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History > Documents

submitted by Kytherian Cultural Exchange on 30.05.2006

Australia...Land of Tommorrow.

A very apt description as to how Kytherian immigrants to Australia thought about their new country.

We are uncertain whether these posters were displayed in Greece?

From the repository of the National Archives in Canberra.

The National Archives is an extraordinarily valuable resource, where many Kytherian-Australian documents and records are kept.

It would be interesting to undertake a systematic project to uncover this plethora of Kytherian information.

"The National Archives promotes good government recordkeeping and encourages community awareness and use of valuable Commonwealth records in its care. We have galleries, a reading room and offices in Canberra and a reading room and offices in each State capital and Darwin".

Main Switchboard (02) 6212 3600

Reference inquiries only 1300 886 881

Fax (02) 6212 3699

Email National Archives, here

About us

"Holding on to our history – that’s what the National Archives of Australia does. We care for valuable Commonwealth government records and make them available for present and future generations to use. Our recordkeeping standards help government to account to the public, ensuring that evidence is available to support people’s rights and entitlements and that future generations will have a meaningful record of the past.

Our collection

The records in our collection trace the events and decisions that shaped the nation. We hold the papers of Governors-General, Prime Ministers and Ministers. We have Cabinet documents, Royal Commission files and departmental records on defence, immigration, security and intelligence, naturalisation, and many other issues involving the federal government.

The main focus of our collection is records created since the formation of the Commonwealth of Australia in 1901. We also have some nineteenth-century records relating to functions that were transferred by the colonies to the Commonwealth government, including shipping and post offices.

While most records in the collection are files, we also have significant holdings of photographs, posters, maps, architectural drawings, films, playscripts, musical scores and sound recordings.

This vast collection is a rich resource for the study of Australian history, Australian society and the Australian people and is accessible to all. We welcome enquiries, and visitors to our reading rooms, and provide a range of databases, guides and leaflets to assist.

Our head office is located in Canberra and we have offices in each State capital and in Darwin. Our collection is dispersed in these offices across Australia. In addition to caring for our collection, we develop and tour exhibitions, publish books and guides to our collection and deliver educational programs.

Recordkeeping standards and advice

Australian Government agency staff and other recordkeeping professionals are valuable partners for the Archives in ensuring that all Australians can use Commonwealth records. Many records are now created in electronic forms that are harder to preserve and keep accessible over time. It is important to build systems that ensure valuable records survive. The Archives assists agencies by developing policies, standards, guidelines and providing training and advice about modern recordkeeping".

History > Documents

submitted by Vikki Vrettos Fraioli on 09.01.2007

Christmas Card from New York Kytherian Society

This was a card sent to my grandparents Yiannis and Maria Alfieris in Oakland, California in the 1950's. It is signed by Mihalis Semitekolos.

History > Documents

submitted by Kytherian Cultural Exchange on 29.05.2006

Plaque at Inglewood, Northern NSW.

Outlining the devastation of the fllod which devastated the town.

The same flood devastated many other towns in NSW, impacting adversely on many Kytherian businesses.

There are many Kytherian "flood photo's" yet to be unearthed by kythera-family.

History > Documents

submitted by Clarence River Historical Society on 28.05.2006

Langleys Cafe. Menu. Grafton.

From the period when Minas and George Castrissios owned the cafe.

From the realia collection of the Clarence River Historical Society.

Schaeffer House

190 Fitzroy St.
Grafton NSW 2460

PO Box 396
Grafton NSW 2460

Ph: (02) 6642 5212
Fax:(02) 6642 5212

Email, Clarence River Historical Society

Schaeffer House holds many Kytherian photographs, documents, and realia (objects).

History > Documents

submitted by Peter Vanges on 09.05.2006

Death Certificate of Emmanuel Kritharis.

The First Kytherian Immigrant to Australia.

The ‘First Kytherian’ Question

First Published in The Greek Australian Vema, April 2006. pages 10/28 and 11/29.

Peter Vanges is author of Kythera. A History.

Kythera. A History. Details.

He was a long standing Committeeman of the then Kytherian Brotherhood of Australia, (11 years), serving 6 of those years as President.

