5 places to find inspiration for a museum, business or historical project

old trainsThe gardening crew has arrived outside my office. I hear a clunk and a bump as their truck and trailer bounces into the lot. I watch for a few minutes, and I’m inspired by the efficiency. They quickly rev up the ride-on mower and begin trimming the edges. It’s like a well-oiled pit stop team — every worker knows his place. Someone hands me the bill and everybody leaves as smoothly as they came in.

In business, it’s important to be creative. Here are five sources of inspiration. See full article: Here

Artists and authors, starting out can be hard

TVFBeing an author, blogger, researcher, performer, artist… the list goes on and on – it can be hard. Here are some pointers from my recent blog post on going it alone, whether you are a historical researcher or small gallery or historical society, check it out :

“Many entrepreneurs start out as a one-man (or woman) show. While this can be challenging, exhausting and incredibly rewarding, ultimate success may not be determined by your business idea, but by how organised you are.

Experienced freelancers and small businesses that are single person operations need to be ultra-organised. Whether you are flying solo for the first time or well established, technology can improve your efficiency and performance. Here are some pointers based on my own experience running a one-man show.”

See full article here: The Pulse

Four opticians that became ANZACs in WW1 – one survived

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An outdoor portrait of the 9th Training Battalion at Perham Downs, Wiltshire. Victorian optician Gordon Heathcote from Kew is seated on the far left, sporting his new Corporal stripes he earned in England.

Cpl Gordon Roy Heathcote, 24th Company Australian Machine Gun Corps.

Cpl Gordon Roy Heathcote was an optician of Kew in Victoria. Single, twenty-three years old and living with his parents comfortably in Melbourne’s inner eastern suburbs, he enlisted in August and set sail from Melbourne on 20 October 1916. Seated on the left above, the machine gun is not just a prop for the photo – this optician had landed as a non-commissioned officer in an Australian Army Machine Gun Corps. Single, living with his parents comfortably in Melbourne’s suburbs. he enlisted in August and left Melbourne on 20 October 1916. In was promoted to Corporal while in England and completed his physical and bayonet training courses there before landing in France in September 1917. He was killed in action just short of a year after leaving his in Melbourne, dying on 16 October 1917 in Belgium. The soldier standing behind Gordon with his arm reached onto his shoulder is, Frederick Benedict (Ted) Alsop, who died the next day on the 17 October 1917.

Photo courtesy of the Australian War Memorial P08299.007

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2nd Lt George Stanley McIlroy, 24th Battalion, of South Melbourne.

2nd Lt George Stanley McIlroy,
24th Battalion, of South Melbourne.

An optician prior to enlistment, he was awarded the Military Cross, “for conspicuous ability and gallantry as a Company Commander throughout the operations in France from 26 March 1916. He looks well after his men and has set them a fine example of soldierly endurance under heavy shell fire at Pozieres. His Company has done excellent work throughout, and this is due in great part to the powers of leadership developed by Captain McIlroy”. Due to illness, he returned to Australia on 17 March 1917.

Photo courtesy of the Australian War Memorial P05891.001

 

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Lt Arthur Douglas Hogan, 21st Battalion from Lewisham, NSW.

Lt Arthur Douglas Hogan
21st Battalion from Lewisham, NSW.

Arthur was a 29 year old jeweller/optician prior to his enlistment in 1915. After arriving in Egypt, he was repatriated back to Australia suffering from typhoid. Following his recovery, he then wounded but returned to the front and was killed in action at Passchendaele in 1917. Lt Hogan is commemorated on the Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres, Belgium with others who have no known grave.

Photo courtesy of the Australian War Memorial H0575

 

Captain John Needham, 2nd Pioneer Battalion, VIC, Australian Imperial Forces.

This is a story of a First World War (WWI) optician: mentioned in Despatches by General Sir Douglas Haig, Commander-in-Chief of the British Armies in France for “distinguished and gallant services, and devotion to duty” in the 2nd Pioneer Battalion, Australian Imperial Forces (AIF).

Born in 1882, John V Needham enlisted at age 19 in the Victorian (Mounted Rifles) Contingent he served in South Africa and returned in 1902. As a young Boer War Veteran, Needham then joined the Victorian Scottish Regiment and later married, having a son and training to become an optician. He was a practising optometrist/refractionist at Richmond, an inner suburb of Melbourne, before he enlisted as an “optician” in the AIF in late 1914.

