Railway History is made at Milang

Port Milang Historic Railway Museum officially received their registration certificate marking their entry into the Community Museums Program, History SA’s Museums Standards program last Monday. The occasion was as unique as it was auspicious.

The framed certificate was presented by History SA’s new CEO Greg Mackie to the museum’s President Allan McInnes, whilst standing on the front of the museum’s latest exhibit, their historic diesel Loco 351 before His Excellency the Honourable Hieu Van Le AO Governor of South Australia and Mrs Lan Le, Mr Adrian Pederick MP, State Member for Hammond and Councillor Katherine Stanley-Murray, Deputy Mayor of the Alexandrina Council and a large gathering of locals and railway enthusiasts.

The world and his dog (actually several dogs) seemed to be present at the Port Milang Railway Museum for the event, gathering along the line in front of the old railway station on Daranda Terrace to not only welcome South Australia’s Governor to their small town of just over 500 people but to also celebrate the museum’s 25 years of development.

The sun shone on Loco 351 in its new orange livery which brightened up the skyline and backdrop of Milang’s holiday shacks alongside the shores of Lake Alexandrina.  Museum secretary Peter Lucas welcomed guests and introduced the two members of Milang School who did a great job telling the history of their town to the audience. Following the certificate handover, His Excellency the Hon Hieu Van Le addressed the guests also from the front of the train, reminding everyone that he was following in the footsteps of former Governor, Dame Roma Mitchell, who had performed the re-opening ceremony of the railway station as a museum in 1992.

However 25 years later, His Excellency had a different unveiling to perform.  Accompanied by Peter Lucas and Allan McInnes, he proceeded to the other end of the Loco 351 where he cut the ribbon across the cab’s steps to officially open South Australian Railways locomotive 351 and its driving simulator.

SAR Loco 351 was recently gifted to the Milang Railway Museum from the National Railway Museum in Port Adelaide and restored by Milang volunteers.  With the introduction of some simple but clever electronic gadgetry, it is now possible to ‘drive’ the loco using the simulator. Visitors can sit in the driver’s seat, appear to start up the train, sound the horn and drive the loco along the line, all without leaving the station!  Appropriate sound effects and a large computer monitor showing a film of the train moving in sync with the steering mechanism simulates the driving experience.

A tour of the museum and a delicious afternoon tea completed the successful afternoon proceedings.

History SA’s Community History Officers are currently working with Milang Railway Museum to complete their new Light Railway Centre, the interpretation of which is being part-funded by a Community Museums Program (CMP) grant.

More pictures of Milang Railway Museum’s 27 June celebration can be seen here

Dressing Up the History Festival

To create a big splash for the start of the History Festival History SA held a major event on the theme of dressing up.

Held over three days, the Dressing Up program included a fashion parade of Victorian-era costumes and a workshop about underwear, a host of short talks and demonstrations on a huge variety of topics including millinery, steam punk, kimono, swimwear, and making replica period costume, and a temporary exhibition of costume and other items on the theme of dressing up.  More than 20 individuals and groups contributed to the wonderfully diverse program.

The Dressing Up exhibition presented objects and stories from History SA’s own collections (from the Migration Museum, the National Motor Museum, and the SA Maritime Museum) along with objects from community museum collections.  Much more than a costume display, the exhibition included objects relating to three themes: dressing up to go travelling, dressing up for fun, and dressing up for milestones in life.  The choice of themes meant that as well as some wonderful examples of clothing from the late 1800s through to the 1970s some more unexpected items could be included – water skis, Latvian mittens, a school satchel and travelling trunk fitted out as a portable wardrobe were among objects displayed.

More images from the Dressing Up event and exhibition can be seen here.

 

Caring for your family treasures

There will be a special free conservation clinic on Tuesday 31 May at Mount Gambier City Hall offering expert advice to those in South Australia’s southeast, about caring for your family treasures.

This clinic is ideal for those living in the South East who are concerned about those precious family heirlooms that are perhaps stored in the back of a wardrobe; stuffed in boxes or suitcases in the garage or attic. These might be old wartime diaries and letters, family photograph albums and postcard collections; or children’s Christening gowns or first pairs of shoes, a family wedding dress, or even a childhood teddy bear. They’ve been kept ‘for future generations’ but you’re not sure how the best way to preserve them; or worse still, mould, moths or mice have got to them first.

This special conservation clinic is part of South Australia’s History Festival and has been organised by the Mount Gambier History Group in collaboration with History SA and Artlab Australia. Principal Textile Conservator Kristin Phillips, and Principal Paper and Books Conservator Helen Halley will be available to give advice as well as offering a series of short workshops and demonstrations throughout the day including the best way to surface clean textiles, to store or display your historic costume and textiles plus documents, photographs and books.  History SA’s Community History Officer and museum curator Pauline Cockrill will provide advice re display, research and project funding.  Displays from South East local history groups can also be viewed and light meals and refreshments purchased during the day.

The clinic will take place from 10am-3pm.

Community Heritage Grants

The National Library of Australia is calling for applications for the 2016 Community Heritage Grants (CHG).

The grants of up to $15,000 are available to community groups around the country to help preserve and manage locally held, nationally significant cultural heritage collections of documents and objects for future generations. Eligible projects include significance assessments, preservation needs assessments, conservation activities and collection management.

The CHG began in 1994 and has provided more than $5.7 million for a total of 1,192 projects around Australia—from cities to the remotest of regions.  Each year several organisations in South Australia are recipients of CHG funding and first-time recipients are invited to Canberra to receive their grant and enhance their skills through the expertise of institutions like the National Library—and take that knowledge back to their communities.

History SA is the South Australian contact point for intending applicants to the CHG and can assist with applications.  Intending applicants are very welcome to contact us at History SA.

Full details of the CHG grant fund can be found here.

 

War at Sea: the Navy in WWI exhibition

Over one hundred years ago – on 14 September 1914 – Australia’s first submarine AE1 disappeared while patrolling the seas near present day New Guinea. No trace of the vessel or its 35 hands has ever been found to this day.

This story is now being told in War at Sea – the Navy in WWI, an eight-panel exhibition on tour from Sydney’s Australian National Maritime Museum and is now at the following venues in South Australia during 2016.

  • Robe Visitor Information Centre (Robe) –1 to 29 February
  • Repatriation General Hospital (Daw Park) -18 January to 4 February
  • Wallaroo Heritage and Nautical Museum (Wallaroo) – 1 January to 29 February
  • Ardrossan Historical Museum (Ardrossan) – 26 Jan to 31 May
  • RSL SA, Torrens Parade Ground (Adelaide) – 25 April
  • Unley Museum (Unley) –17 April to 23 August
  • Main Corner (Mount Gambier) -11 April to 31 May

The experiences of Australian sailors in World War I has largely been overshadowed by the stories of soldiers on the Western Front or at Gallipoli. This panel exhibition draws on the personal accounts of Navy servicemen – through their diaries, mementoes, ship’s logs and letters home – to tell their incredible stories of bravery and sacrifice amidst the drudgery of life at sea, patrolling, blockading and escorting troopships.