Kytherian Association of Australia

When in 1916, the book “I Zoi en Afstralia” was printed in Greek, in Sydney, the name and only a few details about Emmanuel Kritharis were mentioned on page 293, that included the wrong year of his death, a reference of his being in Australia since 1854 and some information of his very substantial donation to the Greek war effort. No other details were reported that could assist us in our original research in order to establish, with certainty, who was the first Kytherian to arrive in Australia. We must remember that this book was published only three years after Kritharis’ death and therefore this information is the result of first hand knowledge.

In 1957 Ioannis Kasimatis published in Greece, his book, on the history of Kythera, mentions on p. 192 that “In the year 1850 (the first Kytherian to immigrate to Australia) was Emmanuel Kritharis.” The above information agrees with the reference in the book “I Zoi en Afstralia” as the first alludes to his arrival in Australia, while the second to his departure from the island of Kythera. Unfortunately no proof or any documents were presented to confirm this claim. Strangely and without any justification in the previous few lines, Kasimatis mentions that “some decades ago the first Kytherian to immigrate to Australia... was Athanasios Kominos”. Once again no other details or even the year of Kominos’ arrival is given in support of this claim. Official records, however, tell us that Athanasios Cominos ( Kominos) arrived in Sydney in 1873, almost twenty years after Emmanuel Kritharis.

Later in 1992, Hugh Gilchrist (Australians and Greeks, Vol. 1, p. 209) mentions... “another Kythirian family was that of Kritharis. Emmanuel Kritharis, reputed to have arrived in 1854, was a solitary man who is said to have died in Sydney in 1912 after making a large donation to the Greek war effort”. Emmanuel Kritharis’ incorrect date of death is given but other names of the Kritharis family who came to Australia are mentioned, giving us a full picture of the migration of this clan.

In my book “Kythera a History” published in 1993 the same very limited information is given on page 253 about Emmanuel Kritharis. The claim of his being the first to arrive in Australia was brief but with a more definite tone, in full knowledge that further information was needed. Since then I have undertaken the task to find fresh information that would permit me to proclaim with surety, that Emmanuel Kritharis was the first Kytherian to have arrived in Australia.

The name of Jack Melitas is mentioned on page 44, in the book “A Shop Full of Dreams”, as the pioneer of Kytherian migration. As no documented evidence is put forward this claim was disregarded and I continued with my research. The first Kytherian to arrive in Australia by the name Melitas is mentioned on page 206 of the book “I Zoi en Afstralia” as Demitrios Panagiotou Melitas who arrived in Sydney in 1903 at the young age of seventeen years old.

The Kytherian newspaper, “Kythiraiki Idea” in its publication of February 2003 under the title “Kytherians of the Diaspora ” mentions... “Some, claim that the first Kytherian immigrant to Australia was Emm. Kritharis who went there in 1850, the relevant bibliography however converge with the view that the first Kytherian ... was Athanasios Kominos who in 1875 at the age of 29 years arrived in that distant continent.”. Claims made in this article are completely unsupported and my research proves otherwise as no bibliography that we know has produced evidence to support this claim. It is regretful that “Kythiraiki Idea” even published a photo of Athanasios Kominos with the caption:.. “the first Kytherian immigrant to Australia”, when we know that he was not.

These are all the known “bibliographies” in reference to the question of the first Kytherian to arrive in Australia. The insistence of a number of commentators and reporters in ignoring the name of Emmanuel Kritharis in favour of that of Athanasios Kominos, who as mentioned, arrived in Australia in 1873, presented to me the challenge to attempt, once and forall, to uncover undisputed evidence to support my original claim that Emmanuel Kritharis arrived in Australia in 1854 and therefore he was the first Kytherian to arrive in Australia.

To my surprise, the new information collected, revealed much more than was ever known before about Emmanuel Kritharis, that proves beyond reasonable doubt, he was the pioneer of Kytherian immigration to Australia. Written evidence of the exact date of his arrival in Australia has not been found. Yet, the new information uncovered further strengthens the claim, that Emmanuel Kritharis had arrived in Australia in 1854 and therefore he was the first to reach this new continent down under.

Emmanuel Kritharis, according to his death certificate Number 2366, died on Sunday the 9th March 1913, aged 81, therefore he was born in Kythera in 1832. At a very young age, hunger and uncertainty, forced young Emmanuel to leave the island in search of a better life, not unlike so many others, who also made it to the shores of the new continent. After a long wait for the opportunity of a better life he boarded a vessel destined for the unknown continent of Australia. According to Ioannis Kasimatis, Kritharis left the island in the year 1850 and as mentioned in the book “ I Zoi en Afstralia” he arrived here in 1854.

