Nicole D

DISPLAYING POSTS BY: Nicole D (8)

Nicole D

Nic is based in the Discovery Centres. Once a historian of urban life in Ancient Rome, she is now researching urban life in 19th & 20th century Australia. She's also a photographer, traveller and student of Shaolin kung fu.

Sunshine Harvester employees

Author
by Nicole D
Publish date
19 September 2012
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Comments (2)

Your Question: Do you have information on the employees at Sunshine Harvester? My grandfather travelled from Victoria to South America and then Europe in their employ. He was scheduled to go to Russia when WWI began and went to the USA instead, where our family remain today.

The legend fostered by the company is still alive in the images and memories of those who were linked by land, work, city, or machine to this enterprise.

Group portrait of employees at H.V. McKay Massey Harris Group portrait of employees at H.V. McKay Massey Harris
Source: Museum Victoria
 

The stories of the people who worked for Sunshine Harvester are captured in the Workers pages of the Sunshine Harvester Works website. These pages include information about the lives of generations of company employees and images of the staff and their families at both work and leisure. You may even see images of your grandfather and his family there.

H.V. McKay Pty Ltd, Farm Equipment Manufacture & Field Trials, Sunshine, Victoria, circa 1920s H.V. McKay Pty Ltd, Farm Equipment Manufacture & Field Trials, Sunshine, Victoria, circa 1920s
Source: Museum Victoria
 

As your enquiry hints, the company had a diverse export market, eventually supplying over 160 countries, including North America, South America and Russia and Sunshine Employees were sent to these countries from Australia to assist in running the business.

Museum Victoria holds a large collection of objects, documents and images relating to the history of HV McKay and Sunshine Harvester in which you can explore information about the company's history, products and glimpse the lives of its employees.

H.V. McKay Massey Harris, Farm Equipment Manufacture & Field Trials, Sunshine, Victoria, Jul 1950 H.V. McKay Massey Harris, Farm Equipment Manufacture & Field Trials, Sunshine, Victoria, Jul 1950
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Although the museum holds a wealth of information, including some company records, the employee and personnel files are in Australian Trade Union Archives at the University of Melbourne, which also holds a large collection pertaining to HV McKay and Sunshine Harvester.

  A corner of the foundry pouring molten metal A corner of the foundry pouring molten metal
Source: Museum Victoria
 

The article 'Resurrecting the Sunshine Harvester Works: Re-presenting and Reinterpreting the Experience of Industrial Work in Twentieth-Century Australia' tells the fascinating story of how the HV McKay and Sunshine Harvester collection came to the museum and how, along with the University of Melbourne Archives collection, it is used to tell the story of the company and its employees.

Got a question? Ask us!

Links:

Sunshine Harvester Works

Mystery object?

Author
by Nicole D
Publish date
29 July 2012
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Comments (0)

 Your Question: What is this mysterious object I found on the beach?

One of the most popular services that Discovery Centre provides is identifications. We get asked by members of the public to identify a wide range of unusual objects and specimens on a daily basis. Many are quite straightforward for our experts but others, such as this one, can be trickier. Usually we can tell whether or not something has been made by human hands or is naturally occurring but not always!

Mystery object Mystery object brought into the Discovery Centre for identification
Image: Nicole Davis
Source: Museum Victoria
 

A little while ago one of our enquirers brought in this unusual egg-shaped specimen that he'd found in the Red Bluff cliffs at Black Rock.

  Mystery object Mystery object brought into the Discovery Centre for identification
Image: Nicole Davis
Source: Museum Victoria
 

It was filled with sand and appeared to be a hard material with a thin flexible coating. Due to its findspot at the beachside, the enquirer thought it might be the preserved egg of sea creature, perhaps a turtle.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/usoceangov/5514927530/

We sent the specimen to one of our mammalogists and then to an ichthyologist (that’s someone who studies fish). Both of them confirmed that it definitely wasn’t an egg and, furthermore, was an object made by humans rather than a naturally occurring specimen.

The object then went to our History & Technology curators who speculated on what it might be. Was it a globe, some kind of fishing lure or something else entirely? After having a bit of a look, the staff concluded that it was indeed a light bulb. But it was a very specific type of bulb – one that belonged to an old flash for a camera that might have looked something like this:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/captkodak/271841556/

Mystery solved!

Got a question? Ask us!

Victoria's Malay Community

Author
by Nicole D
Publish date
23 April 2012
Comments
Comments (1)

Your Question: I’ve just returned from Malaysia and am curious about the history of the Malay community in Victoria. Do you have some resources you can recommend regarding on this topic and Malay cultures in general?

