A brief history of challah and Babka.

My Public History Project is a mix between a fact sheet on the traditional (mainly European) Jewish foods of Challah and Babkah. I researched the history of these foods, explaining where they came from, why they are eaten, when they are eaten, who makes them and how different versions of that food have emerged and evolved over time. This came about after volunteering at the Friendship Circle Bakery.

I decided to do this as my original project for a number of reasons. The first is that my original project idea did not go to plan. In a way this was positive because I have always wanted to research these food topics, I have always been interested in the history of these foods and what stories they tell. I realised that I finally had the time and space to do this. As a modern Australian Jewish woman I have always been interested in what ‘Jewish food’ tells me about my history, my religion and what life was like for Jewish people who lived before me. I believe that it is important that these things are known, they must not be forgotten because they are interesting histories. 

When I was making accessible recipe cards for the Friendship Circle Bakery, where I did my volunteering, I came to the realisation that these foods are special. I remember asking someone at the bakery if they knew where Babka originated and they did not know. This made me realise that many people eat these foods without knowing why they are eaten and I believe that it is important that this is known. I argue that it is important that people know this history. The bakery already has a very special mission and purpose and I wanted to add to it with these cards. 

I hope that both shoppers and participants at the Friendship Circle bakery will benefit from my project. Not everyone who works in the bakery or buys products from it knows the history of these foods. These information cards will serve to inform people of why they are making the food and the importance of them.

The final form of these fact sheets are still to be decided, as I want to make them as accessible as possible and I am not quite sure how to do that. It needs to be accessible because people of all ages and abilities interact with the bakery. However, so far the information is presented on an A4 page in colour. 

The argument of my project is two fold. First I am arguing that food traditions are important, that they tell stories and histories, which is why consumers of these food items should be aware of these histories. They tell stories of past ways of living and food habits. For example looking at the origins of Babka one learns that it was made with the leftover challah dough that was made for the Sabbath, the leftover dough would be braided and fruit and nut- filled scraps added. From this we learn that waste was avoided, that any leftover was turned into something else. 

The second argument I am making is that food tells stories of migration. When looking at the history of babka one sees how the recipe changed when Jewish bakers started making it in America, adding in chocolate and cinnamon. 

There were a number of themes that emerged through the fact sheet. The first is that food is history in the Jewish tradition. Often in Judaism foods are eaten for a certain reason, for example Challah is eaten on the Sabbath and religious holidays like Jewish New Year. I wanted to show this. Often when we study history we tend to learn history through primary and secondary written sources, however I am arguing that food is as valuable as a source because when you sit down and look at the origin of the foods, for example Challah and Babka, you can a lot learn about Jewish history; patterns of migrant, values, historical events. In providing these details I showed how one can gain a deep understanding of Jewish culture by looking at the history of these foods. 

I always wanted to show a bit of Jewish history itself. I believe that too often Jewish history is taught through very specific historical moments and through specific lenses. By mentioning how the recipes have changed over the years, I tried to show different parts of Jewish history that people may not know about. For example, some people do not know that there was a rich and thriving Jewish community in India. Often in Jewish communities and even worldwide, the concept of a Jewish person is seen through a very single lens, a Jewish person is understood as being someone who is white, however there are Jewish people from all over the world e.g. there are Indian, Iranian and Yemenite Jews. I wanted to show this and try to bring awareness to the whitewashing and erasure that happens to these communities. I wanted to show that their traditions are not given equal footing and we risk losing key Jewish communities and traditions if this is continued. 

Another theme I wanted to show is that food and the history of food is an under utilised way to teach about Judaism and religion in general. Often people are given very specific ways in which they can connect to religion, they are told that there are certain paths, but I am trying to show that food is as legitimate as any other way to connect to religion. 

I also wanted to show how food can become an intergenerational point of connection. One only needs to look at the entries in the Monday Morning Cookbook to see this. For many of the authors who submitted recipes, the food items they wrote about reminded them of their grandparents. So when they made the recipes they were reminded of how their grandparents would make the food. 