The years between 1850-1854, were in most probability, spent in search of employment, or working anywhere he could, before the decision was made to seek his fortune in Australia, as rumors were running wild about discoveries of gold in N.S.W. and Victoria (1851). After a long, difficult and perilous voyage of many months he found himself possibly in the goldfields where young Emmanuel, soon, made his fortune. We know that as early as 1852, as many as thirty sailors had found their way to the goldfields of Australia. It is unfortunate that the records do not provide us with names or other details, so most of them will remain anonymous until further new information comes to hand.

For reasons unknown to us Kritharis moved to Mortdale N.S.W. in 1861 where he lived for the remainder of his life. We know, from a letter written on the 14th April 1902 to his brother Menas on the island, that Emmanuel Kritharis lived in the area of Mortdale, in George Street, not far from Sydney in a house called “Athena Cottage”. We learn also the astonishing information that the Kytherian member of Parliament, Kaloutzis, had volunteered his services to recommend Emmanuel Kritharis for the position of Ambassador in Sydney, if he (Emmanuel) was interested. Kritharis expresses his complete surprise because “neither Mr. Kaloutzis or any other M.P. had the power to appoint ambassadors”. Emmanuel further comments that “Mr. Kaloutzis as a person in politics and a member of Parliament should have known that “there was an appointed person in the position for the past twenty years”. He concludes by saying that such a position offers no salary and is only a honorary one and that he “would have never accepted such a post as ever since he had understood the world he had never sought neither name nor power or glory”. “I consider all that as vanity” he adds. In the same letter, as a post script, he informs his brother that “ in two weeks there will be an announcement of peace and that the King will be crowned on the 26th of June1903”. The letter is clearly written with steady handwriting and very strongly expressed ideas revealing that he not only was well educated but he also kept up with the news in Australia as well as Europe.

It is possible that, before settling in Mortdale, Emmanuel Kritharis had lived for a short time else where in Australia. Due to the distance between Hurstville and Sydney, he had little contact with other members of the Greek Community and although well known, every one called him “the monk”. [9] He never married, and was never naturalized. His occupation remains a mystery and his name does not appear on any other government or municipal records. Was he perhaps another deserter afraid of someone or something? Or he felt secure in his wealth and stayed well away of other people keeping in touch only with a few relatives in Greece, enjoying life in the house called “Athena Cottage”, where he lived with his close friends Spyro and Mary? We know that Spyro Bennett was a native of Greece [13] and that his wife Mary was the Executrix and Trustee of Emmanuel’s Will, what we don’t know is, who Spyro really was, and what was the connection with Emmanuel?

On the 7th of March 1913 Emmanuel Kritharis must had felt that the end of his life was near and signed his Will. With this Will he instructed that “all personal estate to be converted into money and to pay the proceeds together with all monies ready or otherwise to the Consul for Greece acting in the City of Sydney aforesaid to be applied by him in the Relief of the wounded Greeks and in the carrying on of the present War in which Greece is now engaged such Greeks as aforesaid to have received their wounds in such war...”. We know that his donation was in the vicinity of over thirty thousand (30.000) franks. It was the very first donation to this cause and a very substantial one. Unfortunately details have been lost with no official record of this substantial donation neither in Australia nor in Greece being verified.

Emmanuel Kritharis died only two days after he had signed his Will, on Sunday the 9th of March 1913. [2] The cause of his death was a) valvular decease and b) pulmonary congestion, as certified by his doctor, James Mc Leod, who last saw him a day earlier on the 8th of March 1913. The burial service was conducted by Rev. Seraphim Phokas. The certificate of his death and burial was signed by John Comino (Kominos) and Spyro Bennett. A notation in the death certificate informs us that he had lived in N.S.W. for fifty-two (52) years. His grave stands as clear indication of a person that lived an honorable life and died a very dignified death.

[[picture:"Kritharis Emmanuel, gravesite.jpg" ID:10423]]

His death was announced in the local paper “Propeller” on Friday 14th of March 1913 as follows: “Mr ( George) Kritharis Emmanuel of Mortdale, died on Sunday last, Aged (80). The remains of the deceased were interred in the Greek portion of Sutherland Cemetery on Monday, a large number of fellow-countrymen and friends being present at the graveside”.
The burial ground of Emmanuel Kritharis stayed undisturbed in Woronora General Cemetery for eleven years to the day until his friend Spyro Bennett died on Thursday 13th of March 1924 and was buried there in the same grave. Spyros name was never inscribed there, nor did any one ever corrected the mistakes that the engraver made on the original monument. Spyro Bennett as mentioned, was a native of Greece and the husband of Mary Bennett, the Executrix and Trustee of Emmanuel’s Will but more importantly a very close friend and I suspect a trusted partner for very many years.

