Digital Humanities MULT900056

Each year, students from the graduate course Digital Humanities MULT900056 produce blog posts based on various digitised University of Melbourne Archives collections.

Shell Historical Archive

In 2021, students focused on the 800-plus photographs, ephemera and advertisements from Shell Historical Archive that are available on the University of Melbourne Archives digitised item catalogue.

The Shell Historical Archive was, for many, a surprising source of esoteric threads of social history from children’s fairy stories to the development of airmail to robotics. The historical motivation for the company was, of course, selling their various petroleum-based products. Shell was an early adopter of modern advertising techniques including targeting children. They championed a vision of a white Australia prosperous enough to undertake holiday road trips in the family car. Some background on the collection and its documentation of Australian car culture can be found in the Everybody Loves a Roadtrip online exhibition.

2021 posts:

The Fairy Story That Came True: A Tale of Petrol

The Shell Touring Service – Hidden Indigenous Connections

The Many Facets of Ephemera

The Branding Pearl Contained in Shell’s Logo

Shell and Ferrari (Omeka website)

Marvin the Mobot and Shell: robotics history and oil exploration

Discover Australia with Shell: Marketing and Materiality

Australia Discovered with Australian Wildflowers

Discovering the work of Malcom Warner through Shell’s Historical Archive

Commercial Travellers’ Association

In 2020 the students focused on the Australia Today photographs from the Commercial Travellers Association (CTA) collection, 1979.0162. The 1,000-plus photographs were commissioned for the publication as a means of attracting (mostly British) immigrants to the country, in theory boosting the size of the customer base for the travelling salespeople represented by the CTA. For more general information about the collection, see this Pursuit article.

As university students caught in a long lockdown in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the photographs represented an opportunity to escape across Australia. The broad range of themes and research practices represented in the assembled blog posts demonstrate the versatility of a single set of material within UMA’s vast collection. They also show the creativity that UMA’s collections can inspire when used in university subjects.

Marine Drive and Harbour, Albany, Western Australia, 1933-1936
Marine Drive and Harbour, Albany, Western Australia, 1933-1936. Commercial Travellers’ Association Collection, 1979.0162.03165

The Commercial Travellers Association: Plotting an Image of Australia

Erroneous Ambitions: A geo-temporal analysis of the colonial project

Deflowering Karri Country: settler-colonial seductions in the Commercial Travellers’ Association collection

The Mimic of the Bush: The Australian Lyrebird in its Natural Habitat

Scenic photographs: staging the Australian land

A View from the Harbours of ‘White-only’ Australia: Captured for the Commercial Travellers’ Association

A Glimpse into Farming in New South Wales

‘Tourist Gaze’ and Society

The Spirit of Sacrifice: The First War Memorial in Australia

An Inhabited Space: Helmut Newton’s Lovers

Pre-2020 blog posts

‘Daub’ 1947, 1948 and 1949: The Magazine Produced by Students of the National Gallery of Art School

The Raymond Priestley diaries

The Frank Tate diaries

Una Porter photograph album

The Una Fraser collection

The Trades Hall Poster collection

The Overland Letter

Aunt Mavis’ Basket Maker: Germaine Greer’s CUNT index cards

First industry steps for those who feed us: The Master Caterers Association