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The Australian National University

Archive in the Spotlight

Archive in the Spotlight is an initiative where one of the team investigates a lantern slide series held in a public or personal collection around Australia. This process involves research into the series and, on occasion, an interview with a curator, librarian, or private custodian. 

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Boa Constrictors Before Dinner on a Wednesday: Science in the Limelight at the Australian Museum

The Australian Museum in Sydney is the country’s first museum and is celebrating 190 years of collecting and exhibiting in 2017. At the end of July, the project’s Research Fellow, Elisa deCourcy, was lucky enough to get a preview of the Australian Museum’s 20,000 plus lantern slide collection with Vanessa Finney, Head, Archives, Rare Books and Library Collections. The slides are housed in the stores of the institution, many in lovely hardwood filing cabinets, watched over by resplendent taxidermied birds in glass vitrines. There is a palpable sense of the past about this...

Ned Kelly, lantern slides and the genesis of “right-click” image-sharing culture

Enter the words ‘Ned Kelly’ into Google image search and you’ll be met with an array of images: nineteenth century photographs of the bearded man himself, woodcut illustrations from 1880 newspapers of Ned in his armour, images of Mick Jagger and Heath Ledger acting in their respective Kelly films, and kitsch souvenirs. If you visit the National Museum of Australia’s excellent online catalogue and search for a set of 77 Ned Kelly magic lantern slides, which were purchased as part of group of 146 slides in the early 2000s, you will return a not dissimilar grid of images...

'A Universe in a box': The Expansive Lantern Slide Collection of Museums Victoria

Recently, Lead CI, Martyn Jolly spent an informative morning at Museums Victoria with Lorenzo Iozzi, Senior Collection Manager of Images for History and Technology. Of all the collecting institutions in Australia Museums Victoria is the furthest advanced in making its magic lantern collections available for research and engagement. They have over 11,000 slides in their History and Technology collection, 3,000 slides in their Natural Sciences collection, and 1,500 slides in their Indigenous Cultures collection. Their slide collections not only include thousands of regular square glass...

Illuminating the Heroic Endeavours of C.Y. O'Connor and other stories from the Kerry Stokes Collection, Perth

The Kerry Stokes Collection is a vast private archive, which includes a rich photographic collection generally and an impressive lantern slides specifically, that recalls unique aspects of Western Australia’s settlement and development. Collection curators, Emma-Clare Bussell and Erica Persak generously showed Chief Investigator, Jane Lydon and Research Fellow, Elisa deCourcy a sample of the collection. Lantern slides were central to disseminating the plans and displaying the mechanics behind Charles Yelverton O’Connor’s ambitious project to pump water from the Mundaring...

Anthropological Slides at The Queensland Museum

Recently, lead CI Martyn Jolly visited the Queensland Museum, where he explored the Museum’s lantern-slide collections with Karen Kindt, Assistant Collection Manager, Anthropology, and the Indigenous curator Michael Aird, Research Fellow, School of Social Science, University of Queensland. The Museum holds several major collections of slides related to science, religion, and anthropology. An example of the diversity of the Museum’s collections are the slides produced by Charles Joseph Pound, a Queensland microbiologist who identified tick-born ‘redwater fever’ amongst...

The antecedents to PowerPoint presentations: The slides of the Marks-Hirschfeld Museum of Medical History

Recently lead CI Martyn Jolly visited Dr James Nixon, curator at the Marks-Hirschfeld Museum of Medical History in the University of Queensland School of Medicine.  James looks after two significant sets of slides. The first collection comes from Dr John Bostock, and is an integrated set of teaching slides and index cards. The slides still have their original cross-referenced index cards, filed in their original index box, and were used for psychology lectures to medical students between 1945 and 1955. Although politically very conservative, educationally Bostock was very innovative. As...

Rouse Hill House and Generations of Lantern Slide Performances

Curator Dr Scott Hill knows scores of fascinating stories about the extraordinary collection of Rouse Hill House and Farm, one of the properties of Sydney Living Museums that is located between Parramatta and the towns of Windsor and Richmond in Sydney’s North-west.  But for Research Fellow Elisa deCourcy and Lead CI Martyn Jolly, one of the most exciting of his stories was the one about Dr John Buchanan Rouse Terry [b.1944], one of the sixth generation of the family to have lived at the house. As a boy in the 1950s he would take out the house’s antique magic lantern to give...

Updated: 20 October 2017/ Responsible Officer:  Head of Office / Page Contact:  Web Publisher