10. Careful Curation for Serendipitous Discovery

Libraries and archives have long been tools for serendipitous discoveries where an unexpected connection is found seemingly by accident.

“[S]cholars can become inspired by visions of wandering through vast corridors of deserted stacks and then happening on a passage in some long-dormant volume that unexpectedly reveals a special insight. For some, the promise of such treasured discoveries is at the heart of deeply felt sentiments about the library’s role in scholarship.” – Patrick Carr, College and Research Libraries

Sometimes good curators can nudge this along. This photograph of Betty Broadbent from 1938 is part of a set of images from PIX Magazine acquired by the State Library of New South Wales as part of a larger acquisition, as seen on the Flickr blog and the State Library of NSW’s blog.

Tattooed lady Betty Broadbent, 4 April 1938

That image, when uploaded to Flickr Commons, was put into four different albums so that viewers could find it alongside other images which shared certain characteristics.

1. Images of Ms. Broadbent

Tattooed lady Betty Broadbent, 4 April 1938

2. Images from PIX Magazine

Woman with a dragon tattoo, Sydney, 17 December 1937

3. Images from Australia Consolidated Press including this basket of puppies

St. Ives Dog Show, 18 March, 1950, Pix Magazine, State Library of New South Wales

4. Images that are uploaded with known date information which has some serendipitous discoveries of its own

Cyclist Hubert Opperman poses next to an REO Speed Wagon truck advertising at Peters Ice Cream Factory, Redfern (taken for Bruce Small Ltd), Australia, 19 July 1938
Linda Malden "Spring Ridge" station, 24 January 1944 / photographed by N. Herfort
Strong man, Australia, 20 May 1938
Penguins being fed at the zoo, 22 June 1945, by Alec Iverson

4. Homegrown Outback Exploration

Australia has always had a DIY caravaning culture. Christmas holidaytime can often involve getting outside with your tent.

Esplanade at Burleigh, Queensland, Christmas 1932

Group of young men camping at Sandgate over Christmas, 1904

Christmas camp at Bulwer, Moreton Island, 1907

The first caravan park opened in Victoria in 1924.

The Great Depression left many Australians out of work and somewhat itinerant. The Victorian and New South Wales governments funded the construction of tourist roads as a jobs program for people needing work. These got used in earnest once the prosperity of the post-war era and two weeks of paid annual leave became more commonplace in a movement that Caravan World calls the Great Holiday Boom.

Streamlined mobile home in a Brisbane suburban street, 1948

The State Library of Queensland has assembled photographs of caravans from many eras from the homemade to the high style.

Early caravan design mounted on a Buick chassis, Pialba, 1926

Mobile home belonging to Romeo Lahey, early Queensland nature conservationist, ca. 1908

Caravan made from a converted aircraft, Kalinga, Queensland

Looking closely at Australian camping and caravan culture can be one lens through which Australian culture can be understood and appreciated.

“…themes like freedom, mobility, escape, utopia; images of domesticity on wheels, décor and design, materials, technology, DIY production and Fordism; caravan parks as homes and as itinerant and long-term accommodation. These themes and images are also necessarily interwoven with class, gender, sex and age. We are interested in the possibilities of using the caravan as a carrier for making sense of postwar Australia.”

Mrs Dudley Courtman in her Chesney caravan, 1952