Duck trousers, straw bonnets, and bluey: the history of Tasmanian textiles and clothing is filled with colourful and unique garments, characters, and stories. Stories like that of Joseph Bidencope, a skilful tailor and milliner from Poland, whose popular hats made in Battery Point were exhibited to great success at the Philadelphia International Exhibition in 1876. Or the many stories of the female convicts housed in the factories at Cascades and Ross – some of whom were imprisoned for stealing aprons, bonnets, and jackets – who made, embroidered, and laundered clothing.
These stories- and many more- are at the heart of a new free exhibition Duck Trousers, straw bonnets, and Bluey: Stories of Fabrics and Clothing in Tasmania currently on display in the State Library of Tasmania and Tasmanian Archives Reading Room in Hobart. The exhibition has original records and heritage books from the Tasmanian Archive and State Library collection on display, along with information and images in our new exhibition space.
Continue reading “Introducing our new exhibition: Duck Trousers, Straw Bonnets, and Bluey: Stories of Fabrics and Clothing in Tasmania”
Kunanyi/ Mount Wellington is an integral part of the Hobart landscape. For the Muwinina people it is a place of cultural and spiritual significance, and a place of creation. Since the European settlement of Lutruwita/ Tasmania, the mountain has commonly appeared in visual and written descriptions of Hobart, providing a sweeping backdrop that frames the small town nestled along the river below. However, Kunanyi/ Mount Wellington is more than simply an iconic background; it has long been a source of resources for the town itself, including ice, timber and mining, amongst other things. Moreover, the mountain has long been regarded as a place of recreation and leisure, with picnics at the Springs and walks to its many waterfalls amongst its most popular activities. In 1935, Jack Thwaites (1902-1986) – a renowned Tasmanian photographer and conservationist- provided a wonderful description of Kunanyi/ Mount Wellington watching over Hobart, and alludes to the many ways in which the mountain draws people in…
Continue reading “The Art of Mapping Kunanyi/ Mount Wellington”
A single item, sitting on a library shelf, can be the thread of a story that weaves through locations and generations. This one is a ‘musical score’ – the sheets of music notes used for a performance – owned by a notable (but little known) Tasmanian woman.
Continue reading “The Lady Conductor and the Score of ‘The Toreador’”
In the 1930s and 40s cricket bats were a precious thing. Around the world, bats were in short supply, largely due to an increase in demand for English willow (Salix alba var. caerulea) for use in a range of items both during and after the Second World War. As was noted in correspondence between J. M. Crockett and The Commissioner of the Australian Council of Agriculture in July 1940:
every available tree of this type has been taken over in Gt Britain for War Purposes, the chief item being aircraft construction, the timber being the best substitute for spruce, which is all tied up now in countries occupied by the enemy … The other uses for this willow is artificial limbs for which no other timber is suitable, and recently has [been found to have] the quickest, and most powerful detonation as a component in high explosive fuses for shells … So you can see that none of the tree is not of high commercial value.
As a cricket bat manufacturer, J. M. Crockett (Jim) had obvious motives in writing to the Commissioner and highlighting both the current global willow shortages and the value of willow timber more broadly; he wanted to propose the planting of willow trees as a viable and profitable agricultural activity in Australia. As Jim Crockett continues in his letter, ‘in normal times Australia’s requirements alone is 100,000 cricket bats annually, for which 4,500 mature trees would be required to produce the same.’ Kashmiri willow, which today is a major source of cricket bat willow, had not yet been fully developed as an industry outside of India, and so the bat-making industry was having to look further afield to other sources of willow. Australia, and most particularly the cooler and wetter climate of Tasmania, was certainly a strong option worth exploring. Over the next few years Jim Crockett made several visits to Tasmania, noting the ‘climatic conditions ideal’ for willow bat propagation. Indeed, he went so far as to state that ‘not only could Tasmania make Australia self-sufficient, but an export trade to the empire’s cricketing Dominions was extremely likely.’
Continue reading “Isn’t it good, Taswegian Wood: Experiments in Growing Cricket Bat Willow Trees and a Wooden Cricket Pitch”
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:
Continue reading “Recently Digitised Material: January-June 2021”
- 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
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”
In the 1930’s, in the aftermath of the Great Depression, Tasmanian educators came up with a bold new vision to transform rural schools. They wanted to teach the latest in agricultural science, to instil a lifelong love of learning, and to help Tasmanian rural children develop into informed citizens of a modern democracy. They ended up creating a model that was admired around Australia and the world: the Tasmanian Area School.
Continue reading “Tasmania’s Area Schools”
Firstly, a confession. I have struggled to write this blog, to gather references and to find a quiet space to write an intelligent, interesting, engaging and informative piece on the history of early childhood education in Tasmania. My first effort was informative, but it seemed to lack something, and I wasn’t happy with it.
Then, one day, I had an epiphany while walking after work. I feel an immense pride in the public education system in Tasmania. I send both my boys to public schools on the Eastern Shore in Southern Tasmania. My father was a well-loved, enthusiastic and dedicated Physics and Maths teacher in both public and private schools in Northern Tasmania. I still recall him enthusiastically telling me, “Tasmania has the best public education system in Australia.” When I studied at University, I was constantly meeting his past students whose choices were in some way inspired by his teaching methods.
This is how education began in Tasmania – with inspired, talented people dedicated to improving the lives of Tasmanian children.
While researching this blog, I discovered one such person, Joseph Benson Mather, who was determined to provide an education to Tasmania’s poorest children. I and my colleagues went on to find dozens of stories of devoted parents, dedicated teachers, and generous communities who believed that young Tasmanian children deserved high quality early childhood education. Together, they laid the groundwork for early childhood education in Tasmania today, where amazing teachers encourage little children to learn through play, to be curious, and to love school.
Continue reading “A History of Play: Early Childhood Education in Tasmania”
We can only imagine what it must have been like to be the first teacher in Tasmania. Jane Noel was a Sydney schoolmistress who began a private school in a hut in a lane off the lower end of Collins Street in Hobart Town in 1806. What follows is a brief look at the lives of three of Jane’s successors between 1868 and 1945. It is also a research journey, investigating the sometimes dark nooks and crannies of the collections of the Tasmanian State Library and Archives. What you think you will find on these journeys is sometimes very different than what you begin looking for, but it is always illuminating.
Continue reading “Teaching in Tasmania: three teachers’ lives, 1868-1945”
Schools with no toilets and no sinks to wash your hands. Sick children labelled as “mentally deficient” because of their swollen adenoids and tonsils. Adolescents with a full set of dentures, little children cleaning their teeth with the corner of a sooty towel. A generation of teenagers with curved spines and poor eyesight from bending over their school desks in poorly lit and freezing cold classrooms. This was the picture of public health in Tasmanian schools in 1906. Over the next 75 years, schools found themselves on the front lines of the battle against contagious disease, poor nutrition and poor health. Over time, Tasmanian public schools became a crucial part of the Tasmanian public health system, and transformed the lives of thousands of Tasmanian children. Read on to find out more about this fascinating story.
Continue reading “From “Dangerously Foul Air” to Free School Milk: A Brief History of Public Health in Tasmanian Public Schools, 1900-1975”