Guide to the Papers of the Mitchell Family (as filmed by the AJCP)


M2760 - M2761

National Library of Australia View Catalogue Record

Created: 2018

Collection Summary

Mitchell Family
Papers of Mitchell Family (as filmed by the AJCP)
Date Range
1885 - 1967
Collection Number
M2760 - M2761
29 items
Language of Materials
Australian Joint Copying Project
The Australian Joint Copying Project (AJCP) online portal was created with the assistance of the Australian Public Service Modernisation Fund, 2017-2020. The National Library of Australia gratefully acknowledges the contribution of the other foundation AJCP partners, the State Library of New South Wales and The National Archives of the UK, and all other organisations which supported the work of the AJCP, the world's most extensive collaborative copying project, operating from 1948 to 1997.


Scope and Contents

1. Letters of Eliza Lund and Oliver Mitchell to their family. They refer to mining disaster at Bulli in April 1887, clearing of bushland in New South Wales, and family news.

2. Papers 1888-1958 of Ernest Lund Mitchell, describing his life in Australia as a photographer, economic problems in Western Australia, opposition to Ben Chifley, and oil exploration at Exmouth Gulf.

3. Letters of Lena Mitchell (wife of Ernest Mitchell) to family in England.

4. Family letters 1957-67 sent to Olive Wilkinson (grand-daughter of Oliver and Eliza Mitchell).

Conditions Governing Access

Available for Access.

Conditions Governing Use

Many of the records digitised as part of the AJCP are still in copyright. Readers wishing to publish or reproduce documents should seek permission, in the first instance, from the owner of the original material.

These letters are the property of Mrs Olive Wilkinson and Mrs Dorothy Laycock. Requests for permission to quote material and copy items should be addressed to:Mrs Olive Wilkinson Mansfield 14 Mansfield Road Burley in Wharfedale llkley LS29 7LQ West Yorkshire.

Preferred Citation

Acknowledgement of use of this material should refer to the location of the original material and to the Australian Joint Copying Project.

Items from this collection should include references to the location of the original material and to the AJCP nla.obj number, which serves as the online identifier for the digital copy.

Example: M Series: Journal of Capt. James Cook, 18 February 1770, British Library Add. MS 27885 (AJCP ref:

Archival History

Filmed as part of the Australian Joint Copying Project at the private residence of Mrs O. Wilkinson and Mrs D. Laycock, 1992 (AJCP Reel:M2760-M2761). Original microfilm digitised as part of the NLA AJCP Online Delivery Project, 2017-2020.

Existence and Location of Originals

Filmed at the private residence of Mrs Olive Wilkinson. West Yorkshire, England.

Existence and Location of Copies

The original AJCP microfilm of the records filmed from this collection is available at the National Library of Australia [] as well as other institutions holding AJCP microfilm.

Finding-aid Notes

This finding aid is a revised online version of the original finding aid prepared by the Australian Joint Copying Project (AJCP), published by the National Library of Australia in 2018. The original AJCP finding aids were unpublished typescripts or photocopies available from libraries that held copies of the original microfilm.

Dates used in this finding aid refer to the date range of the records selected for filming rather than to the date range of the Series or Files.

Advisory Statement

Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are advised that this Finding Aid contains material and descriptive information which may be considered culturally sensitive and may cause distress, including names and images of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people now deceased. This Finding Aid contains terms that reflect authors' views or those of the historical period, but which may not be considered appropriate today. While the information may not reflect current understanding, it is provided in an historical context.


Australia: politics and government; Bulli, New South Wales; Chifley, J.B.; Exmouth Gulf, WA; Mines and mining; Mitchell Family; Mitchell, Eliza; Mitchell, Ernest L.; Mitchell, Lena; Mitchell, Oliver; New South Wales; Oil exploration; Western Australia: economic conditions; Wilkinson, Olive


Originally cited in Australian Joint Copying Project Handbook. Part 8: Miscellaneous (M) Series. Third Edition, published 1998. Entry 326, p122.

Biographical / Historical

Oliver Mitchell (d.1929), his wife Eliza Lund (1852-1923) and their children Alice (b.1882) and Ernest (1876-1959) travelled to Australia in 1885. The family returned to Yorkshire but Ernest Mitchell came back to Australia in 1899. After an early career selling goods from a cart he became an itinerant photographer in New South Wales and Southern Queensland before he became an established photographer in Perth by 1914. During this time he married Lena. He became the official photographer to the Governor of Western Australia.

In 1926 he bought a farm in partnership with Bob Strachan, 'Roselm', which he later moved to and worked on after Strachan's death. Ernest retired to Claremont and died in 1959.

