Dutch Community Open Day

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An afternoon of talks, story sharing, digitisation opportunities, and curatorial tours relating to our current exhibition Dutch Journeys to the Western Edge.

Sunday 7 August 1:00 – 4:30pm
State Library of Western Australia
Free event –bookings required


Talks 1:00 – 2:30pm
Dutch Doings: 400 years of Dutch connections with With WA
State Library Theatre (Ground Floor)
Presenter: Dr Nonja Peters

Visual & Material Interfaces: Dutch artists in WA
State Library Theatre (Ground Floor)
Presenter: Nien Schwarz

In Western Australia how have Dutch explorers, migrant artists and artists of Dutch descent communicated their experiences of this place? Based on my curatorial research and associated publications this talk includes a panorama of visual, material and emotional encounters from ship to shore.

400 Years of Dutch Business in WA
State Library Theatre (Ground Floor)
Presenter: Arnold Stroobach

Dutch Down Under: RNN submariners in WA during WWII
State Library Theatre (Ground Floor)
Presenter: Sally May

Other activities

Being Dutch in WA
1:00pm – 2:30pm
3:30pm – 4:00pm
Exhibition Gallery (Ground Floor)

Share and record your perspectives on being Dutch in Western Australia. Your words will be added to the State Library’s heritage collection to enrich the items donated to the Library by Nonja Peters. The recordings will also be featured in the future online version of the exhibition.

Scanning Station
1:00pm – 4:30pm
Kimberley Room (Ground Floor)

Bring along some of your old family photographs and start building your own digital archive. State Library staff will assist you to scan your photographs, providing you with digital copies for the long term preservation of your images.

Family History stall
3:00pm – 4:30pm
State Library Theatre Foyer (Ground Floor)

Marjorie Bly from the National Archives of Australia will be on hand to help you research your Dutch heritage. She will be able to offer hints and tips on tracing your Dutch family history.

Curator’s Tour
3:00pm – 3:30pm
4:00pm – 4:30pm
Exhibition Gallery (Ground Floor)

Join Nonja Peters as she takes you on a tour of the exhibition: Dutch Journeys to the Western Edge.
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From Dirk Hartog’s landing at remote Cape Inscription in 1616 to our present migrant connections, Dutch Journeys to the Western Edge draws stories from the collections in the State Library. Whether seeking trade, refuge or opportunity the Dutch, like others to land on our shores, have helped shape Western Australia Dutch Journeys to the Western Edge is on display in the State Library until 25 September 2016. For more information visit our website 

 

Prisoner of war toilet roll diary now online

One of the more unusual items in the State Library’s collection is this diary written by Raymond Stewart on a toilet roll while he was a prisoner of war during World War II. Raymond kindly donated this unique diary to the Library in 1999. It is written in pencil on poor quality paper and is housed in our rare materials security stack at a controlled temperature of 20 degrees +/- 2 degrees with a humidity level of 50% +/- 5%. These stable conditions  help to preserve this fragile item.

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Raymond Stewart’s toilet roll diary housed in its special conservation box, ACC 5062A/5

Lieutenant Raymond Stanley Stewart (2/28th Australian Infantry Battalion) enlisted in Northam in 1940 and was captured on 27 July 1942 at Ruin Ridge, El Alamein, Egypt. He was held as a prisoner of war in Europe, firstly by the Italians and later by the Germans, until 1 May 1945. He recorded his experiences in this most unusual diary between 27 July and 12 September 1942, later continuing in two notebooks.

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Raymond’s prisoner of war card with photograph, ACC 5062A/11

Keeping such a record was a tremendous risk so Raymond kept the diaries hidden in an Australian Red Cross Society gift box.

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The Australian Red Cross Society gift box where Raymond kept his diaries hidden, ACC 5062A/15

The toilet roll diary provides a fascinating insight into the daily life of a prisoner of war. Raymond describes his feelings on being captured:
“I feel miserable, angry, disillusioned and relieved in turn. I think everyone feels the same way. The boys crack jokes to hide their feelings.”

There is confusion about the fate of his comrades:
“Did Jack come through? Where is Smithie? Is it true that Snooks was killed?”

