Grant/funding information:

Funding for this project was received from the Australian Government's Your Community Heritage Programme

The Camden District Red Cross, 1914-1945

This project consists of a book and an exhibition detailing the history of the Camden district Red Cross 1914-1945.

The Exhibition: The Story of the Camden District Red Cross in War and Peace was opened on 13 August 2013 at Camden Museum. The Red Cross was the most important organisation that was created on the homefront during the First World War. It was also one of the most important voluntary organisations in the Camden district. A group of women formed a local branch of the Red Cross within days of the British Empire declaring war on Germany on 4 August 1914. It was one of the first branches of the Red Cross formed in Australia.

One of the highlights of the exhibition is a group of lithographs used as advertising and recruitment posters during the Second World War. Exhibition curator Julie Wrigley was ably assisted in her task by an enthusiastic band of volunteers and says of the project:

"the exhibition is drawing communities together and remembering the community involvement in the past"

The Book: Ministering Angels, the Camden District Red Cross, 1914-1915 was authored by Ian Willis, the current vice president of the Camden District Historical Society, and was published in 2014. The book tells the story of conservative country women doing their patriotic duty in an outpost of the British Empire.

Using the themes of soldier and civilian welfare, patriotism, duty, sacrifice, motherhood, class and religion the narrative explains how the place-based nature of the Red Cross branch network provided an opportunity for the organisation to harness parochialism and localism for national patriotic purposes.

The book delves into the story of how Camden's Edwardian women provided leadership at a local, state and national level and created ground-breaking opportunities that empowered women to exercise their agency by undertaking patriotic activities for the first time. Their stories form a small part of the narrative of the Australian Red Cross, arguably the country's most important not-for-profit organisation.

Local studies like this book are not common and they tell the story of ordinary people doing extraordinary things in extraordinary times.

Second World War | historical society | Red Cross | Nurses | Museum | book | Camden | Exhibition | local history | Women

Project milestones

Exhibition The Story of the Camden District Red Cross in War and Peace
The exhibition opened in August 2013 and will continue through 2014

The Book Ministering Angels, the Camden District Red Cross, 1914-1915
The book was published in August 2014

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