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Hidden figures: Tom Midwood, caricatures and Tasmanian Railway Records

Sometime in the 1990s it came to the attention of the National Archives (then responsible for Tasmanian railway records) that a large collection of railway plans was languishing in haphazard storage at the Inveresk Railyards in Launceston. Archivists were dispatched to investigate and encountered a chaotic situation. Records had been stored anywhere and everywhere, including stuck up a disused chimney! Many had been badly affected by the 1929 floods and by the incursion of soot from coal-fired steam engines. However, the collection was one of marvellous significance, documenting Tasmania’s railway infrastructure. The archivists made a case for the preservation of this collection and secured funding to perform the mammoth task of cleaning, organising and properly storing the recovered hoard. In the process they found something quite unexpected.

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Featured

150 Years of Tasmanian Railways

From staggering feats of engineering and the enabling of complex mining operations, to employment for men and women and family social outings, for 150 years railways have played an important role in the economic and social history of Tasmania.  The story of the Tasmanian Railways is one of great successes, but also of hardships, economic failures, and disasters. It is a colourful and dynamic history.

In this series of blogs, we highlight a couple of colourful figures and incidents in the history of Tasmanian railways to highlight the human and social side of the railways. Railways provided livelihoods for a range of different people, not just those who were employed as drivers or engineers, but for the community at large. We will focus on the social life that popped up around the railways, the hubs of activities and social life that developed in Tasmania around or directly because of the railway. 

In concert with these blogs we are celebrating the occasion with an exhibition of railway records and memorabilia in our State Library Reading Room, which will then travel to libraries around the state.

We have also released a new and expansive Tasmanian Railway Guide to our railway records, which should greatly assist researchers who want to delve into those intricate technical drawings, expansive line plans and registers of rolling stock.

Recently Digitised Material: January-June 2021

This blog features some of the recently digitised items from the Tasmanian Archives and the State Library of Tasmania. Each year, we place items online to help promote and preserve our rare and special collections. These images and films are just a tiny sample of an amazing treasure trove of Tasmania’s heritage. From colonial artwork to convict records, fragile glass plate negatives to rare films, private letters to government records, our collections (including the Allport Library and Museum of Fine Arts and the W L Crowther Collection) tell millions of stories from Tasmania and around the world.

Read on to find out more about our new additions to our digital collections! To discover even more, you can also search our catalogue or visit us on Flickr, YouTube and Instagram.

In this blog:

  • Photographs related to the history of Tasmanian trams, buses, equipment and staff – Ref: AG184/1/1 to 33
  • Glass plate negatives of Hobart and Surrounds by William James Little (c1870 – 1920s) – Ref: NS526/1/1 to 49
  • Photographs collected by the Cox Family (c1850-1929) – Ref: NS6904/1/1 to 87
  • Photographs of Launceston sent to Overseas Pen-Friends – Ref: NS5622/1/1 to 15
  • Photographs of Hobart and surrounds taken by James Chandler (c1920s) – Ref: NS1231/2/1 to 22
  • Small collection of glass plate negatives from the Black family (c1930s) – Ref: NS5583/1/1 to 13
  • Album of Thomas Midwood – Ref: NS6759/1/1
  • Port Arthur Circuit – Baptism Register  (1828-43) – Ref: NS499/1/531
  • Port Arthur Circuit – Burial Register (1832-43) – Ref: NS499/1/532
  • Wills from AD960/1/1, AD960/1/2, AD960/1/3 and AD960/1/4
  • Travel Diary by Ernest Bailey – Ref: NS5845/1/1
Continue reading “Recently Digitised Material: January-June 2021”

Banks’ Florilegium Society Islands 1769

Allport Library and Museum of Fine Arts exhibition – closes 31 July 2021.

Leisha Owen – Curator

Banks’ Florilegium – Society Islands, 1769 comprises framed botanical prints individually colour-printed in the 1980s, from the 18th century copperplate engravings of Sydney Parkinson’s drawings. Parkinson was the artist who drew the fresh plants collected in the Society Islands by Joseph Banks and Daniel Solander, as part of Captain James Cook’s first voyage round the world.

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The Railway Rate, a Riot, and the Railway Hotel at Longford

On the 1st March 1874,  a large and rowdy mob marched through the streets of Longford, Northern Tasmania, making a great racket by shouting and banging on instruments made of ‘kerosene tins and marrow-bones.’  The mob stopped in front of the Prince of Wales Hotel, yelling at the landlord Mr Bryant and threatening to smash his windows with stones. The mob was angry because bailiffs were staying at the hotel, and they did not believe that these bailiffs deserved such comforts.  Mr Bryant eventually managed to subdue them, but the mob instead turned their attention to the nearby windows of the sub-collector of the railway rate, William Mason, where they ‘fired a salute at the back windows … and demolished about a dozen squares of glass.’  Still unsatisfied, the mob moved next door to Dr Appleyard’s house, and launched missiles ‘as large as hen’s eggs’ smashing windows and some woodwork. The angry mob then disappeared, it is reported, ‘as if by magic’. 

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Back to the office with a Victorian letter copying press

Earlier this year the State Library became the grateful recipient of a donated copying press. Initially described to us as a book press, our research uncovered its true magnificence as an invention with origins harking back to the Industrial Revolution.

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Recently Digitised Material: October-December 2020

WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are advised that this post contains images and voices of deceased persons.

This blog features some of the recently digitised items from the Tasmanian Archives and the State Library of Tasmania. Each year, we place items online to help promote and preserve our rare and special collections. These images and films are just a tiny sample of an amazing treasure trove of Tasmania’s heritage. From colonial artwork to convict records, fragile glass plate negatives to rare films, private letters to government records, our collections (including the Allport Library and Museum of Fine Arts and the W L Crowther Collection) tell millions of stories from Tasmania and around the world.