An agreement [7] signed on the 25th of June 1913 between the Executrix of Kritharis’Will, Mary Bennett and his cousin George who lived at Katoomba N.S.W., before the Consul General for Greece, reveals that Spyro and Mary Bennett were to inherit properties and goods in Australia and George, all the property on the island Kythera. Details of the Will, were officially transferred to the registry of Potamos, Kythera, on 21 August 1913. [8] This however is another story.

From the facts presented above we now know that:

 Emmanuel Kritharis was born on Kythera in 1832. 2, 3
 He died on the 9th March 1913 at the age of eighty one ( 81) in Mortdale, N.S.W. 1, 2, 3
 He was buried at Woronora Cemetery on Monday 10th March, grave no. 406. 1, 3, 12
 Lived in N.S.W. for 52 years as a “Gentleman of independent means”. 2
 Kritharis’ real estate was divided in to three equal parts. 7
 Made a donation of over 30.000 franks to the war effort in Greece. 6, 9
 Was never married and never became naturalized. 1, 2
 He owned no business in Australia. 1, 4
 If we allow one or two years until means of transportation was found and accept that he left Kythera at the approximate age of twenty, Emmanuel George Kritharis arrived here in 1854 , a proposition that permits us to claim that he was the first Kytherian to reach Australia.

Sources and bibliography:

1. State Government records.
2. Death Certificate No. 2366/1241.
3. Records of Woronora General Cemetery.
4. Valuer General’s of N.S.W. records.
5. Hand written letter by Emmanuel Kritharis to his brother Menas, 14 April 1902.
6. Kritharis’ Will written and signed the 7 March 1913.
7. Agreement between Mary Bennett and George Kritharis signed 25 June 1913.
8. Transfer of details of Kritharis’Will to the Registry of Potamos, Kythera 21 August 1913.
9. “I Zoi en Afstralia” Sydney 1916.
10. “Australians and Greeks” Vol. I. Hugh Gilchrist. 1997.
11. Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia Directory 1993.
12. “Propeller” Hurstville’s local newspaper 1913
12. “Kythiraiki Idea” Jan- Feb. 2003.
13. Sydney Press 1840- 1914.
14. “A Shop Full of Dreams” Sydney 1993.

Peter Vanges
Sydney 2005

History > Documents

submitted by National Archives, Australia on 29.04.2006

Nick Leenos submitted this application for copyright for his song ‘Goodbye My Love’ in Sydney in 1930.

Nicholas Lianos, who performed as a singer in New South Wales under his stage name Nick Leenos in the 1920s and 1930s, also composed his own ‘hit‘ song, Goodbye My Love, and was quick to register it for copyright.

While Nick Leenos’s song farewelled a sweetheart, Dimitrios Fouras and his family could probably nevertheless identify with the song’s poignant lyric ‘remember me …‘.

At the age of ten, Dimitrios left his home in Manesi, Greece to come to Australia to live in Southport in Queensland. Dimitrios (Jim) and his brother Theodore lived with their uncle, Michael Theodore, a café proprietor, while they attended the local Church of England Boy’s School – a school Jim was still attending when he applied to become a naturalised Australian citizen not long after his sixteenth birthday.

In 1967 Jim married his wife Maria (née Kentrotis) in Brisbane; five years later, the public servant and father of two returned to his birth country for a family visit, 23 years after he had left as a child … and just five years before he was first elected to the Queensland Parliament.

National Archives, Australia, Canberra, A.C.T.


Article on groundbreaking Greeks, NAA

History > Documents

submitted by National Archives, Australia on 29.04.2006

Statutory declaration from Eustratios (Stratos) Haritos’ application for naturalisation, Darwin, 1929.

Another Greek who built up a business from scratch was Eustratios (Stratos) Haritos.
According to his naturalisation application, Stratos arrived as a single man in Darwin on the Mataram in 1915 at the age of 27. By 1923 he was married with four children aged 5 and under, and was living and working at the Darwin Salt Works. Haritos did well at the salt works and, according to property records held by the National Archives, was able to buy land in and around Darwin.

