The old scrapbook found in the storeroom
You never know what might turn up in old storage spaces. Especially in an old historic building. In 2009, a scrapbook was discovered in a storage space at MoAD. Whose was it? What did it hold? What secrets might it reveal?
I had two weeks at the Museum as part of the ANU’s National Internship Program and it was my job to find out.
- Briefing notes
- Christmas cards
- Handwritten notes
- Dinner menus
A notable discovery was a pamphlet holding an ‘Address of Welcome’. The then acting prime minister Earle Page delivered the welcome at a dinner held in honour of Vice-Admiral Shichigoro Saito and ‘Officers of the Japanese Training Squadron’. In the welcome Page reflects “Australia recalls with gratitude the part played by the Japanese nation in the greatest war through which mankind has ever passed.”
Another interesting find were the rolls of the House of Representatives. The clerks meticulously recorded the marital statuses of all the members!
The scrapbook comprises over 200 pages. None of the entries are in chronological order. The earliest is from 1906, the latest from 1978. Most of the material relates to the years before the First World War.
The first Clerk of the Senate, Edwin Blackmore appears to have started it, and over time there are contributions from other officers of the Department of the Senate; the clerks, deputy-clerks, clerks-assistant, and ushers of the black rod. It may have been compiled for personal or collective interest and as a sort of ‘in-house’ history book.
No secrets. No gossip. No revelations of national significance. Yet the find is significant as the only first-hand compilation of early twentieth century history of the Department of the Australian Senate.