With limited opportunity for active service, how did women contribute during the tumultuous years of the First World War?
State Library of Queensland’s new exhibition Duty and Care explores items from the First World War collections, preserved as powerful examples of women’s wartime involvement and experiences.
Now on display in the Talbot Family Treasures Wall on Level 4 outside the John Oxley Library, old postcards albums, scrapbooks, letters and diaries tell stories of love and sacrifice, and determination of spirit.
While their loved ones fought in faraway lands, at home in Queensland and elsewhere, wives, mothers and girlfriends dealt with the consequences of war. With creativity and resourcefulness, they managed family responsibilities alone, coped with resource shortages, and contributed in whatever way they could. Some enlisted in the Australian Army Nursing Service and saw active service overseas. Others threw themselves into fundraising activities, volunteered to care for wounded soldiers, or protested for peace. All lived in anxious anticipation of their loved ones’ return, facing their fears and the trauma of loss.
While the items featured in Duty and Care reflect a number of different lives, each item is a personal and purposeful response to uncertain times. Some items are treasured mementos of intimate relationships or shared experiences, while other items reflect the work of women as fundraisers, correspondents, performers, and providers of comfort and care.
Duty and Care is part of the Q ANZAC 100: Memories for a New Generation program and is proudly supported by the Queensland Government.
The SLQ Treasures Wall will feature a different themed exhibition for every year of the centenary of the First World War and provides an opportunity to explore and expose different aspects of Queensland’s war time experience.
Duty and Care
12 April 2017 – 23 March 2018
Treasures Wall, Level 4, SLQ
Robyn Hamilton – QANZAC100 Content Curator, State Library of Queensland