Hot Modernism

Our exciting new Hot Modernism exhibition takes us back to the era of post-war development in Queensland, when fresh design ideas took hold and changed the architectural landscape of our state.

For many of us, the images and displays in the exhibition conjure up memories of a prosperous and exciting period of growth in Queensland’s history. My memories of the Gold Coast in the 1970s include the development of state-of-the-art high rise buildings, such as Apollo and Iluka, and the iconic Pink Poodle Motel on the Gold Coast Highway. I also have fond recollections of childhood visits to Highgate Hill’s apartment building, Torbreck, where my great aunt was one of the first residents. SLQ’s exhibition looks at the stories behind this building and many other iconic structures and homes of Queensland’s mid-century period. Many of the University of Queensland’s landmark buildings also feature in the exhibition – no doubt the Central Library (now Duhig North), JD Storey Administration Building, Union College and the Hartley Teakle Building hold special significance for many UQ alumni.

Torbreck, a new concept in modern living, a pamphlet produced by developers Reid Murray

Torbreck, a new concept in modern living. John Oxley Library.

With the exhibition piquing interest in Queensland’s modernist architecture, it is worth taking a look at the Digital Archive of Queensland Architecture. This archive provides fascinating information on designers, design history and projects, currently focussing on the period from 1945 to 1975. Stunning photographs and line drawings, as well as in-depth articles, examine building projects and issues of the period. Information is also arranged under lists of architects, firms, structures and building typologies, making it easy to retrieve information and images relevant to your particular interests. One of the most intriguing parts of the archive is the large collection of digital stories – interviews with prominent Queensland architects sharing their stories and recollections. These recordings of digital histories form an invaluable reference and offer fascinating insights into this vital and formative part of Queensland’s history and development.

View the Digital Archive of Queensland Architecture.

The Hot Modernism exhibition runs until 12 October.


Have your say!

State Library of Queensland is developing a fresh plan for the future. SLQ2020 will be a five year plan which will set a high level direction for State Library to ensure our programs and services meet the needs of all Queenslanders.

Community involvement is an important part of our planning process and we want to hear from you — our clients, our stakeholders and members of the community. We invite you to get involved in helping shape and improve our forward planning.


Have your say on SLQ2020

To stimulate your thoughts have a read of the SLQ2020 discussion paper.

You can submit your response by:

  • Commenting on this blog post
  • Answering the questions online here 
  • Emailing us at
  • Joining the conversation on Twitter (#SLQ2020)
  • Commenting on Facebook (#SLQ2020)
  • Writing to us at:  SLQ2020 (People and Planning), PO Box 3488, South Brisbane QLD 4101, Australia

Please provide your feedback by 1 August 2014.

Next steps
Your feedback will be considered along with other information gathered in a variety of ways to inform the development of the new plan. A draft of SLQ’s new Strategic Plan will be available by December 2014 for further comment and the plan for 2015–2020 released by 1 July 2015.

Stay healthy this winter – Use reliable health information

It’s that time of year again when winter coughs, colds and ‘flu set in, and we turn our minds to finding ways to beat the bugs and stay healthy. Many of us also seek information about protecting our general health, conditions affecting our family or friends, or our risk factors for major health problems in the future.

When we want health and medical information, we have a tendency to jump online and read whatever information pops up – often from unreliable sources, public forums or organisations and groups with financial or other unknown motivations. For those of us without medical training, it can be difficult to discern what information and advice is credible or useful.

It is just as quick, and far more productive, to use reliable online tools, such as the health and medicine databases available through State Library of Queensland’s One Search catalogue.

Women wearing surgical masks during the influenza epidemic, Brisbane, 1919.

Women wearing surgical masks during the influenza epidemic, Brisbane, 1919. John Oxley Library.

The Health & Wellness Resource Center is a helpful starting point for consumers, and is accessible here at the library or offsite, enabling you to search and read health-related information in the privacy of your own home.

In this database, you can easily search diseases, conditions or symptoms to find plain language basic or comprehensive information regarding:

  • definitions
  • demographics
  • descriptions
  • risk factors
  • causes
  • symptoms
  • key terms
  • diagnosis
  • treatment (including medical, surgical and alternative treatments), and
  • prevention.