In Judaism, losing a tradition is not easy and I wanted to show this in my assignment. It is important to show this because the idea of a tradition is an important part of Jewish culture and the religion itself. A lot of the religion and cultural practices in Judaism are based on traditions that have been around for many years. To properly understand these food items and why they are so important to some Jewish communities, one needs to understand that concept.

I also wanted to show how Judaism has evolved as a religion over the centuries. One way this is seen is through looking at how the recipes and foods have adapted in different cultures and time periods. This can be seen in Babka and how it changed when European migrants came to Europe.  

 

For the Love of ACE – An oral history of one collaborator’s experience with Arts and Cultural Exchange

My public history project is a half-hour interview with a long-time collaborator with Arts and Cultural Exchange (ACE) about her experiences with the organisation. Hawanatu Bangaru, a filmmaker and social worker originally from Sierra Leone, has been involved with ACE since 2009 and has collaborated on many projects over that time, while benefiting from numerous opportunities including placements and training.

The ultimate form this interview will be presented in on ACE’s website has yet to be fully agreed upon, but will likely take the form of a profile of Hawanatu and a couple of short testimonies I have pulled from the longer interview, potentially in both audio and transcript form.

The argument implicit in my project is that the work ACE does in collaboration with marginalised or disadvantaged communities matters. It matters in the way the programs ACE runs provide opportunities to people who would have seriously struggled to find them otherwise: opportunities to learn and practice new skill sets; for career growth, guidance and networking; for developing creative outlets; for cultural rejuvenation and celebration. It certainly had that impact for my interviewee, Hawanatu Bangaru.

The main themes that emerged through the interview were of opportunities that would have otherwise been hard (or impossible) to come by; of long-term committed support and encouragement from ACE for the community of creative’s it has grown; of a dedication to inclusivity and overcoming structural barriers for disadvantaged and underrepresented communities. All of these themes link back to the central argument of the project, as they are proof of why ACE matters to the communities it services. The support ACE offers these communities is enduring, passionate and has a concrete, positive, measurable impact on their lives.

My hope is that the beneficiaries of this project will include ACE itself, the communities it serves (and hopes to serve), and potentially anybody who cares about the social history of Western Sydney. ACE will benefit by having a detailed testimony they can use in advertising, on their website and potentially when seeking grants. The communities it serves will benefit largely as a direct result of this activity – more grants equals more opportunities for the marginalised and disadvantaged communities of Western Sydney, while having the testimony on ACE’s website may convince individuals to reach out and get in contact with ACE. Despite the organisations significance and long history, it does sometimes fly under the radar in the local community (I myself only became aware of ACE as an adult, even though I live in the area and have a long interest in the arts), so any possibility another person can be convinced to get involved because of that testimony would be a significant service. My hope is that by providing ACE with the full interview – transcription, audio and video – for their archives, it can maybe be of use one day to anybody else seeking to explore the history of Western Sydney. In that context, this project may just be a small piece of a much larger puzzle, but that still seems a valuable contribution.

Thredbo Alpine Club – A Brief History

In 2022 Thredbo Alpine Club turns sixty-five. To mark the occasion, the club’s directors agreed that my project for this semester should aim to highlight some of the club’s significant moments from its inception in 1957 to the present. My finished project involves the building of a webpage on the club’s website where viewers will find a timeline, a “Memory Box” and a photo gallery.

The Original Lodge Sign 1958

When I began the project, it became apparent that while some efforts had previously been made at compiling a history of TAC, the club’s story remains largely unknown to the membership. However, given that the club’s story is also the collective stories of its members, I have tried to make the project both collaborative as well as always remaining a kind of work in progress.

