Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Bygoo, Barellan, Ardlethan : local histories from the Wagga Wagga City Library local studies collection

The Wagga Wagga City Library local studies collection has a number of local area histories, which I often highlight on the blog, and the following cover  neighbouring areas around Wagga Wagga.

Bygoo and beyond, by Rob Webster, 1985 

Rob Webster  (also the author of  The first fifty years of Temora, which you can borrow from the library) has written a history of the Merool district, the Indigenous name for the creek that runs between the Murrumbidgee and Lachlan rivers. Interestingly there is an entire chapter on anthrax, which was prevalent through Grong Grong and Ganmain in the 1880s, to name but two stations affected by the disease at the time.

Map of station boundaries 1889. From Bygoo and beyond 

Early days in Barellan and district : compiled by V P Carroll, R G Sutton, C J Irvin ( Barellan Show Committee) circa 1975

This book consists almost entirely of extracts from Gow & Gow's Quarterly Gazette, which was a magazine/paper produced by George and Annie Gow of Barellan in the 1920s. George Gow was a station manager, then real estate agent, then stock and station agent, finally becoming a property owner in 1917. There is a brief history of Mr Gow and his family at the begining of the book, 
then the magazines are reprinted in full with photographs of the time. George Gow wrote most of the "articles" under pseudonyms, with a literary style endeavouring to match the character he took on, like Old Timer, Greybeard, or even "Sourdough". It's an entertaining, if sometimes historically or factually inaccurate, read.

Above : detail from Early days in Barellan and district

Poppet heads and wheatfields : a history of Ardlethan and district, South-West NSW, compiled by the Book Committee of the Back to Ardlethan Week Committee, edited by Roy H Taylor, 1985

This book covers nearby Mirrool Creek, Moombooldool, Beckom, Bygoo and Ariah and their agricultural beginnings as stations, as well as focusing on Ardlethan's story. The official start of Ardlethan as a village was in 1908. There were diverse businesses in the town's early days, including a brickworks - of which, according to the authors, there is little known about it's history- only the ruins remained. The genealogy of the London Inn is also mentioned.

Detail from Poppet heads and wheatfields : Charlie Freeman and family crossing the Mirrool Creek

As always, these books are available to view within the library - spend a few hours time travelling with these interesting local histories.

Above: from the Wagga Wagga Advertiser, November 1907


Saturday, March 31, 2018

There’s a track winding back : Gundagai’s rich history

The Wagga Wagga City Library local studies collection has a number of histories about our neighbouring towns, and Gundagai has a varied and quirky history that is super appealing. It’s a great place to visit and naturally the Gundagai Library is the best place to start when looking for information on their local history. However if you would like to read up on their history before you visit, here are four books about Gundagai history to pique your interest. 

Gundagai Album , with an introduction by Peter Quartermaine

The photographs in this album were first discovered in the 1950s in a house in Sheridan Street in Gundagai. Originally in negative and glass plate form, the photographs were given to the National Library of Australia who reproduced them in this book. They estimated the photographs were taken between 1890 and early 1900s. The photographs are so lovely - a mixture of people and place that give a clear sense of Gundagai at this time.

Above : from A Gundagai Album

This is a good general history that divides Gundagai's history into different topics including floods, bushfires, the bridges, education, roads and transport and more. There is also the story of Yarri, the Indigenous hero who was a Wiradjuri man, who saved many people during the 1852 flood using a bark canoe. An entire chapter is devoted to the Dog on the Tucker Box story.

Above : detail from Gundagai : A track leading back, showing the Cobb & Co coach

Primarily a biography of Thomas Lindley, a convict sentenced to transportation to Australia in 1832. His first years were as a convict assignee and he was granted freedom in 1840. Married in 1844, to Hannah Sophia Anne Stewart, they settled in Yass, where Thomas Lindley became a publican- and this was just the start of a wide ranging career and life.
This is a particularly well researched and written history featuring detailed documentation, and is a compelling read. 

Above: from Early Gundagai

Above :  from the Gundagai Times and Tumut, Adelong and Murrumbidgee District Advertiser 

The Watermen of Gundagai was originally a study called Old Gundagai Project - Conservation management plan volume 1 & 2,  researched and written by Brendan O'Keefe and Michael Pearson for the Gundagai Shire Council. Biographies of early townspeople were provided by Marcia MacIntyre. The most startling information for me was the fact that most of Old Gundagai was "almost entirely swept away in the 1852 flood" (p.1, chapter 1). It's hard to imagine the scope of the 1852 flood until you read accounts of what happened that night. 
Another beautifully written and easy to read history with a focus on particular aspects of Gundagai history - really comprehensive information on the Wiradjuri connection with the land, a handy chronology of Old Gundagai, and a section on the Old Mill are just a few highlights.

