At this year’s Family History Feast, Susan Long from the library’s Pictures collection, represented the library with her presentation Family photographic albums: the stories we choose to tell.

I thoroughly enjoyed Susan’s presentation. It was a fascinating talk that looked at the history of photography in Victoria, as well as the stories and historical importance that can be found in a family photographic album.

Courtesy of Andrew Joyce, Information Services Officer, Public Record Office Victoria

Family photographic albums capture intimate, personal and significant moments in time. Important family events are recorded, such as birthdays, weddings and sometimes deaths.

The placement of photographs is important.  It can tells its own story, connecting the photographs in the album together.

Sketchbook no. 4, containing watercolours, drawings, photographs and newspaper clippings, Creator: Charles Hammond. ca. 1890 – ca. 1910, Accession no: H90.72/4 (Page 4a)

They also capture moments in history, that might otherwise have been lost. Kathleen Gawler’s photographic album is a great example of this. Kathleen Gawler was an Australian nurse who served with the Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Nursing Service during World War 1. The photographs she took record moments of World War 1 never before seen.  These images are useful, not just to the families of the subjects snapped, but to anyone interested in that period of history.

Eybekish [?] fire of the 31/7/15,  Creator: Kathleen Gawler, Image: H2011.37/85

My great grandfather fought in World War 1, and it’s fascinating to see Kathleen Gawler’s photographs and think of what life would of been like for him. Who knows, maybe someday, my own happy snaps will be important historical records, recording otherwise lost moments in history.

Keep a look out for the podcast of this talk, available soon on the State Library’s website.

For information on how to search for photographic collections at the library, please see our online Picture research guide.

This article has 3 comments

  1. I thoroughly enjoyed learning this blog. It was a amazing talk about the history of family photography in Victoria, Apart from which, I also gained knowledge about stories and historical importance that can be found in a family photographic album.

  2. It’s fantastic to see history captured like this, which otherwise might have been lost. Wonderful collection!

  3. Hope the pandemic will be over soon so we can go back to the library 🙂

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