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