Using the Memorial's Collections


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A talk given to 350 ADFA Cadets as part of a new initiative between ADFA, the Research Centre and the AWM to get them to use our collections, understand their background and hopefully to consider the AWM when they are making their own record

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Using the Memorial's Collections

  2. 2. Researching Military History <ul><li>…or what to do when you finally make it to the AWM </li></ul><ul><li>(don’t panic) </li></ul>JEREMY RICHTER READING ROOM MANAGER
  3. 3. The Australian War Memorial ORIGINS OF THE MEMORIAL Pozières has been a terrible sight all day ...One knew that the Brigades which went in last night were there today in that insatiable factory of ghastly wounds. The men were simply turned in there as into some ghastly giant mincing machine. They have to stay there while shell after huge shell descends with a shriek close beside them - each one an acute mental torture - each shrieking tearing crash bringing a promise to each man - instantaneous - I will tear you into ghastly wounds - I will rend your flesh and pulp an arm or a leg - fling you half a gaping quivering man (like these that you see smashed around you one by one) to lie there rotting and blackening like all the things you saw by the awful roadside, or in that sickening dusty crater. Ten or twenty times a minute every man in the trench has that instant fear thrust tight upon his shoulders - I don't care how brave he is - with a crash that is a physical pain and a strain to withstand. ONE MONTH LATER I remember in August 1916 when after his busy days tramping the Pozières battlefield and visiting units in the line he would roll out his blankets on the chalk firestep of the old British front line ... I do remember that on a number of occasions he talked about what he had in his mind concerning some future Australian war memorial museum
  4. 4. The Australian War Memorial THE MEMORIAL TODAY COMMEMORATION <ul><li>Commemorative area with the Hall of Memory, the Pool of Reflection, Roll of Honour, Commemorative Roll and Remembrance Book </li></ul><ul><li>Commemorative functions such as Anzac Day, Remembrance Day, Wreathlaying Ceremonies and Plaque Dedications </li></ul>MUSEUM <ul><li>Exhibits for all conflicts Australians have been involved in </li></ul><ul><li>Still follow Charles Bean’s principles of exhibition: ‘avoid glorification of war and boasting of victory’ and ‘avoid perpetuating enmity’ </li></ul><ul><li>Relics are presented as objects with their own story rather than just as examples of a type </li></ul>A PLACE OF RESEARCH <ul><li>Supports both of the other functions: Commemoration through understanding and providing meaning, history and colour to the exhibits </li></ul><ul><li>This is where my work comes into it… </li></ul>
  5. 5. The Research Centre <ul><li>The Research Centre is the single most important resource for researching Australia's military history </li></ul><ul><li>It is the first point of contact for all public inquiries about Australian military history and the Memorial's collections </li></ul><ul><li>This unique and diverse collection includes over 15,000 boxes of records from official sources </li></ul><ul><li>The nation's largest archive of the writings of ordinary Australians on their experience of war </li></ul>WHO WE ARE WHAT WE DO <ul><li>We are responsible for the collection, documentation, conservation and provision of access to the collection </li></ul>WHY WE DO IT <ul><li>To fulfill Charles Bean’s vision – the purpose of the Memorial </li></ul><ul><li>Because we love it </li></ul><ul><li>Because we are lucky </li></ul><ul><li>To get paid </li></ul>
  6. 6. Records, records and more records WHAT WE HAVE IN OUR COLLECTION <ul><ul><li>PUBLISHED & DIGITISED COLLECTIONS: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Use ‘First’ to search </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li> / </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>OFFICIAL RECORDS : </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Use the NAA’s database ‘Record Search’ </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>PRIVATE RECORDS: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Use our Collections Database </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul></ul>I SUGGEST USING THEM IN THIS ORDER