Photo courtesy of AWM P00998.031

Seated in the front row, first left, is Captain John Valentine Needham, a Boer War Veteran, father and optometrists, who left his business in 1914 to answer the call of the AIF. One of the few “opticians” that appear in the #WW1 ANZAC records, his became a front leaders, suffered shell shock, was wounded and returned home a five years later. This is his story. Photo courtesy of AWM p00988.031

The term optician in 1914 may have equated to what we would think of as a modern-day “optometrist” including a store front and dispensary. Doing eye testing, cutting and fitting of lenses and offering a section of frames including custom-made styles, all was probably completed and dispensed to the customer at the Richmond building.

The professional organisation of Australian optometrists was is its infancy at the time and a search of the Australian War Memorial & National Archive of Australia records for opticians, optometrist or optometry reveal very few WWI enlistment records, except Captain Needham, enlisting with such an occupation.

Later wounded and of failing health, the Optician was now a front line officer in France, and worried about his business affairs at home: “He sleeps badly and worries that his business in going to ruin in Melbourne… He has insomnia and tremors of the hands…stress and strain from active service conditions.”

WW1medals&cardsHe saw service in Gallipoli and France and was promoted to captain in 1916. Wounded and ill, he was recommended for the Military Cross for his gallantry at Pozieres, but Mentioned in Despatches, his health deteriorated. A report recommended he be returned to Australia in 1916 as unsuitable for active duty, but other medical evaluations determined he was fit for duty. Sadly, it took another three years before he arrived home in Melbourne in 1919.

A broken man, he never recovered and was hospitalised because of the trauma of war. He died in Melbourne in the early 1920s. His death was considered to have been directly caused by his service.

Seated in the front row, first on the left, is Captain John Needham, the “Optician” from Melbourne, in an outdoor portrait of officers of the 2nd Pioneer Battalion, Australian Imperial Forces, c. 1916. His WWI awards & recommendations included:

In addition, Captain Needham received the Queen’s South Africa Medal for the Boer War, all of which are now held in the national collection of the Australian War Memorial.

JVNeedhamWW1fSoldiers who paid the ultimate sacrifice received the honour of a Memorial Scroll from the King and saucer-sized bronze plaque recognising their service to the Empire. The later was often called a death penny. His widow had wrote on many occasions to receive his entitlements, for his young son, and eventually she received a Memorial Scroll from the King but added to one letter:

“P.S.  I would also like one of the Memorial Plaques – as next of kin – if this is not asking too much. A. G. N.”

Information sourced from Australian War Memorial and National Archives of Australia internet sites 25 April 2014. (C) Andrew McIntosh CPA

Last Post: Remembering the First World War

Throughout the world researchers, writers, bloggers and family members are becoming familiar with “Field Post” cards. For many years official histories and formal records dictated much of the content of #WW1 history. With the passing of the Great War generation, often the men first and then their partners, more and more First World War post cards are becoming available.

Be this via opening your grandparents musty box of letters or finding a card from the Great War at a market, early postcards are growing in popularity as a low-cost method for collectors, students and writers to get up close and personal with #WW1. Unlike war sites being reclaimed by nature, post cards are had written – a piece of history actually handled by the soldier, the nurse, the veterinarian on the front line.

Often the Field Post cards will have a last portrait or show the ruins of Europe, but you often get the sense of fore boding: you can sense the “she’ll be right mate” attitude of Aussie Diggers as they face an uncertain and often deadly future. Now with the advent of online websites like eBay, cards posted from Field Post Offices are cheap and readily accessible to all.

The unexpected twist is when the enemy post cards appear and you see that not only the fresh face youth of the British Empire which was marched to muddy hell, but also the proud young German men, writing home to their mothers, sisters and girls-friends. Field Post Offices provided an amazing service in so many ways.

While technology brings us close to accessing WWI messages, the world faces losing much of the modern-day message from the battle field: email and social media is quick, easy and instantaneous – yet go back through your emails and you may find they are slowly disappearing. 9-11 for example: the emotion, heart-break and agony of that day would have been once on paper or post card. Look back through your emails and see if you have any from September 11th, 2011.

I know my email service provided does not retain anything that old now. Fortunately, a little old-fashioned I know, I printed out the key emails of the time. I am glad I did, because a great bulk of that electronic ‘field post’ for this century, email, does not have a life span of the documents handled by the Great Field Post Offices of the War to End All Wars.

The British Postal Museum & Archive blog

The First World War was a major turning point in the history of the Post Office. To mark the year of the centenary, our First World War exhibition, Last Post, is now open at Coalbrookdale Museum of Iron, part of the Ironbridge Gorge Museums group.

The exhibition explores the contribution of millions of people to wartime communication and the far reaching role of thePost Office on both the battlefield and the home front.

