Observations of a Film and Sound accessions officer...
The many donations to the Australian War Memorial’s National Collection come in all shapes and sizes as well as conditions. Many collections are treasured family objects that are passed on through generations which represent stories of family members who were involved in Australia’s military commitments. Others are rescued from disposal centres or found in op shops and deposited to the Memorial from strangers who have no knowledge of the person the collection relates to. As interesting as these stories are, I often notice the varied packaging in which these objects, whether treasured or found, arrive at the Memorial.
In 2005, SBS Radio hosted a program called ‘Migrant Memories- Australian at War’ which includes interviews with children about their experiences growing up in a theatre of war. The interviews were donated to the Memorial by SBS Radio in a presentation to the Director in 2005. The CD’s came in specially designed presentation cases in an ornate box, pictured below.
Another example from the Memorial’s Sound Collection is a set of recorded letters which Peter Winter sent to and from his family whilst serving in South Vietnam with 7RAR as a 2nd Lieutenant from February 1970 to March 1971. These sound tape reels were sent to the Memorial in boxes ranging from original sound tape reel boxes to Aspirin boxes. Sometimes, the packaging of items tells a whole story of its own and shows what was available at the time of sending objects home to the family.
A recent acquisition for our Vietnam recorded letter collection is from Bryan O’Donnell who donated a sound reel recorded letter which was sent to Australia during his time of service in a purpose made sound reel postage case. Bryan served with 5RAR as a Private in the Infantry Corps and was stationed in South Vietnam from May 1966 to May 1967. He tells his parents about his duties and that he is taking many slides to send home.
Whilst the sound recordings of the National Collection at the Memorial are important in commemorating the sacrifice of Australians who have died in war as well as the experiences of those who returned home to us, the packaging the recordings arrive at the Memorial sometimes have an interesting story too, like these three examples. As we move into the digital world, the sound section is continually receiving digitally recorded material making the original boxes increasingly rare and interesting object to receive.