Archives for category: from the archives
Great Fire Smyrna 1922, refugees crowding into boats

Overcrowded boats with refugees fleeing the Fire of Smyrna, 1922. The photo had been taken from the launch boat of a US warship.

Or: A reflection on the sadistic humour of the goddess Clio.

There is an alternative origin story for the Floating Univeristy that does not (at the moment) get told in my book.

It begins like this:

Some time in the cold New York winter of February 1925, six men met for dinner on a ship moored on the East River at the southeastern tip of the Bronx. The Professor, the ship’s Captain, the diplomat, the newspaper Editor and the Quaker had been brought together by a Greek refugee called Constantine Raises.

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Over the last couple of months I’ve been making another radio documentary for ABC Radio National’s Earshot series. It’s about the remarkable life of Adelie Hurley.  A pin-up girl in the 1930s, Adelie quickly moved behind the camera to become one of Australia’s leading press photographers in what, at the time, was an all-male profession.

And she was quite a personality – risk-taking, glamorous and full of good humour. The podcast traces her career, from the nightclubs of San Francisco, through the social changes of the 1950s and 60s, to her retirement in Coffs Harbour. Working with Kate Darian-Smith, who has been part of an ARC-funded project on press photography in Australia, the process of making the show has made me think much more carefully about the changing ways our visual culture has been and is now produced. It also gave me the chance to work with the recently digitised (thank you Trove!) archive of Pix magazine which published Adelie’s early photographs.

Podcasting is (if you haven’t noticed) now a THING, and the new trend is all in the direction of first-person narration – something with which as an old school historian I was initially uncomfortable. But making the show taught me a lot about how to shape the arc of a story, how to work with available audio, the importance of sound effects and – yes – the first person singluar. To state the obvious, telling a story via audio is quite different than working with textual sources and I’m grateful to Adelie  (and ABC RN) for teaching me some of the tricks of the trade.

Adelie ‘Front Page’ Hurley aired on ABC RN’s Earshot programme on Tuesday 14 November 2017 and is available now for download or podcast.

To see Adelie’s photos …

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