As a Masters of Museum Studies (UQ) student I have had the opportunity to undertake a ten day internship at the State Library of Queensland within the Queensland Memory department. You may ask; “Why the Library? Why not a museum?”
Throughout my first year of postgraduate study I have come to recognise that libraries also play a significant role in collecting, preserving, and educating the public through objects,that is not unlike the museum institution. It was during this time that I also learnt about the valuable and fascinating work that was happening at Queensland Memory, and so, decided this was where I wanted to undertake my internship.
To cut a long story short, I have spent most of January exploring the Migrant Heritage collection held by Queensland Memory in the State Library repository. I have had the privilege of gazing in on the lives of migrants who had settled in Queensland from the 1800′s onwards; through their family photographs, holiday postcards, handwritten letters and household inventories, while also reflecting on the stories of people’s everyday lives as I pieced the snippets of information together. Several Oral History collections have provided fascinating information on the earlier days of numerous Queensland places.
Through taped dialogues and transcripts the stories of individuals, have illustrated their resilience, strength and tenacity as they experienced times of hardship, floods, financial hardships, the Depression, WWII, and so on. These events experienced alongside family commitments contributed to the strengthening of community of people from many varied cultural background. Their stories, presented as letters, photographs and dialogue confirm to me, that we all no matter what background, or birthplace, shape a nation. Queensland memories held within migrant heritage stories matter.