The mystery of what happened to AE1 is explored alongside the story of Australia’s second submarine AE2, which became the first Allied vessel to breach the Dardanelles in Turkey, disrupting the Turkish forces moving to defend the Gallipoli peninsular in April 1915, and the story of the RAN Bridging Trains at the Gallipoli campaign.

Visitors will see rare archival footage of the Navy during WWI which gives a window into life on battleships as well as the troop transport ships which ferried soldiers around the globe.

The activities and subsequent loss of AE2 off Gallipoli is highlighted by footage from inside the shipwreck filmed during the first dive to the site by Australian and Turkish maritime archaeologists earlier this year.

Kevin Sumption, director and CEO of the Australian National Maritime Museum said,

“Australia’s involvement in the First World War was a defining moment in our nation’s history and the contribution of the Royal Australian Navy to the First World War, was significant. It is our hope that this panel exhibition, on tour around Australia, will give due recognition to the brave naval servicemen who sacrificed so much.”

There are ten War at Sea panel exhibitions which will tour nationally during the World War I centenary period. They will visit over 110 venues to give thousands of people a better understanding of the role of the Royal Australian Navy in WWI.

The tour is made possible with the support of the Returned and Services League of Queensland.

The Australian National Maritime Museum in Sydney is the national centre for maritime collections, exhibitions, research and archaeology. As a Commonwealth cultural institution the museum is also committed to fulfilling its national mandate by developing programs and opportunities to share its expertise, collection and the national maritime story with regional communities throughout Australia.

Grants to Community Museums Announced

We are pleased to announce that through History SA’s Community Museums Program (CMP) grant fund 29 projects have been supported for 2016, totalling $148,177.

History SA received 43 applications from 29 museums in the 2015-16 CMP annual grant round which closed on 15 September.

The majority of projects funded were for new or stage two interpretive projects, for example, for the South Australian Police Society Museum’s display to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the introduction of women police in South Australia; the City of Holdfast Bay’s upgrade to the exhibition in the historic Glenelg Air Raid Shelter and to assist the recently registered Mary Mackillop Museum’s to develop their new displays. There were also a number of cataloguing projects such as at Lock & Districts Heritage Museum and Crystal Brook Heritage Centre; as well as funding to build new storerooms or shelving and equipment. Barossa Museum, for example, will be able to purchase a new fire proof safe for their significant documents and collection items; Beachport Museum’s volunteers will benefit by the purchase of lifting and moving equipment while Hahndorf Academy purchase and install new storage shelving. Both Cobdogla Irrigation & Steam Museum and Prospect Hill Historical Museum will be able to create their new storerooms. Digitising projects were also popular and History SA will be funding scanning equipment for the South Australian Aviation Museum and Port Pirie Museum and we look forward to Ayers House Museum’s proposed new Mobile Digital room guide with CMP funding support. Two History Festival bus tours will also go ahead in May as a result of CMP funding for Brinkworth Historical Reserve Museum and Gawler National Trust Museum.

We have also enabled two organisations this year to take advantage of our professional services along with funding to assist their proposed projects. We will assist both Mount Gambier National Trust and newly registered Port Milang Historic Railway Museum to develop interpretation plans and establish firm foundations for the years ahead.

 

Celebrating Centenarians

A series of short films ‘Celebrating Centenarians’ was recently launched by Resthaven Inc, the South Australian aged care community service of the Uniting Church in Australia.

Aiming to celebrate the stories of people aged 100 years and over, this collaborative project between Resthaven and the University of South Australia was funded through a ‘Positive Ageing’ Grant, from the SA Health’s Office for the Ageing. This grant program supports the State Government’s vision to bring the community together to create an all-ages-friendly state as outlined in Prosperity Through Longevity: South Australia’s Ageing Plan, Our Vision 2014-2019.

UniSA students of multimedia and journalism interviewed and filmed seven centenarians who are part of Resthaven’s community, recording ‘essence of life’ stories.  The stories aimed to reflect each person’s humanity and humour, and words of wisdom about longevity.

History SA was proud to be involved in the early stages of the project, when Resthaven’s Public Relations Manager, Julie Johinke and Service Development Manager, Lynn Openshaw met with History SA’s Community Engagement Senior Curator, Allison Russell and Community History Officer, Pauline Cockrill for advice on possible themes and where to start.

Pauline was delighted to attend the launch on 27 November at Resthaven’s brand new headquarters on Greenhill Road, next to Annesley College.  The student filmmakers plus five of the seven ‘stars’ of the films along with their friends, family and Resthaven staff as well as representatives from the project partnerships were at the launch.  The series of films plus a film of the films being made were enthusiastically viewed followed by afternoon tea.

Resthaven hopes that the resulting ‘films’ will increase awareness of older people’s stories, encourage intergenerational sharing, and celebrate positive images of older people.

Certainly judging by the emotional response at the launch, this outcome looks to being successfully achieved.

The 8 videos are now available on You Tube here

This film project coincides with Resthaven’s 80 years of service to older people in South Australia. The organisation was originally established by the Methodist Church and dates back to 1935 with the official opening on 11 May of that year of a ‘Home for elderly ladies’ at Brighton, known as Rest Haven.

South Australia’s Railways and the World War Years

The National Railway Museum’s latest displays, South Australia’s Railways and the World War Years, were launched today by the Hon Susan Close, State Member for Port Adelaide.  Registered museum in History SA’s Community Museums Program (CMP), the museum received a 2013-14 CMP grant for the display which was developed by its Curator and Assistant Curator, Moana Colmer and Gabby Sexton, with assistance by community historian John Mannion.  It was also supported by funding from the Australian Government’s ANZAC Centenary Local Grants Program.

The launch began with a welcome by the museum’s Executive Officer, Bob Sampson and Chairman, John Kalaitzis in front of an audience of local government representatives including the Mayor of Port Adelaide Enfield, Gary Johanson as well as museum staff, volunteers and other supporters and those who have assisted with research for the display.  Afternoon tea in the museum’s 1947 Cafeteria Car followed the official proceedings.

The story of South Australia’s Railways and the World War Years is told through interpretive panels, photos and objects both small and large including four steam and one diesel electric locomotives, a railway carriage and a 1941 Chevrolet used by the Australian Army to visit and patrol near prisoner of war camps along the Commonwealth Railways Trans-Australian line.  The exhibits are displayed throughout the museum’s Fitch and Fluck Pavilions.

The display also features two First World War Rolls of Honour commemorating South Australian Railways staff as well as a new multimedia touch screen created by web developers Queensland-based Green Acorn on which visitors can search for the stories of the SA railwaymen who fought during the Great War.

In addition to this new permanent display, throughout November visitors will be able to see History SA’s travelling exhibition Bravest of the Brave which tells the story of eight South Australian men who were awarded the Victoria Cross for their heroic deeds during the First World War. One of the eight men was former SA railwayman Philip Davey of Semaphore who fought in Gallipoli and then the Western Front where he was awarded both the Military Medal and the Victoria Cross.  There is a memorial to him at the Adelaide Railway Station.