The Malay community in Australia is diverse, with people from a number of ethnic backgrounds and religions that reflect the diversity of Malaysia itself. The culture of the region that we today call Malaysia, which also includes parts of Borneo, has been shaped by interactions between the Malay, Arab, Chinese, Indian, European and South East Asian peoples from the middle of the 15th century. Intermarriage between people of various cultures from this early period, plus influxes of later Chinese, Indian and European settlers led to an ethnically diverse population, which is still obvious in the country today and is reflected in the Malay community in Australia.

Students from the Malaysian Students Association take part in Orientation Week, RMIT, February 2001. Students from the Malaysian Students Association take part in Orientation Week, RMIT, February 2001.
Image: Jun Siew Goh / Photographer: Unknown
Source: Copyright Malaysian Students Association 2001
 

The first stop for anyone wanting to do research on the Malaysian community in Australia is Immigration Museum’s Origins website. It tells us a little about the history of Malaysian immigration to Australia, as well as statistics from census data on the demographics of the Victorian Malaysian community.

Immigration from the Malaysia actually began in the mid 19th century and Malay workers were involved in the pearling industry, trepang, mining, agriculture, including cane fields. European descended Malays came to Australia during WWII. Following the end of the Immigration Restriction Act in 1973 Malaysian immigration increased and by 2006 there were 30,476 Malaysia-born Victorians and 92,335 in Australia. Most of these identified as ethnic Chinese (c 65,000), with smaller percentages of Malay (c 12,000), Indian (c 6,000) and other groups. English is the language most spoken in the home, followed closely by Cantonese, with smaller amounts of Malaysia-born Australians speaking Mandarin, Behasa Melayu, Tamil, other Chinese languages and Vietnamese.

Pencil Drawing by Thomas Le. Pencil Drawing by Thomas Le. It depicts the journey of of Mai Ho's family to Australia and shows their first few months here.
Image: Museum Victoria / Artist Thomas Le
Source: Copyright Thomas Le 1998
 

Some famous Malaysia-born Australians include singer Guy Sebastian, politician Penny Wong and entertainer Kamahl.

Further details and statistics regarding Malaysian born people living in the wider Australian community can be found on the Australian Bureau of Statistics website and this factsheet produced by Department of Immigration and Citizenship. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has some great general information on Malaysia, its people and their relations with Australia.

In the Immigration Discovery Centre we have a variety of books on Malaysian history, culture, contemporary politics and the Malay community in Australia. While the IDC is not a lending library, you are welcome to come and browse the books we have here.

Couple cutting the wedding cake, at their wedding in Singapore Couple cutting the wedding cake, at their wedding in Singapore
Image: Tuty Juhari / Photographer: Unknown
Source: Copyright Tuty Juhari 1997
 

There are a number of other useful websites and resources for finding out about the Malaysian community in Victoria, including Melayu Melbourne, the Malay Education and Cultural Centre of Australia Inc (MECCA), Malaysian Students’ Council of Australia (MASCA) Victoria, 92.3 FM ZZZ, Malaysian show, and Australian-Malaysian Film Festival. 

Got a question? Ask us!

Locating living people

Author
by Nicole D
Publish date
11 March 2012
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Comments (1)

Your Question: I am trying to trace my aunt and uncle and their children or any of their living relatives. They migrated to Australia after World War II in the 1940s or early 1950s. How would I go about finding them?

Locating living people is a question we often get and, although it can be very difficult, there are a number of resources that might help you to find them:

• For those that immigrated here in the mid 20th century, the first step would be to order their immigration records, which are held by the National Archives of Australia (NAA). This will give you information about their immigration and may give some indication of where they went when they arrived in Australia. These documents might then allow you to know where to search for further information in electoral rolls, public registries and other resources

The National Archives website has online indexes, which feature a percentage of records in their collection. A step by step guide to using these indexes and ordering documents can be found on our Quick guide to passenger lists infosheet.

Newly Arrived Migrant Family Standing Near Temporary Accommodation, Ringwood East, 1955 Newly Arrived Migrant Family Standing Near Temporary Accommodation, Ringwood East, 1955
Image: unknown photographer
Source: Museum Victoria
 

• Electoral rolls list all the names and addresses of registered voters within Australia. The State Library of Victoria Genealogy Centre holds archived as well as current electoral rolls dating from 1856 until the present. For more information about accessing electoral rolls contact the State Library of Victoria Genealogy Centre or the Victorian Electoral Commission.

• Copies of Birth Deaths and Marriages certificates may reveal useful personal information and allow you to trace your relative’s descendents. Births, deaths and marriage registries are run by different government departments in each state and some have a limited amount of information in online indexes.

• A simple search of the telephone directories may reveal the location of relatives. The White Pages is available online or you may wish to peruse hardcopies, which are often available at state, and sometimes local, libraries.

Man, Woman & Two Girls, Backyard, Ukrainian Christmas Day, Newport, 1951 Man, Woman & Two Girls, Backyard, Ukrainian Christmas Day, Newport, 1951
Image: unknown photographer
Source: Museum Victoria
 

• If your relatives belong to a specific migrant community, a relevant community organisation may be able to give you advice about finding them.