You can choose to view results from a variety of sources, such as books and fact sheets, magazines and journals, pamphlets, videos, media and recent worldwide news reports. The Drugs tab links to material on drugs relevant to your search results, collating information from the trusted Physicians’ Desk Reference Guides to prescription and over-the-counter medications.

Articles can be saved to a marked list for use throughout your session, and can be printed, downloaded or emailed.

The database’s homepage provides links to dependable medical websites containing information on health and medical issues, including:

  • allergies and asthma
  • anatomy
  • arthritis
  • cancer
  • cardiac information
  • diabetes
  • mental health
  • nutrition
  • paediatric health, and
  • seniors’ health.

Health calculators and risk assessment tools are available under the Health Assessment tab, enabling you to check your risk factors for various diseases, and take greater control of your health.

The homepage also highlights health topics in the news, providing a fascinating bulletin of world health headlines and information that is updated every eight hours. One fascinating article I came across was entitled “Dads who do housework may spur daughters to aim high” – helpful research to back me up at home!

While not a tool for self-diagnosis or a substitute for professional advice, The Health & Wellness Resource Center is useful if you’re looking for specific or general health information, and is also a fascinating source of current health and medical news. The reliable information is easy to navigate and understand.

To access this database, search “Health & Wellness Resource Center” in SLQ’s One Search (or view the full list of health and medicine databases, or the alphabetical listing of databases) and log in using your SLQ membership details. If you are not already a member, you can join online.


Family history indexes – Find your elusive ancestor

Do you have an ancestor who is evading your search, or is little more than a name and a place, time or occupation?

State Library of Queensland has indexed onsite resources that make it easier for you to find your family member if they were a convict, Indigenous Australian, soldier or miner.

Richard Giltrow Boer War soldier ca. 1902. John Oxley Library.

Richard Giltrow Boer War soldier ca. 1902. John Oxley Library.

Our indexes include:

Convict Transportation Registers 1787-1867

The British Convict Transportation Registers 1787-1867 database has been compiled from British Home Office records, which are available on microfilm at all Australian State Libraries. It contains details for over 123,000 of the estimated 160,000 convicts transported to Australia in the 18th and 19th centuries, including names, term of years, transport ships and more. This can be a good starting point for our significant convict collection.

Visit the British Convict Transportation Registers 1787-1867.

Tindale Genealogical Collection Name Index 1928-late 1960s

The Tindale Genealogical Collection is a great tool to use when researching Aboriginal family history.  From 1928 until the late 1960s, anthropologist Norman Tindale produced maps of the various Indigenous tribal groups of Australia, and photographed and recorded information about people in Aboriginal communities across the country. SLQ holds copies of his research that relates to the Queensland Aboriginal communities of Yarrabah, Cherbourg, Mona Mona, Palm Island, Woorabinda, Bentinck Island, Doomadgee and Mornington Island, and the New South Wales communities at Boggabilla and Woodenbong. Information includes photographs and other material, including a large number of family trees, and cultural, tribal and language information.

We have also created an online index of names recorded in the genealogies. Although anyone can search the index, there are restrictions on who can access the full family tree information and photographs, as much of the information is private or sensitive.

Find more information on the Tindale Genealogical Collection.

South African (Boer) War Index 1899-1902

During the South African (Boer) War 1899-1902, The Queenslander weekly newspaper included thumbnail images of soldiers participating in the war. This index contains these photographs and information about Queensland troops.

Queensland Mining Accidents Index 1882-1945

The Queensland Mining Accidents Index provides information about mining accidents published annually in the Queensland Legislative Assembly Votes and Proceedings (later known as Queensland Parliamentary Papers) from 1882 to 1945.

Information found using this index can be followed up in the newspapers of the time.

Tin miners near Stanthorpe ca. 1872. John Oxley Library.

Tin miners near Stanthorpe ca. 1872. John Oxley Library.