His property included a block of land on the corner of Daly and Cavenagh Streets, where he built a grocery store. This building was later requisitioned by the Commonwealth Government for use as an emergency post office following the destruction of the Darwin Post Office in the bombing of Darwin in 1942. While the rest of the Haritos family were evacuated from Darwin along with other civilians, George Haritos enlisted and remained in the Northern Territory with the Army.

National Archives, Australia, Canberra, A.C.T.


Article on groundbreaking Greeks, NAA

History > Documents

submitted by National Archives, Australia on 04.07.2012

Constantine Aroney was awarded a British Empire Medal for his heroism in World War II.

Constantine Aroney, born in Cerigo and living in Melbourne, was involved in both World Wars, first enlisting in 1915 and serving at Gallipoli, France and Belgium as a private in the 24th Battalion. In October 1939, he enlisted in the Commonwealth Military Forces and seven months later he transferred to the 2nd Australian Imperial Forces and the Headquarters of the 1st Australian Corps, serving in Palestine, North Africa, Greece, Crete and Syria.

While serving in Greece, Driver Aroney’s cultural background proved extremely valuable. Following the debacle on mainland Greece, when the Allied forces were overrun by the German Army, Aroney managed to escape to Crete in an open boat, taking 23 other soldiers with him, whom he cared for with the help of Greeks on Crete – a heroic feat for which he was awarded the British Empire Medal.

On the Australian Imperial Force - Nominal Roll:


Documenting the receipt of the British Empire Medal:


Date of birth: 10th March, 1896

6th Infantry Brigade 24th Infantry Battalion - "B" Company
WWI, Date of joining: 06/03/1915
Regtl No: 1135
Place of residence at time of enlistment: Cerego, Greece
Rank: Private
Martital Status: Single
Occupation: Liftman
Fathers name: Peter Aroney, Cerego, Greece

WWII, date of joining: 07/06/1940
Nest of kin, 1944: Mrs Annie Notaras, Friligianica, Cerigo, Greece. (His sister)
Mrs E Lawrence, 22 Albert Road, South Melbourne (His friend)

Constantine Aroney's residence on the date of receiving his British Empire medal:
22 Albert Road
South Melbourne

National Archives, Australia, Canberra, A.C.T.


Article on groundbreaking Greeks, NAA

History > Documents

submitted by National Archives, Australia on 29.04.2006

Personal statement and alien declaration that was completed when Canberra businessman Frank Notaras entered Australia in 1938.

National Archives, Australia, Canberra, A.C.T.


Article on groundbreaking Greeks, NAA

History > Documents

submitted by National Archives, Australia on 29.04.2006

Hobart businessman Gregory Casimaty was recommended for the 1964 Queen’s Birthday Honours List for his charity work.

After arriving in Sydney in 1905, 15-year-old Grigorios Kasimatis (later known as Gregory Casimaty) tried his luck in Queensland and New South Wales before settling in Tasmania. Gregory established the Britannia Café in Elizabeth Street, Hobart in the early 1900s and followed this with many other successful business ventures. Known for his charity and benevolence – including providing Christmas dinner for 200 unemployed single men in the Depression years – Gregory Casimaty was recommended for inclusion in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list by his local member of Parliament, Adrian Gibson, in 1964.

National Archives, Australia, Canberra, A.C.T.


Article on groundbreaking Greeks, NAA

See also:


Casimaty family photograph, c. 1931

Greeks of Tasmania

Grigorios Georgiou Kasimatis, by Matina Casimatis

Antonios Grigoriou Kasimatis, by Matina Casimatis

The Kasimatis Family-Vasilios Georgiou Kasimatis, by Matina Casimatis

The Kasimatis Family-Elenie Kasimati, by Matina Casimatis

The Kasimatis Family-Georgios Grigoriou Kasimatis, by Matina Casimatis

The Kasimatis Family-The Kastrisios Branch, by Matina Casimatis

The Kasimatis Family-Casimaty Old Persons Home, by Matina Casimatis

The Kasimatis Family-The Casimaty cousins, by Matina Casimatis

The Kasimatis Family-The Haros Connection, by Matina Casimatis

History > Documents

submitted by Vikki Vrettos Fraioli on 19.04.2006

Cytherian Brotherhood of the Western United States By-Laws 1950

This is the front cover of the By-Laws of the Cytherian Brotherhood-GENERAL KORONAIOS 1950, along with the first and last pages of the booklet. The last page shows the names first board of directors. Listed among them is my grandfather John Alfieris (Potamos) and his son Harry Alfieris.

