7 September 2023

Opening up the Illawarra family photo album to celebrate History Week

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The Wells family in a backyard in 1936.

The Wells family the day after the 1936 wedding of Nellie (Tibb) Tuxworth nee Wells. Back row from left: Jack Wells, Fanny Wells, Bonnie McKenzie, Leila Carman, “Bon” Maymard, Flora McKenzie, “Bill” Williams, “Mae” McCarthy. Front: Trevor Chegwidden and Essie Wells. Photo: Wollongong City Libraries and the Illawarra Historical Society – P35876.

Families come in all shapes and sizes and Illawarra families are no different.

Wollongong City Libraries’ latest photographic exhibition, Illawarra Families, celebrates families across the generations and gives a fascinating insight into how they’ve worked and played.

It includes formal studio photographs of people in their finest frills and hats at parties and weddings, alongside informal snaps taken in the backyard.

The exhibition celebrates History Week (3 to 10 September) and Hilary Powell from the Library’s Local Studies Collection says it’s just one resource available to all residents who want to learn more about their family history or their local suburb.

“Our resources are all linked so you might start with an online catalogue search for a name or place, and you’ll find photos in our Illawarra Images collection and then articles in local newspapers, books or even videos,” she says.

Two rows of children at a birthday party at the Massey home in Kanahooka.

Children’s birthday party at the Massey family home in Kanahooka. Photo: Wollongong City Libraries and the Illawarra Historical Society – P07/P07536.

The Local Studies Collections has an extensive range of history resources, including Illawarra Stories, an oral history project capturing people’s recollections of life in the Illawarra. The project aims to document the social and cultural history of the region through the voices of local residents and visitors using recordings of interviews facilitated by library staff and volunteers.

Illawarra Remembers contains profiles of World War I service men and women from the Illawarra, while the Your Suburb collection offers a wealth of information, including early residents, timelines, significant buildings and the local environment.

Hilary says the best place to start is with the Library catalogue with a keyword search. The Local Studies staff are happy to help and can be contacted by email or by phoning 4227 7415.

The Illawarra Families exhibition is on display at Wollongong Library until the end of the month and online.

About 100 events will be staged throughout NSW during History Week, including online forums and discussions – check the NSW History Council website for information.

If you’d like to share stories about any of the families pictured, we’d love to hear from you at [email protected].

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