“MEMORANDUM” : My book in progress

Siganto Foundation Fellow Ana Paula Estrada reflects on her project “Memorandum” that is evolving as she delves into the collections of the John Oxley Library.

I am incredibly attracted to old photographs, I have always been. As a child it fascinated me to open an old trunk at my parents’ house to take out old newspaper clippings, magazines and photographs of my grandparents and great-grandparents. I simply cannot explain the emotion and nostalgia that made me feel to see photographs of people who no longer lived and places that were no longer the same. I never imagined that 20 years later this would be part of my work.

My work in progress “Memorandum” is a book I am developing as part of my Siganto Foundation Fellowship. It uses the library´s resources and autobiographical writings of older Australians to generate a journal on the history of Queensland´s old residents. However it is not a historical book and should not be taken as such, though of course the content is real, the information obtained is purely subjective since it is based on memories and somehow on my own interpretation of them.

In this first stage I have been photographing, recording and transcribing biographies of people who live in Brisbane and its surrounds. In these stories there are certain details that catch my attention; it could be a name of a town, a historical event or maybe a simple recipe. These details have formed a long list which is the base of my research in the archives of the State Library´s collections. I am dedicated mainly to observing the landscape of Queensland and its transformation over time; there is something about this good looking State that keeps me inspired.

One participant of my project, James Hopkins Jeffrey, grew up in a small mining town called Mount Colliery in southeast Queensland. Unfortunately, he does not have many photographs of these places and you can tell by the way he speaks that he is really attached to that stage of his life. While digging in the archives of the library, I found a few photographs of different views of the mines and mountains in his town. The images were taken during the years that James´s Father worked there as a miner. I wonder what Jim´s reaction will be when he sees these photographs?

Coal tippler at Mount Mulligan Colliery ca 1917 : 7059, Mount Colliery Mine Photographs, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland, Australia.

Coal tippler at Mount Mulligan Colliery ca 1917 : 7059, Mount Colliery Mine Photographs, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland, Australia.

I have found amazing items in the collection such as this postcard from Warwick that opens up into a little accordion book with photographs from the area:

Source: 7059, Mount Colliery Mine Photographs, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland, Australia.

I still can’t believe how rich and well organized these collections are and how friendly and efficient the staff at the library is. And also how beautiful the view from my desk in the Neil Robert’s Research Lounge – the fellowship room! I would have never imagined what lies behind the walls of the public area of the library, I feel very fortunate to be part of such an amazingly creative space.

Neil Robert's Research Lounge

Neil Robert’s Research Lounge

Ana Paula Estrada