Helen Hassall provided the following class photographs, of the late 1920s and early-to-mid 1930s, from Alan Adsett. Mr. Adsett has read ‘No Regrets’ several times and has kindly offered a few corrections for a later edition.
Helen and Alan (say that quickly!) worked together on this small project to preserve the class photographs as digital files, and identify those who appeared in the images.
It is very rare to have a photographic series of five years in an educational institution, so well preserved and named labelled. I have made this available as a resource to family historians, here, on the Junction Park History website.
It seems to me that Helen and Alan have put considerable work into the project, and it really has a potential to be a worthy contribution to history, whether that is, family, local, social, or even folkish.
However, what is the value of merely cataloguing, indexing, or archiving, and leaving it there, simply parked.
The value of history is the story where we can state the significance of what is being shown. A list of names, a display of memorabilia, a collection of photographs. So, what? We only get excited about such gatherings because we know there is a story there. But what story? One that is just made up in our head, historical fiction, or the chance to sniff out the past, and find the journey?
Several historical thoughts strike me about these five class photographs.
I look at the first one, of the Prep 2A in 1929, and there is what must be the saddest group photograph I have ever seen. I look at the face of every child in that photograph and they all looked troubled, even the one girl who shows something of a smile. What is bothering them all? Many of the children look deeply troubled. It is very different the other class photographs, years later. Here, in the Grades 4 to 7, the styles of dress are very revealing of the different concepts of class, culture, and fashion. That is one advantage over the school uniform, the choice of dress, or the imposition of what one had to wear because of family income or culture values, provides clearer understanding of the personal identities in group images.
When I saw the images for the first time, it made me sad. It had nothing really to do with the mental states of the children in that moment of photographic time, but the historical significance from what I saw in the images. A generation of children who faced family insecurities of the depression years, and who, unknowing to them in these years, would be touched as young adults by world war. I am sure that a very few children and their families would come out of this era unscathed, but most would find great difficulties, if not personal tragedy. However, this is me, as a social historian, looking back on my parent's generation. Nevertheless, that is just one important historical significance in what we see from the images.