An array of data has been left behind by our loved ones in the wake of the Great Australian Fire.
But what if we were to add another, more meaningful piece to the puzzle?
It could be that the information stored in these arrays is more important than we think.
The National Library of Australia’s National Archive (NLA) says it has found a trove of documents dating back to the early 1900s.
In some of the documents, researchers have found handwritten notes, drawings and other artefacts, such as photographs and lithographs, which could shed light on the lives of people who were still alive at the time.
“This is a great collection of historical documents and they all tell a story, the stories of people that were alive,” National Library director David Withers said.
He said some of these documents were written in pen or ink and some were handwritten and included letters and photographs, but the ones with handwriting had been digitised and could be seen in person.
A letter from the late William Leland (1903-2007) to his sister Catherine, from Melbourne, describing the fire in 1900.
Mr Witherings said the material could also help researchers to understand how the fire affected people.
“[It] can help us to understand what was going on in Victorian society, because we know a lot of that was going through people’s minds when the fire happened,” he said.
“And we know that a lot people were suffering from the fire.
Read more about Victorian history Mr Leland’s letter describes the fire as “very hot”, but also “very cold”, and the letters to Catherine describe how the air was thick and “very smoky”.
The fire was blamed on “malfunctioning” and the cause of the blaze is still unknown.
Another document is from the 1800s, written by William Lyle (1905-1958), who describes a conversation with his brother-in-law.
William Lyle was also a chemist who worked for the Australian Bureau of Meteorology.
‘Very difficult’ to study The documents are part of the National Archive’s digitised archives.
National Library of Victoria (NLT) assistant curator Dr David Withering said researchers could use the information to understand the impact of the fire on people, and to identify areas of the community that were impacted.
We have found a large collection of handwritten letters from Victorian households and residents who were living in Victorian towns and cities at the same time as the fire, as well as a lot more handwritten drawings and photographs of people, he said, adding that some of them were written by hand.
Dr Withering and NLA’s director of collections and collections, Dr Helen Brown, said that some people were not alive when the fires started, and had passed away.
However, it is not known whether or not these people had any children.
Many of the papers were taken from the Victorian archives and had not been previously digitised.
Some documents were not immediately accessible to researchers, because they were written down on paper.
Researchers could also use them to help build a better understanding of Victorian life in the 1900s, and how fire affected the communities they lived in.
Professor Brown said that while the material is not definitive evidence of the people who lived in the Victorian towns, it has provided a new way of thinking about how people lived.
Topics:fire,human-interest,history,community-and-society,history-and%E2%80%93-50,melbourne-3000,vic,australiaFirst posted November 02, 2018 11:07:36Contact Sue ClementsMore stories from Victoria