More photos from the launch and display can be seen here.

The National Railway Museum is open every day 10am-5pm.

Mary MacKillop Museum becomes 63rd Registered Museum in CMP

The Mary MacKillop Exhibition Centre and Archives, now known as the Mary MacKillop Museum, is the latest community museum to achieve Registration status in History SA’s standards program.

Community History Officers Amanda James and Pauline Cockrill, who run the program for History SA, have been working closely with the museum and archives management team at the Mary MacKillop Centre in Kensington to achieve registration since September 2014. The Centre is located on the historical site of St Joseph’s Convent, established by Mary MacKillop in 1872, where she lived, prayed and worked until 1883.

Amanda and Pauline had great pleasure in formally presenting the Centre’s Director Sister Pat Keane and Mission and Site Co-ordinator Sister Mary Ryan with their Registration certificate at afternoon tea on 29 October in the presence of members of the Sisters of St Joseph, volunteers and staff including archivist Suzanne Ryan who had made a considerable contribution to this milestone.

The museum is currently working on the redevelopment of the exhibition space at the centre which promises to reopen with exciting new interactive interpretive displays in June 2016.

Mary Mackillop Museum is the 63rd registered museum in the program. Registration is the entry level of the Community Museums Program (CMP), History SA’s accreditation and grants program for regional, local and specialist community-based museums. There are currently 54 registered museums and 9 accredited museums throughout South Australia. Established in 1982, it sets standards for community history museums, and provides grant funds (currently set at $150,000 annually). More information about CMP which is based on the National Standards for Australian Museums and Galleries can be found here

Mary MacKillop (1842–1909), now formally known as St Mary of the Cross MacKillop, was an Australian nun and declared Australia’s first saint by the Catholic Church in 2010. Although originally from Melbourne, she travelled to Penola, South Australia to work as a governess to provide for her family in 1860, opening a school and forming the Sisters of St Joseph there in 1866.  The Mary MacKillop Penola Centre which cares for the original schoolhouse is also a registered museum in History SA’s Community Museums Program.

Community Heritage Grants Recipients 2015 announced

Eight community history groups in South Australia have been awarded federally-funded Community Heritage Grants (CHG) amounting to $54,560 in the National Library of Australia’s CHG program, it was announced today.  Overall, 75 grants were awarded Australia-wide in 2015, totalling $438,710.

CHG provides grants of up to $15,000 to community organisations such as libraries, archives, museums, genealogical and historical societies, multicultural and Indigenous groups. The grants are provided to assist with the preservation of locally owned, but nationally significant collections of materials that are publicly accessible including artefacts, letters, diaries, maps, photographs, and audio visual material.

Successful applicants in South Australia include the Parndana Soldier Settlement Museum on Kangaroo Island ($6,600 for a preservation needs assessment); National Trust of SA Goolwa Branch ($2,980 for purchase of a compactus for archival storage); Peterborough History Group $14,300 for the digitisation and archival storage for the preservation of the Times Printing Office contents); and Embroiderers’ Guild of SA Museum ($4,950 for a Preservation needs assessment).

Celebrating Violets

On a sunny spring Saturday morning in early September, History SA’s Online Programs curator, Catherine and I attended the launch of a new interpretive sign on the Old Norton Summit Road alongside Third Creek Reserve.

It seemed an odd place to be standing sharing a delicious afternoon tea on a turn around, with the intermittent sound of cars and motorbikes racing past on the twisting road up to the Adelaide Hills. However, this was an important spot in the history of one of our favourite subjects – violets. Or to be more precise Violet Day, that debatable uniquely South Australian commemorative fundraising event, a day of remembrance originally started to honour those who had been killed at Gallipoli in 1915 which continued to be observed in South Australia until 1970.

This year sees the 100th anniversary of the first Violet Day on 2 July 1915.  Several events have taken place already around Adelaide but this was one that recognised the history of the violet farms in the Adelaide foothills that played an important part in not only Violet Day but also South Australia’s commercial flower industry and contribution to local tourism.

Violet Farms were very popular in the period 1910 to 1940. William Walker pioneered violet growing at Magill and Third Creek in the 1890s.  He planted his initial violet farm on Third Creek Road (now known as Old Norton Summit Road) at his property Rockdale, the former Gepp’s Rock Tavern.  Violet growing was continued by his sons Alf and Fred Walker.  Alf Walker established his King Violet Farm near Magill on Third Creek in about 1919. He and his wife Gladys grew violets commercially until about 1958. There was also the Flavel’s Violet Farm at Morialta and the Violet Farm on Third Creek owned by William and Margaretta Jones.

So we gathered around the new interpretive sign on the banks of Third Creek to witness its unveiling by Dr Geoff Bishop of the East Torrens Historical Society and Adelaide Hills’ Deputy Mayor Jan Loveday who both gave fascinating talks about the history of violet farms and the project itself.

The Mayor of Adelaide Hills Council, members of the Burnside Historical Society, and Walker and Jones’ family descendants were also present as well as local residents who had played a part in clearing and replanting the area as well as keeping a look out for unwanted visitors.

This is an example of a lovely collaborative community project between the Old Norton Summit Community Group, the Historical Society of SA, East Torrens Historical Society and the Adelaide Hills Council. We hope the homemade scones and jam offered to past tourists who arrived by charabanc or the Magill tram, were every bit as lovely as those provided at the launch.

More photos of the launch here

More information on the history of Violet Day in South Australia here 

Peterborough Print Shop Rolling On

The South Australian mid-north town of Peterborough is well known as a railway hub – the place where three railway gauges came together opening up the railways in the region and adding greatly to the ability of local farmers to get crops to ports.  But Peterborough has another claim to fame and last week Amanda got to visit the Print Shop Museum again, after first visitng it eight or nine years ago. Travelling with Karen we headed up via Burra to do some hands on work with the Peterborough History Group who manage the print shop site and collection.  The print shop operated continuously for more than 100 years and along with the machinery, printing plates and type face sets are a huge collection of ‘job dockets’ – a pristine record of everything printed for many decades dating from the 1920s.  Records prior to that time were lost in a fire in the first part of the 20th century.  

The Peterborough History Group has been working hard for a long time now to get ready to tackle the enormous task ahead – on the advice of a preservation study by Artlab they are commencing rehousing all the job dockets, storing the envelopes, which contain provenance information, separately from the contents, and it is this task that we went to help with.  Over the last few years the History Group has sorted the dockets by year and identified up to an extraordinary 8,000 jobs per year (do the maths – that’s a lot of items over six plus decades!)  Amazingly the History Group is not phased by this but are determined to eventually rehouse them all.  Over two days we worked on establishing a process for tackling the collection, numbering system, and the best quality but affordable solutions for storage.  In a production line style solution items are being catalogued, scanned, rehoused and entered onto the MOSAiC database, doing all the tasks at once to minimise handling of items while trying to maximise efficiency.  When done the collection will form an extraordinary research resource – a complete look through print into the history of the growth, decline, business and social goings on in a town and region so important to South Australian history.  

