To commemorate the centenary of World War I, the Swan Hill Regional Library is presenting a touring exhibition from State Library Victoria exploring the personal stories of ordinary Australians told through their own photographs, letters, diaries and writings.
Writing the war: Personal stories from WWI tells the story of Australia’s involvement in WWI seen through the eyes of seven ordinary Australians from very different backgrounds – a teacher, a nurse, a bank clerk, a farmer, a journalist, an artist and an activist.
Their personal experiences are conveyed through personal and published writings, photos, drawings and multimedia which take us from Gallipoli to Egypt, Gaza and the Western Front, and capture a diverse range of perspectives.
Some of these writings helped shape public opinion about the war effort, such as Sir Keith Murdoch’s Gallipoli letter or the writing of pacifist Vida Goldstein. Some were never intended to be read in public, like the diaries of George Auchterlonie which remained in his family’s possession for more than 70 years.
Council’s Cultural Development and Libraries Manager Camille Cullinan said the diaries and letters of both prominent and ordinary Australians gave a rare glimpse into WWI.
“Having access to the personal thoughts and stories of those that served during WW1 provides an insight that is both immediate and intimate because it is told in their own words,” Ms Cullinan said.
“Our display has been put together by Swan Hill RSL members, library staff and members of the Swan Hill Local Historical and Genealogical Society and will also feature memorabilia and personal items from local community members who served in WWI.”
Ms Cullinan added that the exhibition will be officially launched at Swan Hill Regional Library on Wednesday, 11 May at 7pm, and all members of the community are welcome to attend.
“At the launch we will also hear from the author of Watson’s Pier, Mr Joshua Funder.
“Watson’s Pier tells the heroic story of Mr Funder’s great grandfather Stan Watson, and how he used an unexploded Turkish shell to help thousands of Australian soldiers escape Gallipoli.
“It’s an incredible and moving story that challenges the historical record of what happened in the final moments at Anzac Cove, and I encourage everyone to come along and hear from the author himself.”
Writing the war: Personal stories from WWI is a free exhibition and is on display at the Swan Hill Regional Library until 25 June.
The Writing the war exhibition tour is supported by the Victoria Government through Creative Victoria.
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