Colonialism and its Aftermath

State Library of Tasmania Launceston Projects 2008

Mythbusting In Local History

It is a well-known phenomenon of local history writing that narratives are recorded, repeated and embellished over time owing more to local tradition, family legend and the love of a good story than to verifiable historical evidence. These stories, however, almost always have some basis in fact and contain elements such as names, dates, events and places that can be tested through research.

The aim of this project will be trace the evolution of a small selection of myths through time by reference to newspaper accounts, books, other publications and manuscript sources in order to tease out the "real" story behind the myth and account for the process of myth generation. The Launceston Branch of the State Library of Tasmania will provide the necessary materials and support to explore three such myths: Sammy Cox the marooned Earl of St Vincent; Mary Campbell the shipwrecked servant; John Smith the illegitimate son of George IV.

Panoramas Of Launceston

below: Panorama of Launceston, Spurling.
Panorama of Launceston, Spurling

The Launceston Library holds an interesting collection of photographic panoramas of the city by Stephen Spurling and others. These panoramas required cutting edge techniques and equipment, considerable effort on the part of the photographer, and created great public interest. The most famous include Spurling's 1881 panorama from Cataract Hill and his circular panorama from the Fire Tower c.1886. There was also a lithograph produced from this and published in the Tasmanian Mail.

The successful candidate will be expected to make an investigation of the panorama phenomenon including the techniques and photographic equipment used. They will also be required to identify and document newspaper reports of the creation, publication and sale of the panoramas and create a descriptive list of known panoramas of Launceston.