Read on to find out more about our new additions to our digital collections! To discover even more, you can also search our catalogue or visit us on Flickr and YouTube.

In this blog:

  • Peter Laurie Reid Carte-De-Visite Collection, c1860 – Ref: NS1442/1/1 to 53
  • Australasian Antarctic Expedition, 1911-1914 – Ref: NS6607/1/1 to 14
  • Stereoscopic Photographs of Emu Bay Burnie, c1890 – Ref: NS6664/1/1 to 5
  • Stereoscopic photographs taken by George Benjamin Davies for submission to the Postal Stereoscopic Society of Australia, c1921 – Ref: NS6538/1/1 to 33
  • Tasmanian Government Tourist Bureau photographs – AA375
  • Photograph of Fanny Cochrane Smith and Horace Watson recording Tasmanian Aboriginal Songs: NS1553/1/1798
  • Illustrated Travelogue July 1919 – Ref: NS6853
  • Fountain in Governor’s garden, Port Arthur – Allport Library and Museum of Fine Arts
  • Drawing of George Meredith, Senior – Ref: LMSS12/1/72
  • Photographs from the Trustees of the Tasmanian Public Library – Ref: SLT23
  • Wills Image Replacement Project: AD960/1/1
  • Diary of Police Duties kept by Charles H. Brown, District Constable, Coal Mines, Tasman Peninsula 1853 – Ref: CON129/1/1
  • Index to General Correspondence, 1836-7 – Ref: CSO4

Continue reading “Recently Digitised Material: October-December 2020”

Recently Digitised Material

This blog features some of the recently digitised items from the Tasmanian Archives and the State Library of Tasmania. Each year, we place items online to help promote and preserve our rare and special collections. These images and films are just a tiny sample of an amazing treasure trove of Tasmania’s heritage. From colonial artwork to convict records, from fragile glass plate negatives to rare films, from private letters to government records, our collections (including the Allport Library and Museum of Fine Arts and the W L Crowther Collection) tell literally millions of stories from Tasmania and around the world.

Read on to find out more about our new additions to our digital collections! To discover even more, you can also search our catalogue or visit us on Flickr and YouTube.

In this blog:

  • Glass Plate Negatives of Sea Captains, c1920 – Ref: NS6192
  • Stereoscopic Views of the ‘Franklin Relics,’ 1860 – Ref: NS1155
  • Mt Biscoff Tin Mine Photographs – Ref: NS6719
  • Gentleman Jim, 1942 – Reference: Ref: NS4264/1/5
  • Hobart High School Photos – Ref: AG162/1/6
  • Charles Street School Register 1902-08 – Ref: AB753/1/1
  • Return of Convicts Embarked for Port Arthur by the Ships Tamar, Isabella, Shamrock, and Lady Franklin (1834-1855). Ref: CON126/1/1
  • Return of Money Forfeited by Prisoners at Port Arthur (1864). Ref: CON132/1/1
  • Letter from the Colonial Secretary to the Commandant, Port Arthur (1834). Ref: CON86/1/2
  • Film: Timber Makes News, 1947 – Ref: AC672/1/219
  • Film: Les Skelly talking about Tiger Hill, 1986-9 – Ref: NS1391/1/1
  • Film: Burnie Mill, 1956 – Ref: AC672/1/1

Continue reading “Recently Digitised Material”

Esther’s Story, Part Three: The Cascades Female Factory and Brickfields Invalid Depot, 1870-1877

In 1870, a horrific assault took place at the Cascades Female Factory. At eight o’clock in the morning on the 13th of July, a woman named Eliza Osborne beat an elderly woman named Ellen Conway with the iron dinner bell. She hit her in the head so hard that the bell cracked. Ellen Conway was a 73 year old ex-convict who had been sent to the depot for begging. One of the people who rushed to her side to help her was the nurse, Mrs Cecilia Eliza Paul. A few kilometers away (about 25 minutes’ walk), the nurse’s daughter ten year old Esther Mary Paul was also a witness – to her uncle George’s marriage at the family home at Cross Street, Sandy Bay.

This week in Esther’s story, we break away from the whaling logbook where we first found her as a five year old girl. Now we’ll trace her and her parents through two institutions which housed the most vulnerable people in Hobart in the 1870s – the Brickfields Invalid Depot and the Cascades Establishment. To piece that story together, we have to jump forward and backward in time a little bit, but I promise it is worth the journey!

Continue reading “Esther’s Story, Part Three: The Cascades Female Factory and Brickfields Invalid Depot, 1870-1877”

Esther’s Story, Part Two: Getting By in Hobart, 1860-1870

“Cross Street, Sandy Bay Road,” “Be a good girl, Esther,” “Esther shall not go out again,” “Bombay is in Asia, ABC,” “Evil communication corrupts,” “Love your grandmother Esther” – each of these were written over and over again in a whaler’s logbook, and signed “Esther Mary Paul” in November or December, 1865. What was little Esther doing writing these lines, in -between and alongside the records of her uncle and aunt’s adventures at sea long before she was born? Was she being educated or punished, or both? Where was she living and why was she there? In this continuing story of little Esther Mary Paul and the whaling logbook in the Crowther Collection, we’ll try to piece together Esther’s young life. It’s a tale of sorrow, struggle, and abandonment, but also of strength, resilience, and love.

Continue reading “Esther’s Story, Part Two: Getting By in Hobart, 1860-1870”