To search these indexes, go to our One Search catalogue homepage and select Family History Indexes under Quick Links. You can then search the indexes individually (for example, if you know your relative was a convict or served in the Boer War), or you can search all of the indexes together. You may discover that your relative was involved in a mining accident as well as serving in the Boer War.

For these and other family history indexes, which are searchable separately, take a look at our Family History Info Guides. Our online catalogue, databases and collection of useful websites for family historians can help you expand your findings.


Golf Queensland celebrates its centenary

This month, Golf Queensland celebrates 100 years of administering amateur golf in Queensland.

To celebrate this milestone, Golf Queensland and State Library of Queensland have collaborated to develop a Flickr gallery, a showcase of current and past golf clubs on Historypin, and an online presence for golf clubs in Wikipedia.

The centenary is a great opportunity to promote golf in Queensland while preserving the past. It is hoped that all member clubs will follow suit and collect, digitise, and describe their memorabilia for golfing generations to come.

Learn more about Golf Queensland’s history.

Group of four unidentified golfers, each carrying a golf club.

Queensland ladies golf team 1951. Back row left to right: Enid Havritz, J. Percy, Kathy Hannay Front row left to right: Joan Fletcher, Hilma Taylor, Joan Freedman (Description supplied with photograph.)

Women golfers add up their score cards 1938



Is that alternative treatment worth trying?

We are often faced with decisions to make regarding our health, whether for general wellbeing, dealing with a temporary illness or managing an ongoing health concern. When it comes to alternative therapies, it can be overwhelming trying to separate marketing hype or fanatical claims from facts.

Field's Chamomile Powders label (undated). John Oxley Library.

Field's Chamomile Powders label (undated). John Oxley Library.

I am one of approximately 80,000 students undertaking the University of Queensland’s online course Think 101x: The science of everyday thinking. This fascinating programme examines people’s everyday thinking, why we believe what we do, how we form opinions, and how we can learn to think more analytically and methodically to make better decisions in our lives.

A recent episode of the course looked at health claims and how to make sense of the extensive array of alternative medicines and treatments on offer today. Rather than simply relying on our own experiences or the beliefs of those around us, we need to critically examine information to make truly informed decisions. A reference tool recommended in the course is the Cochrane Library, which offers reliable and current information on the effectiveness of interventions in health care. It examines scientific experiments performed on a wide range of therapies, including alternative and complementary medicine, covering treatments such as herbal remedies, acupuncture, meditation and light therapy.

The database lists experiments that have been carried out in relation to particular treatments, analyses and interprets the results, and provides a plain language summary of whether or not each therapy is supported by scientific evidence.

The plain language summary includes information on how many experiments have been conducted, the number of participants involved, the validity of the investigations, and the risk of bias in any of the studies (this depends on who carried out the experiments and any interests they may have in obtaining certain outcomes).

Some examples of the types of treatments examined are:

  • The effect of green and black tea in the prevention of cardiovascular disease.
  • The use of St John’s Wort for treating depression.
  • The effectiveness of melatonin for the prevention and treatment of jet lag.

This is a really useful resource for clinicians, researchers and students, but is made particularly accessible for patients due to the straightforward language and simple, practical presentation of material. By using this type of quality information, you can make more informed decisions about whether or not that treatment you’ve been considering is worth trying, and what is really best for you.

You can access the Cochrane Library through State Library of Queensland’s One Search, by viewing the alphabetical list of all databases, or the list of health and medicine databases.

If you need help locating any health related information, you can also Ask us.

Geddes cold medicine label (undated). John Oxley Library.

Geddes cold medicine label (undated). John Oxley Library.

WWI brought to life

Prepare to be moved by the personal experiences of men and women of World War One, brought to life in The First World War online collection.

When I recently discovered a letter written by a family member to his two sons on their departure to Gallipoli in 1915, I was moved by the expression of emotion and appeals to God, made all the more poignant by the fact that both boys were killed within two years. The letter injected character and soul into what had appeared previously as mere names and photos in our family tree. It also piqued my curiosity about how the young men felt as they embarked on their voyage to war, and the realities of their lives in the brutal and bloody battlefields of a foreign land.