You might think this project is enough for any group, but Peterborough History group also run an active research centre, adjacent to the print shop museum, are working towards an interpretation space at the rear of the print shop, getting some of the machinery back to working order (and learning how to use it for special print jobs), and maintaining other collections of local history (archives and objects), much of which is displayed in the former YMCA building.

  

Australian Made Museum

Tucked away in a residential street in Birkenhead is an interesting maritime themed museum. After hearing about Austbuilt Museum over many years, Amanda finally got to visit it. The Austbuilt Museum is the result of one man’s passion for collecting ‘Australian made’ maritime objects. Over decades Keith Le Leu collected from around Australia and internationally, housing the collection in several buildings. After Keith passed away the Port Adelaide Historical Society (PAHS) took over the running of the museum. The PAHS has other interests too, with a history room and archival collection to manage along with historical talks and tours – running a museum is a new venture for the group. One of the things that PAHS is interested in doing is adding more of a Port Adelaide focus to the collections, branching out from the maritime theme to develop a collection that more fully encompasses the aims of the Society. Lots of work ahead!

South Australian History Fund 2015 Grants

The South Australian History Fund (SAHF) is closing on 17 August. History SA welcomes applications from community groups for small projects, publications and research projects.

Individuals can also apply for publication and research projects. Each year History SA receives a large number of applications for a diverse range of small projects.  In last two grant rounds projects supported have included interpretation of drive-in projectors at Coober Pedy, an historical bus tour of the Diocese of Willochra, conservation of glas negatives from the collection of Mill Cottage Museum in Port Lincoln and conservation of medals from the Port Adelaide Rowing Club.  Several publications were also supported on topics including Locks on the Murray River, Mallee townships and South Australia in wartime.

If you are planning an application for this year please see the FAQs or contact History SA.

Great War event Features Community Collections

As part of the About Time History Festival, History SA held a major event over two days on the theme The Great War at Home. More than 400 people enjoyed a range of talks, activities and displays but for the community history sector the highlight of this event was a temporary display of 33 objects drawn from the collections of community museums and collections from around South Australia.

The aim of the exhibition was to showcase some of the depth and breadth of South Australian community collections and to make some of the regional stories behind the objects accessible to an audience in Adelaide.  To do this a quite extraordinary range of objects were sourced, including fundraising badges, memorial plaques, a doll, crochet work, photographs, postcards, embroidered or printed textiles and a copy of the Australian war board game ‘Trencho’.  Each object was presented with a carefully written caption that either told a local history story or connected the object to the exhibition theme.  They worked together to show that plenty was going on on the Home front to support and recognise the efforts of soldiers overseas and to reflect some of the experiences of families and communities at home.  Visitors to the exhibition certainly appreciated the interesting variety of objects and the stories behind them.

History SA greatly values the input of community museums and collections into our programs and for the Great War at Home exhibition we were very pleased to work with 14 community museums and organisations:

  • Australian Army Museum of South Australia
  • Burra Branch National Trust of South Australia
  • Edithburgh Museum
  • Embroiderers’ Guild of SA Museum
  • Goolwa National Trust Museum
  • Hope Cottage Museum, Kingscote
  • Jamestown National Trust Museum
  • Kingston S.E. Branch National Trust of SA
  • Moonta Mines Museum
  • Mount Lofty Districts Historical Society
  • Prospect Hill Historical Museum
  • Repatriation General Hospital Museum
  • RSL Waikerie Sub Branch
  • South Australian branch of the RSL
  • Stansbury Museum

Highlights of the exhibition were many, but included the daughter of Ross Perry coming in to see his photograph in the exhibition.  School boy Ross received a commendation during the First World War for knitting 23 pairs of socks to send to soldiers overseas.

Women of the River Country

On Thursday 9 April, almost 200 people attended the official opening of the Women of the River Country exhibition at the Mannum Dock Museum of River History.

This new exhibition profiles 19 women of strength, passion and dedication and portrays how women from across the Murray Darling Basin have shaped the River Murray and its landscape from Wodonga to Goolwa.

Mannum Dock Museum of River History is one of History SA’s registered museums in their Community Museums Program and the exhibition, designed by Mulloway Studio and Natasha Adams, has been part funded by a History SA CMP 2014 grant. As well as additional support from the Mid Murray Council and the SA Government Office for Women, the project has also received a federal Visions of Australia grant from the Australia Council for the Arts and after being displayed at Mannum for the rest of this year will travel to other venues across SA, VIC and NSW.  In 2016 it will being going to Swan Reach, Blanchetown, Morgan and Echuca while Mildura and Goolwa are other venues on the cards.

Introduced by Mannum Dock Museum executive officer Debbie Alexander, the launch began with a traditional welcome to country by Nganguraku Custodian Isobelle Campbell as well as a smoking ceremony. There were official speeches by Mannum Dock Museum chairman Rob Bowring, Member for Elder Annabel Digance, who was representing the South Australian Premier, Mid Murray Mayor Dave Burgess and Jocelyn Brown, the daughter of Hilda Creaser who features in the exhibition.  Craig Pilkington and famed indigenous Australian musician Archie Roach played a number of songs in honour of Archie’s late partner Ruby Hunter who is also profiled in the exhibition.

Consisting of the 19 women’s stories printed on individual tall plinths, associated artefacts are displayed in cases around the exhibition space while local river women’s stories hang in frames on the wall. There is also a touch screen where visitors can select different audio visuals relating to some of the women in the exhibition. Organisations hosting the exhibition at other venues can include their own local river women’s stories from their particular region.  

The 19 women who feature are Eliza Arbuckle; Ivy Carr; Ella Chaffey; Margaret Court; Hilda Creager; Jessie Dunstone; Mary Ann Edwards; Ruby Hunter; Pauline Milich; Elyne Mitchell; Essie Nisbet; Elizabeth ‘Bessie’ Randell; Mary Ann Randell; Hattie Schell; Hattie Sexton Schell; Helen Sutherland; Jessie Wakefield; Pearl Wallace and Elizabeth Williams. There is also a book accompanying the exhibition available at the Mannum Visitor Information Centre, and future exhibition venues, priced $24.99.

More photos of the launch and the display can be seen here

School Museums in the Spotlight

South Australia was well represented at the recent 2015 Symposium of the International Association of School Museums and School History Collections held at Sovereign Hill, Ballarat, on 25-28 March. This was the first time since its formation 32 years ago that the bi-annual event has been held anywhere in the world other than in Europe.

The opening keynote address was given by Professor Geoffrey Blainey who was introduced to the audience as one of Australia’s genuine ‘Living Treasures.  Session presenters included delegates from Italy, Denmark, Greece, Germany, The Netherlands, Estonia, Czechoslovakia and Australia.  Aimed specifically at museums that incorporate school rooms/buildings or have a focus on the history of schooling, conference themes included using role-play and performance to teach history and museums as learning spaces for schools.  Delegates were able to get immersed in the learning experience of the conference with the program including the Blood on the Southern Cross sound and light show, in depth look at Soverign Hill’s own education programs, and a mine tour and gold panning activity.

