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  • Title
    Fairfax Media Limited Business Archive, 1795-2006
  • Creator
  • Level of description
  • Date

    1795-2006, [predominant 1950-1991]
  • Type of material
  • Reference code
  • Physical Description
    270 metres of textual material (2106 boxes and volumes)
    1331 photographs
    174 sound cassettes and 52 sound tape reels
    19 objects
    1 sound disc

    Fairfax Media began in April 1831 as The Sydney Herald, seven years before John Fairfax arrived in Australia. The business was acquired by John Fairfax and Charles Kemp in 1841 and in the following year renamed the Sydney Morning Herald. In 1853 John Fairfax bought Kemp’s interest in the company, and in December 1856 John Fairfax and Sons was established. For more than 130 years the Fairfax family maintained control of the company. During that time the company grew to become a publisher of nine major newspapers and a number of magazines, owned radio and television broadcasting channels, and as well was part owner of a newsprint mill. It had offices in London and New York.

    18/4/1831 Ward Stephens, William McGarvie and Fredrick Stokes start the Sydney Herald
    8/2/1841 John Fairfax and Charles Kemp buy Sydney Herald
    30/9/1853 John Fairfax buys Kemp's interest in SMH and takes Charles Fairfax into partnership
    31/12/1856 John Fairfax and Sons established when John Fairfax takes his son, James Reading Fairfax, into partnership with himself and eldest son Charles
    16/10/1916 John Fairfax & Sons becomes John Fairfax & Sons Ltd
    13/07/1937 John Fairfax & Sons Ltd becomes John Fairfax & Sons Pty Ltd
    9/04/1956 John Fairfax Ltd incorporated as a public company. John Fairfax Ltd was a holding company and John Fairfax & Sons Pty Ltd became the operating company.
    21/11/1963 John Fairfax and Sons Pty Ltd becomes John Fairfax & Sons Ltd
    1987 John Fairfax Ltd privatised and acquired by Tryart Pty Ltd
    December 1990 Company placed into receivership
    16/12/1991 Tourang Limited consortium acquires John Fairfax Limited
    7/1/1992 Tourang Limited changes name to John Fairfax Holdings Limited
    10/11/2006 Company becomes Fairfax Media Limited
  • Scope and Content
    This archive, consisting of 2106 boxes of company and personal records ranging from 1795-2006. It is made up of 454 record series which documents five generations of Fairfax dynasty ownership of the company. From the time John Fairfax purchased the Sydney Herald in partnership with Charles Kemp to the time Warwick Fairfax’s attempt to privatise the company resulted in it going into receivership just short of 150 years of family ownership
    The archive contains mainly correspondence, minutes, reports and papers of board meetings, financial records, share registers, annual reports and internal publications. These were created and kept at various levels, including directors, managing directors, general manager, treasurer, editors, company secretary, legal department and industrial relations manager.
    The predominant date of the collection is from the 1950s to the 1990s which provides evidence of the growth of the company as it acquired other newspaper interests (Associated Newspapers), radio interests in particular the Macquarie Broadcasting Company and later television stations ATN 7 and Queensland Television.
    Since some executive staff and directors of John Fairfax Limited had interests in other subsidiary or related companies there will also be records such as minutes, financial statements and correspondence of these other companies.
  • System of arrangement
    This collection comprises 454 record series. Many of these series contain sub-series and file level records. You may navigate to a more detailed description of each series from this collection record
  • Access Conditions
    Partly restricted
  • Access Conditions

    This material is held offsite and is usually available after 4pm on the next business day. Please submit your request through Ask a Librarian - Applies to MLMSS 9894
  • Copying Conditions
    Research & study copies allowed
  • Description source

    The majority of the file level scope and contents descriptions and administrative history and biography notes in this archive were written by archivists employed by John Fairfax Ltd between 1974-1996 and 2006-2009.

    Where necessary these descriptions were edited by library staff to correct spelling errors, create consistency, expand acronyms and abbreviations, and reformatted to meet standards of the State Library of NSW.

    Two systems of arrangement were used by the Fairfax archivists.

    The first system used between 1974 and 1996 was a record group system in which records were grouped according to the creating office or person. In some instances artificial record groups were created for records which may not have had a single creator and for records collected by archivists from various sources. These record groups had their own numbers, i.e. 300, 500, 700 and in some instances broken down into sub groups. The records were listed and described at a box level and consequential one box listing could contain many files and each one of these files could have a description or detailed listing. More than 1500 pages of listings were typed out. These were converted into a digital format by the State library and restructured into archive format. As OCR was used to convert the hard copies into digital format some errors were created and as much as possible these have been corrected. Original numbers will appear in the Alphanumeric designations notes as "Original Record Group Number"

    The second system was a series system of arrangement and description created in 2006. This system was implemented using an Microsoft Access database. The highest level of description in this system is at a series level with items that form the series listed separately.
    Original numbers will appear in the Alphanumeric designations notes as "Original Fairfax Series Number"
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