This article explores the use of memory and material culture in the history of families who travelled between Britain and Australia and settled in the early colonies from 1788 until 1901. It draws on diaries, memoirs, letters, and objects belonging to a variety of cultural institutions including the Museum of Childhood in Perth, Museum Victoria, the Powerhouse Museum, and the Historic Houses Trust of New South Wales, as well as those within private collections, to explore some of the meanings of objects brought by families from Britain to Australia. Certain objects connected their owners with past lives back in Britain, reminded them of home, family ties and duty and were transferred to new owners to remind the next generation of their journeys round the world. It argues that a focus on material culture enriches our understanding of the economic, social and cultural history of the family in late eighteenth and nineteenth-century Britain and Australia and allows us to appreciate the labour of mothers in creating family histories.
Bibliographical noteErratum can be found in Journal of Australian Studies, Volume 36(3), 409,