Confessions of a History Nerd

As a teenager, history was one of my favourite school subjects. While my girlfriends were reading about fashion and make-up, I subscribed to an illustrated history magazine! No doubt that early contact with retelling history in an accessible way—combining factual ‘storytelling' with historical images such as political cartoons, posters, newspaper cuttings and photographs—influenced the way I now present history to young people through my Heritage Heroes series.

Melodrama in Meiji Japan - Part One

The Preservation team at the National Library of Australia have recently been working with a number of amazing items that are now on display as part of the Melodrama in Meiji Japan exhibition. Many of these include stunningly beautiful and brightly coloured Japanese woodblock prints, also termed Kuchi-e (pronounced ‘koo-chi-eh’), literally translated as ‘mouth-picture’. A major part of the exhibition were the prints donated by Professor Richard Clough from 2011 to 2014.

Looking for Rose Paterson

I first discovered the letters of Banjo Paterson's mother Rose—around which my new book Looking for Rose Paterson: How Family Bush Life Nurtured Banjo the Poet is based—in the course of my PhD research some 16 years ago. I was searching the National Library's Manuscript Collections for correspondence and diaries that might provide evidence about what kind of music Australian pioneer women played, and where and when they performed.

Women landed vital wartime role

Photograph from the Australian Women's Weekly of 24 April 1943 shows Dulcie Edwards working as a logger. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article46447618

What did you do in the war, Mummy?

A whole lot more than most people think, or remember, according to some Trove-driven research emerging out of New England, in northern New South Wales.

Can you judge a book by its cover?

One of the biggest challenges a book designer faces is to create a cover that is not only engaging but also reflects the content within. Covers speak to readers. They may say ‘I am for a young reader', ‘I am historical' or ‘I am a funny'. Many decisions made by the designer affect the readers' assumptions about the contents of a book and encourage or—though we try to avoid this—discourage them from picking it up and exploring it further.

A uniform for a dapper diplomat

During my research for Badge, Boot, Button: The Story of Australian Uniforms, I looked at one of the many curious treasures in the National Library's collection: a large metal trunk painted red and black, with a label engraved ‘P. Shaw Esq'. Inside the trunk, folds of black wool and a burst of feathers resolve themselves into a uniform decorated with gold braid and topped with a plumed bicorn hat.

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