Archive of the Archivist

As the CH Currey Fellow at the State Library of New South Wales, I will be researching the Archive of the Archivist: Phyllis Mander-Jones and Australian Pacific History, 1901-1957.

Project Abstract: In the Library’s 20th-century collection are unexamined documents concerning Australians in the Pacific. Most of this archive was created by male explorers, missionaries, and scientists. Yet, women like Phyllis Mander-Jones had a unique relationship with the Pacific. As an Australian librarian, she had regional political, artistic, and scientific knowledge from working on Australian Joint Copying Project surveys of imperial archives. Mander-Jones also holidayed in the Pacific. She toured Papua in 1932, and, in 1957, she cruised to Tahiti. There she visited missions and the Indigenous communities whose historical records she had curated for Australian researchers. As she travelled, Mander-Jones, unofficially, documented her experiences. Her Papuan journal includes sketches and lino prints, while her Tahiti journal was limited to the written word. This project examines this personal, amateur Pacific archive. This project unpacks the Mander-Jones archive to determine to what extent her private travel archive was constructed as a counter-narrative to the male-dominated records of travel from the Pacific that she spent her professional life preserving. Unearthing this Australian-Pacific story will improve our understanding of how librarians curated Pacific records for Australian researchers, Mander-Jones’ relationships with Pacific Islanders, and the value of amateur collections to Australian history.