Field Post Office Field Post Office

An Oxo tin among other things

Demonstrating the huge variety of items that could be sent through the post in wartime, you can see on display an OXO tin posted home from the fighting front by William Cox, a former Post Office worker. He posted the OXO tin back to his brother and sister, containing a button from the tunic of a fallen soldier and a piece of shrapnel.

Cox's OXO Tin OXO tin sent…

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British war graves to be restored in northern Poland

Prisoners of War: They are soldiers, who must have encountered the enemy in close quarters and gone through an individual, and perhaps group, process of deciding to fight to the death, lay down their arms in defeat, exhaustion, injury, abandonment or at the lost of all hope.

The encounter, the surrender or capture, for a soldier is, I suspect one of the most gut wrenching feelings a person could be faced with. Perhaps there was a feeling of relief – I’m safe at last: I will rest out my days in a camp and just wait until this awful War to end all wars is over. Some camps horrific, some civilized. But to die in captivity is something that is unimaginable.

At times there was kindness in death, but the captors, priests, nuns or a wreath provided by a surrounding occupied town, but largely dying as a prisoner of war in captivity in an unconscionable end to the of a teacher, plumber, a baker, father or a son.

It is important to remember them, and restoration of their final place headstones and monuments is important.

First World War Centenary, 1914-1918

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The graves of 39 First World War British soldiers who died at the German army’s Heilsberg prisoner of war camp are to be restored.

The graves, at Lidzbark Warminski in northern Poland, were marked with a Cross of Sacrifice and Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) headstones in the years immediately following the end of the conflict. But, during the 1960s, the cemetery deteriorated and the men’s names were added to the memorial at Malbork Commonwealth War Cemetery.

Restoration

Experts from the CWGC are now restoring the Lidzbark Warminski site, erecting new headstones that have been manufactured in the CWGC’s offices at Arras in France.

A number of families of the men have come forward and will be able to attend a rededication ceremony planned for May, at which the CWGC will also install a new Visitor Information Panel.

Among those commemorated at Lidzbark Warminski is 19-year-old private Frank Bower…

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Australian Indigenous Response to World War One

The mystery continues – do you know who the two standing soldiers are in this WW1 portrait?

Read the original article below for more information and discussion.

museumandhistory.com

Book Review: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Volunteers for the AIF: The Indigenous Response to World War One (Second Edition 2012)
Author: Philippa Scarlett


Private Harry Avery with an unidentified Aboriginal soldier (previously thought to be Douglas Grant) and an unknown British soldier, c 1918, courtesy of Rebecca Lamb.

I first came across Philippa Scarlett’s name as part of my research into World War One Australian Aboriginal soldier Douglas Grant. Philippa was a guest on an ABC Radio program with two other researchers, Garth O’Connell and David Huggonson. Garth and David had led the way some years earlier by documenting the neglected area of Australia’s Indigenous war service record.

The radio program had the well known portrait of a WWI Aboriginal soldier, standing next to Private Harry Avery and an unknown British soldier, as a prominent image on it’s website for the interview. This photo, said to be of Aboriginal…

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All Quiet on the Western Front

I too have been reading All Quiet on the Western Front after only glancing through it in the 1980’s school book assignment. Thirty years later, I’m ready to really read it and contemplate what all soldiers and animals (mainly horses) when through 100 years ago. #ANZAC

What Crosses My Mind

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I’ve been reading the book All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque and it’s one of those books that when you look at the cover you’re like “ehh looks slow” but once you start reading it, it really grabs you and you want to keep reading. It’s about a soldier and his fellow soldiers on the battle field of World War 1 and how things were from their point of view. I had always heard of WW1 and WW2 and I always had an idea that is was a struggle for soldiers who fought, but my idea of their struggles was just death and starvation. Little did I know that they had lice, trench foot, and barely showered. It’s much worse than I thought it to be. Books like these sort of “humble” you in a way. For a while you put your life into perspective and…

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Have you posted your old photos on social media yet? It will be a hit!

Shell Facebook Banner

Nostalgia has definitely made it’s way back into retail marketing, but it is also making an impression in other industries as well, with social media facilitating nostalgic brand and marketing strategies. The free platforms like Facebook and WordPress also put this ability into the hand of local museums, historical societies, galleries and community groups.

As Shell fast approaches five million followers, it’s Facebook banner featured a nostalgic 1960/70’s image. Even as the brand talks innovation, a high-tech and advanced technologies, the old Shell station resonates with thousands of Facebook followers liking and sharing the picture.

Brand nostalgia is not a mutually exclusive to retail marketing strategy, as proven by Coca-Cola time and time again. Social media now provides several unique platforms to marry nostalgia with other seemingly divergent strategies as refreshing (excuse the pun) and social engaging content.