Item Descriptions

Series I. Eliza Lund and Oliver Mitchell, 1 October 1885 - 5 December 1915

4 items

Biographical / Historical

Eliza Lund Mitchell and Oliver Mitchell travelled to Australia for Oliver's health in 1885, with their two children Alice (b 1882) and Ernest (b 1876). Another daughter, Edith was born in Australia. They returned to Yorkshire, but Ernest returned to Australia in 1899.

Eliza Mitchell (Hawthorn) to Uncle and Aunt Tidswell re family news; Oliver's health; (4p.), 1 October 1885 (File 1)

Oliver Mitchell (Parramatta) to Uncle and Aunt Tidswell (12p. last page crossed.), 10 April 1887 (File 2)

New South Wales suits his health; heat of Parramatta; mining disaster at Bulli; long credit system leads to failures; new government employing hundreds clearing bushland.

Eliza and Oliver Mitchell (Maylands, Claremont, Melbourne, Blue Mountains, Burwood, Collingwood, Carlton, SS Medina) to (daughter) Alice and Sidney Tidswell, 28 July 1914 - 5 December 1915 (File 3-22)

Subjects include: Voyage to Australia; visit to (son) Ernest and Lena; Mount Lawley; the house at Maylands; 'Claremont is a very pretty suburb'; war news; visit to Fitzroy Park; memorial service for Lord Roberts in Melbourne Cathedral; parade through Melbourne by the Light Horse prior to embarkation; Katoomba Falls not at their best due to drought; Leura Falls; 'We are surprised by strikes and threatened strikes in such a crisis; trip by motor boat to Cronulla; Australia Day, 30 July, £408,000 raised for returned wounded soldiers; recruitment; Oliver's health; anxious voyage home, through Mediterranean. (60p.)

Eliza and Oliver Mitchell (Maylands, Melbourne, Croydon) to Dorothy Tidswell (Grand daughter), 26 September 1914, 8 February 1915, 10 August 1915 (File 23-25)

Re visits to Ernest Mitchell; friends in Melbourne; Australia Day activities.

Series II. Ernest Lund Mitchell, 15 November 1888 - November 1958

6 items

Related Materials

The State Library of Western Australia has a collection of Ernest's photographs. (

Biographical / Historical

Ernest Lund Mitchell (1879-1859) returned to Australia in 1899. After an early career selling goods from a cart he became an itinerant photographer in New South Wales and Southern Queensland before he became an established photographer in Perth by 1914. During this time he married Lena. He became the official photographer to the Governor of Western Australia.

In 1926 he bought a farm in partnership with Bob Strachan, "Roselm', which he later moved to and worked on after Strachan's death. Ernest retired to Claremont and died in 1959.

E.L.Mitchell (Stanthorpe, Perth) to Eliza and Oliver Mitchell (parents) (16p.), 30 January 1908 - 10 November 1927 (File 1-7)

Subjects include: Sending articles and photographs (wanting) on Anakie Fields, asks parents to send it to a magazine; drought; Colebatch appointed Agent General for Western Australia; took photographs at picnic organised by Trotting Association; working the farm since Strachan died; kangaroo and emu nuisance.

Includes: article on trip to Central Queensland Sapphire Fields. E.L.Mitchell, commercial press and general photographer, 264 Murray Street, Perth. List of charges. (Printed).

E.L.Mitchell (Burwood, Belmore, Red Sea, Woolloomooloo, Emu Plains, Taree, Wingham, Stroud, Bullah-dilah, Pyrmont, Parooma, Sydney) to Sidney Tidswell (Cousin). (116p. some faint pencil), 15 November 1888 - 30 January 1905 (File 8-34)

Subjects include: Sunday school picnic, 9 November 1888 at Croydon Park; drought; Band of Hope Picnic; collecting insects; Father has been on a sheep station at Liverpool Plains; seeing troops off [to Boer war]; voyage to Australia on German ship, November - December 1899, other passengers, food, sightseeing trips in Italy, Port Said; Colombo; Fremantle; Perth; goldminers on board 'all speak against the government and Sir John Forrest'; Adelaide 'the streets are very wide and everything is kept very clean'; Christmas Day in Melbourne; Sydney; selling goods from a cart in Lawson Wentworth and Emu Plains; shooting game; expeditions from Sydney; friendship with Elsie Speight, music teacher; Sydney in mourning for death of Queen Victoria; 'Sydney is about the biggest gambling den on earth'; Chinese lottery slips; buyng and selling old jewellery and opals; tram running between Melbourne and Hawthorne held up by four masked men; rising prices, going on photographing tour to Liverpool, Campbelltown; Rat Wednesday; photographing trip to Taree; not enough water to develop photographs properly; drought; prospecting; hardships touring the bush with horse and wagon with photographic equipment; ending of engagement to Elsie Speight.