To achieve this, the timeline is intended to create a kind of story scaffold where my work becomes just the beginning. Further contributions can be easily added over time to deepen the story or to add other layers and perspectives. Part of the challenge is to encourage members to participate in the project to make it truly collaborative. This is the function of the “Memory Box” where I have invited them to share their stories – something I think is quite novel and I hope will inspire members to help build the community story and at the same time help them to think about the part they play in that community and perhaps even strengthen the ties they feel to the club.

The Lodge in Thredbo 1958

I have been very fortunate that by and large the club’s record keeping has been quite thorough. As a result, the internal records of the organisation, have been a rich source of information for the timeline. I have had access to minutes of directors’ meetings, minutes of general meetings and financial statements spanning the life of the club, as well as newsletters from about the mid 1980s onwards.

In addition, I have been able to contact members and have gained valuable insights on historical events from their recollections. I have found some additional contextual information in publications such as The Australian Ski Year Book, as well as news items from local newspapers that are searchable on Trove. Finally, I have also made use of three general histories of Thredbo written by Jim Darby, Chas Keys and Geoffrey Hughes respectively.

The question at the heart of my project has been “How has Thredbo Alpine Club evolved over the past sixty-five years?” In response, I chose to focus on two main themes in the life of TAC: the evolution of the lodge building itself and the club’s involvement in ski competition. These I have tried to situate within the context of the development of Thredbo as a ski resort to illustrate how the Australian ski experience has changed over time.

Against the background of evolution and change in the physical shape of the club I juxtapose the enduring constants that hold the club together. To illustrate this constancy of club ethos, I have highlighted some of the “Faces of TAC”, just a few of those people who have made significant voluntary contributions to club life over the years.

Ultimately my argument is that while the club has changed with the passing of time so much has remained the same. The simple fact of sixty-five years of successful operations under a purely voluntary committee is itself an achievement, let alone contemplating the complexity of some of the projects undertaken by the club over the years. These are people bonded by a shared vision, just as the club’s founders were. It seems this ethos at the very least remains unchanged.

From left: John Spender, Susan (Oddie) Sypkens and Ben Salmon 1962 – Susan and Ben are two of the Club’s founders – hard to believe these two so young had helped to form a club and build a ski lodge four years before this photo was taken

The Mentors of AIME – documenting stories of the past and the present

My final project is a podcast series called ‘The Mentors of AIME’, in which I interview five past mentors from Sydney Uni, documenting their stories of being a mentor and creating a product which can be used to attract new mentors to the program. Although this format is arguably highly saturated in the podcasting world, I felt that the volunteering world lacked a form of media where the facilitators of programs could share their experiences of delivering mentorship and gaining experience. Much of my inspiration stemmed from AIME’s own series of podcasts, interviews, short films and other videos, which documented the perspectives of First Nations people and their history.

Episode 0! Check out the final website and other episodes in the link at the bottom

My project is ultimately trying to argue that AIME’s mission to end educational inequality is one of the most important in modern Australia, and that university students can make a tangible difference to this issue. This is fairly explicit in my project, right from Episode 0, where I discuss the important work of AIME and the purpose of the podcast series. The project itself would not have been possible without the amazing AIME mentors who volunteered to be interviewed, and who provided the evidence and the stories needed to create the final series. Some interviewees I knew before starting, but some I met during the process.

It was incredibly interesting to see key themes develop over the course of the project’s development, namely the idea that mentors and mentees engage in a two way exchange of knowledge and understanding during the program. Each mentor I interviewed spoke about how much they had gained from the program, and how giving their time to students eventuated in the students giving knowledge and understanding back. This overall theme really helped to propel my project in the direction I originally wanted, towards a project which championed the message and work of AIME. 

My ultimate aim was to create a project which documented the stories of AIME’s mentors, and thereby would attract more mentors to the organisation. I know that AIME is always looking to recruit new mentors, and so I would like my project to serve that need, to act as a product which can be shared by AIME on their website or through their university societies. One of the mentors I interviewed was Janice, who currently works as an ambassador for AIME, running the USYD AIME society. She noted that reaching new university students to attract mentors was one goal for USYD at AIME, and so I wanted to work with AIME to create a project which balanced two goals – documenting the stories of mentors and attracting new mentors to the program. 