  7. 7. Published & Digitised Collections WHAT IS IN IT: <ul><li>Over 60,000 books, 3,000 serials </li></ul><ul><li>Troopship serials (otherwise known as unit or trench journals) </li></ul><ul><li>30,000 maps, plans and charts from all conflicts </li></ul><ul><li>Tonnes of other stuff like: stamps, military forms and books, postcards, leaflets, sheet music, souvenirs, Christmas cards, cigarette cards, aerial photographs and newspaper clippings </li></ul>HOW TO USE IT: <ul><li>Use ‘First’: </li></ul><ul><li>Start by looking at the broader issue or topic first to get an understanding eg. Use the Official Histories to work out dates, units or groups involved </li></ul><ul><li>Look for more specific texts, often you will find a text that covers exactly what you are looking at </li></ul><ul><li>Journals, troopship serials and newspaper clippings, although pretty to look at aren’t as relevant at this stage </li></ul>BE CAREFULL!!!: <ul><li>Make sure you aren’t just regurgitating someone else’s work and especially their opinion. It will make you look stupid. </li></ul>
  8. 8. Official Records Collection WHAT ARE THEY? <ul><li>They are records created by an official agency or person: unit war diaries, squadron records and the papers of the official historians </li></ul><ul><li>Official records are managed in accordance with the Archives Act 1983, which means they are not available until 30 years after the date of creation, and may have to be cleared before they can be read </li></ul>HOW TO USE THEM <ul><li>Not much point in requesting them unless you know what you are looking for </li></ul><ul><li>Use the ‘Chronological Guide’ in conjunction with the National Archives of Australia search </li></ul><ul><li>We will show you how to do this, and guide you initially, however it will be up to you to find them and order them </li></ul>DON’T WASTE EVERYONE’S TIME <ul><li>Don’t order heaps of records that you aren’t going to use </li></ul><ul><li>Understand what you are looking for first; looking for ‘WWII’ will not be useful, also a lot of stuff is already online (war diaries) </li></ul><ul><li>Ask the desk staff for advice – we know the shortcuts, and we can help with pointing you in the right direction </li></ul>
  9. 9. Private Records Collection WHAT ARE THEY? <ul><li>The private records collection consists of over 8,000 collections of records from non-government organisations and personal papers of individuals from all ranks and services. </li></ul><ul><li>They include privately donated papers, letters, postcards, diaries, manuscripts and microfilm. The oldest items date back to the 1860s. </li></ul>HOW TO USE THEM <ul><li>Generally you will use these records last </li></ul><ul><li>Getting an idea of what it was like – a personal perspective ie. Colour history with a personal touch </li></ul><ul><li>Greater detail or even conflicting accounts </li></ul><ul><li>Some can be treated like an official record, for example Weary Dunlop and Monash </li></ul>PLEASE BE CAREFUL <ul><li>They are fragile – I will go into this later </li></ul><ul><li>Opinions are just that – opinions. Not everything they write is true </li></ul><ul><li>Copyright – many have copying provisions on them, so ask us if you are using them </li></ul>
  10. 10. Using the Collections THEMS THE RULES <ul><li>There are other people using the Reading Room so behave yourselves </li></ul><ul><li>No mobile phones </li></ul><ul><li>No bags </li></ul><ul><li>No pens </li></ul><ul><li>No licking of fingers </li></ul>THE RECORDS <ul><li>If you are going to use original records be very VERY careful with them </li></ul><ul><li>Do not mix them up </li></ul><ul><li>Do not separate them </li></ul>THE STAFF <ul><li>Librarians can be violent – so don’t stuff around </li></ul><ul><li>There are only a few of us, so we do what we can to get YOU on your way </li></ul><ul><li>Please don’t be too scared to ask us questions we know a lot of stuff about things </li></ul>
  11. 11. Your Reading Bricks LIGHT HORSE DIARIES (AWM4) <ul><li>Three diaries relating to the tragic assault on the Nek at Gallipoli. Around 300 men were killed for virtually no reason. The movie ‘Gallipoli’ was based on this. </li></ul>EXTRACTS: MAJOR WALTER CLARIDGE (2DRL/240) <ul><li>A condensed example of what can be expected in many private records </li></ul>POEMS FROM THE PENINSULA: PTE. TOM SKEYHILL (PR01024) <ul><li>Poems written by Pte. Skeyhill – he was blinded in both eyes by shell burn </li></ul>LIEUTENANT G.M. CARSON 33 BATTALION (2DRL/185) <ul><li>Relates to the intense fighting at Passchendaele – he was later killed in 1918 </li></ul>MANUSCRIPT HISTORY: 20 TH BATTALION <ul><li>Details some of the fighting that took place around Flanders in 1917 </li></ul>DIARY EXTRACT: CPL. A.S.K. RUSDEN 59 TH BATTALION (1DRL/559) <ul><li>Details the fighting around Villers-Bretonneux in early 1918 </li></ul>WHERE TO FROM HERE?