E.L.Mitchell (Murwillumbah, Tweed Heads, Lismore, Woodburn; Texas South Queensland; Newrybar, Brisbane, Perth, Carnamah, Mandurah, Claremont) to Sidney (Cousin) and Alice (sister), and Dorothy (niece) Tidswell, 15 October 1905-9 June 1907; 12 November 1914-24 August 1954 (File 35-138)

(255p., some faint letters, some blue aerograms.)

Items of note include:

37 Written on headed paper 'The Emu studios, Lismore, C.L.Fearnside, and E.L Mitchell'

42-62 Written on headed paper 'E.L. Mitchell, photographer, Perth' (1939)

81-82 Written on headed paper 'E.L. Mitchell, photographer, Perth' (1914-1931)

88- Passage cut out by censor (27/01/1943)

Subjects include: Congratulations on Sidney and Alice's wedding; trip to Queensland border; hurricane at Bangalow blew down studio; E.L.Mitchell travels around getting photographic commissions, Cecil [Fearnside] works in the studio; tick investation in Queensland; photographing Murwilllumbah Show; sent by shareholders in Lismore to inspect mine at Broken Head; photographing tobacco plantations at Texas, South Queensland; supplying pictures to local newspapers; visit to Perth of Eliza and Oliver Mitchell; economic problems in Western Australia; Emden; had negatives seized by military authorities; received gold medal for exhibit at Java Exhibition, 1914; business doing well; receiving commission from the Governor; appointed Vice Regal photographer; taking photographs from aeroplane; trips to Albany, York and other places; issuing an album of Murchison trip; photographing Country Shows; introducing Harry Bland, Perth wool merchant; death of co-partner in farm 'Roselm' at Carnamah, (letter 58); shooting kangaroos on the farm 'the tail makes better soup than oxtail'; prices of wheat; debts on farm; worries over the farm (letter 63); creditors' meeting allows him to carry on; farming activities; judging at local show; making a dam; livestock on the farm, animal pests - Kangaroos, Emus, cockatoos; Australian views on abdication; mining copper 30 miles from farm; listening to test match on radio; war news; preparing a farm; labour scarce due to war; sailors from French Man of War visit Perth, 'They were up to all the devilment one could think of'; listening to war news on BBC; rationing of butter, tea, sugar, clothing - 'it has the effect that a number of fresh industries are commencing and after the war we will be able to do without importing lots of goods that we are at present importing'; evacuation scare 'a jolly good job McArthur and his Yanks came in when they did'; selling the farm (letter 94); taking a cottage at Mandurah; sending wool and stockings; problems with his wife's, Lena's eyes; prawning in Murray River and food poisoning; introducing W.H.Kitson, Agent General for Western Australia; buying house at Claremont (letter 107); decorating the new house; his busy life in retirement; supplied ABC with local news; his stamp collection; opposition to Ben Chifley; judging at Three Springs show; sending dried fruit; visit from author Ion Idriess who had been on sapphire diggings with him; lent photographs for Historical Society's exhibition on early days of Western Australia; visit to vineyard run by former manager, Phillip; his memories of Queensland (letter 135); growth of Western Australia - oil exploration at Exmouth Gulf.

E.L.Mitchell (Perth, Carnamah, Mandurah, Claremont) to Edith (sister) Lawrence and Olive Cartwright. (50p., some blue aerograms), 19 August 1929 - November 1958 (File 139-164)

Subjects include: Italians chopping down trees to clear the land for cropping; hot weather, over 121 degrees in the shade; stock on the farm; kangaroo pest; war rations and prices; labour shortages; move to Mandurah; his stamp collection; the garden at house in Claremont; housing is regulated by the government but 'everything is black marketed'; post war prices; his birthday; Ion Idriess wants photos to illustrate a book he is writing on North Queensland.

E.L.Mitchell (Claremont) to Olive Cartwright/Wilkinson (niece). (73p. aerogram, some blurred pages), 12 July 1945 - 7 October 1958 (File 165-197)

Subjects include: His collections of Aboriginal curios, photographs, coins and stamps; his garden; visits to stations; the heat; carnival on the Swan River; visits from friends; picking up BBC news; sending stockings; misses gooseberries and raspberries; memories of photographing the Queen Mother during her visit when Duchess of York; end of Perth trams; Perth Royal Agricultural show.

