and Archives collections, particularly to publications, maps and plans. See Access to the Library and Archives for more information on visiting hours, research and reproduction fees.