History > Documents

submitted by Marina S Pentes on 18.04.2006

Then Premier R J Heffron's message.

On the opening of the church of "Panayias Myrtithiotissis" -Myrtidiotissa - Dubbo, NSW.

30th September, 1962.

History > Documents

submitted by Marina S Pentes on 18.04.2006

Message of support from then Prime Minister of Australia, Robert Gordon Menzies.

On the opening of the church of "Panayias Myrtithiotissis" -Myrtidiotissa - Dubbo, NSW.

30th September, 1962

History > Documents

submitted by Peter Vamvakaris on 05.03.2006

Fan-tastic guys! Kytherians most fanatical of Socceroos supporters

The Melbourne Age neglected to mention the 4th member of the party - J Diddy.......

To listen to Australia's World Cup Soccer anthem - devised by the boys

History > Documents

submitted by - AAIAA - on 26.02.2006

Stravos Paspalas. Public Lecture. April 5th, 2006. Advertisement.


The Australian Archaeological Institute at Athens, (AAIAA)

a public lecture by:

Dr. Stavros A. Paspalas
(Deputy Director, AAIA)

lecture: $5.00 (students free)
supper: $20.00 (students: $15)

For bookings and further details please
contact 02 9351 4759 or
email Camilla Norman

General Lecture Theatre
• Main Quadrangle
• The University of Sydney
followed by supper in the Nicholson Museum

7.00 pm • Wednesday April 5th

To view/download a colourful .pdf of this invitation to the event:

Paspalas Stavros Lecture invite.pdf

Download the booking form here:

Paspalas Stavros Lecture Booking Form.pdf

History > Documents

submitted by Kytherian Brotherhood Of Baltimore on 24.02.2006

Banner of the Kytherian Brotherhood of Baltimore.

The original banner. Photographed obliquely.

History > Documents

submitted by Kytherian Brotherhood Of Baltimore on 24.02.2006

Banner of the Kytherian Brotherhood of Baltimore, USA.

The original banner. On parade.

History > Documents

submitted by James Elwing on 28.02.2006


James Elwing, Conservator, Archives, Powerhouse Museum, April 2003

Views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of the Powerhouse Museum.

[The object of this document is to introduce and explain the relatively new international standards for long-term retention of photographic images. International Standards Organisation (ISO) standards apply when there are no Australian standards covering an issue.]


For many years, standards for the storage of the majority of museum objects and archival records has been around stable 50% relative humidity (RH) and 21 degrees celsius (T) conditions, with set limits for RH & T movements.

While 50% RH is a good general moisture level, particularly for hygroscopic organic materials and mixed media, there has been a general understanding within the conservation profession that 21 celsius had been chosen for human comfort rather than collection longevity.

A modified environment; low temperature and humidity storage, should slow the rate of deterioration of many items, if only on a general application of Arrhenius theory. Arrhenius equation quantifies the relationship between storage temperature and chemical reaction rate (read rate of deterioration).
‘The rate of a reaction or process is proportional to a function involving 2 variables: temperature and activation energy.’ (Thomson).
The reactions causing deterioration will continue, if slowly, at virtually any temperature. In the absence of any other energy (eg light), however, heat will provide activation energy to initiate a reaction which otherwise may not have occurred.
Conservators use elevated temperature testing of materials like paper, to forecast the long term properties of that material. With regard to this activation energy, one of the recognised problems with accelerated heat ageing is that some deterioration reactions are accelerated by heat, others are initiated by it.

On a general application of Arrhenius theory, the lower the temperature of museum storage, the better. With moderate low temperatures, eg. 10° C, this is not a problem. With extended exposure to very low temperatures, I understand, some materials tend to become more crystalline, while in others, such as with the well recorded ‘tin pest’, an otherwise stable material can revert to a structurally unsound allotropic form.

With photographs, film or print, these problems are not an issue. Low temperature storage at stable low humidity has been shown to halve the rate of deterioration rate of photographs for approximately every 6° C drop in temperature. Within limits, low humidity itself slows the rate of image deterioration. Excessively low humidity causes shrinkage, therefore stress, of the gelatin/silver image-bearing layer common to film, glass plates and prints.

