Colonialism and its Aftermath

Port Arthur Projects 2014

Morris Miller Library

Special and Rare Collections: 

The Special & Rare Collections include cultural and historical records of the University as well as private papers and records from individuals, families, local businesses, community, charitable and cultural organisations; the Royal Society of Tasmania collection; rare books and early manuscripts, journals and maps. CEH Honours projects for 2014 can be negotiated with the Special & Rare Collections librarian.
Discipline/s: English, History, Aboriginal Studies.

Port Arthur Historic Site

Reading at Port Arthur:

 "Account books," writes novelist Hilary Mantel, "form a narrative as engaging as any tale of sea monsters or cannibals." Awaiting attention in the Port Arthur Historic Site archive is the account book for the Port Arthur Subscription Library and Reading Room, covering the period 1860-1877 and including records of library loans, as well as donations and fines. Who was using the library, and what were they reading? Did convicts and officers have similar access to books, and how much would a fine set you back? The successful applicant for this project will transcribe and analyse the account book in order to extract insights about borrowing and reading practices at the Port Arthur Library.
Discipline/s: History, English.

Curiouser and curiouser: 

The Radcliffe and Ward Collections: The Radcliffe and Ward Collections, many items from which are held at the Port Arthur Historic Site, were "curiosity" collections whose disparate contents included everything from leg irons to sewing machines, Pompeii stones to a Tasmanian emu leg, and Staffordshire crockery to hand cuffs. A history student taking up this project may explore such questions as: how were these collections amassed, how were they themed, and how were they financed? What can be learned about the collectors themselves, their interests and their aims? A creative writing student, on the other hand, may produce works of short fiction or creative non-fiction that respond to a selection of Radcliffe and/or Ward Collection items and their histories.
Discipline/s: History, creative writing.

Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery

Rev Frank Pogson Bethune, the fighting padre:

Frank Pogson Bethune, the father of future premier, Walter Angus Bethune, was known as the fighting padre. He served in the infantry in World War One, winning a Military Cross and fame. During the war he sent a series of postcards home to his 7-9 year old son, Walter. A student undertaking this project would examine these postcards and the messages that they portray along with the actuality of Bethune's wartime experiences and post-war reaction to his experiences.
Discipline/s: creative writing, history.

Wartime souvenirs:

The Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery has a substantial collection of souvenirs brought back by soldiers and nurses who served in Europe, Turkey and the Middle East in World War One. These include trench art, military ordnance and cultural artefacts. The student undertaking this project would examine and itemise this collection, seeking connections between them and understanding the context of their collection and their retrieval, home to Tasmania. The project has a real-world outcome in that TMAG would seek to incorporate its results in its World War One commemoration exhibition which will open in April 2015.
Discipline/s: creative writing, history.

Tasmanian Archive and Heritage Office

Louis Agnew scrap album:

Louis Stewart Agnew (1854-1878) was the eldest son of Sir James Willson Agnew, 16th Premier of Tasmania. All of Sir James's children pre-deceased him. Little is known about Louis beyond the basic facts that he studied at the University of Melbourne and, shortly before his death, married Constance Page, daughter of Midlands landowner and coach proprietor Samuel Page. In 2012, the Allport Library and Museum of Fine Arts acquired an album of Louis's writings and artwork. It includes pen and ink drawings of Agnew ancestors through the ages, and depictions of convict life and Tasmanian aborigines, as well as original verse about life in Hobart. This album is a source of hitherto unknown information about the Agnew family in general and Louis in particular. It offers a range of possibilities for investigation, including biographical research into Louis and his family, and evidence of Louis's literary and artistic talents. Another approach would be to consider it as an object, a curious amalgam of an artist's sketchbook and a family scrapbook. 

Ellen Viveash letters:

In 2013, the Tasmanian Archive and Heritage Office acquired a collection of letters between Ellen Viveash, a settler in Campbell Town in the early 1830s, and her family in England. Charles and Ellen (Eleanor) Viveash arrived in Hobart in February 1831. They obtained a grant of land on the Macquarie River near Campbell Town. Ellen's brother William Tanner married Charles Viveash's sister Hester, and they also settled in Van Diemen's Land, on the East Coast near Swansea. Ellen's letters give a detailed picture of colonial life: she writes of shortages of food, equipment, medicines and other supplies; difficulties finding servants; unreliable post and shipping; financial troubles; as well as observations on flora and fauna, and the differences between the two regions where she and her brother lived. They also reveal much about mental landscapes: Ellen was a woman of strong and often unconventional opinions. This collection offers several potential avenues for research, including detailed investigation of the Viveash and Tanner families and their connections both in England and Australia; and the minutiae of domestic life on a pastoral property in the northern midlands of Tasmania in the 1830s. It might also form the basis of a creative writing project.