A new season of treasures

Along with falling leaves and the first hints of cold weather, this autumn also brings a change in the Treasures Gallery. We like to change items in our permanent display space a couple of times a year. This helps keeps objects in their best condition—being on display can often be tiring for delicate material, like paper. While we are a little sad to see some things go back to the stacks, it’s also a good opportunity to show you some exciting objects that haven’t been displayed before.

A Changing Capital

As we celebrate Canberra Day 2018, it is timely to reflect on the city fifty years ago. A story about Canberra is included in the Library’s new exhibition 1968: Changing Times. While researching for the display I was amazed to discover the scale of development the nation’s capital experienced in the 1960s. A tourist map of the city provides a snapshot of the urban sprawl of Canberra in 1968; compared with today, it had a much smaller footprint. The Library’s collections include important material, such as this map, which is featured in the exhibition.

A century of Yay or Nay

December 2017 will mark the centenary of the 1917 conscription plebiscite in Australia. For the second time during World War I, Australia declared 'no' in response to the question of conscription proposed by then Prime Minister Billy Hughes. By 1917, voluntary enlistment had waned and conscription was proposed to keep up with troop requirements overseas. The question of conscription was debated across Australia and was divisive politically, socially and religiously.

What’s in a title?

Recently, a book with its title printed simply on a brown dust jacket went on display in the Treasures Gallery. Like many items in the Gallery, what makes it a treasured collection item may not be immediately obvious (I am reminded to not judge a book by its cover). It is a first edition of Henry Handel Richardson’s (1870–1946) novel The fortunes of Richard Mahony: Australia felix (1917), which was among the author’s personal papers, now preserved in the Library’s Manuscripts Collection.

Pulp fiction, Japan-style

Japan, 1868: an uncertain and tumultuous cultural landscape. Stories of poisoned husbands and murdered lovers. Tales of women turned evil, wreaking havoc upon those around them. Countless tales of unrequited love.

Beauty under the moon

Keishū Takeuchi (1861-1942), Beauty under the moon (Gekka no bijin) 1896, woodblock print, nla.obj-152411793

Looking for Lady O'Connell

As Alan Bennett wrote in his play, The History Boys:

“History is a commentary on the various and continuing incapabilities of men. What is history? History is women following behind with the bucket.”[1]

As we mark another International Women’s Day on 8 March 2017, and in the midst of #nastywomen hashtags and pink pussy hats, I decided to explore the Treasures Gallery to see who I might discover ‘following behind with the bucket’.


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