Among the South Australian delegates were Amy Leigh and Debbie Thiele from The Village Loxton, Linda Thatcher, NTSA Tourism Manager Moonta for Moonta Mines School, Samantha Cooper, Archivist, Pulteney Grammar School, Victoria Hardy, Willunga NTSA for James Bassett Boys School and Glenda Couch-Keen for Friedensberg Historic Early German School Museum at Springton.  History SA was able to fund two registrations for this conference, which allowed Glenda and Victoria to attend.

 

Caring for Collections on Kangaroo Island

Last week saw me driving down to the ferry terminal at Cape Jervis with the History SA car packed to the gunnels with archival material, monitoring equipment and sample artefacts from Artlab Australia.  I was heading for Kangaroo Island to facilitate a two-day ‘Caring for Collections’ workshop for community museums and history groups. We run this skills development program annually in different regions in South Australia and this was the first time we had been able to offer such an experience to those on the other side of the Backstairs Passage.  Better still it was free of charge courtesy of a National Library of Australia Community Heritage Grant.

All went to plan and our two workshop presenters from Artlab – Preventive Conservator Anne Dineen and Senior Textile Conservator Kristin Phillips – arrived safely by plane later that day and we were soon all set up ready to go in the Natural Resources Board Room in Kingscote.

Almost 20 people attended each day made up of mainly volunteers from Kangaroo Island’s three museums – Hope Cottage Museum at Kingscote, Penneshaw Maritime & Folk Museum and Parndana Soldier Settlement Museum.  Both mornings were spent learning the theory behind managing a museum environment, identifying risks and pests that might affect our collections as well as best practice regarding storing or displaying archival material, photographs, costume and textiles.  Afterwards, participants could ‘have a go’ at what they had learnt.

On the first afternoon everyone gathered at nearby historic Hope Cottage, built in 1859, and now a museum run by the Kingscote branch of the National Trust.  Participants were divided into groups to try out their new found knowledge. Armed with magnifying glasses and torches, teams enthusiastically searched for signs of pest activity, keenly clutching their resulting collection of bugs (but not too many!) collected via sticky traps and plastic bags. Then there was a chance to try out electronic monitors to measure light, relative humidity and temperature in various parts of the building and discover ways in which artefacts might be displayed in better environmental conditions.

The second afternoon saw us back in the meeting room where participants learnt how to surface clean objects (including a seagull!) with the aid of micro attachments on a regular vacuum cleaner as well as a tulle-covered embroidery hoop; how to encapsulate documents using Mylar; or enclose a booklet by making a four flap folder; and how to make padded clothes hangers for storing/displaying costume plus a padded support for a very elegant 19th century smoking cap.

It was obvious everyone had a lot of fun over the two days. As well as being able to take home a free set of printed notes from the workshop, participants also went away equipped with a lot of useful food for thought for their respective museums and contact details if they needed help in the future.

Photos from the two day workshop can be seen here 

Glencoe Goes Off With a Baaaang!

Can you use sheep to tell history?  The Sheep’s Back Museum at Naracoorte has been preserving and telling stories of the wool industry since the 1960s, but on the March long weekend Blades of Glencoe put a new twist on telling history with sheep. Organised by the Mount Gambier branch of the National Trust, who manage the Glencoe Woolshed and also the Old Mount Gambier Courthouse, the premise of the event was to shear by hand 700 sheep – for the first time in more than 100 years.

For many years the Glencoe Woolshed has operated as an historical attraction, with displays of agricultural and domestic technology from the later nineteenth century being set up in the sheep pens and interpretive panels that highlight the Leake Brothers who built the woolshed and aspects of the wool industry in the Glencoe district.  For Blades of Glencoe the building came alive with the sights, sounds and smells of 50 blade shearers and hundreds of sheep to create a unique and engaging living history experience.

Seeing hundreds of sheep in the pens ready to be shorn was quite a sight. The Glencoe Woolshed is usually a quiet, rather out of the way place to visit so for one day it was great to see it so full of activity.

Thousands of people flocked to the event, enjoying the entertainment on offer and not minding the significant queue to enter the woolshed and watch the shearers at work. The hard working volunteers, wearing their bright Blades of Glencoe shirts, ushered visitors into the woolshed, where they could take in the historical displays before going up the ramps and walking right next to sheep in their pens and within arms length of the shearers at work. It was an interesting experience to be able to stop and talk with a shearer about their work and to hear the conversations going on about back supports for shearers, how to tell if the shears are sharpened properly and the quality of the wool.  Lots of images and news about Blades of Glencoe are available on Facebook.

History SA provided some funding through the Community Museums Program for Mount Gambier National Trust branch to engage a filmmaker to document activities on the day, interview past and present shearers and put together a short film. This will further add to the ongoing history of the Glencoe Woolshed.

Celebrating 120 years of women’s suffrage

Minister for the Status of Women, the Hon Gail Gago MLC launched a temporary exhibition Her Absolute Right on Friday 5 December at Adelaide Town Hall to mark the 120th anniversary of suffrage in South Australia.

The exhibition outlines the journey to suffrage in South Australia from the late 19th century outlining the key activists involved.  As well as the leading names of Catherine Helen Spence and Mary Lee, the exhibition explores the work of other lesser known suffragists such as Rosetta Birks, Serena Thorne Lake, Mary Colton, Agnes Milne, Augusta Zadow and particularly Elizabeth Webb Nicholls.

On the eighth attempt, after a tireless campaign for these rights through letters, speeches, and travelling throughout South Australia collecting signatures, women gained the right to vote and stand for Parliament in South Australia, when the Constitution Amendment Act was passed on the 18 December 1894. South Australia was the first Australian state to achieve the vote for women.

Newly elected Lord Mayor Martin Haese welcomed the invited guests to the launch party, revealing that his godmother had been Dame Roma Mitchell (1913-2000), considered to be a pioneer in the Australian women’s rights movement.  She was South Australia’s first female judge and Australia’s first female Governor. Among the guests were members of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU), an organisation that played a considerable part in gaining suffrage in the early years.

Curated by Office for Women Policy Officer, Hannah Fairlamb the exhibition is located in the Southern Gallery on the first Floor of the Town Hall and is on until Wednesday 7 January 2015.

A rather ‘splann’ trip to ‘Little Cornwall’

Last week Amanda and I clocked up over 600 km during a two and half day trip visiting seven community museums on the Yorke Peninsula.  These included those in the Copper Triangle, sometimes referred to ‘Australia’s Little Cornwall’, where many Cornish tin miners migrated in the late 19th century.

Starting at Kadina, we attended the launch of the Farm Shed Museum’s new Sowing the Seed display which had been part funded by a History SA CMP grant.  The following morning we headed down to the museum at Edithburgh. It was good to hear that the anchor from the ill-fated Clan Ranald is back in town after restoration and will be put on display outside the museum in January.  We also saw the new mural on the side of the building and their open air display of agricultural equipment.