E.L.Mitchell (Claremont) to Fred and Beatie Kershaw (Bradford) re his garden; how he scraped through during the depression. (2p., aerogram.), 11 April 1952 (File 198)

Series III. Lena Mitchell, 6 January 1921 - 16 January 1928

7 items

Biographical / Historical

Helena 'Lena' Mitchell was the wife of Ernest Mitchell. She outlived Ernest and they had no children together.

Lena Mitchell (Maylands) to parents in law financial matters; railway strike. (6p.), 6 January 1921 (File 1)

Lena Mitchell (Maylands) to Oliver Mitchell re death of Eliza (3p.), 20 July 1923 (File 2)

Lena Mitchell (Maylands) to Mitchell family re friends who have visited England; tiger shark attacks man; politics. (7p.), 28 November 1925 (File 3)

Lena Mitchell (Maylands) to Mitchell family re Ernest at Fairbridge farms schools; purchase of farm in partnership with Bob Strachan. (6p.), 12 July 1926 (File 4)

Lena Mitchell (Maylands) to Alice Tidswell re death of Eliza Mitchell (6p.), 19 July 1923 (File 5)

Lena Mitchell (Maylands) to Alice Tidswell family news. (3p.), 15 November 1924 (File 6)

Lena Mitchell (Maylands) to Alice Tidswell re floods; the harvest. (4p.), 16 January 1928 (File 7)

Series IV. Olive Wilkinson, 25 February 1957 - 10 February 1967

2 items

Biographical / Historical

Olive Wilkinson is the niece of Ernest Mitchell via his sister Edith and her husband Lawrence.

Jean Hamilton (South Perth, Rosebud, Mornington, Victoria) to Olive Wilkinson (Burley in Wharfedale) (28p. blue aerograms, includes photographs of daughter Kerrie), 25 February 1957 - 10 February 1967 (File 1-15)

Subjects include: Heat in Perth; move to Melbourne; family news; prices; move to Mornington; the new house; death of Ernest Mitchell;; visit to 'My Fair Lady'; operation for skin cancer.

Kathleen Murgatroyd (Sydney) to Olive Wilkinson re her trip to Australia, prices, trip to Tasmania. (6p.), 8 August 1966, 9 March, 16 September 1967 (File 16-18)

Series V. Miscellaneous Letters, 28 March 1915 - 10 January 1959

5 items

Cousin Mabel (Burwood) to Alice Tidswell re visit from Oliver and Eliza Mitchell; effects of war in Australia. (4p.), 28 March 1915 (File 1)

Mabel (Burwood) to Alice Tidswell and Edith Cartwright (2p.), 12 November 1926 (File 2)

Re hot weather and bushfires; 'my sister Flo, who lives up north, has not been able to wash for 5 weeks', family news.

Cousin Alice (Nestor) to Alice and Sidney Tidswell re voyage to Durban, 23 January 1939 (File 3)

Visit to Perth to Ernest and Lena; Ernest 'has a very nice face with such kindly blue eyes'; problems with Lena's eyes, Perth 'is a fine city'; enjoyable trip in New Zealand; visit to Sydney. (6p.)

Harry Ashton (Cornwall) to Sidney Tidswell, re his memories of Ernest Mitchell 'Ernest is a confirmed wag'. (2p.), 4 April 1947 (File 4)

Elizabeth Blacklock (Claremont) to Tidswell family re death of Ernest Mitchell on 3rd January; tribute on radio from West Australian Newspaper Ltd. (2p.), 10 January 1959 (File 5)

Series VI. Miscellaneous Material, 31 January 1885 - February 1928

5 items

Oliver Mitchell. On an Australian sheep station (24p. in pencil and ink), (n.d.) [1889? See II19] (File 1)

Details of: Rail and coach journey; thistles; meets itinerant photographer; accommodation on station; shearing using Wolseley machines,'non union shed'; 'any kind of accommodation is considered good enough fora shearer', typical day; Saturday jobs; different jobs in the shed; classifying the fleece; problems with shearing machines; a typical squatter.

Press cuttings (c5p.), c 1930s-50s (File 2)

Subjects include: appointment of W.H.Kitson as Agent General for Western Australia; Ernest Mitchell's memories of visit of Prince of Wales to Western Australia in 1920; sheep shearing.

Oliver Mitchell. Voyage to Australia. Cuttings from llkley Free Press (2p.), 31 January 1885 - 14 February 1885 (File 3)

Photographs (File 4)

32 photographs of various family members, some identified on back.

Includes: E.L.Mitchell and Prince of Wales; E.L.Mitchell; Lund and Mitchell families.

Photographs of two Indigenous Australians taken by E.L.Mitchell and published in Pictorial Education vol 2, no 2, P.14, February 1928 (File 5)