Note the branding is consistent over the years, the Shell logo from back then is still representing the company today, creating continuity.

So if major brands are engaging with their “fans” and getting free advertising from those fans sharing, liking and promoting the brand, why not take steal the strategy and implement it in your not for profit organisation? Most NFPs have plenty of volunteers will to help and those with a more ‘senior’ member demographic may be able to use social media as a way of attracting younger interest into the organisation.

As we speak, social media marketing teams are raiding their corporate museums, archives and googling for “cool” retro images to fit in to their current brand strategies. Social media provides a ready tool for the quick, low cost, distribution of historical images allowing fans and followers to further engage with fond memories and simpler times (pre-social media) when the brand was with them.

Have you looked at your retro photos yet? Post them and people will like and share them…. why else would advertisers being do it! Grow your fan base, attract new interest and membership while bring your NFP into this century and increasing accessibility to your collection.

Add a copyright message, but only put things up on the internet that you are prepared to see copied and re-appearing elsewhere, with or with a credit.

The last World War Two soldier

I was in a rush one day before Remembrance Day and quickly ducked into Quinton’s IGA in Warrandyte for some groceries. As I entered, I passed an elderly gentleman seated with this tray full of poppies fund-raising for the Returned Services League (RSL) of Australia. He had a baseball cap on and, like most men of a more respectable era, dress pants and an a jacket despite the warm weather. On his lapel were several badges and of course, a blood-red poppy. I back tracked, ignoring my urge to rush in and out of the shop as quick as I could, with my conscience telling me I needed to buy a poppy.

IMG_9553As I passed over my donation to support veterans, I asked the old Digger when did he serve. He answered “World War Two, I’m the last one.” I paused for a moment, thinking about of his understated remarks, ladened with a magnitude of meaning that I could not ever really hope to comprehend. Firstly, this proud but frail man sitting in the grocery store had served in a battle so great it is titled a “World War.” How could anyone who had never served on a battlefield hope to understand what that meant?

Secondly, I was caught off guard by simple but powerful words “I’m the last one.” I tried doing arithmetic about WWII, did he mean the last standing Digger in Australia or this local area or his battalion? I had to ask, but it did not matter if he was the last one in the country or the last one in the local area, anyone who says they are the “last one” of a group of friends, soldiers or a generation carries a heavy burden.

He was the last WWII Digger of the Warrandyte RSL Club.

The Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) and the term “Diggers” became famous during the drawn out battles of WWI. The name Diggers has stuck to Aussie soldiers for over ninety years – not only known for their courage under fire, but their ability to dig in under the arduous circumstances.

RSL Club’s once graced nearly every town in Australia and are familiar as the proverbial kangaroo to Australians of all ages. Once flooded with returned soldiers from both World Wars and later Korea and Vietnam, the Clubs have slowly emptied, some closing their doors, ‘consolidating’, as Diggers from the Great War, then the following wars, slowly thinned in their ranks with the passing of time.

The rush of modern-day life then caught up with me, I had to move on: get the shopping done, get the kids and get moving. But that thirty-second conversation stayed with me, played on my mind…. “I’m the last one” and soon there would be none.  I wondered if someone had captured his story, recorded his thoughts, this Last Digger of Warrandyte. The last of his generation. The last of his mates.

IMG_8970Many weeks passed and I started a documentary photography course at Melbourne’s RMIT University under the direction of esteemed photographer Michael Coyne. We had to come up with subject ideas for our portfolio of photos and this Last Digger came to mind. My final project concept ended up being “Roundabout to Roundabout”, documenting life between Warrandyte’s two roundabouts, starting at the CFA Fire Station and ending at the Roundabout Cafe several kilometres away.

By this stage Remembrance Day had passed and there was no sign of the Last Digger at the local IGA. I would have to do my project without the poppy seller in my portfolio of life between the roundabouts. As I spent too many hours stalking people and businesses along Warrandyte Road, I got used to the rhythm of the old township, got to know the shop keepers by day and even several by night as the project developed.

And then on the last day of my portfolio shooting in Warrandyte, I saw in the distance a man in a baseball cap with a bit of a slow shuffle, making his way between the roundabouts. Despite the hot day, he was well dressed with a jacket and slacks and had his tray of RSL knickknacks in hand, still fundraising for current veterans and their families well passed Remembrance Day.

In one of my next blogs I will tell the remarkable story of the Last Digger of Warrandyte. In the meantime, I encourage anyone who knows a WWII soldier to ask them about their service…  before it is too late.