‘War history on scraps of paper’: Exhibitions of Documents at the Australian War Memorial, 1922-1954

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Anne-Marie Conde


This article is partly concerned with defining the history of history exhibitions in Australia as a field of enquiry. Its specific departure point is the notion that the use of archival documents within exhibitions repays historical examination. I discuss how documents have been selected for and used in exhibitions at the Australian War Memorial between 1922 and 1954. The Memorial’s collections began with the acquisition of archival records, and from the beginning, archives were fundamental to of the development of the institution and the exhibitions in it. I argue that documents were used to legitimise the historical interpretation the Memorial offered in its exhibitions. I also contend that words on paper had a power of their own to evoke visitors’ imaginings and memories.

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Anne-Marie Conde, Australian War Memorial

Historian, Military History Section