The Past Present is dedicated to collecting, archiving and sharing images relating mainly to the history of Australia in the early to mid 20th century. The bulk of the collection is drawn from three sources, postcards, photographs and negatives and tourist books.
The postcard collection has slowly been built up over a period of 10 years and focuses mainly on Sydney. Within the collection there is at least one image of most of the main streets, beaches and tourist attractions in the Sydney area, dating from the period between 1900 and 1945. There are also images relating to the South Coast, Newcastle area, Blue Mountains and, occasionally, the Central West. Other postcard images depict Canberra in the early part of its history as the Australian National Capital.
The photographic collection is drawn mainly from the collection of an unknown photographer. The photographic archive of meticulously organized prints, most with a corresponding negative, was acquired from an American collector who discovered the archive in a thrift shop. Research has been unable to yet reveal the identity of the photographer, though the subject matter suggests he or she may have been a surveyor responsible for recording streets and businesses on the Eastern and Southern coasts of Australia. The collection focuses mainly on residential streets and industrial businesses, but occasionally also includes pictures of beaches and rural scenery. The meticulous labeling of many of the photographs provides us with detail about everything from location to the types of crops shown in the photographs.
The Past Present also has an extensive archive of tourist publications dating mainly to the period between 1910 and 1930. These publications provide not only a wealth of photographs, but also information for tourists of the period about popular attractions and destinations.