Can you find your home on the Corley Explorer?

On 7 December 2018, State Library of Queensland launched its latest exhibition, Home: a suburban obsession, as well as the Corley Explorer, a database of over 61,000 photographs of homes taken during the 1960s and 1970s.

Multigabled Queenslander in Brisbanes inner suburb of Yeronga. From 6169 Frank and Eunice Corley House Photographs ca. 1970. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 198610

Multigabled Queenslander in Brisbane’s inner suburb of Yeronga. From 6169 Frank and Eunice Corley House Photographs ca. 1970. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 198610

These photographs were taken by Frank and Eunice Corley who drove around suburban streets from Bundaberg to Beenleigh taking snapshots of the fronts of houses, which they would then attempt to sell to the occupant in the form of a calendar or greetings card.

It is estimated that the Corleys took approximately a quarter of a million photographs with around two-thirds of these images sold. The remaining 61,000 were donated to State Library in 1995.

House images are presented by suburb, then in the order they were photographed on the film spool, street by street. While the majority of images are not individually identified by street name and number, the Corley Explorer allows you to input the exact address as well as add personal stories and photographs of the property.

Browsing the photographs for the Brisbane suburb of Everton Hills I recognised the house I grew up in at 49 Olearia Street. Our family lived in this house from 1980 to 1999.

49 Olearia Street, Everton Hills, ca.1970s. From 6169 Frank and Eunice Corley House Photographs ca. 1970. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Image 6169-1803-0008

49 Olearia Street, Everton Hills, ca.1970s. From 6169 Frank and Eunice Corley House Photographs ca. 1970. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Image 6169-1803-0008

49 Olearia Street, Everton Hills as it looked ca.1986. Photo courtesy of Myles Sinnamon

49 Olearia Street, Everton Hills as it looked ca.1986. Photo courtesy of Myles Sinnamon

I raided my parents photograph collection and came up with a number of images of the facade, the garden and shots from inside the house, which I uploaded to the Corley Explorer.

49 Olearia Street, Everton Hills, 1999. Photo courtesy of Myles Sinnamon

49 Olearia Street, Everton Hills, 1999. Photo courtesy of Myles Sinnamon

One of the major changes visible from the Corley photograph to when I lived in the house was that a portico over the front entrance was added some time prior to 1980. The front and back verandahs were built-in in 1988.

The property backed on to Kedron Brook and had a multi-level backyard.

Can you identify your house on the Corley Explorer? Help us by adding your story to the image.

This short video looks at how this valuable collection of photographs was rescued and preserved by State Library staff.

Don’t forget to visit our free exhibition, Home: a suburban obsession, which runs until 14 July 2019.

Myles Sinnamon – Engagement Officer, State Library of Queensland

Posted in Brisbane, Collections, Digitised content, Exhibitions | Tagged , , , , , , Jo Browse John Oxley Library
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    • Myles Sinnamon

      Hi Col, once you’ve located your house on the left-hand side you’ll see the text “Know more about this house? Add your stories and photos”. If you click on the link you can then register. After you’ve registered you can upload photographs and add your stories.

      Kind regards

      Myles – State Library of Queensland

    • Merle Walke

      I remember us having one of those calendars.
      I’ll have to check out the site.
      I will also put our house on as it is over 100 years old.

  1. Margaret Egan

    I am just wondering which Sinnamon’s you are related too. My grandmother maiden name was Sinnamon she lived near Esk. Her family came from Seventeen Mile Rocks but not she related to the ones Sinnamon park was named after. She had relatives in Toowoomba.

    • Myles Sinnamon

      Hi Margaret

      I’m a descendant of Isaac and Jane Sinnamon who arrived in Queensland from Ireland aboard the Shackamaxon in 1859.

      Regards

      Myles

  2. Jill Cawthan

    I remember these photos. As a little girl I got curious about this car and a man taking photos up and down our street. The photo of our house includes me standing watching at the end of our front path. Mum bought the calendar and I still have the photo. Taken about 1960. 23 Wassell Street, Wynnum North.

  3. Fiona Kessels Stevenson

    Wonderful. My Father mentioned that his Father, Owen Arthur Kessels also did a similiar thing and photographed homes around the Sherwood area in the early 1900’s. The intention to seel the photographs to the owners. So interesting. Thank you

  4. Lainie P

    I knew a photograph of my grandparents’ house at Coopers Plains was likely to be included in the Corleys’ collection. This I confirmed with my mother last time I visited, at which time we spent half-an-hour or so going through the photos – she had a copy of the photograph in her album, it was just a matter of finding the digital copy in the SLQ database!

    After working out how to search by spool, we picked an address nearby (Mum’s cousin lived around the corner) and glanced at the 16 photos taken on that spool…and THERE IT WAS!

    We’ve added a bit of information now, and gone on looking for other houses we know and love!

  5. Marguerite Sopinski

    It was lovely to find a picture of my parent’s old house at 26 Carew Street Nundah….complete with the swing I used to play on in the front yard.

  6. JULLIE O'TOOLE

    Hello, today I can confirm that I have the Corley photo that my mother purchased of our family home in Baringa Street, Morningside. When I saw the back of the photo on the short video, I knew we had a Corley photo. In those days from the street you could see the back of the house in the next street along with our neighbour’s clothes on the line. When we left the house in 1995, the house was the same as in the photo and has since been relocated to the Gympie area. I love how we can see the original build of our beautiful Queensland tin and timber homes warmly hugging the ground on 5ft stumps.

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