Sketches from the Infirmary

Between the covers of this album are nineteen drawings completed between March and September 1917on HMHS Takada and at the Victoria War Hospital (VWH), Bombay (Mumbai) during the First World War (WWI). The Victoria War Hospital was established in the Taj Mahal Hotel and staffed by Australian nurses including Violet Hazel Lowrey (1889–1964) of Stroud. […]

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Roll, Crush, Whack

Close up of pale wooden rolling pin with long thin handles

In a kitchen on the NSW South Coast, probably in the early twentieth century, a woman used this rolling pin almost daily for making her family’s meals. Before pastry, scones, and biscuits could be bought ready-made in supermarkets, the kneading and flattening of dough with a rolling pin was an everyday ritual in most kitchens. […]

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Casting a Wider Net

Green and gold pennant with a fuzzy beige trim which reads: "SWANSEA-BELMONT S.L.S.C Annual Surf Carnival 1961 Jun. Boat Race, 1st Caves Beach."

The changing face of surf life saving is, in no small part, due to the ever-evolving inclusion of juniors. This pennant was won by the junior boat crew of Caves Beach Surf Life Saving Club (SLSC) at a 1961 surf life saving carnival. This competition was held by their ‘sister club,’ Swansea-Belmont SLSC, with both […]

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The Volatile Helper

Gone were the days of sweating by the wood fire stove in summer while waiting for a flat iron to heat. In the 1930s, this Coleman Self Heating Iron Model No 4A, with ‘Cool Blue’ enamel was the state-of-the-art ironing aid that every home needed. Heated with a gasoline fuel burner, which lit instantly and […]

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Mental and Moral Improvement

With today’s digital library resources, it’s easy to forget how libraries once relied entirely on paper catalogues. In Maitland, sometime after 1860, the librarian of the West Maitland School of Arts library (which boasted 417 volumes) cut a length of adhesive tape and stuck it along the spine of this copy of the institution’s catalogue […]

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A Sisterhood of Song

Assortes yellowed pages with handwritten cursive and postcards with illustrations of flowers.

These scrapbooks were compiled by the Babaneek Ladies’ Choir (1950-1982) and are a reminder of their community work between 1950-1973 and 1979-1981. They trace the choir’s long performance history throughout the Lake Macquarie and Hunter Valley regions. The Babaneek Ladies’ Choir was motivated by the charitable intention of bringing joy and comfort through song, this […]

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Pretty But Practical

This day dress and petticoat were owned and worn by Mrs Ann Chellew nee Milburn (1872-1948) when a young woman around the turn of the twentieth century. Ann was the daughter of Janet Miller and James Milburn, who migrated to Australia from Scotland and England.  Arriving with her family (in 1852) Janet was a baby, […]

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Fancy Pants

When packing to travel to the other side of the world, what does an Edwardian woman put in her trunk? Knickers, of course. This machine-made pair, with their fancy cutwork embroidery and handmade torchon lace seem to have a very full front. Were they made to be worn by a pregnant woman? Was that why […]

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Something Blue

In the 1930s Gwen Wiley of Berry patiently cut out the silk fabric, sewed the seams and chain-stitched and embroidered these handkerchief sachets. And it may not have been an accident that she made them in blue. Gwendoline ‘Gwen’ Wiley (1914-1991) was the third daughter of John and Pearl Wiley. She gained her intermediate certificate […]

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Scratch, Scratch, Squeak

Close up of a black writing slate which has a wooden frame with curved corners. The frame is inscribed in handwriting saying "RUBY"

Imagine the scratchy, squeaky sound this slate pencil made against this slate when five-year-old Alice Conway began practicing her writing on it in 1894 in Berry. Amplify that sound, according to the number of children in her school, all writing at different paces and rhythms, and we hear the uncomfortable noise of a typical nineteenth […]

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