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Margaret Wood Immigration & Shipping Collection

Baggage Label - P&O, Shipping Destination, Melbourne, circa 1950s

Image: Baggage Label - P&O, Shipping Destination, Melbourne, circa 1950s

Source: Museum Victoria

This collection provides a rare insight into the working life of a young female Immigration Officer. It represents the processing and ongoing management of migrants during one of the great Australian migration booms; the development of policy during this period and the way it was presented to the Australian public; the management of immediate arrival and dispersal of migrants at Station Pier; the parallel operations of immigration officers, customs officers, baggage agents, and aid workers during those hectic first hours upon arrival; and the types and varieties of ships which carried migrants to Australia.

Margaret Wood's collection reveals the context surrounding her work as an immigration officer; the bureaucracy, represented by the forms, form letters, notes, instructions, and reports; the need to comprehend the continuing formulation of migration policy, through the ministerial addresses and policy booklets; the shipboard contact, through the souvenirs and menus; dockside sorting and handling, through the baggage labels, customs tickets, claim tags and receipts; the personal contact, through the handwritten luggage contents list and identified baggage tags.

Her constant contact with the excitement of arrival, departure and sea travel must have influenced her own desire to travel, as well as her connections with such a variety of ships, revealed through her own souveniring of ship line stationery, and the shipping promotional material. Margaret's own story accompanying the collection brings this incredible time to life - the sheer numbers of people from all over the UK and Europe and the challenges in trying to maintain organisational order.

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