On 5th August 1942, just over a week after his capture, he describes his hunger:
“Already we are all feeling continuously and desperately hungry. Our ration is eaten as follows:- 1/2 tin bully and 1/3 bread for lunch, ditto tea, and coffee and remainder of bread for breakfast. I myself am feeling very weak and have a temporary blackout once during the day on getting up from my bed. This may have been due to bad ventilation as much as anything else. It is an effort to walk around very much as I simply haven’t the energy.

Just through the fence they are dumping hundreds of cases of lemons. We are so hungry we beg for them from the guards, and eat them raw peel and all. However they don’t give much away and even then I think it is only for the amusement they get from seeing us scramble for them.”

This diary formed part of the National Treasures from Australia’s Great Libraries exhibition which toured capital cities around the country from 2005 to 2007. Now the Raymond Stanley Stewart diaries have been made available for anyone to read online. In some places they are difficult to decipher but a transcript has also been placed online.

As you can imagine, digitising a toilet roll presented some challenges. The diary is extremely delicate and fragile; of course the paper is biodegradable and was never intended to last. Our reformatting staff  say that this is the most challenging item they have ever digitised; the toilet roll diary alone took over twenty hours to complete. It was photographed using a Hasselblad camera which has extremely accurate colour fidelity and the ability to retain exceptional quality of detail. The images shown here illustrate some of the processes involved in bringing this item to you.

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The toilet roll diary held in place with glass weights

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Our Senior Conservator unwinding the toilet roll during filming

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Carefully rewinding the diary after filming

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Returning the diary to its box

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Checking the quality of the digitised image

It is wonderful that Raymond Stewart realised the historical significance of his diary and had the forethought to donate it to the State Library so it could be preserved for the future. What other treasures could be hidden in wardrobes or attics in private homes around the state?

If you are interested in finding out more about donating to the Library please visit our Donations page.

Digital Preservation vs Storage: Why is digital preservation different to digital storage?

Digital preservation is about maintaining access to digital files over (long periods of) time, whereas digital storage is about keeping the digital items themselves.

Though digital preservation includes storage of digital items (keeping the 1s and 0s that make up digital files) safe and sound, there is more than to it than that.

In the same way that we look after our hardcopy heritage items, we need to keep the 1s and 0s of digital heritage items in the best conditions.  Following (IT) industry standard, we back up our files in multiple physical locations, on different media, and make regular backups of our content.  Doing this minimises the risk of any issues occurring (e.g. a physical disaster like a fire), and ensuring copies of our data are on different media helps protect against issues related to specific hardware (e.g. a bad batch of discs, or a certain type of backup tape becoming obsolete).

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Floppy disc drives – examples of obsolete hardware

For digital preservation purposes, when we receive a digital file, we take note of how it came to us.  We look at what type of content it is (a text file, an image, a sound recording), as well as what file type it is (.doc, .jpeg, .mp3), and what type of software is needed to open or view the file.  These pieces of information help us to know what to do with the file, and also what type of risks this file may be exposed to.

File types can be considered at risk because of a number of reasons – the company that created the file type may abandon support of the program needed to open the file, or upgrades to software may result in older files becoming inaccessible.  In DigitalLand, it’s very likely that certain files are only supported on certain computer operating systems, and sometimes those operating systems are hard to come by (Windows version 3.1 anyone?).

When we receive files, we keep an exact copy of what we have received, as well as making a copy of the file in an open format (i.e. a format that can be used by anyone).  We also create versions of the file (derivatives) for delivery over the web.  Luckily for us, most of this processing happens automatically, so it’s not a matter of a person opening a file and saving lots of different versions of that file, which frees us up to collect even more files!

Even once we have made the different copies, and are confident that our backups are secure, our job is not yet over; as we need to stay tuned for changes that may mean that we need to migrate our files into new(er) formats, so we can continue to offer access to the files using current technology.  We are regularly are seeing new file types emerge (e.g. 360 degree video), and are seeing many more digital files coming to us, as more and more people turn to digital methods to capture and re-tell their stories.