The First World War provides such insights, through its valuable compilation of original documents from archival collections around the world. It focusses on personal material, such as diaries, photographs, postcards, souvenirs, sketches and other artefacts that show the war through the eyes of the people who lived through it. The material’s unique presentation makes it easy to view images, and even see many personal items using a 360 degree rotating viewer.

Australians leaving London on a Thames steamer during World War I. John Oxley Library.

Australians leaving London on a Thames steamer during World War I. John Oxley Library.

One particularly touching item is a love letter written on an ivy leaf by a Maori digger, saying “In the field somewhere in France. 1st August 1918. No pleasures are so sweet as memory which turns my thoughts again to you. Like this ivy leaf I cling to you. To my loving wife. From Horo.”

The diary of Enid Bell, an ambulance driver in France, provides glimpses into the daily lives of women and support workers, describing friendships and the hardships of life during wartime.

Many items also offer unexpected moments of humour, demonstrating people’s incredible ability to cope and maintain balance under the harshest of circumstances.

Australian soldier sitting on a stone wall in Palestine, World War I. John Oxley Library.

Australian soldier sitting on a stone wall in Palestine, World War I. John Oxley Library.

Images and detailed information about propaganda and recruitment give an insight into how these played such a significant role in influencing public opinion and morale during wartime. Posters, cartoons and leaflets, and instructions for the distribution of propaganda, are fascinating – showing the use of both fear and humour as a weapon during the war. One editor’s article highlights the use of propaganda with children, designed to educate the youngest citizens about the conflict and their country’s part in it.

These rich primary sources are excellent for studying, researching and teaching, giving insight into daily life and routines in the army, conditions in the trenches, discipline, friendships, supplies, training and death.

The First World War also includes a useful introductory “tour”, interactive maps with timelines and descriptions of key incidents, a chronology, scholarly essays and a comprehensive glossary.

When searching The First World War, you can save documents and images from multiple search sessions, making it a handy research tool. External links to other online resources from around the world also make this a great starting point for scholars and history buffs.

The First World War is easily accessed in State Library of Queensland’s One Search. View the list of history databases or the alphabetical listing of all databases, then log in using your SLQ membership details. If you’re not already a member, you can join online now.

Red Cross nurse with patient, World War I. John Oxley Library.

Red Cross nurse with patient, World War I. John Oxley Library.

Share your story

State Library of Queensland wants to hear your stories about life in Brisbane from 1945–75.

This was a period of dramatic change when our city embraced the international modernist ideals and aesthetics, and started to take its place on the world stage.

As part of the upcoming Hot Modernism exhibition, we’re going to turn some of your stories and memories into song to capture the essence of this important era. The songs will be performed at SLQ events and posted on our website and through other digital media.

Chocolate wheel at the Red Cross Fete, Government House, Brisbane, 1940

Do you have stories to share about:

  • your house / apartment, the rooms in which you lived, where you slept, where you dined, what you ate, what you drank, events held in the home, family activities, the neighbourhood, the neighbours, the diverse cultures, pets, smells, sounds, etc.
  • your schools, colleges, universities, teachers, books, exams, sports, pranks, friends, enemies, classrooms, subjects, etc.
  • Entertainment: venues, memorable events, heroes, music, theatre, film, books, sports, etc.
  • Places of worship you visited for events or special occasions
  • World affairs which had an influence on you / your family e.g. inventions, conflicts, tragedies, celebrations, speeches, etc.

Your stories could be funny, serious, long or short. They will help us understand the rich tapestry of life in Brisbane at that time and to this day.

You can submit stories and/or photos to, via the comments section in this blog, on the SLQ Facebook page or book a time to share your story directly with the composer on Thursday 22 May, from 10am.

Rowing eight at boat ramp, Brisbane, 1947

Indulge your love of fashion with the Vogue Archive

Browsing through the exquisite images of the Vogue Archive is a must for any fashion devotee or budding designer. Available through our website, this wonderful resource provides a valuable and fascinating insight into fashion, society, art and culture over the last century.

In 1892, Vogue started as a weekly society paper for New York’s elite. When Condé Nast bought the publication in 1909, it quickly changed to a fortnightly publication focused on fashion, increasing in size and quality, and evolving into the slick monthly magazine we’re familiar with today.

