Thursday, 9 August 2012

First week at work

'Aussie' magazine from WW1 - the items I am working with.
In the store room with the magazines
View from my desk looking out to the Royal Exhibition Building and Melbourne

My main outcomes for the project are to update Emu database records for the ‘Aussie’ magazines, focussing on Object Summary, Description, Inscription, Subjects and Associations. I will also complete Drafted narratives for Emu on the magazine and the editor Phillip Harris. I will conduct research into the First World War around the Changing attitudes to authority after the war; changing mood after the war; Depictions or acknowledgement of injury –facial and other and Indigenous people and other representations of diversity. I will also participate in project team meetings, attend departmental meetings and liaise with curators. At the end of my time here I will present a report and also give a talk to my department about my findings.


The magazines I am working with are called ‘Aussie’, (1918- circa 1929) they are commercial magazines of opinion, review and entertainment. They were edited by Phillip Harris and published in France from 1918 – 1919 on a small printing press that Harris brought with him to France. The magazine celebrated a distinctive ‘Aussie’ identity, through their language, their humour and their assertion of what it meant to be an Australian. It allowed news to be distributed, gave the soldiers an outlet to express any dissent or dissatisfaction, thus preventing any greater form of rebellion and promoted Australian authors like Banjo Paterson, C.J. Dennis and Bernard O'Dowd. After the war, Phillip Harris produced a monthly in Sydney and renamed it: ‘Aussie: the Cheerful Monthly’ from 1920. It built a sizeable circulation and for more than a decade it published the major Australian writers and cartoonists of the day. It set out to sustain the digger culture and defending the rights of the veterans, while also embracing the re-adjustment of returned soldiers into civilian life.

When I arrived on my first day, I was met by the Senior Curator in Politics and Society –Charlotte smith, who introduced me to the entire department and then took me on a tour of the museum and its collections. While Charlotte took me round she explained how the museum worked and its different departments. I then went into the store rooms and was given object handling training with the magazines. That afternoon, I was taught how to use the museum database – ‘Emu’ which I will be working with a lot to data enhance the magazine collection and then eventually transfer that data onto the Museums online collections. After my induction I got to work on my project, I decided to make a spread sheet to begin with, so I knew what information we had on Emu already and what information I needed to add. I had a look through the magazines to get a better idea of how they are compiled and their layout.
The whole of the contents of the magazine were written or drawn by members of the A.I.F. in the Field. Some of the short stories and jokes are really amusing and it is a pleasure to have a read through them, however you do realise that times have changed and that some of their humour or depictions are quite radical and would be considered unacceptable in today’s magazines. In the middle of the week I met my primary supervisor –Deborah Tout-Smith and we discussed my outcomes for the project. For the rest of the week I conducted research on the magazine and its author and updated the magazines classification, physical description, inscriptions, associations, subjects, historical significance and references. At the end of the week I attended the Humanities department meeting, issues included, research updates; the moving of collections; acquisition updates and department news. The meeting was really interesting and I got a real insight into the museum.

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