In terms of storage, to protect your own digital files, here are some steps you can take;

  • Make sure you know where your files are (many of us have files in different places – e.g. some files on a laptop, some on a mobile phone and others on an external hard disc)
  • Consolidate and make more than one copy of the files – copy all your files to one location, then make backups from that place to other media. Many people now have access to online (web) storage, as well as traditional media such as discs.
  • Ensure you have the environment (software/hardware) that you need to open the file, and that you have all the peripherals you need (do you know where that cable or power supply you need to connect that hard drive is?). Where you need special software to open the file, and that software is ageing, can you save it to a modern format?
  • Migrate the content to new media regularly – every couple of years, replace the media you are using to back up your digital files. Though media is generally stable for a few years, the risk to losing data off this media increases with every year that passes

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The storage array at the State Library

 

The Metropolitan Dental Company

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One would not normally associate a dental company with glitz and glamour, but during the first half of the 20th century Perth’s major dental firm had an image of modernity and high fashion without equal in Western Australia.

The Metropolitan Dental Company was established in 1908 advertising its aim to provide affordable dental care for all, including people on lower incomes.

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Advertising for dental products from the ephemera collection of the Metropolitan Dental Company.

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Advertising for dental products from the ephemera collection of the Metropolitan Dental Company.

The State Library has a small but delightful collection of material relating to the Metropolitan Dental Company including photographs, a day book, scrapbooks, certificates, advertising mock-ups and other ephemera.

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Drawing of the (proposed?) exterior of the Metropolitan Dental Company 00716D

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Hay Street, Perth premises of the Metropolitan Dental Company 1927 100182PD

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The building at 790 Hay Street, Perth today. [The Apple Store] Photo: Google Maps Street View.

The Company was described as the biggest in the Southern Hemisphere. The owners were Wolf Blitz, Alfred Kaufman, and Alfred Rogers, with notable dentists such as Edgar McGillicuddy, Thomas Wilson and Albert E. Ford working for the company at various times.

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The Metropolitan Dental Company advertised widely in newspapers, using the lure of a short anecdote or educational snippet followed by an invitation to use their services. In fact they made an art of the “advertorial”.  Some examples of marketing gems from Trove Newspapers include:

“Aseptic  Methods in  Modern Dentistry” – absolutely sterile instruments…

“Deadlier than Snake Venom” – food detritus and tooth cavities.

“Mental, Physical and Moral Degeneration” – the link between juvenile delinquency and bad teeth…“Private health really means public morals”.  [Yes! Really.]

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A day book from 1908 lists appointments, treatment and fees charged. It is noted that Mrs Townsend of Highgate Hill had to cut short her treatment on being called away to Albany “her child having broken its collarbone”.

Included in the collection are some original artworks for advertising and for the windows of the company’s offices. A mock-up for a Neon sign is so impressively bright that one is tempted to take it into a darkened room to see if it glows.

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Also in the advertising ephemera are several metal printer’s engraving plates that are wonderful works of art in their own right.

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Metropolitan Dental Company collection ACC1863A/19

To associate an air of beauty and sophistication with a dental firm is no easy task, but the Metropolitan Dental Company achieved this by employing attractive young women to grace their colourful posters.

The full collection of photographs may be viewed here.

The Metropolitan Dental Company is just one of the private business archives in the State Library Collections. These records provide a view into a past that is so much more vibrant and interesting than we may have thought from viewing black and white photographs.

We are always pleased to hear from members of the community who may have private business records that they would like to be considered for the State Heritage Collections.

Sketchbooks tour the state

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From DaVinci, to Beethoven, to Hemingway, to Kahlo, sketchbooks have provided a space for the greatest works and stories of our time to grow.

Over 100 sketchbooks displaying the talent of young Western Australians have recently embarked on a tour of 16 WA Public Libraries as part of the Travelling Sketchbook exhibition.

Each year young people aged 12-26 are invited to participate in filling a blank sketchbook with stories, artwork, illustration, collage and more as part of Propel Youth Arts WA’s Sketchbook project. Some are lighthearted and funny, others are deeply personal and all showcase creativity and talent of contributors.

Designed to be browsed and flicked through, the 9 x 14 cm sketchbooks together represent a visual exploration of the  personal lives, interests, and observations of young people growing up in Western Australia in 2016.

Follow the sketchbook journey around Western Australia as they visit a Public Library near you.

 This exhibition is presented by Propel Youth Arts WA with the support of the State Library and Department of Local Government and Communities. 

