26 September 2023

Frozen Archives memories going digital

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The National Archives of Australia (NAA) and the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD) have joined together to preserve photographic collections for future generations with the completion of a significant transfer of records documenting early 20th century British and Australian Antarctic expeditions.

Director-General of the NAA, Simon Froude said the collection included hundreds of photographs, glass plate negatives and lantern slides, including original photographs taken by renowned photographer Frank Hurley.

“The majority of these records were created during the first part of the 20th century by Captain John King Davis,” Mr Froude said.

“Davis made the journey to Antarctica on several missions and most notably was the Captain of the Aurora during the Australasian Antarctic Expedition between 1911 to 1914,” he said.

“Images depict the harsh conditions and realities of life on the icy continent.”

Mr Froude said that until now, the collection had been held by the AAD in Hobart.

He said the images provided a unique glimpse of the difficult conditions the explorers faced.

“There are fabulous photos of the unique wildlife, as well as photos depicting the science and technology of the time,” the Director-General said.

“Photographic portraits of Antarctic personalities such as Joseph Kinsey, Ernest Shackleton, Douglas Mawson and Frank Stillwell are included in the collection, as well as images highlighting the ingenuity of expedition members navigating life on the ice and aboard the ship.”

Assistant Director-General Collection Management at the NAA, Steven Fox said Archives staff had completed in-depth record listings and digitisation of the collection and all images were now publicly available on RecordSearch for viewing.

“This collection is rare and fragile,” Mr Fox said.

“Acquiring, conserving, digitising and preserving it means it will be accessible now and for future generations,” he said.

“The public can digitally access a range of records from very early Antarctic exploration through to later expeditions.”

Further information on the NAA’s Antarctic collection can be accessed at this PS News link.

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