Low temperature and relative humidity is of great value to items experiencing rapid deterioration, including colour photographs and film based negatives and transparencies on cellulose acetate. Archives applies this principle for its frost free refrigeration storage, and we understand that some low temperature storage will be incorporated into a new store at Castle Hill, for photographs and other suitable materials including some plastics and appropriate objects (particularly those with short life expectancy.

d ln k = A
dT RT2 (Arrhenius equation)

Within museums, 21°C was a compromise created largely for the creature comfort of the public and staff within exhibition and work areas. The Arrhenius equation would have us operating at lower temperatures in low usage stores for the benefit of collection, and in winter, that is free.

For what it is worth, I would assert that the future of collections as a whole lies with cold storage. The Canadian Conservation Institute (Technical Bulletin 23; ‘Guidelines for Humidity and Temperature for Canadian Archives’ by Stefan Michalski) seems to take this view, as does the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers, in Chapter 20, Museums, Libraries and Archives in their 1999 ‘ASHRAE Handbook: Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning Applications’.

Research based recommendations of this kind, for appropriate long term storage of photographic materials in cold dry environments have been with us for over 20 years (‘Preservation of Photographs’ Eastman Kodak 1979)

As mentioned, the object of this document is to introduce and explain the relatively new international standards for long-term retention of photographic images. International Standards Organisation (ISO) standards apply when there are no Australian standards covering an issue.

The standards offer a number of somewhat confusing alternatives for the same kind of material.
It was explained to me by one of the people who prepared the standards that this was to help institutions with existing environment modification (A/C or refrigeration) plant to meet the new standards with little or no modification.

The relevant ISO photographic standards are:
18911 for film (negative or transparency)
18918 for glass plates (negative or transparency)
18920 for reflection prints
18923 for magnetic tape
18925 for optical disk
10356 for cellulose nitrate film (negative or transparency)
14523 Photographic Activity Test (PAT) = 18916 (soon) [for enclosures and other storage materials]

The most important thing to keep in mind is that conventional photographic images are formed by very small particles or particle groups of silver which obstruct the passage of light. The silver is held by some clear material, normally a gelatin emulsion. This sits on a transparent base of film or glass for transparencies and negatives, or on an opaque base, usually paper, with prints.

ISO 18911 FILM
CELLULOSE ACETATE film base, black and white negative or transparency:
B&W silver gelatin on acetate film 2°C at 20-50% RH (relative humidity)
B&W silver gelatin on acetate film 5°C at 20-40% RH
B&W silver gelatin on acetate film 7°C at 20-30% RH
This table applies to the vast majority of black and white negatives and transparencies with an image bearing layer of colloidal silver within a gelatin emulsion, which are on some form of cellulose acetate support, what used to be called ‘Safety Film’ because it is not highly inflammable like the earlier cellulose nitrate films. Acetate film is still being produced, but breaks down with time, generating easily detectable acetic acid, hence the term ‘Vinegar Syndrome’ for such deteriorating film.
It is confusing because it gives three alternative specifications or approaches. Temperature is straightforward, however they are saying RH should be no dryer than 20% in all cases, to avoid physical stress through shrinkage.
However, the RH should not exceed 50% at a stable 2°C , or 40% at a stable 5°C, or 30% at a stable 7°C because each of these balances represent an acceptable, approximately equal, rate of deterioration as explained in my introduction. (eg Arrhenius’ equation)

POLYESTER film base, black and white negative or transparency:
B&W silver gelatin on polyester film: 21°C at 20-50% RH (relative humidity)
Of all the films, this is the only one for which long-term preservation may be served by normal museum standard air-conditioning. This is because the film base, similar to Mylar or Melinex clear plastic film, is stable. As before, RH should not exceed 50%, or fall below 20%. Polyester is a common base for modern sheet film (5”x4” or larger), some 35mm film such as Kodak Technical Pan, but is not commonly used for roll film (ie. 120 roll film), now called ‘medium format’ for Hasselblad and similar cameras.