• Search digitised newspapers at the National Library of Australia’s Trove website for mentions of their name. With hundreds of national, state and local newspapers digitised from 1803 to 1954, you may find a mention of them.

• Their may be an online bulletin board for the ship your relative came on or a migrant camp in which they may have stayed. Many people find each other through such forums so it might be a great place to throw your question out to the wider world.

Mother, Boy & Girl Sitting on Public Seat, Middle Park, 1949 Mother, Boy & Girl Sitting on Public Seat, Middle Park, 1949
Image: Mr Cliff Atkinson
Source: Museum Victoria
 

• Doing an online search for their names might reveal something. While it sounds obvious, many don’t think of it! Lots of people are online these days with personal websites, blogs, social networking, business websites and so forth.

• Various organisations have tracing services that may, in certain circumstances, be able to locate missing family members.

Got a question? Ask us!

Links:

Post World War II Immigration in Photographs

Lunar New Year

Author
by Nicole D
Publish date
10 February 2012
Comments
Comments (0)

On Sunday 29 January Melbourne’s Chinatown came alive with beating drums, firecrackers, lion and dragon dances, kung fu demonstrations, market stalls, and great food. We went down for a little look to enjoy the spectacle and join the thousands of people from diverse backgrounds who came to celebrate Lunar New Year.

Dragons ready to parade Dragons ready to parade
Image: Nic Davis
Source: Nic Davis
 

Monday 23 January 2012 marked the official Lunar New Year – often referred to as Chinese New Year. It is the most important celebration of the year for many communities throughout Asia, including in China, Malaysia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia and Thailand. It’s a time for families to reunite and celebrate together, with the festivities often lasting for a whole month from around mid January to mid February.  

Wing Chun demonstration Wing Chun demonstration
Image: Nic Davis
Source: Nic Davis
 

It is a festival rich with symbolism, designed to bring prosperity and happiness in the New Year. Decorations in cities throughout Asia go up early in January and the streets, stores and homes are riot of colour that rivals the Christmas season in Australia, with houses, streets, shops and businesses, brightly festooned with red lanterns, cherry blossoms, paper banners and other decorations.  

Crowds in Chinatown enjoying the Lion Dance Crowds in Chinatown enjoying the Lion Dance
Image: Nic Davis
Source: Nic Davis
 

Contemporary and traditional decorations for New Year Contemporary and traditional decorations for New Year
Image: Nic Davis
Source: Nic Davis
 

Of course Lunar New Year festivities are not limited to Asia, with Chinese communities throughout the world celebrating the festival. Australia’s long history of immigration from Asian countries means that today the Lunar New Year is one of the biggest celebrations in our diverse calendar of cultural events. Events are held in throughout the country, including in Melbourne’s Chinatown, Footscray, Richmond, Springvale, Box Hill and regional centres such as Bendigo.

A traditional Lion Dance team A traditional Lion Dance team
Image: Nic Davis
Source: Nic Davis
 

Links:

MV Blog: Five things about dragons

Shake your family tree

Author
by Nicole D
Publish date
2 March 2011
Comments
Comments (0)

On Friday 25 February Immigration Discovery Centre participated in the annual Shake Your Family Tree. Organised by the National Archives of Australia (NAA), this is a national event that brings together family history experts in one location for an entire day.

Along with six other institutions, including State Library of Victoria, Public Record Office of Victoria, and Genealogical Society of Victoria, we set up our stand in the foyer of the VAC in North Melbourne and helped many enthusiastic visitors with questions about doing their family history research.

Advising a visitor at Shake Your Family Tree. Advising a visitor at Shake Your Family Tree.
Image: Anna Koh
Source: National Archives of Australia
 

A number of seminars were presented on the day and I did a talk on Revealing objects & stories from Museum Victoria's Migration Collection. In this, I discussed the power of objects to tell a story and the way museums use them in their exhibitions, programs and online resources. As an example, I told the story of one particular migrant through the medium of some objects related to her life that are part of the Migration Collection. Lastly, I encouraged my audience to see if they could utilise any objects in their own homes to further enrich their family history research.

Nicole speaking on the MV Migration Collection. Nicole speaking on the MV Migration Collection.
Image: Anna Koh
Source: National Archives of Australia
 

Museum Victoria also participated in a Conservation Clinic, where members of the public could bring in their precious documents or objects for advice on how to protect and conserve them.

All in all it was a great day and we are already looking forward to next year!

 

Links:

Museum Victoria Migration Collection

SLV Family Matters blog: Shake Your Family Tree 2011 style

National Archives of Victoria

Public Record Office of Victoria

Genealogical Society of Victoria

About this blog

Updates on what's happening at Melbourne Museum, the Immigration Museum, Scienceworks, the Royal Exhibition Building, and beyond.

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