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.”
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’.
This new acquisition arrived too late to be considered for inclusion in the National Library’s The Sell exhibition, which already has three examples of corset advertising, from Belgian and English companies P. D. Corsets and Pretty’s, as well as the well-known Australian brand Berlei.
Days, weeks, months and years associated with particular causes are an often advertised feature of contemporary calendars, but “towel week” is an obscure occasion not many people are likely to recall celebrating.
Crisp Bros, Towel week: not since 1914 have such values been offered, c.1920, http://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-138299335
Before Masterchef, foodtrucks and celebrity chefs, the eating and cooking habits of Australians were limited to the knowledge of recipes passed down to them by their family or shared by their friends. Eating out was an infrequent activity and cooking to a certain degree was a means of providing fuel for the family rather than providing a ‘dining experience’. The influx of immigrants after the Second World War and increasing wealth meant that Australians had access to a wider range of food and more leisure time to cook new and interesting meals.
The process of creating exhibitions is in some ways similar to that of writing a book. We investigate a wide range of material and then over time edit the content down. This also means that sometimes fascinating items never make it into the exhibition. ‘The Cornfield’, Originally considered for our 2014-2015 exhibition, Keepsakes: Australians and the Great War, was one such item. Fortunately the latest Treasures Gallery changeover has given us the opportunity to display this special map.
The National Library’s new exhibition The Sell showcases the Library’s rich collections of Australian advertising, not just with the beautifully produced posters from big companies (like the biscuit manufacturer Swallow and Ariell), or more utilitarian government messages (like a wanted poster for the bushranger Ben Hall), but also with the advertising created for ordinary people.
I have just seen a number of exceedingly spirited sketches, taken at Forest Creek and Bendigo Diggings during the last month, by a well-known Adelaide artist, whose name I am not permitted to mention at present … they afford an excellent idea of what life is like here; the landscape sketches are true and most picturesque… (Adelaide Morning Chronicle, 9 August 1852, p.3)
A curious, dry-humoured young French woman seems an unlikely figure to play a key role in the history of Pacific exploration. Yet 23-year-old Rose de Freycinet (1794-1832) fulfils this role in providing a unique insight into life at sea. Unwilling to be parted from her husband Louis (1779-1842) while his expedition circumnavigated the globe, she chose to accompany him on the long voyage rather than wait at home.
With all the projects and busy day to day work of exhibitions, sometimes its nice to step back and chat to someone about what they do. When you work in an organisation as broad and varied as the Library, there is always so much going on you don't know about. We all have pet interests and new ideas about our work but don't get alot of time to talk about them, so let's hear from photographer Craig Mackenzie about what he's up to.
Over the next few months there will be a number of anniversaries marking the centenary of the Battle of the Somme, one of the largest battles of the First World War. The battle began on 1 July 1916 and continued on until 18 November. It includes the Battle of Fromelles which was fought over 19-20 July in which Australian army suffered over 5,000 casualties in one night.