Samuel Cocks Collection

Historic Illawarra Photographs


The Samuel Cocks Collection (D100) comprises late 19th and early 20th century photographs of the southern Illawarra region, depicting the landscape, flora, fauna, built environment and the people who inhabited it. As such, the collection is an invaluable source of information for study and research in disciplines such as history, visual arts, and earth and environmental sciences.


Samuel Cocks was a professional photographer who operated a studio in Manning Street, Kiama from the 1890s to the 1920s. Copies of his scenic photographs were used in numerous tourist publications and postcards of the era.

A significant amount of his business also involved photographing dairy cattle belonging to local farmers. Some of these were used by Francis (Frank) McCaffrey in his publications First Century of Dairying (1909) and History of Illawarra and its Pioneers (1924).

The collection was deposited in the University Archives in the early 1980s, on loan from the Weston family of Kiama.

Contents of the Collection

The Collection comprises over 800 glass plate negatives, taken by Mr Cocks and other local photographers, of Kiama and the surrounding South Coast district. The images include landscapes, streetscapes, farming scenes (mostly dairy cattle), as well as many family and individual studio portraits.

The negatives are grouped according to subject categories. Some show varying degrees of damage due to their age and fragile nature.

A detailed list of contents of the Collection is available [PDF file]

Access to the Collection

Access to the collection is available in the Archives Reading Room by appointment.

Contact the Archives for more information

When visiting the Archives, users are first asked to consult the reference set of photographic prints, to minimise handling of the fragile glass plates.

Images available online

The Archives undertook a project to digitise images from the Samuel Cocks Collection to make them more accessible for students and researchers in the University and wider community.

View images on the Wollongong City Library's Illawarra Images website (search on the phrase 'Samuel Cocks Collection').

The images are faithful reproductions from the original negatives; i.e. damaged images have not been cropped or altered to hide flaws.


The Samuel Cocks Collection Digitisation Project has been made possible with the support of:

  • the Weston family of Kiama
  • The Weston family of Kiama
  • IMB Community Foundation
  • Mr Michael Cole of Jamberoo
  • Pillar Administration
  • Wollongong City Library
  • University of Wollongong


Last reviewed: 30 September, 2016