CELLULOSE ACETATE or POLYESTER film base, colour negative or transparency:
colour, silver gelatin on acetate/polyester -10°C at 20-50% RH (relative humidity)
colour, silver gelatin on acetate/polyester -3°C at 20-40% RH (relative humidity)
colour, silver gelatin on acetate/polyester 2°C at 20-30% RH (relative humidity)
In this category, the most unstable element is the colour image, independent of the film base. Kodachrome transparencies and Cibachrome/Ilfochrome colour prints and transparencies are recognised as being particularly stable in dark storage, but such images have not been given separate attention, as in collections they are regularly interspersed with standard, less stable, colour images.
As before, recommended temperature is straightforward, however they are saying RH should be no dryer than 20% in all cases, to avoid physical stress through gelatin emulsion shrinkage.
In each case, the RH should not exceed 50% at a stable -10°C , or 40% at a stable -3°C, or 30% at a stable 2°C because each of these balances represent an acceptable, approximately equal, rate of deterioration.

ISO 18918 glass plates
B&W silver gelatin on glass plate 18°C at 30-40% RH (relative humidity)
The specification is different from film because the glass plate itself is relatively stable, hence the higher maximum temperature. However, the gelatin emulsion can separate from the glass more easily than from film, if allowed to get too dry and brittle, hence the 30% minimum RH rather than 20% with other film negatives.
The relatively dry 40% maximum RH relates to slowing the rate of deterioration, but also (my opinion) possibly older glass instability in higher humidity environments related to the presence of water soluble compounds such as sodium silicate (‘weeping glass’).
Glass plates with damaged, peeling or mould affected emulsions may not be suitable for this kind of storage.

ISO 18920 reflection prints
Reflection prints are on a variety of surfaces. Most older black and white emulsions are silver gelatin, with an image bearing layer of colloidal silver within a gelatin emulsion on paper coated with barium sulphate (‘fibre based paper’ or ‘FB’). After around 1970, most B&W prints are on resin coated (‘RC’)paper, where layers of polyethylene (‘polythene’) on both sides protect the paper from processing chemicals and speeds processing. Properly processed FB prints are still considered the archival medium because the facing polythene (PE) layer of RC prints includes titanium dioxide as an opaque layer, which catalyses deterioration of the PE layer in extended display .
[Common colour prints are on similar paper again using silver halide / gelatin technology in a number of layers. At some point in the process, the silver has been removed and replaced with a different dye for each layer.]
B&W silver gelatin 18°C at 30-50% RH (relative humidity)
silver dye bleach 18°C at 30-50% RH (relative humidity)
dye/ silver diffusion transfer 18°C at 30-50% RH (relative humidity)
dye imbibition 18°C at 30-50% RH (relative humidity)
pigment 18°C at 30-50% RH (relative humidity)
diazo 18°C at 30-50% RH (relative humidity)
chromogenic dye 2°C at 30-40% RH (relative humidity)
all others -3°C at 30-50% RH (relative humidity)
As before, temperature is straightforward, however they are saying RH should be no drier than 30% in all cases, to avoid physical stress. In this case, both gelatin emulsion (or other image bearing materials) and paper are humidity sensitive. For most, the RH should not exceed 50% at a stable 18°C.
Chromogenic dye black and white prints are chemically similar to colour prints, transparencies or negatives, and thereby require similar storage conditions, 2°C between 30% and 40% relative humidity.
Although I have not had this confirmed, I assume that ‘all others’ includes most early technology prints (eg collodion and albumen prints) from the 19th Century.
A common rider to these standards states that they are not appropriate for deteriorating images which require proactive treatment and/or specialised storage.

ISO 18923 for magnetic tape
magnetic tape on polyester 23°C at a maximum 20% RH (relative humidity)
magnetic tape on polyester 17°C at a maximum 30% RH (relative humidity)
magnetic tape on polyester 11°C at a maximum 50% RH (relative humidity)
BUT not below 15% RH (relative humidity)
not below 8°C
Magnetic tape is thought to have some problem with crystallisation of the subbing layer attaching the magnetic recording strip to the plastic support if tape is stored below 8°C. Otherwise, as with the previous standards, higher humidity storage is at the expense of lower temperature and vice-versa.

ISO 18925 optical disc
optical disc max 23°C at 20-50 % RH (relative humidity)
not below -10°C
not below 10% RH (relative humidity)

ISO10356 for cellulose nitrate film (negative or transparency):
An explanation is not included here.

ISO14523 Photographic Activity Test (PAT) = 18916 (soon) [for enclosures and other storage materials]
Materials available in Australia which have passed this test, and are therefore unlikely to harm photographs by contact are on the National Archives of Australia website (

See also, Glass Plate Negatives. What are they? How do you clean, preserve, and archive them?