Above: from : The Watermen of Gundagai

As always, these books are available to view within the library- ask any of our friendly staff for assistance. It's also worth visiting Gundagai - and having a look at these histories will enrich your visit. 

Above :  from the Gundagai Times and Tumut, Adelong and Murrumbidgee District Advertiser 

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Strength in the air: histories of the RAAF cadets and support staff in Wagga Wagga

The Australian Defence Forces have a long history in Wagga Wagga. We have some great Royal Australian Air Force histories in the local studies collection, and here are four studies grouped around the cadet, technical, engineering and other service personnel experience.

From the ground up by C.D Coulthard-Clark

This book starts with a history of how ground staff were trained up to 1945. During the first year of  World War Two the supply of technicians slowed so the RAAF had to advertise extensively for skilled (and then unskilled) people to train. A training structure was established and an intense advertising campaign was run. There is also a chapter on the restructuring of the RAAF in the 1980s.

Above: first intake to the Radio Apprentice School 1948                           Daily Advertiser 1942

12 Squadron Air Training Corps by Christopher McQuelin
I'm including this book on 12 Squadron Air Training Corps because although it is mostly about the Albury training centre, but local Bill Cheney, educated in Wagga Wagga , originally from Humula, is mentioned, and there is some detail about the Wagga Flying School and Training Unit at Forest Hill.

Bill Cheney 

Wombats 50 years on by Ken Stone and Mac Weller

Another comprehensive history of RAAF engineering and support staff  apprentices, this time covering 1958 to 2008. Lavishly illustrated with photographs, anecdotes, and breakdowns of the different trade areas , it gives a real insight into their day to day life in these very important roles. 

No 12 Airframe Fitter Apprentices with a training model 

Us Appies, by Phil Jones, is a compendium of facts, behind the scenes photographs, anecdotes and professional information about the apprentices attending the RAAF School of Technical Training 1966-1968.  This is one of the more well documented histories covering the personal and social aspects of the RAAF apprentices life.

 Books in the local studies collection are available to view within the library. 

                                    Above : images from the Daily Advertiser circa 1942 and 1943

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Australian literary treasures from local studies

The local studies collection has some obscure titles from Australian authors that have a connection to our region. Here are four gems for you to enjoy :

Above the snowline by Denys Burrows is classified as a children's book and it is set in the building of the Snowy Mountains Scheme era. It is written in the style of children's adventure stories popular in the 1950s and 60s, and does obliquely deal with themes of racism and sexism.More directly,  the harsh, cold climate of the mountains throws up some unforeseen events (like a blizzard) that people need to deal with and work through to get to a happy ending.
The line illustrations are by Graham Wade , born in Junee  in 1931.

Sydney Royal: divertisement by Miles Franklin ( 1947) is another children's book, written in a whimsical literary style, is about the Sydney Royal Easter Show, and has some hilariously accurate depictions of scenes still to be found at country shows. Miles Franklin calls it a "fairy tale".  Hordes of tired and hungry people crowding into tearooms for a cuppa and a scone with jam and cream, the farm animal displays in corrugated iron sheds, the vegetable displays, the cake competition, the rides (somewhat tamer in the forties, with the Swiss Mountain ride simply being a huge slide), affectionately lampooned by Miles Franklin. 
The illustrations are by Nan Knowles, who was part of the Miles Franklin, Dymphna Cusack and Florence James cohort, and they are particularly fine (reproduced in black and white, though the cover is in color. This may have been due to leftover wartime restrictions.on art supplies ).

This collection of poems by Dame Mary Gilmore was first published in 1939, and our library edition facsimile is from 1989. This collection has some lovely pieces, including Wake not the sleeper, and this poem that seems to describe a World War One veteran:

Interestingly the subject material of this collection was seen to be pacifist in tone at the time. This little collection is well worth a read and is one of the lesser known of Mary Gilmore's works.

Australia's Alps by Elyne Mitchell, author of the beloved Silver Brumby books, was originally published in 1942, and is a collection of stories about her and her husband's trips into the Snowy Mountains. Reading these adventures written in a beautifully lyrical yet simple style, I am reminded of why I loved the Silver Brumby books so much as a child. Elyne Mitchell was a champion skier, rode and walked and skied the mountains, and ran their farm when her husband Tom Mitchell was interned as a POW in Changi, and was clearly a highly skilled person in every facet of her life.