AIME’s work is inherently significant. By working to eliminate the educational gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students, AIME is addressing centuries of racism, genocide and its ongoing effects. Working with AIME was incredibly enlightening but also sobering. Being able to create something which will hopefully help AIME continue with this work is incredibly personally significant, as I do not get many opportunities to make such a difference through my work at university. The more mentors involved, the more students AIME can reach. In some small way, I hope that this project helps to propel AIME’s goals and work. 

Over the course of the unit, I considered many different options for the presentation of my final project. Initially, I planned to create a set of educational resources aligned to the NSW History Curriculum using interviews from staff, material published by AIME and previous educational materials created by AIME (check AIME’s educational materials out here https://www.coolaustralia.org/imagi-nation-tv/). Unfortunately, this idea was a little out of reach, and so I ended up deciding to create a project which would have a target audience of university students, in order to spread AIME’s message and attract new mentors.

The Imagination TV Library contains lessons for teachers to use

The podcast will be passed onto AIME and the USYD Society for them to distribute as they wish. Understandably, they might not want to distribute it but I hope that some episodes will be featured by the USYD Society branch, as a way of reaching mentors at Sydney Uni through O-Week stalls, social media posts and in person events. In the future, I would love to continue working with AIME as a mentor in 2023. I most likely will not be able to carry on the podcast due to time commitments next year when I start teaching, but it would be amazing to see the podcast featured in AIME’s work as a way of continuing the overall aims of my project.

Check out my final project here! A special shout out to Alice and Jen from our course who were extremely generous with their time. Another shout out to Phoebe, Janice and Kirsty who also volunteered their time! https://amcg0658.wixsite.com/thementorsofaime

Surfing Women of the 1960’s – Making a Case to Remember Them

If you wind through the corridors and stairways at the back of the curatorial building at The Australian National Maritime Museum, you will arrive upon a small room and – if you are with one of the few staff members with access – you’ll see an eclectic collection of donations to the museum, yet to processed. My project was working with one of the items in this treasure trove, and making a case for why it belongs in the Museum’s collection.

Unfortunately, some complex copyright issues prevent me from posting the images that my project centred around, but I was tasked with writing an acquisition concept proposal for a set of surfing photographs from the 1960’s. Most of these were of incredible women, who were pushing the sport forward in a time where it was, unsurprisingly, dominated by men and male champions and magazines filled with men and their achievements. The photographer of my images, Jack Eden, produced a magazine called Surfabout and while this did have female writers and acknowledge female surfing champions, but it also featured rather crude representations of women, like these examples.

Some rather terrible representations of women from a 1960’s surfer magazine, Surfabout

My project was about assessing the significance of these images, understanding their history and (the most fun part!) considering their interpretive potential. This meant thinking about how these photographs could be used to tell historical tales. My project was something of a brainstorming exercise, of coming up with varied and creative ways to use the photos. They could be used to understand women’s surfing history, but also to understand how the Australian national identity is constructed in relation to our laid-back beach culture. They could simultaneously be used to demonstrate the controversial and admonished ‘surfari cult’ of excessively laid-back surfers and women dressed immodestly. Whilst I can’t show the images yet to be accepted, or reproduce the ones in the museum collections, this image is an example of a Jack Eden photograph of a female surfer that is similar to the items I looked at.

It was such a pleasure working with the ANMM and the staff could not have been more helpful. I’m excited to continue working on this proposal, if the donation is accepted into the Museum’s collection, and potentially write an article about the incredible women that were absolute pioneers of surfing in their day.

