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Fourteen Impressive High Definition Historical Photographs of “Special” Education from Tasmania

April 2, 2013

Decorative bar showing the faces of retarded children at Brush Farm, Sydney

AOT AB713/1/7652

Wingfield Home, classroom, 1961.

Between 1952 and 1973, the Teaching Aids Centre of the Tasmanian Education Department amassed a set of 12,387 large format negatives. The photographs dealt with a diverse range of areas: instructional slides, scenes of everyday Tasmanian life and industry, snapshots of schools and schoolchildren, and educational photographs of paintings and exhibits from the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery.

The Archives Office of Tasmania has digitised all twelve thousand negatives, and made them available to the public in high definition. This really is a remarkable resource, and well worth visiting to examine, for example, what the Aborginal display looked like in the museum during 1953, how milk was delivered in 1956, and cats.

Dispersed among the many images of school life are some impressive pictures of the Tasmanian special education system, including photographs of Talire Child Centre, the Sight-Saving School, Treherne, Wingfield House, and the Blind and Deaf Institute (most of which are located on my map project). Although staged, these beautiful images provide a rare visual insight on classroom interiors and rehabilitative educational practices during this important transitional period in “special” education. These photos are particularly useful when viewed in conjunction with the large number of similar pictures of “normal” classrooms in the series.

They also raise some curious questions: why is the young girl blowing bubbles in item 7648 carrying a reply-paid envelope addressed to the “Voice of Prophecy” in Sydney? What book beginning with “Health Through…” are the students at the Sight-Saving School studying so intently? (Could it be “Health Through Nutrition” by Lelord Cordel?)

I’ve included what I think are the best images of special education below, but I’d strongly encourage anyone with an interest in history to check out AB713– it really is a gold-mine.

AOT AB713/1/7647

Wingfield Home, Speech Therapy, Judith learns to keep her mouth closed and to control her lips, 1961.

AOT AB713/1/7681

Wingfield Home, sister-in-charge assists a small child, 1961.

AOT AB713/1/7669

Wingfield Home, Physiotherapy Department gym, a bear on wheels helps to encourage a child to walk, 1961.

AOT AB713/1/7684

Wingfield Home, children entering bus, 1961.

AOT AB713-1-11672

Douglas Parker Rehabilitation Centre, children playing outside with horse, 1972.

AOT AB713/1/1411

Sight-saving School, Hobart, 1952.

AOT AB713/1/7975

Talire Special School, Moonah, students playing music, 1962.

AOT AB713/1/8358

St. Giles Home, Launceston, typewriting class, 1963.

AOT AB713/1/8667

Blind & Deaf Institute, student at work, 1963.

AOT AB713/1/8665

Lady Rowallan House, Special School, Tasmania, 1963 .

AOT AB713/1/7648

Wingfield Home, Speech Therapy, learning blow bubbles or suck a straw is a good way of developing co-ordination and control of the speech musculature, 1961.

AOT AB713/1/7666

Wingfield Home, Physiotherapy Department gym, electrical stimulation of muscle to improve power in early stage of re-education, 1961.

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