Remembrance Day is a time to pay respects, and to remember those who died or suffered in the line of duty. At State Library of Queensland, our First World War collections are full of tangible reminders of wartime experiences.
What do people keep as keepsakes of war, and why do they hold onto them? Can treasured objects help us to make sense of catastrophe, or do they simply describe a time and a place riven by a catastrophic event?
Some of our First World War keepsakes are tourist souvenirs, sent home to loved ones or purchased as mementos of travels in foreign lands far from home. Other items are objects of patriotism and community participation, often well-deserved awards for hardships endured or work well done. These items point to the activities of war. Other items however, are tokens of grief, remnants of lives cut short but never forgotten.
While these mementos can never paint a complete picture, they do reveal private experiences. As a group they form our collective memory, and can help us understand how Queenslanders experienced the First World War, at home and overseas. Below are just some of the keepsakes found in our collection:
Robyn Hamilton – Coordinator, QANZAC Content, State Library of Queensland