Sketchbook Tour Itinerary 
1-30 June 2016 
Bunbury Library, 1 Parkfield St Bunbury
Donnybrook Library, 10 Bentley Street Donnybrook

8-29 July 2016 
Katanning Library, Austral Terrace Katanning
Canarvon Library, 18 Egan St Carnarvon

10 – 31 August 2016 
Mandurah Library, 3 Peel St Mandurah
Northam Library, 298 Fitzgerald St Northam

12 September – 10 October 2016 
Broome Library, Hamersley St Broome
Karratha Library, Dampier Hwy Karratha

19 October – 14 November 2016 
Port Hedland Library, Colebatch Way South Hedland
Derby Public Library, Clarendon St Derby

25 November – 15 December 2016 
The Grove Library, 1 Leake St Peppermint Grove

19 December – 7 January 2016 
Fremantle Library, 8 William St Fremantle

25 November – 7 January 2016 
Manjimup Library, Rose St Manjimup

13-31 January 2017 
Esperance Public Library, Windich St Esperance
Kalgoorlie Public Library, 13 Roberts St South Kalgoorlie

1-24 February 2017 
Mount Barker Public Library, Lowood Road Mount Barker

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Final week to see Unfinished Business

The statement ‘without stories there is silence’ powerfully captures the essence of this exhibition.

Unfinished Business brings to focus the voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who are affected by disability through photographs by Belinda Mason and film by Knierim Brothers.

Historically the voices of Aboriginal and Torres Islander peoples, and the voices of people with disability have been misrepresented, silenced or excluded from documentary histories.

The images and words of this exhibition convey the reality of lives affected by the ongoing historical, social and political impacts of colonialism. The stories represented in the exhibition are not sugar coated. They are raw and honest, attesting to the strength, resilience and power of all participants, and all people with experiences of disability.

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Yamatji man, Marlon Noble with his photograph titled ‘Noble Cause’, Unfinished Business exhibition launch, State Library of Western Australia 12 May 2016.

Photography is a creative expression which is capable of commanding the viewer’s attention. Each photograph has power to open the eyes of the audience, conveying personal stories in an autobiographical way. We have seen this in action, where visitors stop, take time to experience and are visibly moved by the images.

Accessibility is a the core of this exhibition. The Open Access Tours app provides access to additional audio and video material.

Unfinished Business closes 3 June 2016. For more information visit the State Library website.

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Juniper App

Have you explored our Juniper App?

The Juniper App showcases a series of artworks created in the 1970’s by prolific Western Australian artist Robert Juniper, and the children’s book which they were created for, “Mason Judy”.

Mason Judy is the story of an eight year old boy who is lonely and unhappy when his family moves to a new suburb. He finds a magic stone which transports him to another time and place.  There he meets the Guardian of the Stone, who takes him on a journey to return it to its traditional dwelling place.  Along the way he undergoes many trials which test his strength of character.

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PWC/231/120: Japara was now a black speck in the purple distance, original illustration by Robert Juniper reproduced in the book, Mason Judy

Author Trevor Todd wrote the  Mason Judy story as part of a creative writing class in 1975; he gave his friends copies of his typed manuscript as Christmas gifts that year, and one of them passed his copy onto Robert Juniper, who offered to illustrate the book.

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215723PD: Robert Juniper painting, 1977

The State Library was fortunate to acquire Robert Juniper’s work, with the assistance of the State Library’s Foundation.  They are now part of a larger collection of original artworks from children’s literature held by the Library, the Peter Williams Collection.

The development of the App was part of a wider project to provide universal access to the State Library’s rare material through digitisation and brings both the artwork and the story to a whole new audience.

Through the App, users can explore both the story and paintings in depth, and through a supporting education program, explore the social and community environment at the time.   Users can also enjoy listening to a reading by the author, and understand the perspective of an Indigenous curator, whose comments and insight can be seen alongside the artwork.

The Juniper App can be downloaded for iPad or Android tablet using the links below:

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Dads’ Army?

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Unidentified group of soldiers, 229234PD

Do you know anything about this photograph which is part of the E. L. Mitchell collection? These men were photographed in about 1916 in a makeshift studio. In this image they are wearing caps and in another photograph the same men are wearing hats. A sticker on the back of one of the negatives reads ‘possibly Bunbury camp’.

On close inspection you can see that most of the men are older than the usual young recruits you would expect to see in a photograph from this early stage of the war. You can see both photographs in our catalogue:
A group of soldiers photographed in a makeshift studio wearing their hats and caps, possibly at Forrest Park Military Camp near Bunbury

If you can offer us any clues as to the identity of any of these men or the group to which they belong, please comment at the bottom of this post or beneath the images in our catalogue.

