With Armistice Day just passed its timely to reflect on the lives of people after the war ended, how they reacted when they came home, rebuilt lives, careers and relationships.
The new National Archives online exhibition 1918: a different life portrays how 21 Australians did just that and shines light on Australian social and political culture in the immediate aftermath of the war.
National Archives Director-General David Fricker says “On the 100th anniversary of the Armistice, we have drawn on our collection to offer a new perspective on how the government resolved to help Australian Imperial Force (AIF) volunteers and their families navigate this uncertain world by offering financial, medical and vocational assistance.”
Private David Fletcher Jones, a Bendigo orchardist with an entrepreneurial streak, set his sights on establishing a travelling drapery business after he was discharged from the AIF suffering ‘shell-shock’.
London prostitute Tilly Twiss married Australian Sapper Jim Devine and followed him to Australia, where she proved an astute investor and established a notorious yet profitable network of brothels across Sydney.
And Private Stanley Fowler, a labourer from Melbourne, received lifelong medical treatment that enabled him to excel in a creative career as a photographic surveyor despite his injuries.
1918: a different life offers a narrative that challenges the existing trend of focusing on the devastation of Australia’s inter-war period.
Curator Dr Laura Cook says, “There is no doubt World War I forever changed Australian society. However, using individual items from our collection – including repatriation, war service and immigration records, and copyright registrations – 1918 presents a new perspective on how Australians, both serving and civilian, found opportunities to rebuild their lives after the war.”
1918: a different life can be viewed on the National Archives’ website: naa.gov.au/visit-us/exhibitions/1918-a-different-life
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