State Library and Tasmanian Archives Blog

Paltry Poultry at the ‘Port: Immigration records in the Tasmanian Names Index

A black and white photo of chicks standing next to eggs with numbers on them.
TAHO: AB713/1/5463

You can now find out more personal details about immigrants to Tasmania in the early 20th century, and the Tasmanian residents who nominated them.

What follows is a tale of disappointment, confusion indignation and despair.

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Begging for bigamy

6 people posing for a photo. 3 men wearing suits, 3 women wearing bridal dresses.
Wedding party, C.P. Ray collection: TAHO NS392-1-551

In November of 1878, two women from Waratah in the North West of Tasmania began a quest to marry one man. They were happy to share him between them, as long as they could do it with the blessing of a church. 

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Daisy Picken in the weeds: Prisoner records in the Tasmanian Names Index

Part of a person's record. includes a photo form front and side on. Text reads "Name: Picken Daisy. Ship: Native. Photo no. 959c"
Record: GD63-1-6

‘Daisy Picken’. It sounded to me like a circus stage name, and conjured up images of an energetic teenage girl with pigtails, like a long-lost cousin of Pippi Longstocking.

We have recently added volumes of prisoner files to the Tasmanian Names Index, and many of them have photographs. Some of them are quite comical – old lags suppressing smirks, stern mouths covered by generous moustaches, looks of surprise…or malice. So, when I looked up Daisy Picken, I was almost surprised to see despair and desperation, and the glistening of tears. 

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Tasmanian Film Corporation: If it moves, we’ll shoot it

A still image from a film. A woman, a girl and a dog on a raft. The dog is jumping into the water.
Photograph – Manganinnie and Joanna in canoe with dog: AD330/1/3

It operated for just five years, but the Tasmanian Film Corporation created many of Tasmania’s most iconic films.
40 years on, we remember this agency and their work.

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Memoirs of James Hardy Vaux

A drawing of a sailing boat sitting on the water in a bay
Photograph – Hobart Town Drawn by C Jeffreys 1817: NS1013/1/1643

Firsts are always exciting. We are justifiably proud that we own a copy of Henry Savery’s Hermit of Van Dieman’s Land – the first novel published in Australia.

Recently we found that we also hold two other significant firsts – both in the same volume. First published in 1819, our first edition copy of the Memoirs of J H Vaux is not just a great read. It is officially Australia’s first autobiography and Australia’s first dictionary.

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Explore Tasmania’s wilderness

Browse photographs, letters and diaries from some wilderness pioneers.

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The Fire of ’67

A picture of a stree and buildings from up high, a building burns in the background.
Photograph. Image 3 – Gore Street Mill, South Hobart – before, during and after bushfire. PH30/1/8552

It was one of Australia’s worst disasters. In just a few hours on Tuesday afternoon, 7 February, 1967, 64 people lost their lives and 900 were injured. Around 1,400 buildings were destroyed – homes, factories, schools, churches, halls. People lost family, their livelihoods, homes, friends, pets and possessions. Thousands of animals were killed.

50 years on, we invite you to reflect on the chaos of the disaster, its aftermath, and the beginnings of recovery, through the records of the Tasmanian Archive and Heritage Office.

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Tasmanians in World War 1: Ernest Roy Pretyman

A photo of an old man inside in a suite in front of a window

Ernest Roy Pretyman might have lived out his whole life in Tasmania if it were not for the war. Instead this accountant travelled to France, fought and was wounded, and attained the rank of Sergeant before returning home to Hobart. His was an active mind, and in pursuit of his interests and hobbies he left a significant legacy to Tasmania’s heritage.

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Tasmanians in World War 1: Private Reginald Allan Biggs (Private Ashmead)

Soldiers standing in a line.
Le Chateau Rouge (Villers-Bretonneux), Tasmanian Archives: NS2861-1-3

Reginald Allan Biggs was a journalist, musician and soldier. His journal of his time as a signaller in the First World War is a fascinating insight into his experiences in the war.

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Tasmanians in World War 1: Cyril John Allen

A picture of 3 people sitting in an old car
First day home from war – Mr Craige, Cyril and his mother Tasmanian Archive and Heritage Office: NS933-1-4

Harrier, soldier, furrier,

A few images from Cyril’s life

Photographs of the Tasmanian Army Corp, Cyril Allen on the far right

Cyril prior to World War 1

In 1908, Cyril joined the New Town Harrier club continuing until he went to war in September 1915. He even appeared in the first race of the season held at Moonah on Saturday 26 June 1915. It was a two mile handicap race in which Cyril finished in fourth place.

Cyril returned to running for New Town after the war. In later life, he became an administrator in the club. In 1912, Cyril began an apprenticeship as a furniture upholsterer with Whitesides & Sons which ran a furnishing warehouse at 166 Liverpool Street, Hobart.

Going to war

Together with his unit, the 12th Australian Infantry Battalion, Private Cyril John Allen embarked at Melbourne on board HMAT Hororata A20 on 27 September 1915. You can follow the progress of Cyril’s battalion by reading the 12th battalion diaries from 1914 to 1919.

Cyril was awarded the Military Medal in June 1917 and promoted to the rank of corporal. In 1918, Cyril was promoted to the rank of Sergeant and served as Acting Quartermaster-Sergeant (AQMS).

A c​ertificate was issued to “Cyril John Allen MM2905 – Sergeant – 12th Battalion. Served with honour and was disabled in the Great War. Honourably discharged on 7.8.19”.​

Cyril served his country in both world wars as his service records show.

Machine Gunner

Cyril served as a machine gunner in the same platoon as his good friend, Gunner Tom Williamson. In 1917, Tom was killed a few yards away in the trenches. While still at the front, Cyril wrote a consoling letter to Tom’s mother.

Returning home

Cyril returned to Australia on board the SS Suffolk in June 1919. On the first day home from the war, Cyril is pictured in an open-air car which might be a 1917 E-X-45 Buick Tourer. It sports an Australian flag from a side panel. Squeezed into the seat is Cyril, his mother, and the driver, Mr Craige, who was influential in the New Town Harrier Club.

A Belgium family

Between 1918 and 1970, Cyril received many letters, photographs and postcards from a family in Chatelet, Belgium, with whom Cyril was billeted during the first world war.

Furrier business after the war

Cyril went into business as a furrier in New Town, Hobart, Tasmania. His business imported animal furs of many types and made them into coats and other clothes.

In July 1972, Cyril received a number of appreciative letters from students at Chigwell Primary School for a talk he gave about animal furs.

Methodist

Cyril and his family were active members of the New Town Methodist Church. Prior to the second world war, Cyril was superintendent at Albert Park Methodist Sunday School. He continued to support the Methodist Church into the 1960s and 1970s with donations.

World War II

Cyril served in Australia in World War II. In the late 1930s, Cyril is pictured with full medals on display on ANZAC Day.

Further reading

NS933 Family papers of C.J. Allen and family ​