Frequently Asked Questions
What browsers are supported?
Can I see a demonstration of this site?
You can see a demonstration of this website here - you'll need a good internet link and a Flash plugin in your browser.
How is this different from other websites and online encyclopaedias?
The Dictionary of Sydney's structure provides a framework for building an ever-growing repository of historical information. Our people, buildings, organisations, structures, artefacts, places, natural features and events contain basic details and historical and geographical information and can be related and connected. Each one may or may not have a linked text entry giving a fuller historical account.
This structure means that we can attach multiple entries to one entity, link a range of people or places to a theme, and illustrate all of them with a full range of multimedia. The flexibility and scalability of the project is innovative and allows the information to be presented in a number of different ways as the technology develops.
How is this different from Wikipedia?
All material on the Dictionary of Sydney is edited and curated to present a rounded and satisfying online experience that is sharply focused on Sydney's history. Dictionary of Sydney articles are written by named authors, and we have the capacity to publish more than one article on any given topic. Many of our articles are based on original research by experts in the field. Any internal links in Dictionary articles will take you to other material on Sydney's history.
We have a good relationship with Wikipedia, and their Sydney chapter, and we hope they will be able to use the Dictionary as a reputable source of research for their Sydney articles. Wikipedia is a global encyclopaedic project that we are pleased to be associated with, but which has quite a different style and purpose.
Why can't I find the article I want?
The Dictionary of Sydney is a work in progress. The project will continue to grow and new material is added regularly. There are nearly 500 articles on the site now, and many thousands of people, places, organisations, events, artefacts and buildings that will have articles attached to them in the future.
We know there are lots of people, things and events that are missing. The project team will continue to expand the range and increase the depth of the Dictionary's coverage over time, so keep checking back.
Can I suggest topics that should be in the Dictionary?
Yes please! We have long lists of topics that we want to cover in the Dictionary but we are always pleased to have suggestions. Our editorial, commissioning, editing and curation process takes time, however, and there may be a long lag before your suggestion is incorporated. If you have a suggested author for your topic, please let us know that too. Click on the Contribute link at the bottom of any page and tell us about your suggested topic.
Can I contribute to the Dictionary of Sydney?
If you have researched a topic and can write a history of it, we'd love to hear from you. It's possible your topic has already been commissioned to someone else and is in preparation, so we can't guarantee that you will be commissioned to write it. Our editorial committee considers all requests. Click on the Contribute link at the bottom of any page and tell us about your topic, and your qualifications and experience, and we will get back to you as soon as we can.
I've found a mistake, who do I tell?
We're really pleased to hear about anything in the Dictionary that we can improve, and especially any factual errors that might have crept in. Please click on the Contribute link at the bottom of the page where you found the mistake and describe it. We'll look into it and fix it as soon as we can.
When's the hardcover book coming out?
There will never be a hardcover printed version of the whole Dictionary of Sydney, though print-on-demand books that contain smaller selections of Dictionary text might one day be a reality.
For a start, the Dictionary of Sydney is just too big – even the very first edition would run to 6 printed volumes. Secondly, much of the value of the Dictionary lies in the connections between people, things, organisations and places and the thematic essays and other entries – most of which would be lost in a book format. The Dictionary was envisaged as an online, interconnected, digital project, and is quite different from an online version of a book.
Can I use text and images from the Dictionary?
Dictionary text authors retain the copyright in their work. Images and other multimedia are also owned by other institutions and individuals and licensed for use in the Dictionary of Sydney. If you would like to re-use parts of what you see here in your own project please contact the listed owner of the piece (article, photograph, etc.).
Some of our authors have agreed to release their work under the Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike license. This means you can re-use that specific text (marked with the CC-BY-SA logo) in your project without having to ask permission first. Find out more at our Copyright page.
How is the Dictionary funded?
The Dictionary of Sydney is governed by a charitable trust set up as a result of an Australian Research Council linkage grant between the City of Sydney, University of Sydney, University of Technology, Sydney, the State Records NSW and the State Library of NSW. This has provided for a small team of staff, based at the City of Sydney offices at Town Hall, and a group of volunteers helping the project. All of the textual and multimedia content has been generously provided for free.
We have also received several sustaining and project-specific grants from the City of Sydney, the Sydney Mechanics' School of Arts and the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority. The technical component of the Dictionary is being supported by the Archaeological Computing Laboratory at the University of Sydney. See the About Us page or the Dictionary of Sydney Trust website for more information.
Why isn't there more contemporary information?
The Dictionary is a history project. The scope of the project is to cover Sydney's history from first human habitation to the present, and many of our articles cover material up to the present day, but we don't focus on providing information about contemporary Sydney.
Why can't I find anything on topics outside Sydney?
The Dictionary of Sydney has no limit in time, but strict limits in space. It does not contain any entries on people who never came here, organisations that were located elsewhere or places outside the Sydney basin. This means that some people and organisations which were very influential in Sydney's history are not covered directly in the Dictionary. We had to draw the line somewhere, and you'll find information on these subjects elsewhere.