Windows into Wartime

Windows into Wartime, the travelling exhibition from State Archives and Records Authority of NSW, is now with us in Wagga Wagga. It is the latest exhibition produced by SARA for the Centenary of Anzac and has a special focus on what was happening on the home front during World War One.

The NSW Governor, Sir Walter Davidson, at Wagga Wagga Municipal Council Chambers, 28 August 1918.
The NSW Governor, Sir Walter Davidson, replying to Address of Welcome at Wagga Wagga Municipal Council Chambers, 28 August 1918. [Image from State Archives and Records Authority NSW, NRS4481]
The exhibition presents a selection of images produced by the NSW Government Printing Office Photographic Branch during and immediately after the Great War.

As society mobilised on the home front in support of Australia’s military effort overseas, government photographers were on the ground in Sydney and across the state capturing those efforts. They photographed a raft of activities and produced an extraordinary body of work that not only documented, but promoted and shaped how the people of NSW responded to the impact and upheaval caused by the war.

Today, this collection of historic and very significant images – reproduced from their original glass plate negative – provide us with a unique insight into the NSW home front during the First World War.

A Wagga Red Cross League stall at the Wagga Railway Station.
Members of the Wagga Red Cross League at the Wagga Railway Station serving tea, sweets, cakes and cigarettes to soldiers passing through the town on troop trains. Some of the ladies in this photograph include Mesdames Juppenlatz, Meads (seated), Downie and Carpenter. [Image from CSU Regional Archives, Australian Red Cross Society Wagga Wagga collection, RW1647/24]
In addition to the beautiful images from the NSW Government Printing Office, we have chosen a selection of items from our own collection here at CSU Regional Archives to compliment the travelling exhibition.

These items provide a insight into what was happening on the home front in the Riverina and Murray regions at the time.

Included in the display are images of members of the Wagga Red Cross League at work, a register showing victims of the “Spanish Flu” in the Junee Shire, a roll of volunteers signing up for medical checks at the Wagga Drill Hall just over a week after the declaration of war, Water Conservation and Irrigation Commission files on soldier settlers in the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Areas and some very cute local children dressed in Red Cross uniforms to help the League’s fundraising efforts.

Children helped out at Red Cross fundraising events, often dressing in Red Cross uniforms.
Children helped out at Red Cross fundraising events, often dressing in Red Cross uniforms. Back row: Hazel Cook [Moore?], Septimus Muir, Vera Anderson; Middle row: Blanche Parr, Ivy Annison [Anderson?], Enid Brown; Front row: Phyllis Anderson, Phyllis Hartley. [Image from CSU Regional Archives, Australian Red Cross Society Wagga Wagga Collection, RW1647/23]
The specific home front areas the exhibition looks into are:

  • The recruitment of men for the AIF from August 1914 right up the last months of the war;
  • The efforts of women and children towards the war, through organisations such as the Red Cross and patriotic displays;
  • The repatriation programmes that were instigated for the returning soldiers; and
  • Public health, specifically the new Baby Health Clinics and the state’s response to the pneumonic influenza outbreak.

You can find Windows into Wartime at CSU Regional Archives
on the South Campus of Charles Sturt University until 30 June 2017.

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