It is easy to forget that until quite recently, most people wrote handwritten letters to loved ones when they were apart. It was no different for many Australian service personnel and their families during the First World War. Letters and souvenirs were sent home, while many of those left at home sent care packages, knitted socks and even pressed Australian flowers overseas. After the war, these mementoes were often treasured.
It's comforting, if not sobering, to realise that women's magazines were around in Australia a century ago. And, they were not too different from those published today. When we were talking about which women's magazines to feature in our exhibition Keepsakes: Australians and the Great War, Everylady’s Journal was at the top of my list. Published in Melbourne by T. Shaw Fitchett between 1911 and 1938, it is rich in articles, short stories and advertisements as well as crochet, knitting and sewing patterns.
There are four display cabinets outside the Asian Collections Reading Room on the third floor of the National Library of Australia. Back in September, my colleague Deb and I were asked to create October/November’s display of Asian Ghosts and Monsters due to our love of the horror genre.
I recently came across the following important hand-coloured print in the Rex Nan Kivell Collection held at the National Library of Australia. It was catalogued as 'Slave-traders embarking slaves, London?, 182-?'. It depicts an African man removed from his family by European slavers, and was made by acclaimed printmaker John Raphael Smith after a famous oil painting by George Morland, the English artist, engraver and picture restorer, who was best known for his genre scenes of English pastoral life.
While researching for the Keepsakes exhibition for the National Library of Australia, I made a discovery that led me to reflect on Australian history.
I recently received two autograph albums requiring some particularly tender love and care before going on display as a part of the Library's new exhibition Keepsakes: Australians and the Great War. These autograph albums, now held as part of the National Library of Australia's Manuscripts Collection at MS 9461, were the property of Sister B. M. Williams.
Reginald Nankivell’s first job after leaving school in Christchurch was as a bookbinder, a passion for which he never lost. Progressively, as he polished himself from plain ‘Reginald’, into the stylish art dealer and debonair collector Rex (later Sir Rex) de Charembac Nan Kivell, he lavished great attention on his acquisitions, commissioning beautiful and durable bindings and housings for his many books and manuscripts. Whenever I call up such an item from Nan Kivell's collection, I eagerly anticipate the clamshell box or fancy binding he has fashioned for it. Rarely am I disappointed.
"… when the lights go out and you feel something behind you, you hear it, you feel its breath against your ear, but when you turn around, there's nothing there ..." — Stephen King.
Students can now take a close look into the experiences of Australians on the home front during the First World War in a new learning resource.
The National Library of Australia’s education unit has been working with the ABC to develop content for Splash, an education website for teachers, school-aged children and their parents.
Whilst researching the National Library of Australia’s collection for forthcoming exhibition Keepsakes, I came across a humble mapping instrument that led me to the story of a not-so-ordinary Australian, George Augustine Taylor (1872-1928).