The aim of this pilot project, funded by La Trobe University, was to evaluate the nature and extent of historical photographs of factories in Victoria; explore the possibility of compiling a portal/gateway of online factory photographs; and assess the viability of a larger research project which would explore how transformations in photographic technologies and practices have shaped the extant archive of photographs of factories, factory workers and factory life.
I was taken by surprise at the richness of this photographic archive and also the potential for research about it. Who knew that photographs of butter factories would be so numerous or the extent to which women’s working lives (and fashion) were captured by the camera? I was particularly struck by the depth of Victoria’s manufacturing history. We seemed to have made everything! And then suddenly it all disappears. The project also raised very interesting questions about what exactly a ‘factory’ might be and how that definition might change over time.
I greatly enjoyed having the opportunity to work with Dr Fiona Kinsey (Museums Victoria) and Dr Emma Robertson (La Trobe University) on this project. It gave me the opportunity to explore and document historical photographs in the collections of Museums Victoria, State Library of Victoria, University of Melbourne Archives, Public Records Office Victoria, Royal Historical Society of Victoria, National Archives of Australia and organisations on the Victorian Collections website. I also undertook a literature review, provided input into how this material might be brought together into an online portal and offered suggestions about the research questions raised by this material.
Project role: Research assistant
Employment: Sep to Dec 2017 (casual)