Passing on the Flame of Survivor Narratives – One Lesson Plan at a Time

For my final project with the Sydney Jewish Museum, I compiled a 14-paged ‘education resource package’ on the stories of post-war Jewish migration to Australia, consisting of curriculum links, background content information, lesson plans and source booklets for teachers. Though this project only forms one part of a larger collection of pre-existing educational resources at the Museum, I focused on identifying and addressing the gaps in the repository of resources – those that are overlooked even by professional historians and educators, within such a fast-paced, busy organisation environment. For instance, not all on-site excursion programs have a complimentary lesson plan; resources tend to cater for ‘mainstream’ students than providing differentiation options for various ability levels; and all existing lesson plans focus on explaining the Nazi regime and political motivations behind the genocide, at the expense of telling further Jewish stories. In this regard, my project is significant to the Museum as a starting point to the longer, nascent endeavour to address these gaps in resources and ensure accessibility for a wider audience of students.


This project argues that the purpose of history is the preservation of stories from the past through the education of the future generations. The greater vision of the SJM Education Team and the Museum wholly is to preserve the voices of the past in light of the dwindling population of Holocaust survivors – and at the core of this mission is to educate and transmit the Holocaust memory to students, who are our emerging historians. It is not only crucial to ensure this education is accessible to as many students as possible, but is also engaging, for conversations to continue history beyond the classroom (pun intended) and preserve the Holocaust past in the public memory.

After publishing my project on the Sydney Jewish Museum website, the project will therefore benefit teachers, who frequently contact the Museum asking for resources that could extend student knowledge following an on-site excursion visit. It also will benefit students, as it provides various engaging yet enriching history pedagogies to understand the past. The resource is specifically targeted at Stage 5 students studying Migration Stories, though the difficulty of activities can be tailored to the age group and needs of students attending the on-site program. Overall, the resource ensures that students are well-equipped to preserve and further transmit the Holocaust and Jewish memory, and continue significant conversations that draw connections between the past and the present national identity and Australian Judaica.

The Millers Point Historical Walking Tour

This project has taken a bit of a turn. Within my last blog post I have mentioned that I was thinking of creating a video for the Millers Point Community Resident Action Group. Well things can change quite unexpectedly. Prior to my previous blog post I was still waiting on the volunteer work that I would do for this organization. However, I received a phone call after I had just finished work, from the President explaining to me what I could do. This work would include collating a number of Conservation Management Plans of buildings around Millers Point that could be easily accessed by the organization. After a discussion with my mum on how I could use this as part of my project, it was deciding that I would create a walking tour of a number of sites using the information providing within these management plans. So the Millers Point Historical Walking Tour was born.

I had received a list on which management plans needed to be collected, however some of these I have been unable to collect, namely the more popular sites such as the Palisade Hotel and the Lord Nelson Hotel (that one has quite a story). After reviewing these management plans, I have learned a lot about Millers Point and The Rocks, particularly that of the Bubonic Plague Outbreak as well as the resuming of the many of the properties within Millers Point and The Rocks by the Sydney Harbor Trust.

For this walking tour I decided to go with 10 sites, where I would write a brief description of the history of the site. I included the history of sites that might not be as well known as hotels or pubs because I feel that these small terraces do hold a history of their own for Millers Point and The Rocks. Many of these terraces were built as rental properties by wealthy families such as the Merrimans, which helps reveal the property market and local economy of the late 18th and early 20th century. As well as this, these are the original homes that made up the streetscape of this era, helping show the original layout of Millers Point and The Rocks.

The route for this walking tour begins at the Abraham Mott Hall and continues as follows:

  • The Lord Nelson Hotel
  • Argyle Place Terraces
  • Cole’s Buildings (23-32 Argyle Place)
  • Garrison Church
  • The Hero of Waterloo Hotel
  • Windmill Street Terraces
  • Dalgety Terraces (11-13 Dalgety Street)
  • The Palisade Hotel
  • High Street Terraces
  • St Brigid’s Church

Included is a map of the route.