Then it was on to Bublacowie via Yorketown to see Chris Soar’s military museum set in the grounds of the original 1912 school which is also Chris’s home.  This private collection of wartime memorabilia and local history is full of surprises, including some items from the Loveday Internment Camp.  We were fortunate that the grader had just been through so the unmade road was relatively smooth apart from having to avoid the stumpy tailed lizards that were out for a stroll!

In Stansbury we met with members of the museum committee to discuss their future plans. Stansbury is part of our Community Museums Program and it was good to see the progress of their new displays, funded by a CMP grant which included an interesting Hot water incubator and Honey extractor.

Tuesday saw us at Port Victoria Maritime Museum, also in our Community Museums Program and I wondered if it was one of the smallest maritime museums in the world; it is certainly one of the most windswept!  Housed in a corrugated iron building near the jetty, this was originally a flat pack storage shed brought out from England in the 1880s. Inside it is brimming with shipwreck stories and maritime history as well as an interesting ‘First Encounters display’ about the area’s first indigenous people with some great interactives.

Another old school building is Maitland museum and here we had morning tea in what we discovered was the classroom that former Prime Minister Bob Hawke spent three years as a small boy in the 1930s. We also saw a wonderful recent find, discovered at a garage sale – a sewing machine made expressly for one of Maitland’s well known stores.  Our final stop was Moonta museum, based in one of the first eight Model schools built in South Australia when compulsory education was introduced in 1878. In the process of working on a number of First World War projects, I became much excited by the discovery of many WWI fundraising badges as well as the story of 13-year-old Ross Perry and his 23 pairs of socks.

During the trip I kept the Twitterverse informed and entertained with news of our journey which resulted in not only making contact with Rhiannon from the Yorke Peninsula Times but also those further afield in ‘real’ Cornwall.

The trip was definitely splann* – as they say in Cornish!

* great or brilliant!

For more photos from the trip see here: Kadina Farm Shed MuseumEdithburgh MuseumBooblacowie Military MuseumStansbury MuseumPort Victoria Maritime MuseumMaitland MuseumMoonta Mines Model School Museum 

Name change for Highercombe Hotel Museum

Old Highercombe Hotel Museum is to change its name to Tea Tree Gully Heritage Museum.  This is to better reflect the wide range of exhibits, including five pavilions and a blacksmith shop in the museum grounds.  The new name was officially announced at the museum’s Vintage Fair, held last Sunday, 19 October, to celebrate the 160th anniversary of the original opening of the Highercombe Hotel building.

The committee of volunteers that runs this National Trust of South Australia-owned building and one of History SA’s 10 accredited museums in the Community Museums Program, recognises that the museum is now much more than the original building which served as a hotel for only 24 of its 160 years. It was also felt that the replacing of Highercombe will also lessen confusion over its location.

As well as a new name announcement and the celebratory atmosphere that the Vintage Fair brought to the occasion, Sunday also saw the launching of a new display Hoe to Harvest, on local agriculture and the new operational Blacksmith shop, both of which has been part funded by a Community Museums Program grant.

The new agriculture display was designed by Richard Browning of Synthetic Creative Services and includes some innovative interactives, designed specifically for children and built by the volunteers.  Richard is also currently designing a new logo for the museum.

More photos from all the fun of the Vintage Fair can be seen here

 

Lady Soldiers reclaiming their place in history

Chance meetings can sometimes take you down some interesting roads.  Early one morning this week, I was at the Torrens Parade Ground waving off 40 very excited former women soldiers with their family and friends as they headed down the Anzac Highway in a convoy of six historic vehicles from the National Military Vehicle Museum.  Both women and vehicles were of similar vintage but all seemed in fine form and good working order!  They were on their way to the book launch of West Australian Lyn Dale’s Lady Soldiers at the Army Museum at Keswick Barracks.  Back in May at a History Festival event, I had met Helen Meyer who was organising the launch and from this accidental encounter the convoy idea had grown.

The convoy was just the beginning of a special day of camaraderie and women’s history.  First up we stopped a while in a courtyard of some buildings within the barracks.  A moving service by Repat General Hospital chaplain Nora Kunzel was conducted beside a plaque commemorating where Lt Col May Douglas OBE had planted a tree in 1971 at the building’s official opening.  Up till now both the plaque and May Douglas had been largely forgotten and was not part of the Army Museum’s Heritage tour where other plaques – commemorating men – featured.  But it’s good to see that the Army Museum have now researched and collected a dossier of information about her.

Mary – known as May – Douglas (1904-1999) was born in Victor Harbor and during the Second World War was one of the first officers selected to join the newly formed Australian Women‘s Army Service (AWAS) and served as Commandant in South Australia for some months before going to Melbourne as chief instructor of the Army Women’s Officers’ school.  She was later Controller of the Australian Army Medical Women’s Service (AAMWS).  She also played an important part in the Girl Guide movement in South Australia from the 1920s, becoming State Commissioner of the SA Girl Guides in 1952. During the 1960s she was made an Honorary Colonel of the Women’s Royal Australian Army Corps (WRAAC).  Australia’s first woman War Artist, South Australian Norah Heysen, painted her portrait which is now at the Australian War Memorial.

The alluring smell of home baking met us as we entered the hall ready for the book launch. On further investigation I discovered Trudy and her team doing a sterling job producing batches of scones for the hungry hoards from the mobile military field kitchen outside.

Lyn Dale’s book Lady Soldiers which tells the experiences of 51 women who served in the Australian Army (WRAAC and/or RAANC) from the 1950s to the 1990s was launched by Lyn’s former colleague at Murdoch University, Dr Amanda Third, now Senior Lecturer in Cultural and Social Analysis at the University of Western Sydney.  We learnt that the book had developed from Lyn’s previous project, a documentary film about 16 of the women.  Lyn responded with a moving speech followed by book signing and time for chat.  Many women had travelled long distances for the reunion.  Four West Australians had even driven across the Nullarbor Plain to be there and by the morning’s end had raised over $400 for the National Military Vehicle Museum’s building fund as a thank you to the drivers of the convoy.

As I left the building there was just one more experience to make my day.  Here I was fortunate to meet Ruby, who is making South Australian history as well as doing a very worthwhile job.  One of only four in the state, she is part of the Dogs4Diggers team, accredited assistance dogs that are provided to Australian Defence Forces with Post Traumatic Distress Disorder, by RSL SA and the Royal Society for the Blind.  Better still, I am told it was originally a South Australian initiative.

Photos of the event can be seen here

The Channel Nine Adelaide news story can be viewed here

You can contact Lyn to purchase copies of the Lady Soldiers book or DVD

Full on Day Out at Loxton Village

You would think I would see enough museums in the course of my normal work, but I couldn’t resist the draw of the Loxton Village Kids’ Day Out on 8 October during the school holidays and the chance to see the newly installed signs that are helping to interpret key buildings in the Village streetscape. So, with son and parents in tow I headed off for what was a fun packed few hours of activities.

