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.Continue reading “Hidden figures: Tom Midwood, caricatures and Tasmanian Railway Records”
In the time before postcards, soldiers who wanted to send a token to their loved ones at home had to get creative. Soldiers in the Boer War would tear off a piece of their uniform and send it with the message ‘torn from my coat I send to thee, this war worn piece of old khaki’.
Archivist Jennifer Jerome discovered this lovingly decorated scrap of cloth from an army uniform in a box of anonymous donations, and set about finding out its story.
Nothing said ‘I’m important’ in 19th century Van Diemen’s Land more than having your portrait done.
The convict artist Thomas Bock was Hobart’s most fashionable portrait painter in the 1840s. The Allport Library and Museum of Fine Arts has possibly the largest collection of Bock’s works, and it has just expanded to include an extensive range of portraits of the Lewis family, made between 1835 and 1854.
Tasmania has hosted many of the most important ships that have ventured to Antarctica. In December 1987 one of these ships, the Nella Dan, ended its journey when it ran aground at Buckles Bay, Macquarie Island.
Do you recognise these historic houses from your neighbourhood?
We have recently digitised a series of photographs of houses around Launceston. They were taken by Stephen Spurling III in the early twentieth century, but not all of them have been identified.
If you’ve been through the Allport gallery recently, you will have noticed the birds. They are familiar birds, with all of the endemic Tasmanian species represented – many visitors will recognise them from their own backyard. And they are lovely. But the thing that convinced us that it was worth getting these prints out for display is the controversy – whose hand created them?
We have added a new category to the Tasmanian Names Index!
Go to Record Type and select Bankruptcy to find the records of over 1600 people who declared either bankruptcy or insolvency between 1821 and 1928.
These include the files of two notable Tasmanians whose fortunes fell on hard times – Thomas Wells and Sylvanus Blundstone.
Morton Allport (1830-1878) was an avid naturalist. You may have seen his collection of bird’s eggs on display as part of our exhibition Bird Woman. The eggs are on loan from the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, where they form part of their natural history specimen collection.
So how did Morton’s collection of shells end up at the library? Continue reading “The many collections of Morton Allport”
Hospital records are like the holy grail of archives. Because medical histories are so personal, they are carefully controlled. In the busy world of a hospital, not every slip of paper could be kept, particularly before computers. By the time 19th and early 20th century records reached the archives, many volumes had gone missing or been destroyed, and only intriguing clues have survived.
Some of the surviving records from the General Hospital in Hobart are the hospital’s registers of deaths (HSD145, 1864-1884) and orders for coffins ‘required for pauper interments’ (HSD146, 1864-1876). These records have now been digitised and added to the Tasmanian Names Index, under the record type ‘deaths’.