Colonial Cunning Folk, part one: William Allison

A nondescript little notebook, hidden in plain sight in the state archives, has opened a window onto two extraordinary lives and yielded some startling insights into the popular beliefs and practice of traditional medicine in colonial Tasmania. William Allison (ca.1789-1856) and Benjamin Nokes (ca.1780?-1843) were ‘cunning men’, skilled in the use of herbal remedies, lacking formal qualifications but widely respected, operating somewhere on the spectrum between magic and science.

This post is about William Allison’s notebook, and what it reveals about his life and career. Our next post will explore the life of his co-practitioner Benjamin Nokes. Continue reading “Colonial Cunning Folk, part one: William Allison”

Cricket and patriotism: Hobart Town and Oyster Cove

Hobart Town

In the late summer of 1862, Hobart Town residents awaited the arrival of the first ever All England Eleven to play against a Tasmanian Twenty-two team.

The game was played over three days at the cricket ground on the Domain, near Government House, on Friday, 21st, Saturday, 22nd, and Monday, 24th February.

The English visitors proved to be so popular that an additional game was played on Tuesday, 25th February.

All England cricketers. S. S. Great Britain, 1861

On the eve of the first day of play, crowds welcomed the visitors with an enthusiasm bordering on hero worship. After a rousing reception held at the Horse and Jockey Inn at New Town, coaches for the two teams started towards the city.
Continue reading “Cricket and patriotism: Hobart Town and Oyster Cove”

Life at The Steppes

A stop at The Steppes was once essential for every traveller in Tasmania’s Central Highlands. On our list of recently digitised materials is a sketchbook of birds and plants  by Marjorie (Madge) Wilson, who was the last resident of the house at The Steppes.

Starting as just a small cabin in the bush, the Wilson family transformed their home into a way-station for travelers and a hub for the highlands community.

Continue reading “Life at The Steppes”

An Antarctic homage: 30 years since the sinking of Nella Dan

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.

Continue reading “An Antarctic homage: 30 years since the sinking of Nella Dan”

Digital collections – our most fragile and at risk Tasmanian heritage?

When you hear the words ‘heritage’ and ‘archive’ what is the first thing that comes to mind? …. paper? books? photographs? buildings? physical objects? … What about ‘digital heritage’ that is created via websites, word documents, emails, texts, and on social media?

Without regular intervention, in only a few years digital information can be completely lost, inaccessible, or corrupted. Each day Tasmanians are using computers, laptops, phones, and tablets to create millions of records of our state, our community, and our lives. How do we ensure that these will be available in the future? Continue reading “Digital collections – our most fragile and at risk Tasmanian heritage?”

The Theatre Royal – Australia’s oldest continually operating live theatre

Where theatrical performances were enjoyed by the light of sperm whale oil lamps and theatre goers could enjoy a tipple in the tavern underneath. Through name changes, alterations, additions and a fire, Hobart’s Theatre Royal has survived the ravages of time.

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House hunting in Launceston

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.

Continue reading “House hunting in Launceston”

Bird Woman: Elizabeth Gould and the Birds of Australia

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?

Continue reading “Bird Woman: Elizabeth Gould and the Birds of Australia”

Bad money in wool and boots: Bankruptcy records in the Tasmanian Names Index

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.

Continue reading “Bad money in wool and boots: Bankruptcy records in the Tasmanian Names Index”

The many collections of Morton Allport

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”