There was kite making (the main street of the Village is great for running along with kites!), butter and damper making, rides on the historic carousel, the steam engine to pretend to drive, tricycles to ride on as a special way to get around the Village, and of course the many different buildings and displays to explore.  Heaps of damper was made and there were squeals of excitement when the little round loaves were taken from the camp ovens to the Institute Building where they could be broken open, spread with the butter (that visitors were making) and devoured.

The event was great – plenty to do, loads of fantastic volunteers working hard to make the day run smoothly and heaps of happy children (and parents) having a terrific family day out.  The Village Loxton runs events like the Kids’ Day Out two or three times a year – get along if you get a chance, with or without children in tow!

Collections MOSAiC training workshops

Nine enthusiastic participants attended the Collections MOSAiC training workshops in the Memorial Hall, Torrens Parade Ground, held over three days from 30 September to 2 October.  MOSAiC, the Collections management and archiving software for museums, arts and heritage organisations, is produced by the Perth-based family business ISTechnology and is a popular choice by many small museums and historical societies in South Australia.

Rew and Sally-Anne Whittington delivered the workshops with their usual laidback style and professional knowhow.  The workshops offered great opportunities for attendees to not only receive hands on training from the experts but to also network with other likeminded museum volunteers and historians.  History SA Community History Officers, Amanda James and Pauline Cockrill were also on hand to give assistance with more specific cataloguing and accessioning queries.

Workshop participants included museum consultants, salaried local council run museum employees and volunteers from a range of small museums and historical groups in not only Adelaide but also further afield in regional South Australia such as the mid north, Yorke and Eyre Peninsulas, and Kangaroo Island.

More photos from the workshop can be seen here 

Over the three days, the following were taught: basic data entry and querying; retrieval, reporting and exporting and also how to personalise and customise their program for their particular institution.  There was also a chance to learn about and see the new MOSAiC web application in action, which provides online access to a collection over the internet, either privately or by the general public. This is now available for one small annual cost.  You can download the benefits of MOSAiC web in the resources section to the right.

South Australian community museums and local history groups can take advantage of another Collections MOSAiC training course happening in this State in six months’ time.  Rew and Sally-Anne are intending to run three day workshops in the South East in April 2015.  This course will be held on Wednesday 8, Thursday 9 and Friday 10 April 2015 at the Millicent Library and Resource Centre, Ridge Terrace, Millicent.  Please email Sally-Anne as soon as possible if you are interested in attending or call her on 08 9537 2874

Bravest of the Brave braves the Outback

History SA/Veterans SA’s travelling exhibition Bravest of the Brave, which tells the moving stories of the eight South Australians awarded the Victoria Cross (VC) in the First World War, is on its way to Port Augusta and then on to the tiny town of Yunta, towards Broken Hill. To date these will be this popular display’s most far flung venues.

From Monday 25 August to Sunday 21 September, Bravest of the Brave can be seen at the Port Augusta RSL, 15-17 Fulham Road. As well as clubrooms, the RSL has a unique museum with an extensive range of military memorabilia from the 1860 Maori War to the present day Iraqi and Afghanistan conflicts. It also includes the first Leopard Tank delivered in South Australia which officially arrived on 6 December 2010. Contact Mario Caresimo, Port Augusta RSL, 0467 804 976 or email for more information.

Bravest of the Brave tells the story of eight ordinary men: Arthur Blackburn, Phillip Davey, Roy Inwood, Jørgen Jensen, John Leak, Arthur Sullivan, Lawrence Weathers and James Park Woods – who on one day of their lives, under extraordinary circumstances, demonstrated extraordinary heroism for their comrades and country. Some were born or educated in South Australia; some enlisted here, while others lived here either before or after the war.

The exhibition consists of seven double-sided pop up banners and four wooden crates which double up as plinths to display the framed citations and replica sets of medals, including the VCs belonging to the eight men.

The Victoria Cross is the British and Commonwealth’s armed forces’ most coveted award, their supreme decoration for gallantry, under enemy fire.  Only 1,356 medals have been awarded since its introduction in 1856.

Bravest of the Brave was first launched in April 2012 by the Hon Jack Snelling MP and has proved a popular travelling display, with a second version being replicated at the end of 2013 to cope with the demand. It has already been shown at 25 venues around South Australia, at various RSL club rooms, community museums, local libraries, schools and the Repat Hospital and is booked up for the rest of 2014 and almost all of 2015.

After Port Augusta, Bravest of the Brave will be travelling on to the tiny outback town of Yunta on the Barrier Highway towards Broken Hill where it will be on display from 23 September -27 October.

Images of the original exhibition launch and displayed at various venues can be seen here

For more information regarding borrowing the display please contact History SA on 08 8203 9888 or email

Creating a Spirit of Anzac Living Memorial

Conservation Volunteers Australia (CVA) would like to commemorate 100 years of the Anzac spirit (1914-18) by creating 100 Living Memorials across Australia through their Living Memorials program.

This program will support locally driven activities that engage the community in commemorative events across Australia. The program aims to recognise an individual local hero or community activity linked to the Centenary of Anzac.

Living Memorials will deliver 100 commemorative projects at 100 sites across Australia allowing communities to get involved and commemorate the centenary of Anzac.

Individuals and community groups are invited to nominate projects for consideration. These can be new or existing projects in the community requiring additional support.

Projects may include the restoration of existing Avenues of Honour, the creation of new living memorials such as community gardens or commemorative tree plantings or refurbishment of heritage buildings. Consideration will also be given to community memorials including Memorial Halls and War Memorials requiring support.

All nominated projects will be assessed with priority given to those projects working with the support of the Returned and Services League (RSL).

CVA will manage approved projects including seeking funding to support the project, attracting and training of volunteers and workplace health and safety.

Conservation Volunteers is Australasia’s leading practical conservation organisation and was founded in Ballarat, Victoria in 1982 by Yandoit farmer, Tim Cox, as a small group planting trees on weekends.  It now has offices across Australia and New Zealand, managing thousands of volunteers who help out on dozens of projects each year.

To nominate a project for the Living Memorials program go to the CVA website and complete a Project Nomination Form.  If you would like to sponsor a project please contact CVA’s partnerships team.

Escapades into Costume Care

What I love about my job is coming into contact with the various community collections around the state and uncovering interesting and often significant items in unlikely places. Costume collections and their care seem to have been an overriding theme recently.