The only main challenges I experienced in the creation of this walking tour surround gathering information for the more well known sites as well as finding historical photographs. While the majority of information that has been used in these descriptions were found within the Conservation Management Plans, I had to search within the NSW Heritage Register. While not as detailed, it still provided me with enough information. The majority of photographs used within this project were found within the City of Sydney Achieves, the NSW State Library Collections and the Conservation Management Plans. However for some locations I was unable to find any photographs. As well as this, I couldn’t really find any ‘old’ photographs. Well I mean old as in older than 1980. While a few of these images pre date 1910, I feel I could have really better expressed this history through photographs from the time.

I have decided to create a printed pamphlet that contains this walking tour, where people can grab one from the community center and begin their journey. However I feel that this alone will not be a long term plan. To maintain the longevity of this walking tour, I have proposed an idea of having a QR code that can be scanned that will provide a digital version of the walking tour, however I have not heard back about this idea.

Ultimately, the driving force behind this walking tour is to help promote the use of heritage listing as well as maintaining the history of one of Sydney’s oldest suburbs. Particularly during a time of development and remodeling, this is a important location in helping express Sydney’s history. By maintaining Millers Point and similar suburbs, their history and stories continue to live. While not as grandeur as the historical towns found in Bendigo or the U.S, this can at least give us a glimpse of the past and the original streetscape that has remained (mostly) unchanged.

Vale Dr. Philippa Hetherington

The history community at the University of Sydney mourns the loss of Dr Philippa Hetherington, who died on Saturday 5 November. During her long struggle with cancer, Philippa became a prominent advocate and effective campaigner for the funding of new treatments in the UK, where she had worked since 2015 as a lecturer at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University College London. Philippa completed an Honours degree in European history at the University of Sydney in 2006, winning the University Medal. She went on the complete her PhD at Harvard. She was an expert in the cultural, legal, and social history of the trafficking of women, especially in Russia and the early Soviet Union.  She returned to the University of Sydney as a postdoctoral fellow in Professor Glenda Sluga’s Laureate Program in International History. Philippa was an extraordinary historian and the most stimulating and supportive of colleagues. Our deepest sympathies are with her husband, Alessandro, her mother, Robyn, and her brother, William. Philippa made everyone’s life better; she will be terribly missed.

Chris Hilliard, Challis Professor of History, University of Sydney

The RPA Museum

My mum is a nurse and has worked in the building next door to the RPA museum for at least 10 years now, yet I never knew of the museum until taking this class. For whatever reason the RPA museum was not known to me until this semester. It is not in the main building of the hospital and is in the King George V memorial building on the 8th floor, so it’s not the most obvious or advertised location. My mum herself has never been there and she’s never spoken about it to me. I walked past that building most days during high school to my mum’s work before I could drive home. It makes me wonder what other places I often walk by that holds something very interesting and significant, that I have no awareness of. That is probably something that happens to all of us more often than we realise. I discovered the museum from this class, and I am glad I have discovered it now. The museum is built around two preserved surgical theatre suits from 1941, filled with old equipment and is one of those special artefacts where you feel the age of the room and the air of the past within it.

During Sophie Loy-Wilson’s talk in week ten she mentioned how people bought the diaries of those involved in the First World War such as soldiers and nurses, and she said that nurses’ diaries were the cheapest people could buy. This spoke to me about the lack of recognition nurses often get for their work, not only in history but even during the incredibly trying last two years. The museum hosts an abundance of archives on nurses dating back to the 19th century and I wonder perhaps there may be something there to do something on nurses who served in wartime. I will have to see about this however as I begin my work.

My contact is the curator of the museum and Director of Heritage and Environment at RPA, Scott Andrews, and Scott operates and handles the museum with the help of volunteers, until recently when all volunteers were stood down. He has also had help this year and previous years from master’s students from the University of Sydney and another student who took this subject in 2018. Like with many other local or more well-known museums, the past couple years with COVID-19 has been tough on the museum. It has been shut since early 2020 to the public and coincidentally, is finally re-opening in one months’ time, around when I will finish my project and volunteer work there. This makes my time there quite interesting and potentially important as Scott prepares to re-open the museum to the public.

