Research Guides

First Fleet

This guide to printed and web-based information on the First Fleet features resources that are available at the museum library and public libraries throughout Australia.

Books

1788 the people of the first fleet
Don Chapman. Sydney. Doubleday, 1986
994.4020922 CHA

A bibliography of the First Fleet
Victor Crittenden. Canberra Australian National University Press, 1980.
REF 910.45016 CRI

The crimes of the first fleet convicts
Compiled by John Cobley. London, Sydney. Angus and Robertson, 1980
994.02 COB

The first fleet: The convict voyage that founded Australia 1787-88
Jonathon King. South Melbourne. Macmillan, 1982.
910.45 KIN

The first fleeters: A comprehensive listing of convicts, marines, seamen, officers, wives, children and ships.
Edited by Paul G. Fildon and R.J. Ryan. Sydney. Australian Documents Library,1981.
994.402 RYA

Bound for Botany Bay: British convict voyages to Australia
Alan Brooke and David Brandon. Kew, Surrey. National Archives, 2005.
REF 910.45 BRO

Fleeting encounters: Pictures & chronicles of the First Fleet
Peter Emmett. Glebe, N.S.W. Historic Houses Trust of New South wales, 1995.
910.45 FLE

The Sirius: Past and present
Graeme Henderson and Myra Stanbury. Sydney. Collins, 1988.
910.45 SIR

Orphans of history: The forgotten children of the first fleet
Robert Holden. Melbourne, Text 2000.
994.402 HOL

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Books for school students

Australian encyclopedia
REF Encyclopedias
This encyclopedia has a very good historical overview of the First Fleet with illustrations and is a perfect resource for students doing school assignments. It is widely available in school and public libraries. The library keeps five editions of this title on the reference shelves.

The first fleet
John and Jennifer Barwick. Port Melbourne. Heinemann Library, 2001.
994.02 BAR

The first fleet
Alan Boardman and Roland Harvey. Sydney. Collins, 1983.
910.45 BOA

Growing up in the first fleet
A.T. Yarwood. Kenthurst, N.S.W. Kangaroo Press, 1983.
910.45 YAR

A handbook on the founding of Australia, 1788: History, clothing patterns, ship plans, architecture, songs, dances
John Fitzhugh Millar. Williamsburg, Va., North Sydney. Thirteen Colonies Press, Library of Australian History, 1988.
994.02 MIL

Books on marines and naval personnel

The first fleet marines 1786-1792
John Moore. St Lucia, Qld. University of Queensland Press, 1987.
994.02 MOO

Naval men of the First Fleet
Victor Crittenden. Canberra. Mulini Press, 1986.
994.020922 CRI

Books on the First Fleet reenactment 1988

The First Fleet Reenactment voyage was held as part of Australia's Bicentennial Celebrations in 1987/88.

Nor any drop to drink: England to Australia, May 1987-January 1988
Marcus Mainwaring. London: Bloomsbury, 1988.
910.45 MAI

Australia's First Fleet: The voyage and the reenactment 1788-1988
Jonathon King. Sydney. Fairfax/Robertsbridge, 1987.
1910.445 KIN

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Journals and Diaries

You can find e-texts of many first fleet diaries in the First Fleet and Early Settlement Documents section of the SETIS repository (a joint project by the University of Sydney and the State Library of New South Wales).

Hardcopies held in the museum library are listed below.

The voyage of Governor Phillip to Botany Bay: with an account of the establishment of the colonies...
Arthur Phillip. John Shortland Lieutenant Watts Henry Lidgbird Ball Captain John Marshall. Melbourne . Georgian House, 1950.
994.402 PHI

Journal of a voyage to New South Wales
John White; with a biographical introduction by Rex Rienits. Edited by Alec H. Chisholm
Sydney. Royal Australian Historical Society, 1962.
994.402 VOY

The Everingham letterbook: Letters of a First Fleet convict
Matthew Everingham. Edited by Valerie Ross. Wamberal, N.S.W. Anvil Press, 1985.
994.4020924 EVE

The journal and letters of Lt Ralph Clark, 1787-1792
Ralph Clark. Edited by Paul G. Fidlon and R.J. Ryan. Sydney. Australian Documents Library,1981.
910.45 CLA

Memorandum of the transactions of a voyage from England to Botany Bay 1787-1793: A first fleet journal
John Easty. Sydney. Trustees of the Public Library of New South Wales Trustees, 1965.
PER 910.45 EAS

The Nagle journal: A diary of Jacob Nagle, sailor for the year 1775 to 1841
Jacob Nagle. Edited by John C. Dann. New York. Weidenfeld & Nicholson, 1988.
910.41 NAG

Sydney's first four years: being a reprint of A narrative of the expedition to Botany Bay and, A complete account of the settlement at Port Jackson
Watkin Tench; with an introduction and annotations by L.F. Fitzhardinge. Sydney. Library of Australian History in association with Royal Australian Historical Society, 1979.
994.4102 SYD

Web-based Pictorial Resources

  • The National Library of Australia's George Raper Collection includes charts of the First Fleet voyage as well as early maps of Botany Bay and Port Jackson. Here is a Trove Search for books, journals,objects and pictures relating to George Raper.
  • First Fleet images held by the National Library various state libraries and other Australian collecting institutions including the Museum can be found at Trove.
  • The State Library of New South Wales site From Terra Australis to Australia includes a section devoted to it's collection of First Fleet material. See also the section called Tales from the First Fleet.
  • The Natural History Museum in London has an online exhibition of its First Fleet Artwork Collection.

Other Images of the First Fleet

Contemporary images of First Fleet ships are very scarce and simply don't exist for some of the vessels. Below are some known examples.