During our visit to the South East back in June, we got to see the newly opened costume display at Millicent Living History Museum which features a selection of around 80 items from their newly acquired Helen Hughes costume collection, (formerly housed in Lobethal). These treasures included a 1913 outfit that had been made at John Martin’s department store in Adelaide in 1913 for Miss Daisy Bates, then the first woman Honorary Protector of Aborigines.  However, this was only the tip of the iceberg, for behind the scenes, one of the memorable items was a wonderful black beaded dress that was purported to have been worn at Federation in Melbourne in 1901.  More photos of the visit can be seen here 

On the same trip we visited Mount Gambier History Group which is based in a former school building.  We were not expecting to find costume as the majority of the collection is local archives and photographs although there are also a few related artefacts.  However when the group’s secretary, Lynn Lowe announced that that they had a pre-federation military uniform in their collection we just had to see it!  The black pants and scarlet woollen jacket were a little worse for wear but the gold braid and brass buttons were intact.  The raised SAR on the buttons indicated that the uniform might date from 1880/90s while the pants still had the Parker & Co of King William Street label on the inside waistband.  A quick search on Trove showed that Parker & Co were renowned tailors & outfitters at 66 King William Street next to the Imperial Hotel.  We showed Lynn how to pack the costume in a box using acid-free tissue for safe keeping until the group could access a correctly sized textile box. More photos of the visit can be seen here 

My final jaunt into all things textile was on a trip to the Barossa Museum at Tanunda a little later in June. Accompanying Kristin Phillips, Principal Textile Conservator at Artlab Australia, we were assisting the museum volunteers remove some fragile costumes from display mannequins.  Barossa Museum has some unique, late 19th/early 20thcentury black wedding dresses, typical of the German Lutheran tradition.  These I was keen to see but I was not prepared for the luscious, almost fluorescent pink bodice from the Edwardian era that was one of the other items that needed cleaning and rehousing.  More photos of the visit can be seen here 

Did I mention before that I love my job!

South Australian History Fund 2014 Grants

The South Australian History Fund (SAHF) is History SA’s annual grant fund supporting community groups to undertake small South Australian history projects. Funding up to $2,000 for projects, $3,000 for publications and $5,000 for research projects is available.

In previous years the SAHF has funded oral history, archiving, digitisation, conservation and interpretation projects, along with a range of publications and key research projects. Groups can also apply for funding up to $5000 to hold public events during the 2015 About Time South Australia’s History Festival.

Intending applicants are very welcome to contact Pauline and Amanda to discuss possible projects and to get advice on putting an application together. The 2014 SAHF grant round closes on 8 August 2014.

There are several help sheets available on the South Australian Community History website that are relevant to the types of projects frequently applied for, including display development, collection storage and interpretive signs.

Telling Our Stories Alexandrina History on Film

The Telling our Stories Alexandrina digital stories project was launched on 26 May.  The enthusiastic crowd of about 150 people settled in to the Strathalbyn Town Hall to view the inaugural screening of ten short films.  The films focus on different aspects of local history from the Alexandrina Council region, including stories about the River Murray, local businesses, industries and manufacturing, personal endeavours and the place of people, buildings and events in the life of communities. You can watch them here.

Each film features two of three community storytellers along with photographs, moving images, objects that help to draw out the history of the stories told. The project drew heavily on the people and collections of the Alexandrina Council region to capture historical stories. Following the film screening the audience took up the chance to discuss the making of the films with the project historians and filmmaker and stayed to enjoy a fabulous supper provided by the Richardson Hall Woodchester Committee, whose catering is so legendary a film was made featuring that too!

In undertaking Telling Our Stories, community historians Madeleine Regan and June Edwards and filmmaker Malcolm McKinnon have unearthed memories, images and objects to make connections between the intangible stories of individuals, and the tangible historical record. In the films, personal stories are mixed with photographs, moving image and images of objects, to place them in a historical context. Film subjects are varied and take in a range of locations in the Alexandrina Council area.

Later in 2014 the films will be available on a touchscreen unit that can tour around public venues.

Once Upon a Time travelling exhibition launched

Once Upon a Time: Stories of South Australian childhood is the latest travelling exhibition from History SA.  It offers a glimpse into the lives of children living in South Australia over successive generations, in both the happy and more challenging times. It is intended to motivate people to share their community’s own unique stories of what it was like growing up in their particular town or region.

Photographs were chosen from the collections of five South Australian community history groups: City of Holdfast Bay Local History Centre, Embroiderers’ Guild Museum of South Australia, Gawler National Trust Museum, Mallala Museum and the Mount Lofty Districts Historical Society, and incorporated with images from the South Australian Government Photographic Collection. The groups worked collaboratively with History SA’s Community History Officers and selected five themes to explore; showing the changes that have affected children from birth, at school, at leisure, in the community and their health care.

As well as text and images, throughout the display there are QR codes that when scanned using the appropriate mobile device will link the user with additional online images on our Flickr site.  There are also memory prompts within the text designed to assist the viewer to recall their own childhood and initiate conversation.

Accompanying the display is a digital photo frame which operates a slide show of over 100 more captioned images from the collections of the community groups involved.

This project has been designed for use as a temporary display within local museums, libraries and other community spaces as well as schools and aged-care facilities.  It can be borrowed from History SA free of charge for a minimum of four weeks at a time.  It can stand alone or be used as a starting point to create a more personalised display or event on the theme of childhood. For example:

  • Digitise a series of historic images reflecting childhood from within the community and create a continuous slide show in the second digital photo frame that accompanies the exhibition.  The search for images and the digitisation process can be turned into an engaging community event in itself.
  • Create a display of childhood memorabilia from your museum or history group’s collection to set up alongside the banners. Alternatively, put a call out within your community for relevant items for display.  This might be well-researched and formally curated with printed labels and secure cabinets, to be publicly displayed for the same length of time as the banners.
  • Create a more informal, very temporary display for an engaging morning or afternoon event. Ask people to bring along favourite items from their childhood, write their own labels and display on tables or makeshift plinths.  This kind of pop-up museum can help bring people together in conversation through the stories told by the childhood memorabilia.
  • Initiate other events relating to the childhood theme, such as playing old-fashioned games, or telling classic children’s stories.  This is a great opportunity for intergenerational activities; and to create either educational or memory boxes for use in a school or aged care facility.

The exhibition also comes with a book for visitors to record comments and their own childhood memories, and/or people can add these online below.

The exhibition was officially launched on Friday 23 May 2014.

Contact us to book or get more information

 

 

Costume Gets Airing for History Festival

History SA jumped into its own About Time History Festival events early this year with a popular workshop on 2 May.  The very cold and wet weather couldn’t keep 30 keen women away from the chance to learn and talk about costume and textiles.

After an overview of the Australian Dress Register (ADR), Mary-Anne Gooden, textile conservator from Artlab Australia, gave a presentation about Caring for Historic Costume, drawing on resource material from the ADR booklet and website. An interesting and enjoyable insight into the many different textiles from which clothing has been made and how best to preserve them for the long-term.  ‘Inherent vice’ (meaning the materials in a costume which contribute to its degradation over time) was the term of the day! Every participant got a copy of the ADR resource book to keep, courtesy of the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney, who initiated the ADR several years ago. 

Whether plaid or paisley, with batwing or bishop sleeves there was plenty to talk about.  Several people brought items along to show the group and get some advice about care and storage.  There were certainly some that would make great additions to the ADR, helping to create a fuller picture of Australian dress up to 1975.

Many thanks to the great team at Embroiderers’ Guild Museum who made the Guild’s studio available for the workshop and helped us with the workshop organisation.

More photos from the workshop can be seen here 

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