25 September 2023

Archives set sights on WWI survivors

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The National Archives of Australia (NAA) has launched a new online exhibition following the experiences of 21 Australians who were there 100 years ago when the War to end all Wars, WWI, was over.

The exhibition, 1918: A Different Life, follows the Australians as they began to move on from the devastation of war and build new lives re-establishing professional careers or embracing the spheres of community and domestic life with new purpose.

Director-General of the NAA, David Fricker said the exhibition drew on the Archives collection to offer a new perspective on how the Government resolved to help Australian Imperial Force (AIF) volunteers and their families navigate the uncertain world of peace by offering financial, medical and vocational assistance.

“Private David Fletcher Jones, a Bendigo orchardist with an entrepreneurial streak, set his sights on establishing a travelling drapery business after he was discharged from the AIF suffering ‘shell-shock’,” Mr Fricker said.

“London prostitute Tilly Twiss married Australian Sapper Jim Devine (both pictured) and followed him to Australia, where she proved an astute investor and established a notorious yet profitable network of brothels across Sydney.”

He said Private Stanley Fowler, a labourer from Melbourne, received lifelong medical treatment that enabled him to excel in a creative career as a photographic surveyor despite his injuries.

Curator of the exhibition, Laura Cook said there was no doubt World War I forever changed Australian society.

“Using individual items from our collection — including repatriation, war service and immigration records and copyright registrations — 1918: A Different Life presents a new perspective on how Australians, both serving and civilian, found opportunities to rebuild their lives after the war,” Dr Cook said.

1918: a different life can be viewed on the National Archives’ website at this PS News link.

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