Archive in the Spotlight

Archive in the Spotlight is an initiative where one of the team investigates a lantern slide series held in a public or personal collection around Australia. This process involves research into the series and, on occasion, an interview with a curator, librarian, or private custodian.

Illuminating the Heroic Endeavours of C.Y. O'Connor and other stories from the Kerry Stokes Collection, Perth

The Kerry Stokes Collection is a vast private archive, which includes a rich photographic collection generally and an impressive lantern slides specifically, that recalls unique aspects of Western Australia’s settlement and development. Collection curators, Emma-Clare Bussell and Erica Persak generously showed Chief Investigator, Jane Lydon and Research Fellow, Elisa deCourcy a sample of the collection. Lantern slides were central to disseminating the plans and displaying the mechanics behind Charles Yelverton O’Connor’s ambitious project to pump water from the Mundaring Weir, just outside...

» read more

Anthropological Slides at The Queensland Museum

Recently, lead CI Martyn Jolly visited the Queensland Museum, where he explored the Museum’s lantern-slide collections with Karen Kindt, Assistant Collection Manager, Anthropology, and the Indigenous curator Michael Aird, Research Fellow, School of Social Science, University of Queensland. The Museum holds several major collections of slides related to science, religion, and anthropology. An example of the diversity of the Museum’s collections are the slides produced by Charles Joseph Pound, a Queensland microbiologist who identified tick-born ‘redwater fever’ amongst Queensland’s cattle and...

» read more

The antecedents to PowerPoint presentations: The slides of the Marks-Hirschfeld Museum of Medical History

Recently lead CI Martyn Jolly visited Dr James Nixon, curator at the Marks-Hirschfeld Museum of Medical History in the University of Queensland School of Medicine. James looks after two significant sets of slides. The first collection comes from Dr John Bostock, and is an integrated set of teaching slides and index cards. The slides still have their original cross-referenced index cards, filed in their original index box, and were used for psychology lectures to medical students between 1945 and 1955. Although politically very conservative, educationally Bostock was very innovative. As...

» read more

Rouse Hill House and Generations of Lantern Slide Performances

Curator Dr Scott Hill knows scores of fascinating stories about the extraordinary collection of Rouse Hill House and Farm , one of the properties of Sydney Living Museums that is located between Parramatta and the towns of Windsor and Richmond in Sydney’s North-west. But for Research Fellow Elisa deCourcy and Lead CI Martyn Jolly, one of the most exciting of his stories was the one about Dr John Buchanan Rouse Terry [b.1944], one of the sixth generation of the family to have lived at the house. As a boy in the 1950s he would take out the house’s antique magic lantern to give his grandmother...

» read more

Corsets, Inter-war Australian Femininity and the National Film and Sound Archive's Remarkable Collection of Berlei Lantern Slides

The National Film and Sound Archive holds an extensive lantern slide collection ranging from cinema slides, used in theatre advertising, song slides, employed in public recitals, and some of Australia’s first locally manufactured slides, such as Soldiers of the Cross . Elisa deCourcy spoke with curator, Jenny Gall and paper conservator, Shingo Ishikawa about the processes involved in lantern slide restoration. We also discussed a multi-set collection of Berlei instructional slides that fit rather uniquely in their archive. In 1910 Fred (Frederick) Berley bought the controlling share of E...

» read more

Sydney Camera Circle, Methodist Missionaries and the National Art Archive's Lantern Slide Collection

In December 2016 the supremely knowledgeable Eric Riddler, who is Visual Resources Librarian at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, guided Elisa deCourcy and Martyn Jolly through two significant magic lantern slide collections in the National Art Archive, housed at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. One collection has been in the Gallery for many years, while the other has just recently been acquired. The first collection came into the Gallery in the mid 1990s as part of a gift from the family of Henri Mallard, a member of the Sydney Camera Circle, who were an elite group of Pictorialist...

» read more

The travels of the Macleay (Chau Chak Wing Museum) slides: migration, war and exploration

Elisa deCourcy spoke with curator, Jan Brazier about the breadth and intricacies of the Macleay Collection of lantern slides at Sydney University . The Macleay Museum opened in 1890 as a repository for the natural history collection of the family whose name it carries. The collecting zeal began with Alexander Macleay (1767-1848) whose array of insect specimens was unmatched in England. He moved to Australia in 1826 to take up the post of Colonial Secretary to New South Wales, where his son and great nephew went onto expand the family’s collection to include all areas of zoology along with...

» read more

The Mathew's Collection at the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS)

A set of important magic lantern slides has recently been catalogued and digitally preserved by AIATSIS. It was fascinating for Elisa deCourcy and Martyn Jolly to discuss where the slides came from with the donor, Mrs Diana Williams, who lives in Canberra, and with David Jeffery, AIATSIS’s Collection Manager (Photographic). Between 1932 and 1939, Wallace H Mathews and his son Arthur G Mathews, a Western Australian missionary at the United Aborigines Missions at Ooldea, Mt Margaret, Warburton and Gnowangerup, made a collection of lantern-slides illustrating mission life. In the decades that...

» read more

The Salvation Army, lantern slide heritage and The Blind Man of Siolam series

Elisa deCourcy spoke with the Salvation Army’s chief archivist, Lindsay Cox about the Limelight Department and the Army’s rich history of magic lantern productions. Few organisations have been more involved in the early days of the magic lantern phenomenon in Australia than the Salvation Army. Climbing the newly refurbished staircase inside the Army’s headquarters at 69 Bourke Street, Melbourne you would be forgiven for thinking you were simply ascending through the various levels of their administrative and philanthropic centre. But after rounding the banister at level four and a short walk...

» read more

The Malle (sic) Scrub series

Lead CI, Martyn Jolly travelled to the State Library of Victoria to examine The Malle (sic) Scrub, a true story of three children who were lost in the Australian bush series with Research Librarian, Susan Long. Few stories gripped the popular colonial imagination more than that of the ‘Duff Children’, Jane and Isaac Cooper and their younger brother Frank Duff, who got themselves lost in the Victorian bush in 1864. After nine days they were rescued on the brink of death when Aboriginal trackers led search parties to them. Besides being widely reported in the press, their miraculous rescue was...

» read more


Updated:  17 November 2017/Responsible Officer:  Head of School/Page Contact:  CASS Marketing & Communications