White Australia

It’s all about the stuff: collections, interfaces, power and people

This is the full version of a paper I presented at the National Digital Forum, 30 November 2011. In 1901, one of the first acts of the Commonwealth of Australia was to create a system of exclusion and control designed to keep the newly-formed nation ‘white’. But White Australia was always a myth. As well(…)

Liberating lives: invisible Australians and biographical networks

Presented at the Life of Information Symposium, 24 September 2010. Slides are available on Slideshare. This palm print belongs to a 12-year-old boy called Charlie Allen. Charlie was born in Sydney in 1896. His mother was Frances Allen (sometime sweet shop owner and brothel keeper), his father Charlie Gum (a buyer for Wing On company).(…)

Hacking a research project

Amongst the holdings of the National Archives of Australia are some of the most visually arresting documents you’ll see — thousands and thousands of forms from the early decades of the twentieth century, each with a portrait photograph and palm print, each documenting the movements of a non-white resident. Along with many other certificates, regulations,(…)

Frontiers of the future

The glow of his campfire framed a simple tableau of pioneer life. Across this ‘untenanted land’, Edwin Brady mused, ‘little companies’, such as his own, sat by their ‘solitary fires’. ‘They smoked pipes and talked, or watched the coals reflectively’. Around them, the ‘shadowy outlines’ of the bush merged into the dark northern night, and(…)