The Vogue Archive contains all issues of the US edition of Vogue — from the first issue published on 17 December 1892 (costing just 10 cents), to the current issue of the iconic glossy magazine. Every page is reproduced as a high-resolution colour image.

Fashion photograph for Vogue by Arnold Genthe, 1920. Courtesy of The Library of Congress.

Fashion photograph for Vogue by Arnold Genthe, 1920. Courtesy of The Library of Congress.

You can choose to browse through any issue of the magazine or, if you’re after a particular article, or looking for material on a certain topic, you can view individual items such as articles, advertisements and pictures.

All the material has been indexed thoroughly, enabling you to search for brands, designer names, contributor names or garment types. As the images are also indexed, you can search for pictures using keywords for fashion items (such as miniskirt, ankle boot or sari), the person pictured, brand, designer or even materials used (such as silk, jacquard or leather). Searches can also be limited by the journal editor, photographers, stylists and illustrators, making it easy to pinpoint specific material.

Fashion photograph for Vogue by Arnold Genthe, 1920. Courtesy of The Library of Congress.

Fashion photograph for Vogue by Arnold Genthe, 1920. Courtesy of The Library of Congress.

Vogue’s legendary covers featured art by leading artists and illustrators of the day, and provided a public forum for modern art movements such as Art Deco and cubism in the 1920s.

Innovative photography changed the face of Vogue’s covers in the 1930s and 1940s, making the magazine an icon of photographic style as well as reflecting the changing fashion and culture through the decades.

Looking back through the Vogue Archive gives a superb overview of fashion’s history — from corseted gowns, the feminine styles of Dior and chic Parisian trends, to the simpler, more practical fashions of today.  Vogue is also a rich source of documentation of social change, with articles by leading literary figures and thinkers, such as Evelyn Waugh and Winston Churchill, as well as feature articles about prominent women such as Jackie Kennedy, and popular figures, from Audrey Hepburn to Rihanna.

The Vogue Archive is an exceptional resource for students of fashion, popular culture, textiles, photography, design, and advertising. Of course it’s also enjoyable to just sit back and browse through the beautiful images and interesting articles of the past 122 years.

To access the Vogue Archive, simply search “Vogue Archive” in SLQ’s One Search (or view the full list of art and architecture databases, or the alphabetical listing of databases) and log in using your SLQ membership details. If you are not already a member, you can join online now.

Happy browsing!

SLQ connecting families

At State Library of Queensland we regularly help visitors who are researching their families, trying to piece together the puzzles of their family tree and satisfy an innate desire to know where they come from.

Our family history section is always busy with visitors using our vast resources, including:

  • immigration and shipping records
  • convict records
  • births, deaths and marriages indexes
  • adoption records
  • land records
  • notices and articles in newspapers, and
  • indigenous family history records.

Our skilled and experienced librarians can help you make the most of these and other resources to trace branches of your family back several generations.

Unidentified family members standing next to a car

Unidentified family members standing next to a car - John Oxley Library

But family research is not just about delving into the tales and characters of the past. SLQ has seen wonderful stories unfold of visitors who have discovered living relatives and made lasting connections with current generations of their family.

Recently, an overseas visitor came to SLQ and was able to trace the Queensland branch of her family, make contact with them, and cement a life-long connection with Brisbane.

Another visitor, who had been adopted at birth, had just a few clues as to her family’s past. Yet we were able to help her trace her family line, and within 24 hours she had met her elderly birth mother for the first time, returning to SLQ to let us know the outcome and express her thanks.

Our library team are dedicated to helping you with your family research needs. We encourage and assist you to make the best possible use of the information you have, and use the records and resources available through SLQ to help you in your quest for answers.

Embarking on the family research adventure is sure to yield some fascinating information about your family’s past – and there’s always the chance that it will change your future too!

For information about how to get started and what resources we have, visit our Family History web page, which contains many useful and practical info guides.

You can also visit us at SLQ, or use our Ask us service, where you can:

We look forward to helping you make family connections!