Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Food, mail, madness: the Wealth and Progress of New South Wales 1893

So what was important to the average civic minded person in 1893? Assuming you were on the right side of the law, that is.  The Wealth and progress of 1893 gives us a good idea. Social, agricultural, political, meteorological statistics, religion, insanity and public libraries all get a mention. A cross between an almanac and statistical record, there is a great deal worth reading especially if you are looking for accurate historical detail.

New South Wales was still referred to by its inhabitants as a colony, mail still mostly came in envelopes and packages, and language was used very differently to how it is now. This almanac reads more like a literary novel than a straight out statistical report and is therefore easier to read.
Other items of note include: some  information from the census of 1891; land holdings, foodstuffs of all kinds (manufacture of bacon and ham gets two pages to itself, of course), how society dealt with destitute children, the insane, and oddly, an epigrammatic end to the “social conditions and charities” section with a paragraph on the “Intellectual progress” of New South Wales. Libraries and reading rooms get a mention as a major part of the progress of the state in this regard: “The State, conscious of the value of literature in softening the minds and manners of the people, encourages with great liberality the establishment of libraries and reading rooms.” (p.561 The Wealth and progress of New South Wales 1893)

The local studies collection at Wagga Wagga City Library has many more gems for you to discover. Come into the library or peruse the catalogue online – go to the library homepage and click on the catalogue button

Have fun researching!

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