The job I have discussed and begun with Scott is an inventory audit of a small collection room at the museum. Volunteers have accepted objects that may not have been recorded properly, or even at all. Some of these objects as well may have no real use or significance and so part of the task as I go through these objects is to ask the question of what is worth keeping and what is not. To get to study objects and help decide their value within the curation of a museum is a cool and interesting task, from a research and history standpoint, but also to be a part of the inner workings of a museum’s collection. Being that this archival work is my main job it will likely form the basis of my final project, though still I am not exactly sure what form that will take. I will catalogue and keep records of my findings in as I go along, and from this I hope to find something that triggers the beginning of a project. The room is full of potential as everything in there has not been catalogued or researched. Within this research there may be a story to tell, or an addition to a history of the hospital that has already been recorded. I am looking forward to the month ahead and getting stuck into archival work within a functioning public museum.

Looking for Clues at the Central Coast Family History Society.

Tucked away in a small building behind a Lyons hall is the Central Coast Family History Society. Through the front door, past the foyer to the left, is the library. The shelves are full. A collection spanning decades chronicles the history of the Central Coast. Down the hall is the main room, lined with computers; people come to research their history. Across the hall is a treasure trove. The archive room. Floor-to-ceiling boxes of records, artifacts, maps and photos. 

Family history is a unique investigative process. It is a search for clues, one leading to the next, hopefully, to reveal some significant detail. Family history uses memories, oral histories and family stories; it searches for names in archives, through birth certificates, marriage records, newspapers, and obituaries to reconstruct lives. Small community organisations, like the Central Coast Family History Society, facilitate this search. They collect the clues that build family history and keep the flame of local history alive. The Family History Society connects people of the present to the Coast of the past. 

My first visit to the Family history society was overwhelming. There were so many treasures waiting to be found on the shelves. I toured the library and the archive room, seeing the books, artifacts and photos they contained. Some of the photos and older documents had begun to fade. And so, my role became digitising these records to protect them for the future and allow them to be more easily shared and stored. 

I started with a heavy leather-bound album. It had been donated after being found in the back of the shed. Most of the photos were from the mid-1800s. What was once a treasured and expensive heirloom was now in disrepair and forgotten. Digitising is a laborious process. You must delicately remove each photo, put it through the scanner and return it to the album. Scanning each photo, you cannot help but feel you are getting to know the people. As I turned the pages, I met the Sharp family.

Not many details of their lives remain now, but the album offers clues. I saw the children born into the family, the home they lived in, the family pets. There is incredible value to be found, even in the lives of people with no family left to remember them. Digitising and record keeping are some of the important roles of local history societies. It creates clues. Hopefully, these clues will prove helpful to others in the future. 

A picture is worth a thousand words. The more we interrogate photos, the more they reveal to us. To the living family, they offer a glimpse into the past and help fill in the blank branches of family trees. But to those without sentimental familial attachments, what can we gain? Surprisingly, a lot. Photos, particularly of everyday people, give granular details like what fashions were popular. On the reverse of most is the name of the photography studio in which they were taken; this is a valuable clue. The locations of these studios allow us to trace migration. For example, the beginning of the Sharp Family Album is taken in Liverpool and the end in Sydney. We can also use it to imagine a changing Sydney. Through the listed address on the back, we can see that George Street Sydney was once populated with numerous Photography Studios. With a little speculation and imagination, photographs offer a plethora of clues. 

Being at the Family History Society is like going on a treasure hunt. You start with some clue and must use that in the search for the next one. You follow the hunt hoping in the end, you will have something meaningful. I am pleased to be playing a part in creating these clues, which will hopefully be the key to some future person’s treasure.