Illustrated with black and white photographs taken by the author, it is also her first published book.

As always with local studies items, these books are available to view within the library. 

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

A league of their own : local Rugby League team histories

The History of Wagga Wagga Kangaroo Rugby League Football Club 1954 - 2010 compiled and edited by Peter Aiken

An interesting start to this history has this particular club as first formed in 1924, though the period covered is from 1954 to 2010. Peter Aiken has meticulously gathered together facts, statistics and anecdotes (with many team photographs). The Ron Vaisey ring-in controversy of 1957 is also covered in some depth. 

The Breakaway of the Murrumbidgee Rugby League by Jack Weeks

Jack Weeks chronicles a complicated part of country Rugby League history between 1960 - 1972, in this meticulously detailed account. 
Mr Weeks kept notebooks during this period of turmoil and has used his first hand experience and material to great effect. Section one covers the story of the splintering of the various groups and section two presents copies of the original newspaper reports, so that people can cross reference the information. This is a serious yet readable account of the controversial issues surrounding local country Rugby League.

The history of Wagga Wagga Turvey Park R.L.F.C. by Peter Aiken

Rugby League luminaries Steve Mortimer and Greg Brentnall came through this club and are part of the colorful history presented here by Peter Aiken. Detailed accounts of significant games, personal anecdotes, and team photographs illustrate this very readable league footy history. 

These books are available to view within the library and there are copies available for loan if you would like to brush up your sporting history this holiday season !

Monday, October 30, 2017

From commerce to art and poetry : new books in local studies

We are always adding to the local studies collection and this week we have two new items to introduce to you. Both are a fascinating read :

This guide to preserving historical shops has everything you need to know about saving ephemera or objects associated with shops and shopping. Illustrated with amazing photographs of bygone stores (and historical shops still active - the Niagara in Gundagai is one of the shops featured) it has practical advice on preservation, presentation, making statements of significance, and what to do if you want to keep the shop and business going. The NSW Heritage Office always produces well written and easy to understand guidelines on preserving heritage in its many forms. The potted history of shopping in New South Wales at the start also puts the subject in perspective.

The Wong Sat collection at the Powerhouse Museum, Sydney

Local exhibition catalogues are worth reading for a number of reasons, not the least being their insights into local artists work - this catalogue being a great example of that. The premise for this exhibition was seven Arabic odes from the seventh century, by seven authors, produced on textiles. The exhibition was created and curated by Sam Bowker of Charles Sturt University and brings together a wide range of responses created in multi media, soundscape, artist books , photographs, poetry and more. 

This catalogue is really worth a look - for the broad sweep of artistic diversity alone. Both these books are available for viewing within the library, as they are part of the local studies collection.

Friday, September 29, 2017

We're here to help you : new family history guides

Wagga Wagga City Library recently purchased a range of up-to-date, concise guides to a wide variety of tricky family history problems. These small booklets offer straightforward advice with no waffle, no dithering on topics that cause issues for the modern day researcher.

Many guides, in the past, brought an inappropriately long-winded and literary tone to the subject making an already difficult job harder. The great thing about these guides is they set out complicated processes and ideas in plain language anyone can follow.

All of these guides are available for loan and, as part of the local studies collection, available for viewing within the library.

Here is a small selection to pique your curiosity :

Author Shauna Hicks has over 35 years experience working with historical records, archives and libraries, and brings that wealth of knowledge to helping you research family history. 

In Where do I start Ms Hicks outlines the "golden rules of genealogy", how to search births, deaths and marriages online, military records and more. There is an introduction to searching overseas databases, and tips on how to actually start writing your family history as a compelling story.

The cost of researching your family history has been one of those subjects not often tackled. Ms Hicks addresses the issues surrounding the sometimes hidden costs involved with family history research and shows you how to minimise your expenditure. Topics covered include : not paying full price for certificates, planning your travel to cut down on costs, and whether or not you should use professional researchers. 

The third title here by Shauna Hicks, It's not all online  shows you how to do real time research in the real world. Not everything has been digitised and the actual repositories of historical records can be a gold mine of information if you plan in advance. Ms Hicks covers how to use museums, local historical societies, and libraries to find the information you need.

You are probably already aware of how great Google is as an aide to family history research, but now here's a book confirming it's helpfulness. Helen V Smith sets out clearly how to use Google alerts, what search terms and tactics to use, and even how Google translate and other services you may not have thought of as relevant, can turn up some real gems.

Next time you are in the library, as a new researcher or someone already on your family history journey, have a browse of the many great titles available in this series.