Monday, 24 July 2017

John A Lee on war poetry: when mud and blood became the keynote

John A Lee was, amongst other things, a war hero, politician, publican and author during his unusually eventful and varied life. In his will Lee asked that his private papers be deposited with Auckland Libraries a year after his death.

Recently described by John Horrocks in the Journal of New Zealand literature (2016; Vol. 34 (1)) as a “vast and chaotic archive”, researchers will be pleased to hear that a project is underway to undertake fuller arrangement and description of this collection. Lee’s papers came to the library in a staggered manner which leads to challenges for the archivist trying to follow archival concepts of provenance and original order. At the end of this project we will have a rich finding aid for Lee’s papers which will make it easier for future researchers to find and use them.


Whilst this work is ongoing it provides an opportunity to highlight some of the things that make up this collection.

Lee’s varied life is reflected in the variety of formats that make up this collection. As well as diaries, letters, manuscripts of his writing, photographs and scrapbooks Lee also donated gramophone records.

Friday, 14 July 2017

Further footprints with Murray Freer

Auckland Libraries has recently added a further selection of photographs from the South Auckland Courier files of the late 1960s to the Footprints database. These images provide a visual feast of local events, people and fashions at the time.

Here a group of young people model the latest styles during an open air promotional event organized by the Otahuhu Business Association, Eve's Apple Boutique and Radio Manukau in September 1969. The garments include a knitted jumpsuit, miniskirts, fringed jerkins and jackets, and a variety of hats and headbands. 

This photograph, like many others in the newly released collection, was taken by the well-known local photographer Murray Freer. Murray began providing photographs to the Courier as a freelancer in 1958, then progressed to reporter, and finally became editor of the Courier’s southern editions. Murray has provided us with a fascinating account of his years behind the camera (Murray C. Freer: A Photographer’s Life).

In another example of Murray’s work, children from the East Tamaki School are depicted singing an Austrian folk song during the Otara Schools Music Festival at Otara (later Hillary) College in August 1968. The conventional schoolchildren’s clothing provides a striking contrast to the far-out styles shown above.