Web Archiving at SLWA

Each year, the State Library of Western Australia contributes hundreds of Western Australian websites to PANDORA, Australia’s web archive. PANDORA is a world class web archive established by the National Library of Australia in 1996.  It is built collaboratively by 11 cultural institutions across the country, with SLWA contributing Western Australian content to this ever-growing national archive.  Websites are selected for their significance, their authority or research value, their representation of social or topical issues, and also to reflect the diversity of our state. These can include the websites of organisations, community groups, individuals, festivals, events, and sites about various topical and political issues, election campaigns, interests and activities.

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HTML website code

Web archiving involves selecting, copying (but only with the permission of the website owner!), quality checking and preserving specific websites.  For copyright reasons, SLWA can only archive a website if the website owner has given permission, so we will always contact the website publisher to ask permission before we archive.  Once archived, the live website may continue to change or eventually disappear, but the archived instance will remain as it was at the time it was captured.  The average lifespan of web content is difficult to determine, but various estimates suggest that an individual webpage may last on average as little as 100 days. That means that an awful lot of Western Australia’s web presence may be at risk of disappearing at any one time.

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Deckchair Theatre’s website, captured 8 March 2012

Many of the websites preserved by SLWA are no longer in existence.  For example, we archived the website of the Deckchair Theatre company from 2008, with the final snapshot captured just a few months before the theatre closed in 2012.  We archived websites related to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting held in Perth in 2011, including the official website and the 2011 Commonwealth Festival, which showcased arts and culture in Western Australia at the same time.  These sites lasted until at least 2013, interestingly, but were eventually shut down as they had outlived their immediate usefulness to their creators.  Less attractive perhaps, but just as important historically (and legally), are the websites of the WA health practitioners registration boards – Psychologists, Dentists, Occupational Therapists, Medical Radiation Technologists etc. – which ceased to operate between 2010 and 2012 when national registration came into effect.

Web archiving also preserves changes in information and design over time. Below is how the websites of three state political parties looked at the time of the 2001 WA state election.

Compared to similar websites even during the 2008 state election and 2013 state election, they look very dated today, but that was the current state of the art in web design. With state and federal elections looming in the coming months, SLWA web archivists are already gearing themselves up to capture and preserve the next wave of election-related websites.

The web is an integral part of contemporary life, and increasingly contains information and content that cannot be found in any other medium. By capturing Western Australian websites we are helping to preserve our digital history, culture and experience.

Saved from the skip!

Brabner Harold

Portrait of Harold James Brabner, BA2594

This photograph of World War One soldier, Harold James Brabner, nearly didn’t survive. It is a very large portrait measuring 65 x 41 centimetres which was hanging in the Midland Railway Workshops for many years. When the workshops closed in 1994 it was about to be thrown out but was rescued by someone who appreciated its significance.

The gentleman who rescued the photograph displayed it in his own home for quite some time, despite having no personal connection with the subject of the photograph.That was until 2014 when he saw an article in the West Australian newspaper calling for donations of WWI material to the State Library. He contacted the Library and offered the portrait for our Pictorial collection. Our Conservation staff have done some restoration on it and it has now been digitised and made available online.

The portrait simply has the word “Brabner” on the reverse. Research reveals that he was Harold James Brabner of the 11th Battalion who was killed in action on 17 September 1917 at Bullecourt, Belgium aged 23. His service is commemorated at Menin Gate Memorial at Ypres. His connection with the Midland Railway Workshops is that he worked as a painter in the locomotive workshop.

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Death notice in the Swan Express, Friday 2 November 1917 page 2.

Harold was born in Victoria in 1894 to James and Georgina Brabner nee Sherwell. The couple had another son, George Alexander, in 1896 and a daughter, Nelly, in 1899. By 1906 the family had moved to Bellevue in Western Australia. Both sons enlisted in the 11th Battalion and, sadly, both men lost their lives.

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Entry for the two Brabner brothers, Australia’s fighting sons of the Empire: portraits and biographies of Australians in the Great War, page 36

The State Library welcomes donations of material relating to the history of Western Australia. Please see our Donations page for more details.