Bowden Collection

Rosalind Geddes (b. 1940) was born in Ceylon and later lived in India. She emigrated to Australia in 1952 and her family settled in Tasmania. She studied nursing in Sydney and obtained work in a hospital in Singapore. Tim Bowden, whom she had known in Tasmania, was the ABC Talks Officer in Singapore. They were married in 1968.

In the 1970s Ros Bowden did some part-time journalism and later undertook freelance interviews for the ABC. She worked for many years in ABC Radio’s Social History Unit and the Coming out show. She conducted interviews and produced programs such as Aspects of nutrition (1986), Being Aboriginal (1986), and Women of the land (1995).

Acquisition

The Library purchased the Ros Bowden Collection in 1995.

Description

Oral History

The Women of the land recording made by Ros Bowden in 1995 was an initiative of the ABC Radio’s Rural Department, supported by the Library. There are 33 interviews. Every state and the Northern Territory were represented in the project. Some of the women had lived all their lives in the country, others had migrated from the city or overseas. Several were widows. Most were farmers—cattle farmers, sheep farmers, dairy farmers, a potato farmer, a pig farmer and a goat farmer. Among the other interviewees were a journalist, an academic, a public servant and a counsellor. All the interviews have been transcribed. Selections from 24 of the interviews appeared in Bowden’s book Women of the land (1995).

The Comic artists and illustrators project resulted in seven interviews with cartoonists and comic strip artists. The interviewees, most of whom were elderly, were Jim Russell, Tony Rafty, Yaroslav Horak, Stan Pitt, Monty Wedd, Les Dixon and Eric Jolliffe.

Photographs

Bowden took a large number of photographic portraits of the women interviewed in the Women of the land project. The Library acquired 117 black and white photographs.

Organisation

The Women of the land recordings and transcripts are kept together as a collection within the Oral History Collection. They are catalogued individually and the call numbers have the prefix ORAL TRC 3406.

The Comic artists and illustrators recordings are also in the Oral History Collection. They have been catalogued individually, but have not been kept together as a collection.

The photographs of the participants in the Women of the land project are held in the Pictures Collection. The call number is PIC Album 966.

Related Collection

The Mitchell Library in the State Library of New South Wales holds 78 reels and 90 cassettes of interviews recorded by Bowden for radio programs and documentaries between 1975 and 1989.

References

Ros Bowden, Women of the land, ABC Books, Sydney, 1995.

Tim Bowden, Spooling through: an irreverent memoir, Allen & Unwin, Sydney, 2003.